The pro-Pales­tinian, anti-Israel BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanc­tions) is a prominent element of the pro­gres­sivism of our time.

BDS is a movement that seeks to pressure Israel through non-violent, eco­nomic means for three stated goals: dis­mantle Israel’s barrier in the West Bank and regain lands taken in the Six-Day War of 1967, force Israel to acknowledge the equal rights of “Arab-Pales­tinian cit­izens,” and promote a Pales­tinian “right of return” as out­lined in United Nations Res­o­lution 194, adopted just after the for­mation of Israel in 1948.

The BDS movement, though admirable for its peace­fulness, is inher­ently flawed. Its under­lying assump­tions about the core qual­ities of the Israeli state are that it is a state built on lands stolen from Pales­tinians, and that there cannot be a fun­da­men­tally Jewish state. These core assump­tions are the cause of the con­flict and the BDS movement’s mis­un­der­standings of Israel. Broadly speaking, the sup­porters of this movement are either mis­guided in their under­standing of the par­ticular socio-political issues between Israel and Palestine or fun­da­men­tally opposed to the exis­tence of a Jewish state in the Middle East.

Con­sider the second stated goal of BDS: “Rec­og­nizing the fun­da­mental rights of the Arab-Pales­tinian cit­izens of Israel to full equality.” While equality is a noble goal, it is not clear what sort of equality they desire. If it is full par­tic­i­pation of current Pales­tinians in the political process of the state of Israel, then that would mean a destruction of the current order of Israel as a Jewish state. If they desire equality in self-rule, they already have that to a great extent through the Pales­tinian Authority, the party in power in the West Bank.

They are not rep­re­sented in Jewish set­tle­ments in the West Bank, but that can only be solved by nego­ti­ating peace and com­promise with Israel. The Pales­tinian Authority has made it clear that they will not reach peace through any sort of com­promise of land. Hamas, the ter­rorist party in power in the Gaza Strip, has indi­cated that they will not reach peace with Israel under any con­di­tions.

Those who back BDS have a fun­da­mental mis­un­der­standing of both how to properly enact political change and of the unique com­plex­ities of the Israel-Palestine sit­u­ation. This is demon­strated by their third stated goal, that of adhering to U.N. Res­o­lution 194. Com­plying with inter­na­tional agree­ments seems like a good way to achieve peace on its face, but the res­o­lution was passed in 1948 while Israel was still bat­tling for its inde­pen­dence. At the time of the res­o­lution, all Arab states rejected the plan and Israel was unrep­re­sented in the United Nations.

But 68 years and several wars and intifadas later, Israel’s ter­ri­tories have expanded through lands taken in wartime from their aggressors. Rela­tions with Pales­tinians have also worsened over the last two decades. To ask Israel to abide by a 68-year-old plan dic­tated by an inter­na­tional body in which they had no rep­re­sen­tation, and which all Arab coun­tries rejected, is unre­al­istic and unfair.

Finally, the BDS movement white­washes the reasons behind Israel’s set­tlement of lands in the West Bank and the Golan Heights and mil­itary mea­sures against both the West Bank and Gaza. The BDS movement asserts that set­tlement con­sti­tutes a vio­lation of human rights and goes directly against inter­na­tional law, but it ignores the fact that these lands were seized from mil­itary aggressors.

The Israeli gov­ernment has a policy of “land for peace” that began due to sug­ges­tions in UN Res­o­lution 242 in the aftermath of the Six-Day war and has dic­tated decades of Israeli peace nego­ti­a­tions and security policy since. This policy played out in Israel’s nego­ti­ation for peace with Egypt in 1979. Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula in return for a lasting peace with Egypt and the agreement has proved suc­cessful in years since. This doc­trine also prompted the uni­lateral with­drawal from Gaza in 2005, but since the with­drawal was not accom­panied by any form of peace agreement, the con­flict with Gaza has esca­lated.

Since the land given to Gaza has not resulted in peace, Israel’s current position is to stay in the West Bank until there is a mul­ti­lateral peace agreement. This means that the Pales­tinian Authority in the West Bank must be willing to nego­tiate and com­promise if they want sole control in the West Bank, since Israel will not give up land again without a promise of peace, even under eco­nomic pressure. Until then, set­tle­ments will stand, Israel will be under threat from all sides, and the BDS movement may con­tinue spouting its sim­plistic nar­rative of oppression and calling for Israel to give up its land, without properly under­standing a complex, mer­curial region of history and deeply rooted con­flict.

  • Robert Skinner

    Two bottles of wine on the shelf. One from Napa Ca. The other from ille­gally occupied Palestine. The wine from Israel was grown with what amounts to slave labor. Israeli wine grown with water stolen from Palestine on ille­gally occupied land in vio­lation of the Geneva con­vention.
    Israeli tech­nology industry the highest paying jobs in Israel. They do not employ non jews. Lots of non jews live in Israel.

    • Ron Barak

      The amount of igno­rance you show about the con­di­tions in Israel is stag­gering.
      I worked in the Israeli High-Tech industry since 1983, and had many col­leagues working side by side with me who were Muslim and Christian Arabs, as well as Druze (at Intel, HP, Com­verse, and LSI). During my studies at Haifa Uni­versity (1983 – 1987, Math­e­matics), nearly 1/3 of my class­mates were Arabs (which were much younger than me, since they did not serve in the Army. So, if at all, Israeli Arabs enjoy all the ben­efits of cit­i­zen­ships in Israel, but do not have all the duties).

      Arab Israelis selve on the Supreme courts, in the Knesset, in all pro­fes­sions (the number of Arab Doctors, men AND women, is much greater than their 20% of the pop­u­lation, and you’d be hard pressed to find a phar­macist in Israel who is NOT Arab).

      I dare you to show me ANY state in the Middle East were Arab men and women enjoy such equality as in Israel.

      I suggest you read the lan­guage of the San Remo res­o­lution, the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, and the UN charter, or the Israeli Law, before casting such wild alle­gation as “ille­gally occupied Palestine”, “slave labor”, or “[t]hey do not employ non jews”.

      • Robert Skinner

        On one side I have a Zionist who is x IDF telling me Israel is fair to Palestine people. On the other side of the issue I have daily news telling me Israel is guilty of crimes against humanity against Palestine. I see the Zionist state adopting policy to shoot Palestine people on the street.
        Want to say Israel is a fair and hon­orable state don’t tell me tell it to the ICC. A fair trial for Israel’s war crim­inals should clear the air.

        • Ron Barak

          I see.
          So if a French, Belgian, Or Nor­wegian policeman shoots a knife-wielding, Allahu-Akbar-shouting person from stabbing a pregnant French, Belgian, or Nor­wegian woman, the policeman is a hero, but if the policeman is Israeli pro­tecting an Israeli woman, he’s “adopting policy to shoot Palestine people on the street”.

          I wonder what you’d expect of YOUR police force to do when a knife-wielding, Allahu-Akbar-shouting person would try to stab your wife or daughter: hand the “shahid” a bouke of flowers?

          • Robert Skinner

            Those coun­tries are not an illegal occu­pying power guilty of crimes against humanity using my tax money , Zionist Israel is,

          • Ron Barak

            Let’s leave side your ridiculous unsub­stan­tiated* assertion of “illegal occu­pying power guilty of crimes against humanity” and talk of your tax money.

            Who pay taxes for the US Army sol­diers sta­tioned in Europe as part of NATO?

            And, if you’re so worried of where your tax money goes to, you’d be happy with the good usage it is put to here:

            — —  —  —  — –
            * If you’d like to debate your “illegal occu­pying power guilty of crimes against humanity” insane assertion, I’d be glad to. Care to give doc­u­mented con­crete examples sup­porting your views?

          • Robert Skinner

            Israeli crimes against humanity is an issue. A big issue. So no I will not ignore Israel mur­dering people to steal land. If Israel was a good guy I would feel dif­fer­ently but Israel is not a good guy.
            I was a member of NATO in the US Army. my mission was to hold Europe against con­ven­tional attack long enough for THE US to mount a counter attack. America’s support of Israel is not helping America or the mid east. It is vio­lating America’s own laws against selling weapns to nations with a history of human rights vio­la­tions. And enabling Israel to con­tinue to violate the Geneva con­vention Ameri=ca and Israel signed.

          • Ron Barak

            Ah, the hypocrisy!

            You admit to being from the USA, and “Robert Skinner” indi­cates that your ancestors probably were not Native Amer­icans.

            So, it’s okay for you to live on land stolen from Native Amer­icans, which were erad­i­cated, forced moved to reser­va­tions in the middle of nowhere, or mas­sacred in any way imag­inable.


            you have the audacity to lecture Jews that they have no right to live in Judea (and Samaria)?

            Can you even hear yourself{?}

          • Robert Skinner

            Mothers maiden name is American indian as is my Father’s mother. I have all the rights of any other American. If America treated me like Israel treats Muslims I would have have a dif­ferent attitude about America closer to that of Pales­tinians toward Israel.
            I worship the great one and seek balance in the four direc­tions. My belief is to care for mother earth and seek to be a helper. I pray to the great one to help my path be one that does no harm.
            I have con­flict about imposing my values on others as that makes me respon­sible, but the elders tell me it’s time to put the war mongers in there place.

          • Ron Barak

            Where on Earth did you get the idea that Muslims in Israel have dif­ferent rights than any other Israelis???

            You do know that a Muslim Judge on the Israeli _Supreme court_ sent a former Israeli _president_ to prison, don’t you?





   (few days ago Brighton and Hove Albion beat Bolton 3 – 2 and both Israelis, Kayal and Hemed, scored. One an Arab, one a Jew but BOTH Israelis…)

            Have you ever bothered to research these erro­neous beliefs you have about the Arab-Israeli con­flict, or are you just par­roting slogans someone fed you, without ever both­ering checking their veracity?




            I can go on and on ad nauseam.

            Could I bother you to produce even ONE example where there’s a law in Israel that treats Muslim Israelis neg­a­tively, com­pared to Jewish Israelis?
            Just one, pretty please, just ONE example.

          • Robert Skinner

            Ron just because the talmud says its ok to lie and cheat goys does not make it right. In the end people will react and history will repeat

          • Ron Barak

            As you’re unable to give even one sup­porting source to your wild asser­tions, but con­tinue to end­lessly parrot them, there’s really no use in me wasting time debating you.

            So, have a nice life believing — without ever checking if what you believe in is actually in the realm of reality.

          • Robert Skinner

            If America owed anyone any­thing for any Holo­caust it would be a debt to the American indian, Who’s Holo­caust was the longest lasting most deadly in human history.
            However I ask nothing I demand nothing. I only seek to be treated as fairly as everyone else. Zionist Israel on the other hand is not treating everyone fairly.

          • Robert Skinner

            Bulldoze down my home, murder members of my family, put me in an open air prison and I would fight back every way I could.

        • Ron Barak

          Re “On the other side of the issue I have daily news telling me Israel is guilty of crimes against humanity against Palestine”

          Yes­terday, a Pales­tinian Arab trying to stab a guard at a check­point near the Jerusalem neigh­borhood of Har Homa was shot and killed. An IDF patrol responding to rock-throwing near Jenin yes­terday afternoon came under Pales­tinian gunfire. Sol­diers returned fire, killing two Pales­tinian Arab teens. On Sat­urday, a 17-year-old Pales­tinian Arab woman trying to stab an Israeli soldier in Hebron was shot and killed. Ban Ki-moon would call these attacks on Israelis “human nature.” And probably your media sources would report only of the dead Arabs, but give no context of the cir­cum­stances leading to their death.