Yes the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is going to succeed in its aims of singling out Israel and forcing it out of existence as a Jewish state.
It’s not going to win because its clever or because its doing anything particularly ground breaking. It’s not going to win because of anti-Semitism, the vast majority of their supporters don’t have an anti-Semitic bone in their bodies.
The BDS movement is going to win because Israel isn’t willing to change its policies.
For Israel to stop BDS from winning the government simply needs to end the policy of settlement and annexation of parts of the West Bank. Doing so would secure Israel’s future from one where the whole world lines up against us.
The world powers have made the fundamental decision that they want Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and for a state of Palestine to be established. Both the British and French Parliaments have already voted to recognise a state of Palestine once it is established, the United States’ ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro recently said Israel has “two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.” President Obama even forced Prime Minister Netanyahu to halt settlement building indicating just how much power the President can exert over the Prime Minister when he chooses to. The President of China Xi Jin Ping last month said the following to the Arab League:
I wish to call on the international community to take more effective measures, resume peace talks at the political level and advance reconstruction on the economic front so as to bring hope to the Palestinian people at an early date. China firmly supports the Middle East peace process and supports the establishment of a State of Palestine enjoying full sovereignty on the basis of the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.
This was surely a blow to those Israelis who, wrongly, thought Israel could turn to China in the face of an increasingly unfriendly USA.
The world powers have made their decision. Palestine must exist.
It is in the gap between the powerful pro-Palestinian statements made by world leaders and the weakness of their actions that BDS resides. There were hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating around the world during Israel’s last military operation in Gaza in the Summer of 2014. At their peak there were an estimated 150,000 people marching in London alone. The demonstrations were so large that Prime Minister David Cameron, as good a friend of Israel as we are likely to get, started a review into £8 billion of weapons sales to Israel in August of that year just to placate his own populace.
Ask any high ranking IDF officer and they will admit (if they’re being honest) that the widespread civil unrest around the world undoubtedly hampered Israel’s freedom to act effectively against Hamas terror.
This is the effect of the BDS movement.
A generation of Israeli lawmakers are still stuck in the mindset of a previous generation. They are making stupid arguments about Palestinians having no right to a country because the root of the term Palestinian is in a language other than Arabic or because the precise, legal definition of the word “occupation” may or may not apply.
These arguments don’t have any practical impact on the streets of Europe or the campuses of the United States where BDS is increasingly popular. They’re not arguments supporters of Israel can use to persuade people Israel is a force for good in the world or even a country that doesn’t deserve to come under international pressure. Indeed diverting intelligence assets or calling on Zionists around the world to jump on Facebook and fight the good fight is about as effective as legal action in France has proven to be.
The heat and the appeal of the BDS campaign stems from a public frustration at the fact that Palestinians are being occupied without end in an apartheid state.
Read that statement again. Whether or not you agree with it is irrelevant. That is the perceived truth and it has not been affected by any number of op-eds, blog posts, Facebook arguments or public statements by Israel or Zionist organisations. In fact things for Israel have gotten worse.
Every denial, every rebuttal has served to make it look like Israel has something to hide, every Facebook argument cements the rumour that those arguing on social media are funded by the Israeli government. Every time another part of the West Bank is appropriated or another Palestinian is killed, be they terrorist, demonstrator or neither BDS gets stronger.
The leaders of the BDS movement around the world aren’t interested in the Israeli Palestinian conflict being resolved they are interested in Israel ceasing to exist.
That doesn’t apply to the hundreds of thousands who are marching in the streets. They just want some kind of resolution, they just want to see something change.
Until something does the pressure on Israel will continue to grow from governments and international bodies on one end and the grassroots whose demonstrations against Israel during conflicts are growing and growing.
But we won’t do it the easy way.
We won’t simply begin a process that in the short term stops settlement of the West Bank and in the long term results in an independent state of Palestine. Instead the government will bury its collective head in the sand and pretend the problem is Betselem and Breaking the Silence.
And so we hand the initiative over to BDS and we push more supporters towards them at the same time. In so doing we risk the goals of BDS moving from fantasy to reality while the rest of us watch the name of our country become mud and BDS move ever closer to achieving its goal of removing the state from the map.