The BDS Movement Is Racist and Violent
On January 27, the King’s College London student community invited Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, to speak on an anti-racism panel.
BDS is currently the world’s largest pro-Palestinian activist movement, inspiring countless international marches and protests on university campuses. Although it is officially a non-violent movement, it aims to destroy Israel as a Jewish state. Furthermore, there have been numerous ties to terrorist groups, explicit support of terrorism from the movement’s leaders, and countless examples of marches turning violent. At King’s College in January 2016, for example, BDS protestors smashed windows and assaulted Israel Society talk attendees.
Thus, it is unsurprising that this movement has divided opinion, and provokes powerful voices of support as often as it does ones of condemnation. World leaders on both sides of the political spectrum have come out against BDS, with the UK soon looking to introduce an anti-BDS law, which will prohibit public bodies from promoting the cause.
Given the claims from world leaders that the BDS movement is toxic, and given the movement’s longstanding ties to terrorist organizations, does the BDS movement or any of its advocates belong on an anti-racism panel?
The BDS campaign calls on everyone to inflict non-violent measures against Israel, intending to pressure it into compliance with its flawed understanding of international law and human rights. It urges the public, governments, and corporations to end trade with Israel and Israeli companies, as well as to effectively excommunicate Israel and its universities from international communities, by urging UK institutions and others to deny Israelis (and their supporters) any public opportunity to speak — and by opposing any “normalization” between Israelis and people in Europe and around the world.
In the past, the BDS movement has focused on Israeli-owned companies with operations in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria. In reality, these efforts hurt businesses with factories or farms in the West Bank with a largely Palestinian workforce — and, as a result, end up hurting Palestinians and costing them their jobs. When a SodaStream factory in the West Bank closed, at least 100 Palestinians lost their positions.
Furthermore, the movement may present itself as peaceful, but there have been countless cases of its activists creating hostile and potentially dangerous environments for Jewish people on university campuses. BDS supporters will counter these claims by pointing to the movement’s 2018 Nobel Peace Prize nomination. Yet this nomination means very little. The BDS movement was nominated by Norwegian parliamentarian Bjørnar Moxnes — the chairman of the far-left Red Party, which holds a single seat of 169 in the Norwegian parliament. This nomination is a farce, and means nothing.
What’s more important is BDS’ constant link to known terrorist organizations. One such example of this is the global leadership of the BDS operation — the BDS National Committee’s — membership. which includes the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, which itself includes several groups designated as terrorist organizations, such as Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
In addition to this, tens of financial accounts linked to BDS have been shut down in the US and EU in the past few years, due to ties with terrorist groups. In an interview from late 2010, even Barghouti has spoken in support of violent attacks on “settlers” (i.e. civilians), calling them “legitimate targets.”
The BDS movement has consistently been linked with terrorist organizations, and its supporters have become aggressive and violent towards any and all who disagree with their view of Israel. The methods that the movement urges show little regard for hurting civilians, even Palestinian ones — all the while, creating a divide between Israeli people and Palestinians.
There is a good reason why so many world leaders, prominent politicians and government institutions view BDS as toxic, given the actions of its followers. BDS does not belong in any conversation about anti-racism.
Elliot Orenstein is a CAMERA on Campus UK Fellow for King’s College London University.