BDS Q&A: What does BDS want?

February 19, 2018
Anti-Israel Protestors

The BDS movement is quite clear about its goals. The official BDS website includes a list of four demands. The BDSers state that they will continue their efforts against Israel until Israel agrees to the following:

    • “Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
    • “Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

“Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”10

These demands may sound benign to those unfamiliar with this conflict. But together they form a dark agenda demanding nothing less than the destruction of Israel.

Let’s take them one by one:

1. “Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands.”

Many of Israel’s critics – including BDS founder Omar Barghouti – refer to all of Israel as “occupied” and “colonized” Arab land. When they call for an end to Israel’s “occupation of Arab lands,” what they’re really calling for is the destruction of Israel. 11

But even if the BDS movement limited its demand to an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, this demand remains deeply flawed because it blames only one side – Israel – for the failure to achieve peace. In so doing, BDS ignores the following key facts:

  • Israel has repeatedly offered to withdraw from almost all of the West Bank to create a Palestinian state – most recently in 2000, 2001 and 2008. The Palestinians have rejected each of these offers.
  • When Israel began a phased withdrawal from the West Bank in the mid-1990’s, Palestinian terrorists – many of them backed by the Palestinian Authority — responded with a wave of violent suicide bombings that killed over 1,000 Israeli civilians. These withdrawals did not produce peace, but more violence.
  • When Israel withdrew all of its soldiers and civilians from Gaza in 2005, rocket fire from Gaza into Israel dramatically increased. Again, withdrawal was not met with peace but with more terror.

If Israel’s critics wanted to be fair, they would recognize that the Palestinian leadership has played a significant role in fueling this conflict. But BDS has no interest in being fair or objective. BDS prefers to blame Israel and only Israel.

11 Elsewhere on the same website, the BDSers repeat this demand but limit it to ending the occupation of “all Arab lands occupied in June 1967,” i.e. the West Bank and Gaza. The fact that the BDSers can and have used this critical qualifier — “occupied in June 1967” — in one place creates the very strong impression that they are intentionally refusing to use it elsewhere.

Media Resources
Occupation & Colonization Myths

2. “Dismantling the Wall.”

Israel built the security fence – what the BDSers call “the wall” — in order to stop a bloody wave of suicide bombings that killed over 1,000 Israelis – Israeli Jews, Israeli Christian and Israeli Muslims.

Before this wave of terror, the border between Israel and the West Bank was wide open. People from either side could walk or drive across the border at will. Yet there was no debate in Israel about closing this border until West Bank Palestinians began crossing it to blow up Israeli civilians. Then Israel needed to do what any other country would do: protect her citizens.

The security fence has worked. Between 2000 and 2006, there were 4,000 terrorist attacks in Israel, resulting in the deaths of 1,639 Israelis. From 2007 through 2015 (after the major portions of the fence were completed) there were only 32 suicide-bomb attacks in which only 20 Israelis died. 12

If the security fence is saving Israeli lives, why are the BDSers so intent on tearing it down? And while they’re condemning Israel’s response to terror, why is it that they can’t bring themselves to condemn the terror that necessitated this fence in the first place?

12 Danny Tirza quoted in Ken Klukowski, “Israel’s Security Fence Saves Lives, Builder Tells America,” Breitbart, October 20, 2015.

Media Resources
CAMERA on Campus: Security Fence Jewish Virtual Library: Security Fence

3. “Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.”

Good news BDSers! Your demand has been met! Israel already does this!

Israel’s Arab citizens are full citizens in every sense of the word. They vote. They attend every major Israeli university. They are treated in every major Israel hospital. They serve in the Israeli Parliament and on Israel’s judiciary. And when Israeli Arabs choose to criticize their government they’re not arrested; they’re often celebrated.

The fact that Israeli Arabs are full citizens of Israel means that they are the freest Arabs in the entire Middle East. This is no exaggeration. In what Arab country are Arabs as free to vote and to participate in their government? More importantly, in what Arab country are Arabs as free to criticize their government?

If the BDSers were truly interested in Arab human and civil rights, then they might devote at least some of their time to criticizing the many Arab countries that deny their citizens these fundamental rights. But BDS doesn’t seem to have much interest in Arab human and civil rights unless they can somehow blame Israel for the absence of these rights.

13 See Ali Mustafa, “Boycotts work: An interview with Omar Barghouti,” The Electronic Intifada, May 31, 2009.

Media Resources
Israel voting rights Hasbara Fellowships: Human Rights

4. “Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.”

By demanding the return of the Palestinian refugees, BDS is calling for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. BDS founder Omar Barghouti was honest enough to admit this fact when he stated that:

“I know that you cannot reconcile the right of return for refugees with a two-state solution. This is the big white elephant in the room and people are ignoring it – a return of refugees would end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.”13

The BDSers define “Palestinian refugees” to include not only those people who fled the 1948 Arab invasion of Israel, but all of their descendants as well. No other refugee population in history has ever been defined so broadly. By this definition, the Palestinian refugee population is actually growing from year to year instead of shrinking. And by this definition, there are currently over 5 million Palestinian refugees.

The return of over 5 million Palestinian “refugees” to Israel would quickly transform Israel’s Jewish majority into a minority. This would effectively turn the one and only Jewish state into the 22nd Arab state.

No other refugee population in modern history has ever demanded such a right of return for themselves, let alone for their descendants.

The case of the Jewish refugees from Arab lands provides an illustrative contrast. Israel’s 1948 victory outraged Muslims throughout the Middle East. In the months and years that followed, some Arab governments expelled their Jewish populations. In other countries, mob violence drove the Jews from their ancient communities. Eventually over 800,000 Jews fled their homes in the Arab world and Iran. Most of them left behind significant land, property and wealth for which they were never compensated.

These Jewish refugees are no longer called refugees. They are called citizens. They are citizens of Israel, France, the United States, etc. Instead of clinging to the past, they moved on and built new lives.

In fact, the same can be said for every other major refugee population of the post-World War II era. All of these refugees have resettled in new countries. None of them claim a right of return to their old homes for them or their grandchildren. To cite just a few examples:

    • After World War II, approximately 14 million ethnic Germans were forced from their communities in Poland, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere. They did not return to their old countries. They built new lives in Germany.
    • After the 1947 partition of India, approximately 7 million Muslims fled or were forced from their homes in India. They did not return to India. They built new lives in Pakistan.
    • After the 1947 partition of India, approximately 7 million Hindus fled or were forced from their homes in Pakistan. They did not return to Pakistan. They built new lives in India.

The BDSers never talk about the Jewish refugees from Arab lands. They rarely if ever speak about the over four million Arab refugees from the ongoing Syrian civil war. But that’s not surprising. BDS is only interested in Arab suffering to the extent that this suffering can be blamed on Israel.

Media Resources

Why are there still Palestinian Refugees?

Jewish Virtual Library: Refugee Histroy

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