Some Inconvenient Truths about BDS

Arik Barel,

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Arik Barel
Arik Barel has an MBA from Hebrew University and is one of the leading exporters of Judaica from Israel. He writes about business in Israel, Judaism, and Israeli history. Arik lives in Jerusalem with his wife and two children.

Recently, the EU decided to formalize sanctions against businesses located in the West Bank, starting in 2014. This is an unfortunate turn of events, started by the BDS movement. The BDS movement portrays itself as worried about human rights, concerned about the economic status of Palestinians, and popularly supported. However, it only takes a little bit of work to realize that there is only a little truth in those ideas.

While BDS advocates say that the boycott is about human rights, it isn’t. In fact, France declared boycotts against Israel illegal. No other nation faces such a boycott; not even those with similar territorial disputes, like Turkey, Morocco or China. If they were worried about human rights, how about avoiding the use of petroleum products from Saudi Arabia, whose archaic laws render women not much more than property? And what about denouncing acts of violence against Israel? Fatah speaks out against violence, but BDS does not – even though they are a so-called peaceful movement.

In contrast to the ideas that BDS perpetuates, Palestinians and Israelis cooperate quite a bit. From business partnerships to environmental projects, Israelis and Palestinians work together. Ahava, in fact, used to employ residents of the Palestinian Authority, until they declared war on Israel during the intifada. And even during the height of the recent Gaza conflicts, Israel continued to supply Gazans with water, gas, and electricity. Furthermore, the myth of apartheid is hard to maintain when Israeli companies have programs to train Palestinians and an Arab, Salim Joubran, sits on the Israeli Supreme Court, but the BDS propaganda machine works very hard to keep this out of the discourse.

The BDS movement is based on a misguided sense of Western cultural superiority and cultural misunderstandings. People who do not live in the Palestinian Authority boycott Israel more than Palestinians, and Western-backed NGOs started the movement. In Ramallah recently, some residents welcomed the opening of Israeli clothing store Fox. Those who are boycotting Israel won’t be shopping there, while others will, which is how a democracy works. If you don’t like it, you don’t buy it. Which leads to the most shocking truth of the BDS movement – it’s not a true boycott.

The most often overlooked critique of the BDS movement is its strong arm, manipulative and deceitful tactics, which make it undemocratic. If people want to stop buying Israeli products, they should be free to make the choice to do so themselves. However, the BDS movement would like to make that decision for you. A small but vocal minority of BDS proponents harass musicians, artists, and academics who are want to come to Israel in addition to a general economic boycott. And now they’ve reached the leaders of the EU.

These half-truths and lies perpetuated by the BDS movement are what help legitimate the movement, encourage businesses to join the boycott by not offering Israeli products, and ultimately part of what influenced the recent EU decision. If you would like to fight the BDS movement, write your elected officials, buy Israeli products, and tell artists like Alicia Keys, who perform in Israel, that you appreciate their support. And of course, no matter where you live, vote for officials who support Israel.

By: Arik Barel