On July 16th, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) introduced a pro-BDS piece of legislation on the House floor—H.R. 496. BDS stands for “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” on the State of Israel. The resolution declares that “all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad.” While the exact text of the resolution may mislead some into believing that it is a free-speech resolution, in reality, it is simply a resolution endorsing the anti-semitic BDS movement, and comparing the Jewish State to Nazi Germany.
Those endorsing the BDS movement claim that they cannot simply sit back while the Israeli army oppresses the Palestinians and denies their basic humanity. They believe that the current situation in Israel is just another example of a powerful foreign country oppressing those with less power.
The resolution was drafted as a reaction to the bipartisan—and overwhelmingly popular— anti-BDS resolution introduced by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) which was passed in The House with a vote of 398-17.
So, because the BDS movement is gaining prevalence in American society as well as in the halls of Congress, I think it is important to examine what it really means to support the BDS movement. What was it founded on, what are its intentions, and are they really peaceful? These are key questions that must be answered.
The Founding Of BDS
The BDS movement was first formed in July of 2005, the same year that Israel pulled out from the Gaza Strip. One of the co-founders of the BDS movement was a man named Omar Bargouti. Bargouti is a person who is vehemently opposed to any existence of a Jewish state—he proudly says it himself.
Over the years, Bargouti has repeatedly expressed his view that the only solution to the conflict is one where Jews live in the minority in a unified “Palestine.” He says that he does “not buy into the two-state solution.” His vision includes a country where Palestinian “refugees” displaced over 70 years ago—largely by choice—would be permitted to return to where their grandparents lived and “end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.”
The big problem with a one-state proposal is that it would force Israel—or in Bargouti’s eyes, “Palestine”— to choose between it’s two founding values: being a Jewish state, and being a democratic state. A proposal like this gives Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad terrorists along with their supporter’s full citizenship in the only free democracy in the Middle East. This, along with the fact that Jews would become the minority, will inevitably breed one of two things: apartheid by the Jewish minority over the Arab majority, or yet another Islamic theocratic state in the Middle East where it is reasonable to assume that Jews would be persecuted. If Israel remained democratic the latter would materialize, but if Israel wanted to remain Jewish, the former would have to become a reality.
The truth is that the founder of BDS was extraordinarily clear about his beliefs and intentions in starting this movement, and those who support the movement should understand that. He does not want peace, and he does not believe in a two-state solution. Omar Bargouti had one aim in mind when founding the BDS movement: Destroy the state of Israel.
Is BDS Truly Non-Violent?
Although BDS prides itself on being a non-violent movement, the truth is that they have a long history of acting cozy with terrorists. Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs outlines the group’s extensive terrorist ties in their report, “Terrorists in Suits: The Ties Between NGOs Promoting BDS and Terrorist Organizations.”
The report “presents dozens of examples of significant ties between activists in NGOs, which delegitimize and promote boycotts of Israel, and Hamas and the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine).” The report goes on to say that “These ties manifest themselves in the form of activists who were terrorists in the past and some even in the present, and who currently fill key positions in such NGOs; in joint activities and campaigns against the State of Israel.”
Who are some of these connections? According to the report, one of the terrorists is named Muhammad Sawalha. Sawalha is a senior activist for the internationally recognized Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas. The report says that “Sawalha is deeply involved in the BDS campaign and anti-Israel activities in the UK, including establishing and leading a number of NGOs which, amongst other things, promote BDS.”
Another terrorist involved with BDS is a woman named Leila Khaled. It is noted that Khaled hijacked a TWA flight in 1969, and failed a second attempt to the same the following year as well. On one hand, she is a known terrorist, and on the other, “Khaled is a well-known figure in the BDS movement, even fundraising for the main BDS organization in South Africa.”
So, despite the outward appearance of a non-violent movement, the truth is that the BDS movement has long been in bed with terrorists. And although there are far more examples than I could go through right now, the most telling view on terrorism from within BDS comes from the founder of the movement himself. He said that Palestinians have the right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance.” That tells you all you need to know about the intentions he had in starting the organization—he intended for terrorists to be involved, and help him destroy the Jewish state.
The takeaway is this: to support the BDS movement is to support terrorism, the decimation of the Jewish state, and anything but peace. Although not every person supporting the BDS movement believes in those principles so ingrained into the fabric of BDS, the truth is that those are the things BDS was founded on, and there is no disputing that.
Ilhan Omar believes that every American has the right to boycott any country they please, and she is right. Where she is wrong, however, is in her support for the BDS movement and her specific focus on the world’s lone Jewish state as the target of those efforts.
If we want to truly solve the conflict, waging economic warfare on Israel is certainly not the way to do it. The path forward is one of understanding that Israel has the right to exist, defend itself, and protect its citizens. In a world where the BDS movement rejects all three of those basic rights, it is more urgent than ever to stand against the bigotry and hate BDS was founded on.