The History and Antisemitic Nature of
Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaigns
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement aims to demonize, delegitimize, and destroy the Jewish nature of Israel, with the result of denying to Jews their right of national self-determination. Their goal is implemented by tactics on campuses across the country that seek universities’ divestment of funds from Israeli companies and American companies that do business with Israel, as well as the boycott of Israeli scholars and universities. In general, it is Muslim and pro-Palestinian student groups who demand divestment, and faculty who promote the boycott of Israeli scholars.
Early History of the BDS Movement
The BDS movement has a long history and is a direct continuation, begun before the creation of Israel, of the Arab League’s boycott announced December 2, 1945, of Zionist goods produced in the British mandate of Palestine. The Arab League, comprising 22 Middle East and African countries, broadened the boycott in 1948 to include not only trade between Arab countries and Israel, but all companies throughout the world that do business with Israel, as well as their business partners. The objective was to isolate the Jewish state from the international community, as well as to inflict economic harm.
In 1976 and 1977, the U.S. Congress made it illegal for any U.S. company to cooperate with the boycott.
The BDS Movement and the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban
In 2001, the movement clothed itself in a false veneer of moral credibility by adopting the language of human rights to falsely brand Israel as a “racist, apartheid state,” as declared by participants in the Non-Government Organization Forum of the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban.
The Palestinian Call to Boycott Israel
In 2005, the movement was energized and expanded by a declaration of a coalition of Palestinian organizations. Their call accused Israel of an “entrenched system of racial discrimination”, and “persistent violations of international law” and called upon “people of conscience” to implement a broad boycott and divestment campaign.
Ironically, the first signatory of the Palestinian BDS Call was the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, which, according to the Anti-Defamation League, was founded by Yasser Arafat at the start of the Second Intifada in 2000 for the purpose of “organizing a unified effort among major Palestinian factions to oppose Israel and coordinate terror attacks.” The Council includes among its constituent organizations Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and PFLP – General Command, all three of which are on the U.S. Department of State’s list of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations and are committed to the elimination of Jews and the Jewish state through terrorism and violent means.
The U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Boycotts of Israeli scholars have been proposed since early 2002, but gained momentum when the United States Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was formed in response to the 2005 Palestinian call. The American organization, endorsed by over 800 American faculty, promotes a boycott of all Israeli scholars and cultural and educational institutions. The boycott violates the most basic principle of academia, the free exchange of ideas. It also recalls Nazi efforts to “purify” Germany by branding Jews as pariahs, and targeting them for economic and social boycotts. Hannah Rosenthal, the U.S. State Department’s former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, has unequivocally condemned academic boycotts of Israel, noting, “when academics from Israel are boycotted, this is not objecting to a policy—this is antisemitism”.
The BDS Movement is Antisemitic
By demonizing the Jewish state with false charges of crimes against humanity, and singling out only one country in the world—Israel—for censure and abuse, while ignoring entrenched human rights abuses that are rampant throughout the Middle East, including against religious, ethnic minorities, and women, the movement exposes its bigotry towards Jews.