The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign, also known as BDS is an international movement that promotes economic and cultural boycotts against Israel. BDS publicly states that the movement wants to force Israel’s withdrawal from the “occupied territories”, remove the separation barrier in the West Bank, and grant full equality to Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel. The campaign, organized and coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, also promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war of independence to return to their homes and properties in what is now Israel as declared by the UN in 1947. And as stated by the founder of the modern BDS movement Omar Barghouti , BDS is meant to eliminate the Jewish State of Israel.
His rhetoric is not dis-similar to that of the Nazi regime during the 1030s and 1940s and even the Romans during their occupation of what is now modern Israel.
Protests and conferences in support of the BDS campaign have been held in a number of countries. Proponents of BDS erroneously compare the Israeli Palestinian conflict to the former Apartheid government in South Africa.
Opponents of BDS reject the premise that Israel is an apartheid state and correctly insist that: In Israel, Jews and Arabs mix freely and increasingly live in the same neighborhoods and enjoy more civil and political rights that any other country in the middle east. In fact, there is no Muslim country in the world that grants freedom of religion like Israel. Unlike the old South African regime, in Israel there is no imposed segregation. The BDS movement is antisemitic in its denunciation of Zionism and the promotion of the delegitimization of Israel as a Jewish state.
Both major political parties in the United States oppose the BDS movement and state that BDS rejects Israel's legitimacy and fosters antisemitism. In 2015, Tennessee became the first state to pass a resolution condemning BDS.
The resolution states the BDS movement is “one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitism and advocating the elimination of the Jewish state,” and that BDS activities in Tennessee “undermine the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, which they are fulfilling in the State of Israel.” The resolution also states the BDS movement and its agenda are “inherently antithetical and deeply damaging to the causes of peace, justice, equality, democracy and human rights for all the peoples in the Middle East.”
As of November 2018, 26 states have passed anti-BDS legislation.
Other critics of the BDS include New Criterion, a New York-based monthly literary magazine and journal of artistic and cultural criticism, that reported: 300 university presidents denounced BDS as inimical to the academic spirit. By depicting Israel as a racist, fascist, totalitarian, and apartheid state, BDS engages in defamation and demonization of Israel.
The BDS movement does not target Israel's policies but rather targets Israel's legitimacy as the long-needed home for the Jewish people who’ve suffered the brutality of antisemitism for millennia. Delegitimizing Israel’s right to be a Jewish democracy is a nonstarter in any political conversation. Israel’s economic and industrial might can and will easily withstand the boycott, which The Economist calls "flimsy and ineffective,” noting that "blaming Israel alone for the impasse in the occupied territories will continue to strike many outsiders as unfair." Palestinian leadership does not support the boycott.
Alan Dershowitz and the Israeli Action Network note that "The BDS movement is immoral because it would hurt the wrong people," such as Palestinians employees of the Israeli firms affected by BDS or patients awaiting medicine made by those companies. Dershowitz also argues the BDS movement disincentivizes the Palestinian leadership from negotiating with Israel.
The Anti-Defamation League similarly encouraged critics of Israel to promote constructive dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian actors rather than destructive and one-sided delegitimization tactics.
Author J. K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame writes: The Palestinian community has the right to be heard and seek resolutions to the conflict. What sits uncomfortably with me is that severing contact with Israel’s cultural and academic community means refusing to engage with some Israelis who are most pro-Palestinian and a two-state solution.
The BDS movement, at its heart – when you see what is really behind it and the people who have organized it – is intent on the destruction of the State of Israel. If you look at the founding documents of the groups that first proposed B.D.S., they called for a full right of return, and, essentially, in practical terms, they’re calling for the destruction of the State of Israel. I do not think that any kid who supports B.D.S. is ipso facto an anti-Semite. I think they’re ill-informed and not being helpful in seeking a pragmatic solution.
In conclusion: the BDS movement is misguided, ineffective, and only delays genuine efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel is a vibrant democracy and a flourishing economic, cultural and scientific powerhouse. That’ll never change. Trying to boycott a few Israeli companies is juvenile and does nothing to improve the dynamics or offer reasonable solutions.