Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Resource Page
NGO MonitorApril 23, 2014Updated August 27, 2015
Boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) are the tactics of political warfare used against Israel, based on the exploitation of human rights, double standards, comparisons to apartheid South Africa, and false accusations of “war crimes.”
Boycotts of products, culture, and academics – BDS activists lobby stores not to carry Israeli products and encourage others not to purchase them. They send letters to artists, musicians, authors, and academics, imploring them not to perform and appear in Israel or cooperate with Israeli institutions. Boycotts undermine liberal values, such as academic freedom and freedom of expression, by restricting openness and tolerance.
Divestment from companies that do business with Israel – Distorting the concept of ethical investing, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) accuse companies that conduct business in Israel of involvement in war crimes and violations of international law. The NGOs approach investors, primarily large banks and pension funds, and push for the exclusion of these companies.
Sanctions against self-defense measures – Anti-Israel activists demand that the international community enact comprehensive sanctions against Israel – treating Israel as a pariah state. The ultimate goal is legally enforced sanctions by the UN Security Council. Other forms of sanctions include arms embargoes, which are premised on baseless charges of war crimes. Similarly, legal proceedings are initiated against Israeli officials to punish Israel for defensive actions.
BDS is the main component of the “Durban strategy,” which was adopted by dozens of NGOs at the 2001 UN Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa, which crystallized the strategy of delegitimizing Israel as "an apartheid regime" through international isolation.
Other tactics of the Durban Strategy include “lawfare” campaigns against Israeli officials in international courts; lobbying international bodies, including the UN, EU, US and criminal courts; publishing false reports and accusations of “war crimes,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “apartheid”; organizing provocations such as flotillas and violent demonstrations under the guise of humanitarian operations and human rights.
The campaign seeks to end the “occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” and promotes the right of “Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.” These goals undermine the fundamental right of the Jewish people to self-determination.
This campaign is financed and supported extensively by foreign governments, as well as foundations and religious charities, which provide frameworks for anti-Israel political influence. *See funding chart below.
Most of this money comes from Europe, usually involving taxpayer funds funneled through secret processes to organizations that operate under the banners of promoting human rights, humanitarian aid, democracy and peace.
BDS seeks the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state.
Co-founder of Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) Omar Barghouti (2004): “The current phase has all the emblematic properties of what may be considered the final chapter of the Zionist project. We are witnessing the rapid demise of Zionism, and nothing can be done to save it, for Zionism is intent on killing itself. I, for one, support euthanasia.”
As'ad Abu Khalil, a central activist in the U.S. (2012): “Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the State of Israel.”
Pro-BDS author Ahmed Moor: “OK, fine. So BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.... I view the BDS movement as a long-term project with radically transformative potential....In other words, BDS is not another step on the way to the final showdown; BDS is The Final Showdown.”
BDS is not an established organization or movement, but comprised of dozens of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and radical activists.
In practice, the BDS campaign has little success on the ground, but its effectiveness lies in its ability to penetrate the public and political discourse and blur the lines between legitimate criticism of Israel and the complete de-legitimization of Israel in the international arena.
BDS activists utilize the threat of political, economic, academic and cultural isolation as a means of pressuring Israel, and seek to have this idea penetrate the public and political discourse, as a means of influencing governments and businesses to adopt BDS tactics.