The ABCs of BDS

The ABCs of BDS

What is the BDS movement (or campaIgn)?

  • The BDS Movement is a global network of individuals and organizations who aim to isolate Israel politically, economically and culturally. Their overall objective is to challenge Israel’s right to exist as the sovereign homeland of the Jewish people, often called delegitimization.
  • The BDS Movement attempts to have their agenda adopted by institutions including colleges and universities, faith-based communities, labor unions, civil and human rights organizations and minority groups, as well as others they can influence.

BDS tactics?

  • Use boycotts, divestments and sanctions that place economic and political pressure on states to influence behavior.

BDS goals?

  • Despite claiming to seek “peace,” the BDS Movement works unambiguously to undermine the “two states for two peoples” solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the commonly accepted goal of the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.
  • For example, the BDS Movement calls for the return of Palestinian refugees to modern day Israel, not a Palestinian state. This would eliminate the State of Israel, replacing it with an Arab majority state in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

Why are academic, trade and cultural boycotts problematic?

  • Promoting an academic and cultural boycott of Israel contradicts the principles of academic freedom and the open spirit of international cooperation between scientists, artists and others. It is counterproductive to target Israel’s academic community, which promotes honest debate, criticism and self-examination within Israeli society. Israel’s universities enroll significant numbers of Arab students and are important forums for interaction and cooperation between Jews and Arabs.

Will BDS tactics solve the Arab-Israeli conflict?

  • The goal of peace depends on both Israelis and Palestinians working together with international support toward the mutual goal of a negotiated two-state solution. In contrast, BDS tactics are one-sided and focused solely on pressuring Israel, creating a distorted picture of the region.
  • Economic boycotts and divestment actions will not help the Palestinian people. The path to the two-state solution depends on creating an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation combined with economic development and political achievement.
  • Ever since Israel’s establishment, the Arab world has tried to use an economic boycott to isolate and weaken Israel politically and economically. While Egypt and Jordan have trade links with Israel, most Arab countries do not trade directly with Israel. The Roadmap peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (proposed by the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations) specifically calls for the normalization of relations between the Arab states and Israel, including the return of trade links.

The bottom line

  • Israel is a pluralistic and democratic society. These tools are neither appropriate nor are they an honest attempt to bring about peace. The BDS Movement is using these tactics to tell an anti-Israel story which is counterproductive, disingenuous and plain wrong.

Excerpted from the Israel Action Network, a strategic initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America, in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. This article originally appeared in our Connect to Israel publication.

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