The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, more commonly known as the BDS movement, is said to have been organized on July 9, 2005, with the aim to put pressure on Israel to end the occupation and colonization of the nation in all Arab lands—permanently separating Israel from the West Bank.
The Israeli settlements along the West Bank are among those hit hardest by the BDS movement. Even after Israel became an established state in 1948, its neighbors continued to press in, and the fighting over the territory was far from over.
Right After Independence, Leading Up to the Six Day War
Israel’s Arab neighbor, known as Egypt today, had blocked Israeli shipping through the Straits of Tiran shortly after independence was gained—a type of “boycott.” As a result, in 1956 Israel invaded the peninsula in hopes to communicate to its neighbors that they needed to reopen the strait for shipping.
Israel withdrew, and it was agreed the strait would be reopened. Tensions continued to grow, however, and the gates were closed again—this led to the Six Day War, which began on June 5, 1967.
During the Six Day War, Israel seized the Gaza Strip, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and the Sinai Peninsula. Israel’s victory was noticed by other nations, as the country’s well-prepared strategy and strong military had proven to be a force to be reckoned with.
The settlements along this territory have become a source of conflict between Israel and its neighbors, as well as a representation of Israel’s stance to remain a democracy and a Jewish state.
Unfortunately, hostility continued to grow after the Six Day War, perceptions were formed and actions were taken based on emotions. And in 2005, a group of Palestinian nongovernmental organizations began a campaign that is now called the BDS movement.
It is important to note that not all of Israel’s neighbors agree with the movement or the actions it has taken. Many who live in Israel, as well as in neighboring nations, still work with each other, go to school together, and have tension-free relationships.
However, it is the struggling businesses and farms along the Gaza Strip that have been most affected by the BDS movement. The movement that is said to promote human rights has effectively taken the humanness out of these families’ livelihood.
Various BDS objectives include (but are not limited to):
- To voice opposition to Israel—a cultural goal
- To end Israeli occupation in the West Bank and achieve a two-state solution—a political goal
- To completely dissolve Israel and replace it with a different state that includes the West Bank and Gaza Strip—a political and cultural goal
Essentially, the boycotters attempt to put economic pressure on Israel to achieve their political and cultural goals.
Go HERE to read more about how the BDS impacts Israel and the United States.
The Boycotts Before Statehood
Most BDS supporters claim the movement started in the summer of 2005 with a “call… by Palestinian civil society organizations for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and for academic and cultural boycott of Israel.”
This is not entirely accurate. The boycott efforts were put in place before Israel’s statehood by the Arab League Council on December 2, 1945. The boycott was on Jewish products and manufactured goods exported to Arab countries.
Arab institutions, merchants, and organizations were to have no exchanges or dealings with “Zionist products or manufactured goods.” The goal was to make Israel an economic island, denying its ability to trade with its neighbors or to increase its military or financial strength.
Does this movement sound similar to the BDS today? It is the same motive packaged with a different title.
The Boycotts in South Africa
Is there a similarity?
This is where the BDS movement gets interesting… but first, let’s define apartheid. It is a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on the grounds of race.
This apartheid system existed in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s. In London on June 26, 1959, Albert Luthuli, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and politician, presented an appeal to exiles and supporters of South Africa with the purpose of asking the British people to withdraw their support by not buying South African goods.
This was about human rights. South Africa’s non-White population was being persecuted because of the apartheid system, and it needed to stop. The goal of the movement was to have a nonviolent approach to change a heinous system.
The two boycotts are different…
One is about political gain, and the other is about human rights. The BDS actions against Israel have drawn a parallel between the two moments and movements in history, but without the full picture. Israel is falsely accused of being an apartheid state; in reality, its people have been victims of anti-Semitic acts for hundreds of years.
Read what Cambridge University says about the current movement...
“The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel is animated by a pragmatic strain that views external sanctions as effective pressure against a small democratic state and by a moralistic Manichean strain that portrays Israelis as oppressors.
“Both strains hearken back to the earlier campaign against apartheid in South Africa. We argue that doing so misreads the lessons of South Africa. Sanctions may have contributed to ending apartheid, but they operated in conjunction with improved security and interpersonal trust among negotiators. Key contenders moved from a discourse of oppression to one that humanized one another as partners with legitimate concerns. These conditions are missing from the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
“Both sides consider their security to be precarious and they are locked in competing narratives of victimization, which further erode mutual trust and security. Measures to improve the parties’ security and trust would contribute to mutual concessions and greater justification for sanctions if the Israeli government is intransigent.”[i] (emphasis added)
Subtle as it appears, there is a difference between the two boycott movements, and they come from two completely different places within the human heart.
We urge you to see for yourself how BDS impacts families along the Gaza Strip. Go HERE to read how one family, nearly bankrupt, is now looking forward to their future because of the ancient olive tree.