The Anti-Israel BDS Movement: Misguided and Misinformed
BDS seeks to delegitimize Israel's existence based upon a false narrative of human rights abuses.
In addition to “Fossil Fuel Divestment” and other college campuses protests, comes yet another misguided movement. The Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement (BDS) seeks to delegitimize Israel’s existence and calls for economic, academic, political and cultural punishment of the country based upon a false narrative of human rights abuses.
The BDS movement relies on several incorrect statements. First, they claim that “Israel is occupying and colonizing Palestinian land.” Here are the facts. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the Romans gave the name “Palestine” to the region inhabited by Jewish people in the second century A.D. In 1922, the League of Nations agreed upon the Palestine Mandate in recognition of “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine.” In fact, the Jerusalem Post began as the Palestine Post, and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra began as the Palestine Symphony Orchestra. After Israel’s independence in 1948, Arabs living in the Gaza Strip or West Bank began referring to themselves as “Palestinian.”
A Jewish presence has existed in the land of Israel for over 3,000 years despite wars and attempts to scatter the Jewish people to other places. During the late 19th and 20th centuries, Jews sought to return to Israel legally, purchase the land and restore it through their own efforts. At the time, the land that later became Israel languished as swamp land and sand dunes. Yet the returning Zionists purchased the land anyway and planted eucalyptus trees that drained the muddy waters, reduced mosquitos and combatted malaria. Note that these Zionists purchased the land with their own funds and restored the land with their own efforts. They have also fought and won several wars defending their land and sovereignty.
The BDS movement also claims that Israel is “discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel” and that the BDS movement is “inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement.” This statement misunderstands South Africa’s apartheid conflict, which legally separated blacks and whites, placing whites in authority over the minority black population. It also forced political, social and economic segregation that prevented black people from voting, participating in government activities, and socializing with whites.
In contrast, Israel’s legal system gives equal rights and equal protection to all of its citizens, whether Arab (i.e. Palestinian) or Jew. Mitchell G. Bard, author of Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict, notes, “Israel is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote.” In addition, Israel’s two official languages are Hebrew and Arabic and Israel has several Arab political parties.
Further, Israel has never formally annexed the West Bank or Gaza and many of the Palestinians who live there are not Israeli citizens, but rather are subject to their own terrorist governing bodies (Hamas in Gaza and Palestinian Authority in the West Bank).
In terms of international law and human rights violations, the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, has routinely launched rockets from schools, mosques and other civilian centers. Hamas terrorists hide in civilian crowds endangering both Palestinians and Israelis. Deliberately endangering civilians is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (article 28). Moreover, according to a 2015 report by Amnesty International — exactly a conservative or pro-Israel organization — their actions have repeatedly qualified as war crimes under international law.
Using rhetoric of “social justice” and “human rights abuses,” BDS convinces misguided and misinformed students, business leaders, academicians and others to support their cause. Conveniently ignoring the legitimacy of Israel’s claim to the land, their legal system that promotes basic human rights, and the war crimes committed by Palestinian terrorists such as Hamas, BDS hopes to demonize, delegitimize and inflict double standards on the state of Israel while failing to provide realistic or sustainable solutions to the conflict.