Shahar Azani
Storyteller, Strategic Consultant & Former Israeli Diplomat . A Jew.

Facing the truth about BDS

It is no secret that a “private” meeting is to be held this week in Las Vegas, supported by philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, aimed at joining forces to face the threat of BDS against the State of Israel. Some has already been written about it in the media, and much more is bound to be written. One specific argument, which caught my eye, was the claim that the summit is “doomed to fail” since “it offers no alternative to occupation”, as if this is the only thing standing between Israel and a BDS-free world.

This gives us a great opportunity to take a minute and remind ourselves (or enlighten ourselves, in case we are in the dark) about what BDS is really all about, in THEIR own words. In an article written by As’ad AbuKhalil, a leading BDS activist, he clearly states as follows:

“The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel … that should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel”.

And there you have it: it is not the “occupation” which troubles him; at least not the one so-called “progressive” thinkers have in mind. It’s the very existence of the Jewish state. These words were written after even someone like Norman Finkelstein (another “lover” of Israel) accused the BDS movement of dishonesty about its real goal, which he said was the destruction of Israel.

In addition, the BDS movement demands “that Israel respect, promote and implement Palestinian refugee rights, including the right of return”. This “right”, of course, exists neither under the international conventions, nor under the major UN resolutions, nor under the relevant agreements between the parties. What is more interesting is the nefarious intention behind this supposedly “just and innocent” claim: the return of millions of Palestinians to Israel is tantamount to an act of national suicide and means the eradication of the Jewish state. There we have it again.

Indeed, where is – and where was all these years – the responsibility of the host Arab countries for these Palestinian refugees?! Should they not be held accountable for their poor living conditions, in their own backyards?! Not in accordance with the BDS supporters, who choose to blame only one State and who seem to be allergic to any truth or integrity.

So, what is the “alternative” for a BDS resolution, proposed on campus or elsewhere? It is clearly not turning every Tom, Dick and Harry into a Middle East Peace expert who is required to provide an immediate solution to the complex and long-term malaise of a troubled region.

The alternative to BDS is an open dialogue, bringing people together and speaking of the issues, in a knowledgeable and open manner. It is building bridges between Israel, the region and the world, in the hope of making a change; if one feels that a change is indeed in order. Bottom line, it means more engagement, not less. The State of Israel is a strong and open society, which enjoys a heated political debate on almost everything and anything. It is not an isolated dictatorship. Henceforth, it should be clear that only interactions with the outside world have the potential to bring about a change of heart. By the way, isn’t that what we are hearing all the time with regards to the proposed deal with Iran and its hoped effect?!

The issue of responsibility also comes to mind. The perception that the only side to blame for supposed injustices is Israel and denying any responsibility of the Palestinians to their own fate is a patronizing and condescending approach. Yes, Israel may not be perfect, like any other country on Earth, while facing incredible internal and external challenges. However, when the Palestinians refuse continuously to negotiate with Israel, aren’t they to blame for their own stagnation? When Palestinians make every effort to delegitimize Israel on a variety of international forums, what do they expect? To build bridges of trust with the Israeli public and leadership?! Now just imagine had Jibril Rajoub tried his best to organize friendship soccer games between Israelis and Palestinians, instead of trying to score Israel out of the field by the failed FIFA motion of last week.

By putting the blame entirely on Israel, the international community has not only alienated many Israelis, but also created a negative incentive for the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Why would they, really, if the more they DON’T NEGOTIATE the more they get?!

The BDS is an anti peace and anti Israel campaign, disguised as a progressive human rights movement. It is time to unmask it and not search for ways to legitimize it.

Unmasking BDS

About the Author
Speaker, Author, Strategic Consulatant. Past Northeast Executive Director of StandWithUs. A Former Diplomat for Israel's Foreign Ministry in London, Jerusalem, Nairobi, Los Angeles and New York. A Storyteller, who's passionate about people, culture and politics.
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