The Origins of the BDS War
Judging from media reports, anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaigns have been getting increasing attention around the world. Academics, musicians and athletes are pressured into boycotting Israel, and those falsely accusing Israel of violating international law are speaking up louder and more frequently. Recent suggestions from within the Australian Labor party that would discourage members from participating in educational trips to Israel show just how widespread the boycott idea has become.
In November 2015, the EU complied, deciding to label Israeli-made products from beyond the Green Line (including the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights). For the NGOs advancing BDS campaign, this is seen as a first step toward wider measures. This “incremental BDS” allows Palestinians and their NGO allies to talk about post-1967 settlements while targeting Israel within the 1948 borders.
At the 2001 Durban conference, the NGO network adopted the terminology and built the foundations for a concerted campaign to isolate and deligitimise Israel. By providing large amounts of money to these groups, the EU and individual states have enabled the growth of BDS and other anti-peace agendas…
The change in Israel’s approach to this matter, which started after the Goldstone report, seems to have reached a tipping point recently. In Israel, politicians and journalists are discussing the question of unchecked NGO power publicly, with legislative proposals at the centre of the debate. In the US and UK, anti-BDS laws are being legislated.
But even legislation, if adopted, will not end the NGO war launched at Durban. Other measures are needed, especially the slashing of funding for irresponsible NGOs. As the past 15 years have demonstrated, to defeat BDS and other campaigns aimed at reversing Israel’s very existence, the NGOs and their funders must be held responsible for their actions.