The immorality of BDS

The global Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement describes itself as a “strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice.” Defenders of Israel have accused BDS of being many things – anti-Semitic, racist and counter-productive to name a few.

I think that a more basic argument has been overlooked – that by any standard of morality, BDS is totally immoral.

Let us suppose you believe that the lack of peace in the Middle East is Israel`s fault, that Israel deserves BDS more than any other country in the world, and that BDS will convince Israel to renege on its security demands and give the Palestinians a state (for the record, I believe none of the above). BDS is still totally immoral, because by boycotting Israeli companies, universities and start-ups, one is causing incredible damage to millions of people around the world, and any benefit of helping the Palestinians is cancelled out by the far greater costs around the world caused by boycotting Israel.

Israeli inventions, such as the First Care Bandage, Mobileye and Babysense save countless lives around the world every day. (One high profile example — when Gabrielle Giffords was shot in 2011, her life was saved by a First Care Bandage.) Israeli water-desalination technology helps provide water in drought-stricken parts of the world such as Africa, and recently, California. The list of start ups that are significantly changing lives around the world is endless, and at a more basic level, every user of Waze, or a flash drive, will testify that Israeli start-ups have enriched their own life in some small way. (And the Start-Up nation is not running out of ideas.

So here is the question for supporters of BDS — What right do you have to prioritize the lives of “oppressed” Palestinians over the lives of drought-struck Africans? What right do you have to fight for justice for Palestinian children at the expense of children who Israel saves from cot-death? Are you sure that the plight of the Palestinians is so bad, that it merits causing tremendous damage to millions of people around the world?

Even if you believe BDS will work, the price that you pay to through its implementation are incalculable. Not only does BDS single out Israel as being the worst amongst all nations, but it also believes that it is worth harming everyone around the world, including people suffering far greater troubles than the Palestinians, for the sake of that cause. Defenders of morality, regardless of their position on the Israeli Arab conflict, should stand strongly against the immorality of the BDS movement.

About the Author
Aron White, 22, is currently studying and teaching in Yeshivat HaKotel, whilst studying for a degree in Politics and International Relations through LSE.