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BDS – The Truth Behind The Boycott, Divest, And Sanction Movement

BDS – The Truth Behind The Boycott, Divest, And Sanction Movement

I am not sure what happened, but for some odd reason, every article I have written about BDS has been wiped out of my database. Rather than allow such a thing to be a win, I decided I would again write this article but will enhance it. So far I have republished one, BDS – THE TRUTH BEHIND BOYCOTT, DIVEST, AND SANCTION. I felt this was important enough that it had to be rewritten. I would love to say that it is exactly the same as the last time I wrote the article, but I am trying to match it as closely as I can.

I started this when Muslims sent death threats to me over daring to write on the Islamic and Palestinian claim to Jerusalem in the article called The Palestinian Claim to Jerusalem, so I did what I always do in such cases, I wrote three more articles, if I am going to go out, I am going to do so in style, have faced threats overwriting on BDS, so will continue the practice, for every threat there will be an article.

So what is BDS, and what are the different claims that people for it and against are making?

First, we need to define what BDS is, then look at what the claims and reality are, then what is the real goal behind BDS.

BDS is defined by its supporters as:

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.

Israel is occupying and colonising Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law.

BDS is now a vibrant global movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world. Since its launch in 2005, BDS is having a major impact and is effectively challenging international support for Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism.

Right at the start, there is a huge issue with this claim. First, they claim that Israel is occupying and colonizing Palestinian land, but one has to ask, when did they ever hold sovereignty over the land? To claim the land is occupied, you have to first show when you held sovereignty, and when the Jews took this away from you. An occupation is defined as taking away sovereignty from other people, to make them subservient to another nation, but can this be the case of a nation that has never existed?

We see this map often displayed, the supporters of BDS claim that this was Palestine, this land was then taken from them as shown in the map:

Image result for map of land stolen from the Palestinians
The map presented by MSNBC, claiming this land was taken by Israel

I go into this with the article IS IT TRUE THAT ISRAEL STOLE PALESTINE, we look at the claims made here by MSNBC, Mondoweiss, and the Arabs and find quickly these are false claims.

Here is the problem, the first map shows what then was the Mandate of Palestine, more accurately what was left of it, to understand this we have to go further back, to the beginning of the mandate, this is how the Mandate looked when it was first created:

Next, we have to look at the actual Mandate, who did the Mandate of Palestine say all this land was for?

Mandate of Palestine

The Council of the League of Nations:

Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have agreed, for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, to entrust to a Mandatory selected by the said Powers the administration of the territory of Palestine, which formerly belonged to the Turkish Empire, within such boundaries as may be fixed by them; and
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people

We now see that this was not Arab land, it was a Mandate set up for the Jews. If this is the case, then how are the “Palestinians” then laying claim to this? We get into this claim with DID ISRAEL STEAL THE ANCESTRAL HOME OF THE PALESTINIANS? The problem is the land Palestine was a geographical area, never a sovereign nation, so if this is the case, then how is it that the Arabs lay claim to not only the land but to part of Israel’s capital as well?

The British, to appease the Arabs, then set about dividing up the Mandate, which was in violation of Article 5 of the Mandate. They invited the Heshimites from Saudia Arabi to rule over the new nation of Transjordan, then stripped it from the Mandate.

ART. 5.

The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power.

Here is what was left of the Mandate when the British were done:

After this the British demanded the Jews give up more and more land to appease the Arabs, you had the White Papers, which further divided the land:

Then the Peel Commission:

Image result for Peel Commission division of Palestine map

Each time the British wanted to give the Jews less and less, each and every time the Arabs rejected the plans, demanded 100% of the land.

Finally, the UN took over the Mandate after the British pulled out, they had promised the same land to multiple parties, a direct violation of the mandate, to try to appease both sides the UN passed UN resolution 181, this is the second map shown in the 4 tile-map above. The Arabs not only outright rejected this, informed Israel if they declared nationhood they would destroy it:

“I personally wish that the Jews do drive us to this war, as this will be a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Tartar massacre or the Crusader wars.”
– Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League
(Akhbar al-Yom, Egypt, October 11, 1947; quoted in David Barnett and Efraim Karsh, “Azzam’s Genocidal Threat,” Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2011)

“If the Jewish state becomes a fact, and this is realized by the Arab peoples, they will drive the Jews who live in their midst into the sea… Even if we are beaten now in Palestine, we will never submit. We will never accept the Jewish state… But for politics, the Egyptian army alone, or volunteers of the Muslim Brotherhood, could have destroyed the Jews.”
– Hassan al-Banna, Muslim Brotherhood founder
(New York Times, August 2, 1948)

Israel declared nationhood, but since the Arabs rejected UN Res. 181, they claimed it off of the Mandate, as you can see in the speech by Ben Gurion, where he states they are fulfilling the mandate and creating an independent Jewish state. As such he was declaring this was the nation of Israel:

Image result for Jewish mandate of palestine

The Arabs responded by attacking the next day.

MSNBC and Mondoweiss go on to claim that Israel expelled the Arabs, but the news from that time paint a whole different picture, one has to ask, why did the contemporary news from that time period paint a completely different picture, the answer is obvious, for the last 70 years we have been lied to. To get more detail on this please read the article, DID ISRAEL REALLY ETHNICALLY CLEANSE THE PALESTINIANS? We quickly see, in spite of claims, the narrative today and historical facts simply don’t match.

But back to BDS, we see that the narrative of BDS is that Palestine is occupied, but as we have seen, this claim is false, the maps they present are false as well.


We hear that BDS is in place due to the practice of apartheid from Israel, but is there any reality in this claim?

To clean up after this claim we need to look at what apartheid was in South Africa, then see if Israel is a practitioner of this.

I will be brief with this, if you want a more in-detailed look into this subject, please visit the post Is Israel An Apartheid State?

What is shown in Is Israeli An Apartheid State is how in South Africa Blacks were not allowed to own land, to have any representation, yet in Israel, Arabs are free to own land, there are restrictions where, but it is also the same with the Arabs. Arabs are as a rule, due to issues with terrorism not allowed to own land where settlements are located, but Gaza and Ramallah demand to be 100% Jew-free, to look at one and not the other only shows unequal judgment, nothing more.

Arabs while allowed to vote in their own elections in Gaza and Ramallah, they are not allowed to in Israeli elections, there is an exception to this, that is with Israeli Arabs, the Jews are excluded from all activities, this joins in with their demand to be 100% Jew-free.

Arabs in Ramallah and Gaza have not allowed elections for years, but that is not Israel’s fault, Abbas is currently sitting over 15 years past the 4-year term he was elected for, since then elections have been suspended. In Gaza, after the people voted to keep Hamas in power they suspended elections. To blame Israel for this is as ignorant as blaming America for Mexico’s election issues.

In Israel Arab Israelis are allowed to vote, currently, the Joint List, an Arab unity party is the third largest political party in the Knesset.

In South Africa Blacks were not allowed to serve in the government, to access the same courts as the whites, were not allowed to own property, hold citizenship, yet in Israel Arabs are allowed this right, but one has to ask, can the Jews do this in Gaza and Ramallah? Of course not, they demand to be and remain Jew-free. What we in reality have are the Arabs once more accusing the Jews of what they are doing.

Demanding to be 100% free of anyone, be it race, religion, or any type of demographic is the very essence of apartheid. If you wish to see apartheid in action, go to Ramallah and Gaza, that is the only place it exists in Israel.

Some points that there is broad consensus on:

  • Whether or not BDS can legitimately be called “anti-Semitic”, it is undeniable that there are some anti-Semitic elements who reject it and some who promote it. In the same way, it is undeniable that there are some racist elements who promote Zionism and some who reject it.
  • Regardless of your position on BDS specifically, Palestinian people who live in certain parts of Israel do have legitimate grievances, both with Israeli authorities and Palestinian authorities and Hamas (There are currently two branches of Palestinian governments.
  • Disagreement with certain policies of the current Israeli government is not the same thing as “anti-Semitism. However anti-Semitic people can be reliably counted upon to disagree with things the current Israeli government does. Same way, racist or Islamophobic people can be reliably counted upon to agree with things the current Israeli government does.

There are three broad types of response:


Some responders believe the answer is a definite or qualified “no”. Some arguments include:

  • All elements advocated by the BDS are in the universal declaration of human rights. The stated goals of BDS are de facto not anti-Semitic.
  • BDS’ tactic (boycott) was successfully used by Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks in similar situations of racial segregation or colonialism. It was also used by the resistance against Nazi Germany.
  • Zionism is a racist ideology and Israel commits crimes against humanity (apartheid and ethnic cleansing). Standing up to racism and human rights abuses, what BDS is doing, is not anti-Semitic.
  • BDS counts, amongst its supporters, many Jewish groups and opponents of current government policies within Israel.
  • BDS can attract some anti-Semites, just like anti-BDS activism can attract some racist or Islamophobic people. Drifts, unfortunately, exist in all movements, and the “lunatic fringe” is inevitably the loudest.
  • It’s not fair to judge a movement by its worst adherents. This is especially true of social media.
  • BDS activists also stand up to other abuses in the world. However, no one can champion every cause. It’s the same in all NGOs: WWF activists can’t campaign as actively on every other issue as they do on ecology.
  • In particular, the Israel-Palestine situation is special for Europe (because historic European antisemitism is one of the reasons why Israel exists) and the United States (which has the second-highest Jewish population in the world), so the fact that some people in these countries find this issue more relevant than other issues around the world should not be surprising.


Some responders believe the answer is a definite or qualified “yes”. Some arguments include:

  • Many high-profile supporters of BDS seem to advocate anti-Semitic positions when you look into other things they’ve said.
  • The same goes for social media.
  • BDS supporters who have no connection with Israel or the Palestinian people conspicuously seem to ignore bigger human rights issues in the world.
  • In particular, there are undeniably despotic anti-democratic regimes that are not the target of a government or citizen boycott.
  • The founder of the movement, Omar Barghouti, is a problematic individual. He lobbied for an academic boycott of Israel while studying at Tel Aviv University.
  • It is also notable that Barghouti opposes a two-state solution, which is the solution advocated by most peace activists and the international community.
  • The BDS movement strongly resembles anti-Jewish boycotts of the past, and we ignore this history at our peril.

“It’s not that simple”

Some responders believe it’s not a simple call, or that it doesn’t really matter whether BDS is anti-Semitic or not. Some points made include:

  • The Palestinian Authority, and Mahmoud Abbas, in particular, do not support a general boycott of Israel, merely of goods made in Israeli settlements.
  • BDS is counter-productive to its stated goals. In particular, BDS hurts Palestinians in Israel just as much (or more than) the current Israeli government.
  • BDS tactics are of questionable efficacy when they’ve been used in the past. The BDS movement is inspired by the anti-apartheid movement against South Africa, but it’s unclear how much boycotts, divestment, and sanctions actually contributed to the end of apartheid.
  • Israel is one of the safest places in the Middle East at the moment for people who are ethnically Arabic.

We last need to ask, what is it that the leaders of BDS are saying are their goals, is it to improve the lives of the Arabs in Israel, to stop what they claim is an occupation? How about we finish this by listening to their own words.

“Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself…BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state. But can’t I see the value in reaching across the aisle, so to speak? The movement may be burgeoning but remains too small. Why shouldn’t we indulge in ad hoc partnerships to get things done? Richard Silverstein, Richard Goldstone, and many other self-proclaimed Zionists have done an immeasurably positive amount of work in skinning the Zionist cat (That’s a deliberate analogy. I don’t kid myself about how difficult it must be for a Jewish person to criticize the Zionist state), shouldn’t they be asked to join the BDS movement?

To be sure, I’m not dogmatically against cooperating with people whose views I find objectionable. If it came down to it, I’d be happy to work with the racist up the street to get the city to fix a neighborhood pothole.”

-Ahmed Moor,

“The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel….That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”

As’ad AbuKhalil

“Peace-or better yet, justice-cannot be achieved without a total decolonization (one can say de-Zionization) of the Israeli state.”

Michael Warschawski

“I think the BDS movement will gain strength from forthrightly explaining why Israel has no right to exist.”

John Spritzler

“Our corporation boycotts all Israeli products and services, and encourages other institutions, companies and individuals to cease and avoid all economic, academic and cultural activity that supports the racist state of Israel until that state dissolves itself.”

Paul Larudee

In the end, BDS is not about the protection of the Arabs who claim to be Palestinians, as the above statements show, it is about ending the nation of Israel. This is just another long-running attempt to delegitimize the nation of Israel and to destroy it by a thousand cuts.

What we really have is a fake historical narrative, a fake claim of sovereignty lost, claims that land once controlled by the “Palestinians” was lost to them, but ask for evidence of this control you draw a blank. The greatest threat to the darkness of lies is to shine the truth on them, this is what we are doing with BDS.

I wish to finish this with clarification of what we think if governments trying to stifle BDS, to shut down what we see as free speech by threats of retaliation. In the same way, I find White Surpremicist offensive, so I find BDS and what it supports, but in the same way, I support the right for racists to have access to free speech we support the same for people that support BDS.

It is understood while standing in as a representative for the government you should not have a right as a spokesperson to try to initiate government policy, but we are against telling people when they are not acting as a member of the government, they should not have a right to protest, even if that protest is on false premises.

We stand by the principle that speech, even wrong speech, speech promoting lies, or hate speech should never be silenced, if you do this you cause many to wonder what it is you are hiding. One should refute bad speech never silence it, you do two things by doing this. First, you expose the speech for what it is. Second, you educate the masses to the truth. The truth makes these movements lose their momentum, soon they have few or no followers.

BDS should not be silenced by doing away with free speech, we need to expose it for what it is, this will take away from the attraction many have for it. In the end, it will still have followers, people will hate Israel regardless, simply because they are Jews.

About The Author

Timothy Benton

Student of history, a journalist for the last 2 years. Specialize in Middle East History, more specifically modern history with the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Also, a political commentator has been a lifetime fan of politics.

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