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Ten Reasons Why the BDS Movement is Immoral and Hinders Peace

February 12, 2014 12:55 pm 5 comments

Presentation supporting the boycott of Israeli-made products. Photo: Algemeiner.

As a strong supporter of the two state solution and a critic of Israel’s settlement policies, I am particularly appalled at efforts to impose divestment, boycotts and sanctions against Israel, and Israel alone, because BDS makes it more difficult to achieve a peaceful resolution of the Mid-East conflict that requires compromise on all sides.

The BDS movement is highly immoral, threatens the peace process and discourages the Palestinians from agreeing to any reasonable peace offer. Here are ten compelling reasons why the BDS movement is immoral and incompatible with current efforts to arrive at a peace compromise.

1.      The BDS movement immorally imposes the entire blame for the continuing Israeli occupation and settlement policy on the Israelis. It refuses to acknowledge the historical reality that on at least three occasions, Israel offered to end the occupation and on all three occasions, the Palestinian leadership, supported by its people, refused to accept these offers. In 1967, I played a small role in drafting UN Security Council Resolution 242 that set out the formula for ending the occupation in exchange for recognition of Israel’s right to exist in peace. Israel accepted that Resolution, while the Palestinians, along with all the Arab nations, gathered in Khartoum and issued their three famous “nos:” No peace, no negotiation, no recognition. There were no efforts to boycott, sanction or divest from these Arab naysayers. In 2000-2001, Israel’s liberal Prime Minister Ehud Barak, along with American President Bill Clinton, offered the Palestinians statehood, and the end of the occupation. Yasser Arafat rejected this offer—a rejection that many Arab leaders considered a crime against the Palestinian people. In 2007, Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians an even better deal, an offer to which they failed to respond. There were no BDS threats against those who rejected Israel’s peace offers. Now there are ongoing peace negotiations in which both parties are making offers and imposing conditions. Under these circumstances, it is immoral to impose blame only on Israel and to direct a BDS movement only against the nation state of the Jewish people, that has thrice offered to end the occupation in exchange for peace.

2.      The current BDS movement, especially in Europe and on some American university campuses, emboldens the Palestinians to reject compromise solutions to the conflict. Some within the Palestinian leadership have told me that the longer they hold out against making peace, the more powerful will be the BDS movement against Israel. Why not wait until the BDS strengthens their bargaining position so that they won’t have to compromise by giving up the ‘right of return,’ by agreeing to a demilitarized state and by making other concessions that are necessary for peace but difficult for some Palestinians to accept? The BDS movement is making a peaceful resolution harder.

3.      The BDS movement is immoral because its leaders will never be satisfied with the kind of two state solution that is acceptable to Israel. Many of its leaders do not believe in the concept of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. (The major leader of the BDS movement, Marwan Barghouti, has repeatedly expressed his opposition to Israel’s right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people even within the 1967 borders.) At bottom, therefore, the leadership of the BDS movement is opposed not only to Israel’s occupation and settlement policy but to its very existence.

4.      The BDS movement is immoral because it violates the core principle of human rights: namely, “the worst first.” Israel is among the freest and most democratic nations in the world. It is certainly the freest and most democratic nation in the Middle East. Its Arab citizens enjoy more rights than Arabs anywhere else in the world. They serve in the Knesset, in the Judiciary, in the Foreign Service, in the academy and in business. They are free to criticize Israel and to support its enemies. Israeli universities are hot beds of anti-Israel rhetoric, advocacy and even teaching. Israel has a superb record on women’s rights, gay rights, environmental rights and other rights that barely exist in most parts of the world. Moreover, Israel’s record of avoiding civilian casualties, while fighting enemies who hide their soldiers among civilians, is unparalleled in the world today. The situation on the West Bank is obviously different because of the occupation, but even the Arabs of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Tulkarim have more human and political rights than the vast majority of Arabs in the world today. Moreover, anyone—Jew, Muslim or Christian—dissatisfied with Israeli actions can express that dissatisfaction in the courts, and in the media, both at home and abroad. That freedom does not exist in any Arab country, nor in many non-Arab countries. Yet Israel is the only country in the world today being threatened with BDS. When a sanction is directed against only a state with one of the best records of human rights, and that nation happens to be the state of the Jewish people, the suspicion of bigotry must be considered.

5.      The BDS movement is immoral because it would hurt the wrong people:  it would hurt Palestinian workers who will lose their jobs if economic sanctions are directed against firms that employ them. It would hurt artists and academics, many of whom are the strongest voices for peace and an end to the occupation. It would hurt those suffering from illnesses all around the world who would be helped by Israeli medicine and the collaboration between Israeli scientists and other scientists. It would hurt the high tech industry around the world because Israel contributes disproportionally to the development of such life enhancing technology.

6.      The BDS movement is immoral because it would encourage Iran—the world’s leading facilitator of international terrorism—to unleash its surrogates, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, against Israel, in the expectation that if Israel were to respond to rocket attacks, the pressure for BDS against Israel would increase, as it did when Israel responded to thousands of rockets from Gaza in 2008-2009.

7.      The BDS movement is immoral because it focuses the world’s attention away from far greater injustices, including genocide. By focusing disproportionately on Israel, the human rights community pays disproportionately less attention to the other occupations, such as those by China, Russia and Turkey, and to other humanitarian disasters such as that occurring in Syria.

8.      The BDS movement is immoral because it promotes false views regarding the nation state of the Jewish people, exaggerates its flaws and thereby promotes a new variation on the world’s oldest prejudice, namely anti-Semitism. It is not surprising therefore that the BDS movement is featured on neo-Nazi, Holocaust denial and other overtly anti-Semitic websites and is promoted by some of the world’s most notorious haters such as David Duke.

9.      The BDS movement is immoral because it reflects and encourages a double standard of judgment and response regarding human rights violations. By demanding more of Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people, it expects less of other states, people, cultures and religions, thereby ratifying a form of colonial racism and reverse bigotry that hurts the victims of human rights violations inflicted by others.

10.   The BDS movement will never achieve its goals. Neither the Israeli government nor the Israeli people will ever capitulate to the extortionate means implicit in BDS. They will not and should not make important decisions regarding national security and the safety of their citizens on the basis of immoral threats. Moreover, were Israel to compromise its security in the face of such threats, the result would be more wars, more death and more suffering.

All decent people who seek peace in the Middle East should join together in opposing the immoral BDS movement. Use your moral voices to demand that both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority accept a compromise peace that assures the security of Israel and the viability of a peaceful and democratic Palestinian state. The way forward is not by immoral extortionate threats that do more harm than good, but rather by negotiations, compromise and good will.

A version of this article was published by Haaretz.

5 Comments

  • Settlements are legal Eugene W. Rostow assistant secretary of state for the United States in 1967 who wrote UN resolution 242 wrote in several articles New Republic in 1991 that resolution 242 never meant for Israel to go back to the 67 borders. He also wrote that settlements were legal in the West Bank based on the fact that the British mandate in 1922 could not be rescinded. There is nothing in his writings in any agreements that say Israel had to go back to 67, and nothing was ever mentioned about land swaps.Read also what the other authors wrote about Resolution 242 in the January 15 2007 article in Camera titled. “Security Council Resolution 242 According to its Drafters”

    Lord Caradon: Quotes Res 242
    “Much play has been made of the fact that we didn’t say “the” territories or “all the” territories. But that
    was deliberate. I myself knew very well the 1967 boundaries and if we had put in the “the” or “all the” that could only have meant that we
    wished to see the 1967 boundaries perpetuated in the form of a permanent frontier. This I was certainly not prepared to recommend.”

    “We could have said: well, you go back to the 1967 line. But I know the 1967 line, and it’s a rotten line”

    “Had we said that you must go back to the 1967 line, which would have resulted if we had specified a
    retreat from all the occupied territories, we would have been wrong.”

    Dr. Jacques Gauthier, a Canadian lawyer who specializes in international law says that the San Remo Conference was the “final hearing” of a “world court,” the council of the five leading nations and victors of World War I. The “case” before the “court” began at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, where both the Jews and the Arabs of the Middle East submitted claims to the council to obtain independence and control of various territories. Gauthier calls April 24-25 in San Remo the “key defining moment in history” on the issue of title to Jerusalem and says that Chaim Weizmann called the decision the “most important moment for the Jewish people since the exile.”

    Please see the 5 or so YouTube video lectures on Jerusalem judea and Samaria international law by famed non Jewish international lawyer Dr. Jacques Gauthier. Unfortunely can’t post links in this forum. I only say “non Jewish” because to some bigots might use the excuse that he is Jewish for his Pro Israeli legal opinion

    The Britsh Mandate was recognized by the league of nations in 1923. As per wiki “In June 1922 the League of Nations approved the Palestine Mandate with effect from September 1923. The Palestine Mandate was an explicit document regarding Britain’s responsibilities and powers of administration in Palestine including ‘securing the establishment of the Jewish national home’, and ‘safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine”

  • A few more major flaws which I point out on Al Arabiya whenever there is an article on BDS. Palestinians are major consumers of Israeli goods and punishing Israeli businesses will further limit Palestinian people starting with toothpaste in the morning. 2. BDS is antithetical to education, they only present 1 side and Omar Barghouti the founder of BDS went to University in Israel. 3. BDS has been used to condone murdering Jews, spread blood libel, and is used to intimidate and harass American Jewish students here. 4. BDS claims to be non-political and race neutral – both flat out lies period. 5. As stated above BDS not only hurts Palestinians who depend on Israeli jobs and currency but also maybe worse there is all this “activism/hate” and it doesn’t help Palestinians in any way whatsoever. Very good Article!

  • Dear Mr. Dershowitz

    According to NGO-Monitor
    http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/usa_usaid

    NED (National Endowment for Democracy), based in DC,
    Claims that it is “Funded largely by the U.S. Congress, the support NED gives to groups abroad sends an important message of solidarity to many democrats who are working for freedom and human rights, often in obscurity and isolation”

    Now, if you’ll check their west bank and Gaza page

    http://www.ned.org/where-we-work/middle-east-and-northern-africa/west-bank-and-gaza-strip

    You’ll find that the money starts it’s way in the US congress ends at NGOs like “Holy Land Trust” and
    “Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy” AKA MIFTAH , Which support BDS.
    So, let’s start by stopping US taxpayers money from going to immoral x 10 places . That will be a good start.

  • Yes, BDS is immoral – so are Jim Crow laws against Jews.

  • sorry mean its Mustafa Barghouti who is associated with BDS – I guess we can all do it.

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