Saturday, May 28th | 27 Iyyar 5782

September 7, 2018 10:38 am

A BDS Lesson in Dishonesty

avatar by Daniel Pomerantz


A BDS demonstration outside the School of Oriental and African Studies in London in 2017. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In a 2,000-word diatribe in The New York Times, Joesph Levine, a philosophy professor and a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Academic Advisory Council, defends BDS, asking, “Is Boycotting Israel ‘Hate’?”

He claims, “Opponents of the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement are involved in a dishonest branding campaign.”


Make no mistake, the purpose of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is to destroy Israel.

Listen to Omar Barghouti, the founder of BDS:

Definitely most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.

(Separately, Barghouti clarifies that “Palestine” means all of Israel.)

Here is As’ad AbuKhalil, a California State University professor of Political Science, and a BDS leader and activist:

The real aim of BDS is to bring down the State of Israel .. this should be stated as an unambiguous goal.

Here is John Spritzler, author, BDS leader, and activist:

I think the BDS movement will gain strength from forthrightly explaining why Israel has no right to exist

The BDS Cookbook does an excellent job of researching and precisely sourcing dozens of similar statements from BDS founders, activists, and leaders.

Levine variously ignores, or outright covers up these statements, and the true, stated purpose of the BDS movement, which is Israel’s destruction.

Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Voice for Peace is not a voice for peace.  The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) describes JVP as:

 …a radical anti-Israel activist group that advocates for a complete economic, cultural and academic boycott of the state of Israel.

In 2015, JVP Deputy Director Cecilie Surasky said that  the fundamentally Jewish idea that “Israel is to be a light unto nations” means that:

Ethnic cleansing, even genocide — these are all divinely justified.

The ADL understood that statement to be antisemitic.

JVP has officially equated Zionism with white supremacism, and has a program called “Deadly Exchange” in which the organization actually blames Israel for police brutality in America.

The ADL also points out that JVP gives “cover to anti-Semites who couch their malice toward Jews as mere anti-Zionism.” To whit, comments by JVP followers on social media include statements like “Israel should be wiped from the face of the earth,” and “Israel was responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks.”

Reasonableness and free speech

Levine invokes the concepts of reasonableness and free speech. Yet the organizations he supports do exactly the opposite — they shut down speakers with whom they disagree, and work to prevent Israeli artists, academics, or politicians from even visiting college campuses or other collaborative forums.

And make no mistake, in America a private boycott of a foreign nation has never been considered “free speech” under the US Constitution. This a topic we addressed in some technical depth in the past.


Levine engages in many claims that range from misleading to outright wrong. Yet all are based on the premise that it is perfectly acceptable to support a movement that works for the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state, to silence all those with whom you disagree, and then to paradoxically claim that you are a bastion of morality, reasonableness, and freedom.

Nothing could be more (in the words of Joseph Levine himself) dishonest.

A version of this article was originally published at HonestReporting. The author can be found on Twitter at @DanielSpeaksUp.

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