BDS for Dummies

If I were a progressive, left-wing liberal (I’m decidedly not), I might say the following:

BDS — you know, the byword used by us progressives to put Israel in its place — is going great guns. If you’ve forgotten, it stands for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel, the country that is rivaling the Nazis in its actions against the long-suffering Palestinian people.

This year we had terrific success in forcing that Zionist (ugh!) company Sodastream to close its factory in Ma’ale Adumim, located in Palestine. It is true that many of the workers were Palestinians with the best jobs of their lives, equal in every way with their fellow Jewish employees, but that’s too bad. The important thing is that the Jews were taught a lesson!

Just recently we gained an excellent opportunity to boycott another Israeli product. ReWalk Robotics, the Israeli company that makes personal exoskeleton systems (that are so good that the US Department of Veterans Affairs is providing ReWalk systems for all qualifying veterans) must be boycotted immediately. Sorry about that, American veterans with spinal cord injuries, but somebody has to stand up to those Israelis, especially the ones who live in what they call Judea (which has been known as the West Bank from time immemorial).

And what about the excellent American Anthropological Association members who voted overwhelmingly in favor of adopting a motion to boycott Israeli universities? That’s showing them who’s smarter and more concerned about universal human rights! And let’s not forget  that issue of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Journal of Academic Freedom, the one dedicated to the boycott of Israel (2013). AAUP sure knows what academic freedom is all about.

As to the complaint that Israel is being picked on while other countries’ goods have no such requirements, that’s hogwash! Yes, Russia took over Crimea from the Ukraine, but that’s no reason to require Russia to label Crimean products: “produced in occupied Ukraine.” The same goes for Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus; Chinese-occupied Tibet; Morocco-occupied Western Sahara; Russian & Moldava-occupied Transnistria and other assorted former Soviet Union territories occupied by Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Russia; Indian-occupied Kashmir; Pakistan-occupied Kashmir; British-occupied Gibraltar and the Malvinas Islands (which the occupiers call The Falklands); Spanish-occupied Basque country; and the not-to-be-forgotten Golan Heights, which Israel must return to Syria (if there still is such a country).

We’ve all heard that talk about the so-called Startup Nation. What a crock! Nevertheless, ignore all that talk about boycotting drugs, medical devices, cell phones, computers, water purifiers, auto safety systems, and other stuff like that. The Israelis didn’t invent any of that. And if they did, they stole the technology from the poor Palestinians!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Israel is an apartheid nation, which is an integral part of our BDS movement. We all remember the horror with which we regarded South Africa, with its laws of population registration and segregation, job reservation and economic apartheid, segregation in education, sexual apartheid, land tenure and geographic segregation, pass laws and influx control, political representation, separate development and bantustans, plus banning, detention without trial and state security. We BDSers know that Israel has the same laws to keep the Palestinians in line. Just look in their malls or hospitals. I plan to observe this for myself when I get around to visiting Israel’s malls, hospitals, government facilities, cafes, restaurants, court rooms, stores, rest rooms, etc., where I’m sure I won’t see Arabs and Jews together.

At this point, I’d like to give a SHOUT-OUT to one of my favorite campaigns which really got off the ground this year: the labeling regulations of the EU directed exclusively at Israel.

Anything produced in the “West Bank” or the Golan Heights will now have a label affixed to it, to ensure that everyone knows that it comes from an Israeli company that is occupying Palestinian land.

Again, many Palestinians may lose their jobs which pays several times more than they would make working for their brother Palestinians, but that hardship is one that they will appreciate more and more as time goes on. As for the claim that the labels are reminiscent of the Nazi campaign against Jewish shops and goods which presaged the Holocaust, that’s absolute hogwash! The EU says that this isn’t a boycott, just a means to ensure that everyone knows where products they might purchase come from. We BDSers know better, because the goal of labeling is, eventually, to boycott all Israeli products. Good first step, EU!

I say: BDS today, tomorrow, and forever, until Arab citizens of Israel are treated equally under Israeli law. And don’t bother quoting to me from Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which guarantees equal rights for all citizens. It’s a lie!

DISCLAIMER: While criticism of Israel is legitimate, it quickly morphs into anti-Semitism when Israel is singled out for violations of conduct that other countries are guilty of, but are ignored. This is a constant trope of organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and many others, which castigate Israel for not being perfect, even if its conduct is exemplary. A perfect example is the IDF’s vigorous efforts to avoid civilian casualties against Hamas’s use of its own citizens as human shields. The same trope is currently being applied to Israelis who defend themselves against knife-wielding, stone-throwing, car-driving attackers who want to become martyrs. Sorry folks, but Israelis will kill those who come to kill them, like it or not. That’s not an excuse for BDS, unless you want everyone to give up the right of self defense.

About the Author
Steve Kramer grew up in Atlantic City, graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1967, adopted the hippie lifestyle until 1973, then joined the family business for 15 years. Steve moved to Israel from Margate, NJ in 1991 with his family. He has written more than 1100 articles about Israel and Jews since making Aliyah. Steve and his wife Michal live in Kfar Saba.