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October 29, 2014 7:22 am

BDS: Boycott or Blacklist?

avatar by Alex Margolin

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A Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) protest against Israel in Melbourne, Australia, on June 5, 2010. Photo: Mohamed Ouda via Wikimedia Commons.

The BDS movement’s boycott against Israel is, for all practical purposes, a blacklist designed to remove Israel from the world stage.

It’s well documented that the movement is primarily a tool for spreading anti-Israel propaganda. It’s time to use language about the movement that reflects its true nature.

The calls for boycott of Israel economically, culturally, and academically have virtually no effect in those areas other than to blacken Israel’s name. But the use of the term “boycott” grants the movement an aura of righteousness it does not deserve.

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As one student group said when it was discovered using Israeli web technology to promote a boycott of Israel, “BDS is a tactic, not a principle.” It is a tactic for spreading hate, not for promoting peace and reconciliation.

Indeed, if it were a principle, standing for human rights or for justice, its supporters would fight for those values everywhere. But only Israel is subject to BDS campaigns, demonstrating that BDS is, in fact, a blacklist, not a boycott in the name of justice.

The movement claims that one of its core goals is to fight for the rights of Arabs living in Israel. But its list of successes has no relationship to its stated goals. They reflect success only in blacklisting Israel, not in serving the practical interests of the Palestinians.

As longtime activist Todd Gitlin noted in Tablet magazine this week:

The human rights of Palestinians in Israel are surely in need of defense, and a campaign toward that end is justified. Why an Israel fending off sanctions and boycotts would be more likely to honor Palestinian rights escapes me. Where is the evidence that, as the BDS movement has gained ground, Israeli treatment of its Arab minority has improved?

The effort to blacklist Israel into virtual non-existence is clearly on display in the American Studies Association’s academic boycott of Israel.

The association made it clear that any Israeli could attend its upcoming conference, even Benjamin Netanyahu, as long as he or she attended individually, not as an Israeli. “In other words, PM Netanyahu can come but we will write his title as Mr. Netanyahu in the program, or Benjamin Netanyahu on his name badge,” ASA Executive Director John Stephens told the website Inside Higher Ed.

The ASA calls that a boycott, but it’s actually a statement that Israelis don’t deserve a seat at the table, just as a blacklist says some people are considered unacceptable in certain situations.

It’s time to start referring to the BDS using the term that reflects its discrimination against Israel, violation of academic freedom, and demonization of anyone associated with the Jewish State.

In BDS, B is for blacklist, not boycott.

This article was originally published by HonestReporting.

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