BDS harms peace and Palestinians

As the Palestinian Authority (PA) suffers its ongoing economic crisis, will boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel deliver the much-needed help to the Palestinian people?

While boycotts of Israel have long been a hallmark of Arab relations toward the Jewish State, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is the most organized and comprehensive boycott movement against Israel to date. Its proponents claim that through BDS, they can advance the cause of Palestinian self-determination and help the PA through its economic struggle. However, this could not be further from the truth.

Despite the rich human rights rhetoric the BDS movement employs, and the facade of peace under which it operates, its pursuit is wholly immoral: BDS seeks to isolate Israel internationally, undermine its legitimacy, and clear the path for its ultimate destruction. The first step in the execution of this process involves total economic warfare against the Jewish state, to be carried out through boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

BDS calls on the international community to execute its economic war by boycotting products manufactured in Israel, as well as companies that stock Israeli goods. It advocates divesting from companies that do business in, or with Israel, and demands that international organizations “enact comprehensive sanctions against Israel,” treating Israel as a pariah state.

BDS also advocates academic and cultural boycotts of Israel under the auspices of PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Seeking to isolate Israeli professors from global academia, and to boycott Israeli cultural institutions as well as performances of non-Israel artists in Israel, the movement cites false, defamatory accusations against the Jewish State. In one instance, the movement even accuses Israel of “committing war crimes against children, women and men,” refers to its policy against the Arabs as “genocidal policy,” and calls Gaza a “concentration camp.”

This exploitation of human rights rhetoric is the means by which BDS pushes its immoral, illogical and anti-peace agenda, and serves as part of the greater effort to undermine the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in Israel.

BDS is immoral because it undermines “liberal values, such as academic freedom of expression, by restricting openness and tolerance.” BDS propagates slanderous accusations against Israel – like the false claim of apartheid – and singles out the Jewish State. The movement also applies a double standard to Israel, criticizing its policies while ignoring the ongoing terrorism from which Israelis suffer daily at the hands of Hamas and Hezbollah.

BDS is also illogical. By declaring economic warfare on Israel – the goal of which is to clear the path for its ultimate destruction – the movement hurts not just Israelis but all peoples West of the Jordan River, including Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. Because so many workers from the PA earn their livelihoods in Israel, boycotting, divesting and sanctioning efforts result in a decreased demand for production from companies in Israel, forcing employers to lay off employees, which in turn, increases unemployment among Palestinian laborers. In the end, unemployed Palestinian workers invest less and less money into their own economy.

Above all, BDS is anti-peace. Attacking Israel’s economy does not encourage negotiations or dialogue, but instead, signals to Palestinian leaders that they need not negotiate with Israel, or make any concessions, because the international community is willing to help destroy Israel through BDS. Supporting BDS means supporting continued violence and actively opposing negations.

Israel, in contrast, is attempting to foster peace through economic integration. While the government issued one of its many generous aid packages to the PA just recently, it also increased the number of work permits granted to residents of the PA, opened up more job positions for PA residents, and eased travel restrictions into Israel proper. It is initiatives like these that are truly going to lift the PA from its current economic troubles and foster peaceful relations between the two peoples.

Now more than ever, as the people of the PA suffer from ongoing economic crisis, support for BDS will only intensify their struggle. While the movement claims to help the Palestinian people, boycotting a fundamental source of the PA’s livelihood and discouraging economic integration with Israel’s rapidly growing economy seems purely illogical. To truly help residents of the PA, efforts should be directed at bringing Israelis and Palestinians together, by investing in state building activities and encouraging the integration of Israel’s economy with that of the PA – not at boycotting.

About the Author
Blair Hart Newman is a Politics and Judaic Studies student at New York University. She serves as Director of Political Affairs for TorchPAC, NYU's pro-Israel political organization.