Weakening BDS from within

The more we can drive a wedge between pro-Palestinian advocates who reject extremism and the hard-core delegitimizers, the higher the chances of weakening the movement.

By ROBERT HORENSTEIN
April 4, 2018 11:47
4 minute read.
bds israel boycott

An anti-Israel march in Sweden's Malmo. (photo credit: REUTERS)

I have often argued that the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is antisemitic in effect, if not always in intent. After all, in the view of most BDS leaders, the Jewish people have no right of national self-determination. For them, all of pre-1967 Israel is occupied Palestinian territory, and the Jews are foreign colonialists. Their strategy is to brand Israel as a pariah state and challenge the moral legitimacy of its very existence.

But what about those who view boycott and divestment campaigns as a peaceful, non-violent strategy to bring about a change in Israel’s behavior – i.e., who believe (naively so) that BDS is simply about protesting what they consider to be Israel’s “illegal occupation” of the West Bank? How should the organized Jewish community respond to them? Those of us who work in the American Jewish community relations field are familiar with these relatively moderate BDS activists. They don’t hate Israel; rather, they detest Israel’s right-wing government. They don’t condone Palestinian terrorism but regard Jewish settlements as the main obstacle to peace.

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