BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) calls for a worldwide economic, academic, cultural and political boycott of Israel. This disgrace initiated by Palestinian NGOs in 2005 deserves neither respect nor dialogue, because it essentially seeks the outright liquidation of the State of Israel.
Furthermore this lobby group is illegal, as anti-Semitism and boycott are criminal offenses in most of the Western world. In France BDS is against the law because it is considered a “public provocation to discrimination against a nation, punishable by one year imprisonment and 45,000 euro fine”.
One of the most appalling – and also most absurd – aspects of BDS is the academic ostracism. Not only most Palestinians students learn at Israeli universities, but enjoy freedom of expression, in sharp contrast with what they would experience in Muslim countries.
BDS doesn’t care about the Hamas education system in Gaza, nor does it pay attention to the plight of masses of Palestinians who are confined since decades in refugee camps within the Arab world and denied basic human rights.
BDS is unsuccessful so far, but Israel must be vigilant because antisemitism has proven itself as a unifying mantra, and has historically been effective in achieving consensus when it came down to discriminate against Jews.
BDS can be a mixed blessing for those trying to apply it in practice. Israeli universities are at the forefront of irrigation, medicine, nanotechnology, education, computer software, space research, archaeology, nuclear physics and human sciences. Israel holds the world record per capita in technological innovation and exports its know-how worldwide. There exists practically not a single sophisticated machine that operates without Israeli components or licenses.
BDS’ most damaging aspect is defamation. Ben Dror-Yemini, an Israeli intellectual, writer and columnist explains that “the problem is not criticism of Israel. The problem is the web of lies which constitutes the greatest obstacle to peace. The bigger the lie, the more credible it appears to the masses. The Nazis had already determined that the Jews were the greatest enemies of the Third Reich, that they ruled the Soviet Union, the US and Britain. Today Israel is accused of genocide while it is the Islamist killers who call for the extermination of Jews.”.
The fight against BDS concerns all those who believe that Israel’s existence is paramount not only for the Jews, not only for the Palestinians, but also for the entire region in order to try and invert its spiraling downfall into spiritual and economic bankruptcy.
The philosopher Hannah Arendt was convinced that being Jewish is “first and foremost a political and national affiliation. When an individual is targeted as a Jew, then it is as a Jew that he must defend himself”.
Therefore, and although Israel has many friends around the world, its defense must be taken on first of all by those Jews who associate themselves with the Zionist vision. Whether or not they intend to emigrate to Israel, they ought to keep in mind that the “Law of Return” is a commitment to keep at all times Israel’s doors open for Jews who aspire to be part of the Jewish state. They must be aware that the “Law of Return” can only be sustained if the Israelis continues to pay the daily toll that is required for the country to live and prosper.
And for those Jews in Diaspora who do not have resources to assist the Jewish State in its struggle, the most basic dignity requires them to be unconditionally supportive of Israel.