US Secretary of State John Kerry recently caused a stir when he cautioned world leaders that if Israel does not make peace soon, it could become an “apartheid state” like pre-1994 South Africa. Even after Kerry quickly backtracked, Jewish leaders were fuming over the connotations of racial segregation and oppression that the comparison engendered.
Knesset Member Pnina Tamano-Shata
What is BDS?
With thanks to my friend Joe Hyams, CEO of “HonestReporting” for his guidance, the following is a primer on the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) movement, which has been toiling for over a decade to undermine Israel’s legitimacy by equating the country to South Africa.
The BDS’s stated claim is to end the “occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” and promote the right of “Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.”
To achieve that goal, BDS has attempted to present Israel as a pariah state which doesn’t deserve the right to exist. Their aim is to isolate Israel politically, economically, militarily, academically and culturally. They use politically correct language and try to frame themselves as seekers of peace, but in reality they are not a peace movement. In fact, many of its activists are openly hostile to Israel as a Jewish state and call for a single state (read: Arab state) to replace the current Jewish state.
The BDS movement uses political warfare tactics against Israel, based on the exploitation of human rights, double standards, false accusations of “war crimes” and unfair comparisons to apartheid South Africa and even to Nazi Germany. They deliberately distort the history and national aspirations of the Jewish people, and deny the legitimate right of Israel to defend itself from terror.
The BDS goal is to (1) boycott products, culture and academics, (2) have banks and pension funds divest from companies that do business with Israel, and (3) treat Israel’s self-defense measures as war crimes which should be sanctioned by the international community.
In sum, BDS ignores Israel’s pluralistic and democratic character to defame Israel as a racist, apartheid state, with the goal to eliminate the country as a Jewish state.
Dr. Mais Ali Saleh, Valedictorian – Technion Medical School
Thankfully, the BDS campaign has had precious few successes. Despite all their efforts advocating for divestment on college campuses, not one US university has either divested or adopted a formal academic boycott. Churches that previously embraced BDS are reconsidering and are now rejecting the boycott advocates.
BDS efforts to target supermarket chains and global retailers consistently fail, while Israel's economy continues to flourish and many global companies are actively investing in Israeli ventures.
So What’s the Fear?
I believe that John Kerry is neither anti-Israel nor a BDS supporter, and that he should be lauded for his herculean efforts to make peace. The great fear, as was proven in Kerry’s reckless remarks, is that the BDS message - equating the words “Israel” and “apartheid” - has started seeping into the collective psyche of world leaders, thus blurring the lines between valid criticisms of Israel and the complete de-legitimization of the country.
Roger Cohen of the New York Times recently cut to the heart of the matter, when he stated, “I do not trust the B.D.S. movement. Its stated aim is to end the occupation, secure “full equality” for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and fight for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees. The first objective is essential to Israel’s future. The second is laudable. The third, combined with the second, equals the end of Israel as a Jewish state. This is the hidden agenda of B.D.S., its unacceptable subterfuge: beguile, disguise and suffocate.”
We must strip the BDS of their apolitical cloak of civil and human rights, and expose their anti-Israel agenda for what it truly is: a modern-day version of anti-Semitism. As Binyamin Netanyahu recently told an AIPAC audience, “Attempts to boycott, divest and sanction Israel . . . are simply the latest chapter in the long and dark history of anti-Semitism.”
Gedaliah Borvick is the founder of My Israel Home (www.myisraelhome.com), a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy and sell homes in Israel. To sign up for his monthly market updates, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.