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The BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) campaign targeting Israel is not a new phenomenon. Various Arab boycotts have been used for many decades as weapons against Israel. BDS is the main component of the “Durban strategy” – adopted by the virulent NGO Forum of the UN’s Durban Conference (2001), and based on the use of false claims of “war crimes,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “apartheid.” From this foundation, pro-Palestinian groups expanded their efforts to promote economic and cultural boycotts of Israel (2002), particularly the call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions (2003). In July 2005, a number of groups issued the “Palestinian United Call for BDS against Israel,” further expanding the radius of these activities and increasing the resources devoted to this form of political warfare. BDS supporters deny the Jewish people the right of national self-determination.
By singling out Israel and using double standards, BDS undermines and is the antithesis of universal human rights values. BDS collectively punishes Israelis and supporters and applies false comparisons to apartheid South Africa, attempting to transform a complex political dispute into a question of racial discrimination. BDS undermines liberal values, such as academic freedom and freedom of expression, through intolerance and by restricting debate.
Boycotts are the antithesis of dialogue, cooperation, and developing peaceful ties between Israelis and Palestinians. Ali Abunimah, major BDS speaker and head of “Electronic Intifada,” labels Palestinian leaders who negotiate with Israel “collaborators.” BDS activists promote “one-state” solutions, meaning the elimination of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jewish nation. BDS campaigns that single out Israel explicitly violate the EU Working Definition of Antisemitism. Many BDS activists: “Deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” Additionally, many supporters use “the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.” Comparisons between contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis are used frequently.
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. They represent the immoral collective punishment of Israelis and those who associate with them.
Divestment from companies that do business with Israel – Distorting the concept of ethical investing, 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. When Israeli corporations were removed from funds devoted to developing countries, due to Israel’s stable and advanced economy, divestment proponents falsely proclaimed victory.
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 campaigns would not exist without financial backing. Funding facilitates non-governmental organizations (NGO) staff, conferences, publications, speaking engagements, websites, advertisements, lawyers’ fees, airfare, t-shirts, video equipment, and more. Money sustains the BDS movement. (*See below for funding details).
Individual governments, primarily but not exclusively from Europe, transfer millions annually to pro-BDS groups. In many instances, this is in direct contradiction to the foreign policies of these countries, which explicitly oppose boycott efforts and support a two-state solution.
Private foundations contribute millions of dollars and euros to NGOs from across the globe for BDS campaigns. This funding is sometimes supplemented by government funds, occasionally unknowingly. As there are limited legal requirements for public reporting of private donations, in many cases, there is no information regarding the funding provided by foundations.
In distributing funding to NGOs, religious charities claim to fight poverty, distribute development aid, and operate in the spirit of good deeds and improving the world. Instead, by funding BDS, they are conducting divisive political campaigns that increase tension and do not promote peace and mutual understanding. This betrays the important and universal values they claim to embrace. Many times, these campaigns embrace antisemitic theological themes. (See BDS in the Pews website for more information).
*Partial List of NGOs Involved in BDS and Their Funders
|BDS Sewer System Video||BDS Sewer System Guide|
- Blood Libels & BDS- NGO Monitor’s Report to the 2013 Global Forum on Antisemitism, NGO Monitor Reports, May 27, 2013
- BDS in the Pews: European, US, and Canadian Government Funding Behind Anti-Israel Activism in Mainline Churches, NGO Monitor Reports, July 2012
- Christian Peacemaker Teams, PALESTINE: CPT-Palestine endorses Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, April 19, 2010
- Central Conference of American Rabbis, CCAR Resolution on the 2009 Kairos Document, April 15, 2010
- Reut Institute, The Delegitimization Challenge: Creating a Political Firewall, March 2010
- NGOs and the BDS Movement: Background and Funding, NGO Monitor Reports, December 16, 2009
- NGO “Lawfare”, NGO Monitor Reports, February 10, 2009
- Ronnie Fraser, The Academic Boycott of Israel: A Review of the Five-Year UK Campaign to Defeat It, JCPA post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism project, No. 66, 2 March 2008.
- Anthony Julius and Professor Simon Schama, “John Berger is wrong: The call for a cultural boycott of Israel is banal, gestural and morally compromised”, The Guardian, December 22, 2006.
- Jon Haber, “The Vampire’s Kiss,” Jerusalem Post, August 31, 2006.
- NGO Monitor: “NGOs Continue to Push Divestment/Boycott Campaigns (‘Durban’ strategy)”, (Vol.4 No.5) – 17 January 2006
- “Presbyterian Church USA & Families of 9/11 Victims Delegations Meet with Hizbullah”, MEMRI, November 23, 2005
- NGO Monitor: “Update: Is the NGO-Led Divestment Effort Losing Support?”, November 15, 2005
- Alexander Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky, “Academics against Israel”, Jerusalem Post, October 19, 2005
- NGO Monitor: “NGOs and Divestment: Update”, October 16, 2005
- NGO Monitor: “European Coordinating Committee of NGOs (ECCP) Meeting to Promote Boycotts and Divestment”, October 6, 2005
- Gerald Steinberg, “EU-funded NGOs behind Almog lawsuit”, Jerusalem Post, September 13, 2005
- Gerald Steinberg, “Canada’s contribution to the divestment campaign”, Canadian Jewish News, August 31, 2005 .
- NGO Monitor: “The Political Agenda of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)”, August 22, 2005.
- Paul C Merkley, “It is About Israel’s Right-to-Life”, JewishComment.com, Sunday August 21, 2005
- NGO Monitor: “Mennonite Central Committee – Promoting Conflict via Divestment (Update),” August 4, 2005.
- Gerald Steinberg, “Terror and the divestment campaign,” The Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2005.
- NGO Monitor: “NGOs Behind Anti-Israel Divestment Campaign,” July 14 2005.
- NGO Monitor: “Sabeel – An Ecumenical Facade To Promote Hatred”, July 10 2005.
- “One year on: Palestinian civil society calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions Appeal”, Electronic Intifada, July 9 2005.
- “Three Faiths heads slam ACC”, Jewish Chronicle, July 8, 2005.
- “United Church of Christ’s Israel Divestment Action ‘Troubling’, Contravenes Months of Interfaith Dialogue,” Anti-Defamation League, July 6 2005.
- Sam Ser,“Another US church mulls divestment,” The Jerusalem Post, July 1 2005.
- Bar Ilan University’s Site on Academic Boycotts Against Israel and their Implications
- Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
- Divestment Watch
- Boycott Watch
- “Report: UK Jews Blast Church Report on Divestiture from Israel,” Ha’aretz, – May 27, 2005.
- Ruth Gledhill, “Church Urged to Reconsider Investments with Israel,” Times (London), May 27, 2005.
- Gerald Steinberg, “The NGO Network and anti-Israel Boycotts: ‘War by other Means,'” The Jerusalem Post, May 22, 2005.
- NGO Monitor: “The Central Role of PNGO in the AUT Academic Boycott,” May 10 2005.
- Gerald Steinberg, “Boycotting the Jews,” Wall Street Journal (European Edition), April 29, 2005.
- NGO Monitor: “HRW and Amnesty Promote Caterpillar Boycott,” April 13, 2005.
- Teresa Watanabe, “Jews Target Caterpillar Shareholder Effort,” LA Times, April 13, 2005.
- Eugene Korn, “Stopping Sale of Products to Israel Isn’t Path to Peace,” Sun Times, April 11, 2005.
- Sam Ser, “500 Million Christians Urged to Divest,” Jerusalem Post, February 23, 2005.
- “ADL Dismayed By World Council of Churches Decision to Pursue Divestment As Means to Punish Israel,” ADL New York, February 22, 2005.