Around twenty minutes from where I live in suburban Chicago, a billboard along one of Illinois’ main highways was erected stating, “Boycott Israel” in massive, brightly colored letters. The call to action was to prevent Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians in the disputed territories and to end Israel’s apartheid regime. When I posted an image of the billboard on Facebook, and called for its removal, I was attacked for trying to censor opponents of Israel, and trying to silence a legitimate criticism of Israeli policy. Ultimately, I was painted as being anti-First Amendment.

However, this movement to boycott Israel (BDS) is rooted in hatred, lies, and ethnic discrimination, not the expression of free speech or legitimate criticism. The systematic isolation of Israel economically through boycotts is nothing more than a hypocritical, bigoted, and intolerant movement that promotes the singling out of the only Jewish state in the world, and the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.

Firstly, the main purpose for boycotting Israel is rooted in the lie that Israel is a racist and apartheid state; two assertions that are not true and frankly, offensive.

Apartheid is the complete separation of races. For example, the Jim Crow South was apartheid as African-Americans could not immerse themselves in normal society and were marginalized to the extreme. Their rights were taken, their ability to roam freely in the streets denied, and their role in society diminished. This is not the case in Israel. In Israel, Arabs are full citizens of the nation. They have the right to vote, they have one of the dominant parties in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset), an Arab judge sits on the Israeli Supreme Court, Arabs are leading surgeons at some of Israel’s top hospitals, Arabs command elite units within the IDF, Arabs and Jews use the same bathrooms, buses, cabs, and restaurants, and lastly, Arabs enjoy every single right guaranteed to any Jewish citizen of Israel. Thus, the mere notion that Israel is an apartheid state is rooted in total falsehood.

Moreover, another argument that people utilize to justify a boycott of Israel is the claim that Israel has taken actions counteractive to peace. Both of these assertions are also utterly false. In this conflict, one entity has shown a proactive desire for peace, while the other has opted for violence and war. Since 1937, Israel has offered to create a Palestinian state, with Palestinian domain over East Jerusalem, at least three times. Further, Israel has offered to freeze construction in the West Bank for peace in 1977, 1978, 2000, 2005, 2008, and 2010. Yet, each and every proposal was swiftly rejected by the Palestinian Authority. And as recently as last week, a top diplomat in the Palestinian government stated that the Palestinians will never return to the negotiating table with Israel. But somehow Israel is still to blame?

Lastly, another talking point used to promote the boycott is the notion that the Israeli Defense Force is a reckless imperial power that commits genocide against the Palestinians, notably in the Gaza Strip. Again, this claim is not true. In the preamble of Hamas’s charter, it is written that “Israel will continue to exist until Islam obliterates it.” When Hamas took power in Gaza after defeating the Fatah party in 2007, they turned Gaza into a military state with the only intention of harming innocent Israeli civilians. Since then, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at Israeli kibbutzim, towns, and cities with the pure goal of killing civilians. As Israel has the duty to protect her people, the IDF has responded with their own air-strikes. However, in order to damage Israel’s image on the global stage, Hamas has done everything in its power to increase civilian casualties.

During the 2012 and 2014 wars in Gaza, Hamas ignored IDF warnings to evacuate homes, forced Palestinians to serve as human shields, and placed missile launchers next to playgrounds, hospitals and homes, in order to draw Israeli counter-fire in those areas. Hamas continuously aims to bait Israel into murdering innocent Palestinians, in order to further their claim that they are waging a war of freedom, and not of slaughter. Regardless, Hamas, not Israel, is to blame for the civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip, and the human rights violations during the conflict.

All three of the commonly used reasons to boycott Israel are easily debunked; however, if the utter falseness of these talking points isn’t enough for you, then maybe some logic will work?

In my column from February 2015, BDS – The Bigoted Movement Sweeping the United States, I asserted that, “It is impossible for pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students to have a civil, productive discussion if one side is utterly blaming the other side for all of the faults in the conflict.” This is exactly what a boycott of Israel aims to do. Thus, the follow up question I ask to a BDS or boycott supporter is, “If you truly want peace and care about the welfare of the Palestinian people, why advocate for a destructive solution and spread a climate of Jewish hatred and Israeli demonization?”

Ultimately, what boycotts, divestments, and sanctions ultimately do is harm any advancements towards peace as they isolate and degrade one side. This divisive movement places the spotlight on destroying Israel, instead of fostering peace and negotiation. The narrative of hate perpetuated by this movement is a reason why we do not have peace.

Nonetheless, if after reading this entire article you are still ignorant enough to support the boycott of Israel, by all means, do it. Throw out your cell phone, dump your computer, refuse most medical assistance, never use the internet again, give up voicemail, delete your Facebook, do not watch TV, refuse any vaccinations, never fly on an airplane again, never purchase products from McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Kraft, Pepsi, KFC, etc.

Please, be my guest, and indulge yourself in your own ignorance. Enjoy life without all of the gifts the democratic State of Israel has blessed society with.

And ultimately, regardless of your decision, Israel will continue to live and prosper.