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The Anti-Israel BDS Campaign
Alan Baker and Adam Shay for Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Vol. 12, No. 2    20 March 2012


Manipulation and Deception: The Anti-Israel "BDS" Campaign

(Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions)

One of the weapons presently being used in the campaign to delegitimize Israel in the international community is the so-called "BDS movement," targeting and manipulating social society and the general public at the grass-roots level to act against Israel in academic, commercial, social, and cultural fields.

  • This movement, inspired and generated by the infamous 2001 Durban UN Conference against Racism, bases itself on a number of very basic, general, and widely used political slogans, deliberately couched in terminology reminiscent of South Africa's apartheid regime and oft-repeated anti-Israel slogans prevalent in resolutions of the UN General Assembly and the Durban NGO Plan of Action. Such slogans include accusations that Israel is an "apartheid and colonizing state," a "discriminatory occupation regime," a violator of international law, a "repressive occupier," and the like.
  • The nature of the campaign is such as to appeal to the genuine humanitarian sentiments of the grass-roots groups to whom they direct their efforts - whether these are students on campuses, members of the general public frequenting stores and supermarkets, attendees at cultural events, performers, or commercial entities trading with Israel. The aim is to manipulate these people, who are generally unfamiliar with the intricate details and history of the issues in the Middle East, by instilling into their minds an inherent bias against, and hostility towards, Israel. This targeted audience can easily and sincerely identify themselves with and support any movement that ostensibly opposes apartheid, discrimination, inequality, and colonialism.
  • This movement is composed of a relatively small number of full-time, well-financed, anti-Israel activists, who are inspired and encouraged by senior figures in the Palestinian public, including Omar Barghouti, Mustafa Barghouti, Nabil Sha'att, and others. They organize events mostly throughout Europe and in North America, raise funds, and arrange seminars, conferences, and demonstrations in support of isolating and boycotting Israel in every way possible. They claim to enjoy the support of hundreds of Arab, Palestinian, and other non-governmental organizations signatory to their basic documentation. However, upon examination, many of these NGOs appear to be either fictional, non-existent, and even, in some cases, front-organizations for Hamas and other terror groups.
  • Their mode of operation includes stalking members of the general public on the streets and arranging seminars intended to "brainwash" activists with factually inaccurate, misleading, and false information and accusations regarding Israel. It also includes threats of action against companies, suppliers, stores, academic institutions, as well as performers, unless they disassociate themselves from any Israel-related connection. In many cases this constitutes blatant harassment of the general public, and arbitrary denial of basic rights to freedom of choice, freedom to use public areas in shopping malls and streets, freedom to enter stores, freedom to purchase, freedom to conduct commercial relations, and freedom to choose cultural and artistic events. The BDS campaign thereby abuses democratic rights and freedoms in the social, cultural, commercial, and educational spheres of those countries in which it is conducted.
  • From the substantive point of view, the BDS campaign feeds on and demonstrates a blatant and deliberate ignorance and denial of the basic issues involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The oft-repeated use of such slogans as "apartheid" and "colonialism" and the like with respect to Israel demonstrates total ignorance of the significance of the terms used, and an acute lack of familiarity with the democratic character of Israel and the actual situation in the area.                            
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