The ‘Boycotts, Divesment, and Sanctions’ (BDS) movement are rearing their ugly head on British campuses. Claiming to represent Palestinians, and seek a resolution to the conflict, these movements actually pose a serious risk to students – whilst doing nothing to help Palestinians or the peace process. Indeed given how closely entwined the Israeli and Palestinian economies are, they actually harm Palestinians.
As Manchester becomes the latest University to adopt a BDS motion, make sure you’re ready to defend Israel on your campus. Below is a list of the main reasons why BDS is not only wrong, but pointless.
It damages people, not politicians
Whilst boycott attempts may have the aim of bringing the Israeli economy to its knees, the reality of the matter is that when you boycott Victoria’s Secret and SodaStream the only ramification is that workers’ jobs are put at risk. Many of these workers are actually Palestinian men and women whose livelihoods depend on these jobs. Therefore the supposed Pro-Palestine BDS movement ends up harming the livelihood of the very people they purportedly intend to help.
It makes peace less likely
By focusing international attention and condemnation on Israel the BDS movement gives no incentive to Hamas to lay down arms to work out a peaceful resolution. Furthermore, it works as a disincentive to the leader of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas to enter in to direct negotiations with Israel.
Boycotts encourage violence and intransigence from Palestinians in the hope that Israel will be forced to accede to their wishes as called for by the BDS movement. However for peace to be achieved direct negotiations between the two sides need to occur and an acceptance that the incitement that fanned the recent wave of terror most recently shown in the truck attack which left 4 Israeli soldiers dead in Jerusalem is a major reason for the failure of the peace process.
The BDS movement by singling out Israel also works against peace by ignoring that the Palestinian Authority rejected peace deals under Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak as highlighted by this infographic which you can see clearer when clicking on, which would have led to a Palestinian state.
Peace is achieved by getting the two sides around the table not singling out Israel for special opprobrium.
It creates division rather than, rather than encouraging peace
The BDS movement’s aim is not to bring peace but to win the propaganda war surrounding the rival narratives about Israel. They target Israel, Israeli companies, Israeli academic, musicians and students. In doing so they seek to create an us vs them scenario on campus where they, present themselves as holding the moral high ground.
If they genuinely felt passionate about peaceful coexistence then they would join the groups of Israel and Palestine Societies hosting joint events that break down barriers in order for respectful debate to occur. This promotes a more constructive debate on campus where Jewish students and other pro-Israel students who have a close connection to Israel do not feel unwelcome on campus. By contrast BDS against Israel on campus would encourage division amongst peers and make Israeli students and Jewish and other students who have a close connection to Israel feel unwelcome on campus.
It gives cover to those who are the real enemy of peace
By characterising Israel as the only problem in the region, the BDS movement ignores the real terrorists. There is no movement to boycott the terrorists who bomb Israeli restaurants, no howls of indignation that Hamas launch regular rocket attacks on Israel – putting the people they supposedly fight for at risk to do so. The convenient narrative of as Israel as the enemy, and BDS as the answer, lets Hamas and other Palestinians terrorists get away scot-free. Israel faces constant criticism in its attempts to fight terrorism, and the BDS movement conveniently ignores the violent extremists who daily seek to destroy it.
BDS campaigners may preach peace, but their efforts reinforce the idea that Israel must be resisted.
So when the BDS brigade turn up to your campus, make sure you counter them and do not leave them unchallenged! Counter their narrative and encourage coexistence, it will be the perfect antidote to their toxic campaigns.