Every year, in February and March, activists and ethically-minded organizations all over the planet will be talking about boycotting Israel, kicking off proceedings with the tenth annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). This comes at a time when the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement has seen unprecedented growth and attention from world media as well as from within Israel and the governments and institutions complicit with its ongoing crimes against Palestinians.
IAW, an international series of peaceful protests, has become a major catalyst for rallying support and encouraging action for BDS on Israel. BDS is an emphatically anti-racist movement that targets structures of systematic injustice and exploitation.
Israel is losing the BDS battle, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taking to the Twittersphere to attack activists and accuse BDS of targeting Jews rather than Israel’s “alleged” abuses against Palestinians. But BDS does not discriminate against individuals because of religion or national identity.
Speaking to leaders of American Jewish pro-Israel organizations this week, Netanyahu declared BDS supporters to be “classical anti-Semites in modern garb” and called for the Israeli state to fight back and “delegitimize the delegitimizers.”
Hardly news. He’s parroting the Reut Institute’s 2010 strategy – launched four years ago this week – to fight back against so-called “delegitimizers” –Palestinian rights supporters – with a strategy of “sabotage and attack.” In recent months, top ministers in Netanyahu’s government have repeatedly declared that BDS is the “greatest threat” Israel faces.
Indeed, last summer, Netanyahu put responsibility for fighting against the movement for Palestinian rights into the hands of the “Ministry of Strategic Affairs.” The state is also placing dedicated anti-BDS operatives in its foreign embassies.
Yet four years and millions of dollars later, the Reut Institute strategy hasn’t stemmed growth of Palestinian support. If anything, Israel’s vilification of nonviolent BDS is expanding global awareness of the movement’s efforts to implement positive change.
Israel has a problem; its reaction to this growing movement is myopic. Denigrating BDS as an anti-semitic pressure group hellbent on the destruction of the Israeli state creates a Molotov cocktail of public emotion, pitting pro-Palestinians against supporters of a dedicated Jewish state. Human rights is not a zero-sum game, ideals can co-exist within a framework of basic universal principles.
BDS is not anti-semitic. It is anti-occupation, anti-apartheid, anti-colonization, anti-racist and fully committed to halt the systematic denial of the rights of indigenous Palestinians solely on the grounds that they are not Jewish. Substitute “Jews” for “Palestinians” in that sentence and “Christian” for “Jewish”, to see the common core in both sides of this heated equation.
Even if you're no activist, you may be secretly aiding and abetting the Israeli occupation without realizing it - many household items and products have ties to the Israeli government. The recent Scarlett Johansson SodaStream scandal proved that you can barely get a fizzy drink these days without there being politicial ramifications. So that you don't do a "Scarlett", here's Al Bawaba's low down on all the brands that helped build the Israeli occupation. The easiest way to join the BDS movement? Stop buying these products.
Here’s our cheat sheet of 11 ways you can become an agent for positive change!