Surprise! BDS Is Not the Solution

To my friend who liked this article,

About a week or so ago, an article that you “liked” on Facebook appeared on my newsfeed. Usually, I would glance at the picture and the subtitle and continue on with my day, but after reading this particular article’s title, “How I know BDS will Win,” I was both shocked and dismayed. You are a strong Israel advocate. You are a Zionist. You fight for Israel on your campus and yet you liked this article. Since, we don’t get to see one another too frequently, I figured I mine-as-well, jot down some thoughts.

Let me start with the author’s subtitle: “BDS is compelling because it offers a concrete solution.” This is flat out wrong. BDS does not offer a concrete solution to any of the major problems within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For those who believe that settlements or the “occupation” are the greatest obstacle to peace and thus the greatest problem, BDS does not offer a concrete solution to this problem. Instead its proposed solution – end the occupation by pressuring the Israeli government into leaving the West Bank – promotes a one-sided interpretation that victimizes Palestinians and certainly does not promote compromise or dialogue. An ideal solution would be two-states or widespread institutions that promote coexistence, neither of which BDS fosters. The safest and quickest way for Israel to transfer power to the Palestinians is through negotiations.

BDS does not promote negotiations. Additionally, BDS does not offer a solution or even address many of the other major problems in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict such as the refugee issue. Something as simple as recognizing and supporting Palestinian resettlement or permanent status as citizens not as refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan or the Palestinian Territories will dramatically help the situation by creating a scenario where Palestinians feel recognized as citizens and people, instead of tools for the Arab world. Most importantly and most troubling, BDS does not offer any solution nor does it even come close to addressing the biggest obstacles to Palestinian statehood: Palestinian governmental corruption, the lack of any type of long-lasting and independent institution necessary for a state, continual incitement, a mentality of governmental rejectionism, or the question of how a society can be run by a terrorist organization in one place and a corrupt one in another and expect to come together as one peaceful union. So, BDS’ “solution” does not seem so concrete. I guess one perspective could be that anything is better than nothing, but BDS just barely suffices as anything.

Another point that really astounds me is the author’s quick dismissal of anti-Semitism and misinformation as possible factors contributing to the rising success of BDS movements. He claims that BDS cannot be caused by either of these effects because they are “age-old” problems. But it is exactly for these reasons that BDS exists. Anti-Semitism and misinformation are alive and well. You can see anti-Semitism all over the world from the swastikas drawn on my campus to the shootings in France or Kansas. Misinformation is perhaps even more ubiquitous. One important lesson that we have learned from the summer’s war and the recent terrorist attack in Har Nof is the catastrophe that is our current media. From harassed reporters broadcasting an incomplete portrayal of events on the ground and only revealing the truth weeks later, to the truly shocking stories about the Associated Press’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to the complete lack of responsibility and credibility that CNN has demonstrated, there is clear misinformation widely being spread and to ignore it, is absurd. Evidently misinformation cannot be ignored as a potential factor of BDS’ growing strength, nor is it reasonable to dismiss Anti-Semitism simply because it’s been happening for a while.

The only reason that BDS is being approved now and not years ago is because it didn’t exist years ago. BDS is a new phenomenon to delegitimize Israel. It is misguided by anti-Semitism and ignorance and only barely addresses one of the major stumbling blocks of peace, doing so very poorly and inadequately.

I am truly disappointed that the author seems to have given up. He fights against BDS, but conceding that it will win does not seem to me like he is putting up a very strong fight. BDS will only win if we let it win. As the author correctly points out, a solution is needed. If we challenge the misinformation, if we fight for PLO accountability, and we demand responsibility and action for aid money, then maybe we can make a difference.

We must stop trying to delegitimize one another and recognize the pain felt on both sides. We must hold the Palestinian governments accountable, while also encouraging the Israeli government to re-launch peace talks. And we must stop spreading misinformation and stop trying to boycott, divest and sanction a major party necessary for peace. Saying that BDS is the solution to this conflict is almost as crazy as CNN’s headline for the Har Nof terror attacks: “Deadly attack on Jerusalem Mosque” or “Police shot, killed two Palestinians.”

About the Author
Noah is a student at Tufts University majoring in Political Science and Psychology.