Notions such as peace, human rights, social justice and freedom have always been susceptible to exploitation and abuse for political ends. Many have considered it a conscientious obligation or exercise in common sense to follow the movements that ostensibly advocate these lofty things – but rarely do people question the sincerity of these movements.
Although the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement presents itself as a nonviolent organization championing justice for the Palestinians, it is anything but. Targeting Israeli businessmen, companies, entrepreneurs, artists and academicians worldwide, BDS is quite far from serving peace and brotherhood with its hateful, prejudiced and dis-informative discourse, and the discriminatory, intimidating methods it pursues.
Even though BDS presents itself as a movement that defends the rights of the Palestinians, it overlooks their actual interests. Moreover, the hateful and hostile discourse and anti-peace, anti-reconciliation attitude espoused by the executives of the movement expose BDS for what it is not: a defense of human rights. BDS and radical groups share one ideology and speak the same hateful discourse when it comes to Israel.
Propaganda is a weapon of warfare, and sadly an effective weapon. It serves an agenda, hence it deliberately ignores or distorts facts. It is not concerned with justice, truth or fairness; its aim is to exert psychological influence over the society through indoctrination. The BDS movement, too, is a propaganda tool that incites Jewish hatred under the pretense of defending the Palestinians.
BDS in this regard seems to have learned from history. The first repercussion of the Nazi antisemitism was the introduction of an economic boycott against the Jews. When Hitler rose to power in 1933, the party leadership initiated a BDS-style campaign nationwide, calling for a boycott of Jewish businesses, which later spread to other countries. Banners that read “do not buy from Jews” were put up on the walls of Jewish shops. This systematic economic boycott entered into history during “the Night of Broken Glass,” where the windows of thousands of Jewish stores were smashed by Nazis in Germany and Austria. About 7,500 Jewish businesses were looted, around 200 synagogues were destroyed and nearly 100 Jews lost their lives.
With the spread of these discriminatory policies between 1933 and 1940, Jews were eventually stripped of their other rights. The false victimhood propaganda that Jews were the “invaders” in German territory and Germans were the “victims” further incited the hatred among masses. Following the economic war, intimidation and terrorizing of the Jews, this systematic indoctrination of hatred set the ideological stage for a brutal massacre, one the most brutal events in history.
In our time, the BDS movement adopts similar rhetoric. It not only calls for a worldwide boycott of Israeli goods, but also coerces the companies that sell or possess them to adopt a discriminatory policy toward Israelis via sanctions. It falsely casts Palestinians as victims of Israeli invasions or abuse to justify its own rage. Intimidated by these boycott campaigns, many business owners become accomplices of this discrimination unwillingly. This is why, in Germany, BDS has been officially declared antisemitic and a Nazi remnant.
Coordinating a vast number of activists, political and academic people through its network for anti-Israeli boycotts, protests and sanctions, BDS denies Israel’s very existence and opposes a two-state solution. One of its founders, Omar Barghouti, openly expresses it in his speeches away from the press. For that reason, the actions of the BDS activists have been exploited by the radical Islamic organizations that aim to destroy the State of Israel.
Non-Israelis and non-Jews, too, often find themselves the targets of these boycotts. Individuals who speak favorably of Israel are also blacklisted, and face accusations of racism, shaming campaigns and psychological pressure. Governments, universities, students, artists, businesses are incited against Israel, Israeli companies, institutions and their affiliates. The tactics of intimidation, bullying and shaming that are employed routinely force apolitical individuals to take a politically partisan stance just to protect their own livelihoods and sanity. That, in fact, is BDS’s modus operandi.
None of these methods can possibly offer any benefit to either Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts, or the Palestinian people, or a better region. BDS does not make any contribution to the spirit of brotherhood, acceptance and understanding – things sorely lacking in the Middle East. On the contrary, BDS instigates discord and escalates tensions.
Contrary to the popular perception, BDS is not an Islamic movement. Along with a certain number of Muslims it incorporates a broad spectrum of followers, ranging from left-wing extremists, communists and racists to neo-Nazi rightists, even anti-Zionist Jews. The anti-Israeli radical leftist governments, anti-Jewish racist political and social circles provide BDS with immense financial and logistic support. Following classical Marxist methods of propaganda and provocation, BDS tries on occasion to present its claims as if they have an Islamic basis to be able to curry support from Muslims.
Yet this ideology, that is built on antagonism against Israel and the goal of driving Jews away from their homelands, has no Koranic basis whatsoever. Despite their rhetoric, the verses of the Koran guarantee the right of abode, life and all sorts of civil rights of the Jews, as well as their freedom of worship.
Countless Palestinians working under fairly good conditions in Israeli companies have come to be the victims of these systematic boycotts. As a result of these boycotts, places where Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians work side by side are being closed down, and an artificial divide is created between the two peoples who actually live in peace and coexistence. The Sodastream company was one of its most successful examples of coexistence, where Palestinians lost their existing jobs along with the peaceful ground they shared with the Israelis.
In the wake of the vigorous defamation campaigns and boycotts of BDS, the company relocated its production facilities, that provide the people of the West Bank with substantial job opportunities and social security, to the Negev desert. Ultimately, it was the scores of Palestinians who were faced with unemployment that were hurt the most by the vicious campaign. But Palestinian politics have long privileged symbolism over substance. And BDS, by blaming Israel for Palestinian mistakes, encourages nothing but more of the same.
In brief, BDS chooses ideology over Palestinians’ well being, and threatens to hurt 36,000 Palestinians currently working in the West Bank with this approach. Aside from the politicians and certain biased sections, the Palestinian locals do not support this movement, either. But their protests dissipate amid mob politics.
There are a number of unfounded claims that are stolen from the grievances of South African black community and even the Jews of the Nazi era. Anyone who has been to Israel or has an honest approach to the issue will acknowledge the fact that Israel ensures for Arabs and Muslims far more freedoms than any country in the Islamic-Arab world.
Israeli Arabs can hold positions in parliamentary and higher judicial bodies, while Muslim Arab women participate in society with equal rights, enjoying the freedom of education and dressing as they wish.
The Gaza blockade, Israeli military presence in the West Bank and practices such as the security barrier, which are among the main targets of BDS, are nothing but unwanted, mandatory precautions taken after years of suicide and missile attacks targeting civilians. "We have to evaluate and compare these tactics to ones employed by Muslim and Arab governments, at all times, to maintain their political power" Of course these issues can be settled in due time by the adoption of peaceful, reconciliatory policies that make no compromise with terrorism. As a matter of fact, the Israeli government, too, is not pleased with the current situation. At every occasion, it emphasizes the will to put an end to these if the necessary peace and security conditions are met.
In conclusion, BDS, through aggressive discourse and destructive propaganda, serves the continuity if not the escalation of the conflict. It is war by other means. Whereas an entity that genuinely seeks the good of the Palestinian people would not give an inch on policies that promote hostility toward Israelis and Jews. It would unequivocally condemn the terrorist activities, missile attacks and suicide bombers that entail these precautions. Then it would come up with rationalist educational solutions that would neutralize these threats, and dispense with hateful tones. It would aim for a safe and prosperous environment where both communities can build and live together in a spirit of true peace and brotherhood.