BDS – 21st Century Anti-Semitism

Boycotting Israel and the BDS movement is Anti-Semitic. There is no need to mince words about it. The demonization and singling out of Israel is based on hatred, ignorance and bigotry. The BDS movement hits all three D’s with flying colours in the criteria of anti-Semitism. It holds Israel to a Double standard, It Demonizes Israel and it (attempts to) Delegitimize Israel.

I’m not one to normally quote Thomas Friedman, but I think he summed it up perfectly: “Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction — out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East — is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest.”

Just because BDS is anti-Semitic does not mean that everyone who is involved in the movement is. In fact, I would guess that the majority of people involved with BDS are not anti-Semitic, but commit a slightly less abhorrent act of being extremely ignorant. The way that BDS works is that a very small group goes on campaigns telling the world how horrible Israel is. They target two types of people (although some might consider them the same group); people who are very ignorant of how the world works whom have big hearts, and people who hate the West. Considering how big that demographic is, it is not surprising to see how easy it is for BDS to gain support.

Even if every single possible accusation anti-Israel activists throw at the Jewish state turned out to be not only true, but under exaggerated, Israel would still not be close to one of the worst states in the world. In fact, it would still not be close to being as bad as the worst Arab or Muslim states. Ignoring the fact that more Palestinians have been killed by Arabs than by Israelis; ignoring the fact that Palestinians (including the ones in the West Bank) are treated better by Israel than they are by Arab states; ignoring the fact that there exists real apartheid against Palestinians in the Arab world (in addition to many other groups), ignoring the fact that other states occupy Muslim lands and nobody says anything; there are many other states much more worthy of a boycott. So how is it that despite there being many worse states, they not subject to these boycotts, and only Israel is?

If someone is Jewish or Palestinian, I give them every right to do whatever they want in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict outside of violence. If someone has also boycotted every single government that is oppressive, I also give him or her that right. But, if someone singles out and targets Israel; then they have no right to boycott. Not only do they not have such a right, their iniquitous and nefarious actions should be called out for being so reprehensible.

Like all things in life, humans only have a set amount of capital to expend. By spending so much “activism” capital on Israel, it takes away from whatever other (more worthy) causes that person would be involved with. In addition to this, by singling out Israel for condemnation, it is accepting and tacitly endorsing the heinous human rights situation in every single Muslim and Arab state in the world.

It is worth noting that the impact of BDS is felt much more severely for Palestinians than it is for Israelis. Excluding the economic impact it potentially has on Palestinians who cannot afford it, it does absolutely nothing to improve the Palestinian’s situation. For the same effort, the BDS movement could actually try and improve the lives of Palestinians and help their plight; instead, they just attack Israel. Moreover, the BDS movement not only fails to further the chance of peace, it actually makes it less likely. In order for a peace agreement to come to fruition, there is going to have to be Palestinian concessions (as well as Israeli concessions). However, by advocating this type of mindset, it promotes a culture that does not want to enter negotiations and actually make the sacrifices necessary for peace. It also makes the Israeli public much less trusting of international institutions, less likely to make compromises and weakens the Israeli peace camp.

In 2006 there was a study done by professors at Yale that demonstrated the significant correlation between anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic individuals. They discovered that less than 25% of the people with weak anti-Israel leanings were self reported anti-Semitic but those who were very strong in their anti-Israel views (like the ones who engage in boycotts) were over 50% self reported anti-Semites. There are a number of studies just like this one and they all paint the same picture.


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About the Author
Daniel lived in Israel where he pursued his graduate studies focussing on Israeli policy. Daniel is now back in his home country of Canada studying law. Come check me out at