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Opinion: Columnists

'The BDS War Against Israel:' What is the BDS movement?

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Opinion,Columnists,Jed Babbin,Israel,Middle East

Editor's Note: This is the first of a three-part series of excerpts from Washington Examiner columnist Jed Babbin's new book “The BDS War Against Israel, written with Herbert London.

Throughout history it has been all too common for nations to oppress their peoples by depriving them of basic human rights. France, under The Terror that was part of its 1789 revolution, murdered tens of thousands of civilians as did the Kaiser’s Germany in its march across Belgium in 1914. Nazi Germany committed the Holocaust, Pol Pot’s Cambodia tried its hand at genocide and Stalin’s Russia starved and slaughtered millions. The Soviet Union was a model of oppression, sending unnamed tens of thousands to slave labor camps in the Gulag Archipelago described by Solzhenitsyn.

In their time, each of those nations and cultures were outcasts whose only “allies” were conquered militarily, ideologically or both .

Israel is not a rogue nation or a sponsor of terrorism. It is not ruled by despots or dictators. Its citizens — Jew and Arab alike — equally benefit from the nation’s embrace of democracy and human rights. But both within its borders and outside them, a movement of propagandists and disinformationists is working relentlessly to shift world opinion to convince everyone that Israel is as much a rogue nation as is North Korea or Iran. They seek to do through the so-called “boycott, divestment and sanctions” or “BDS movement.” The movement is propelled by Palestinian activists, Arab governments and Europeans who join them in their effort to cast Israel out of the global community.

The movement’s stated aims are: (1) to create global boycotts of Israeli universities and industries (purportedly only those who do business in the “occupied” Palestinian territories); (2) to have nations, banks and industries divest themselves of investments in Israeli banks, companies and the nation as a whole; and (3) to obtain international sanctions against Israel, its economy and its people.

In the nine years since it formally began, the BDS movement has succeeded to an astonishing degree, finding sympathizers and supporters across the world, but principally in Europe and North America. For most of that time, the Israelis and their government seemed unable to find their voice in opposition to it. Now, however, the BDS movement is finally recognized for what it is: a strategic threat to Israel.

Still, the Israelis haven’t undertaken a thorough study of the BDS movement, its antecedents, its positions and its strategy. This book attempts to do that with an urgency of purpose. Because the BDS movement’s arguments are mostly left unanswered, people who are uninformed of the facts and the history that is behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict risk reaching the wrong conclusion based on sheer inventions. This book is intended to help set the record straight.

The purpose of the BDS movement is to exile Israel to a political ghetto reserved for the world’s worst nations. Israel is singled out precisely because it hasn't earned its way into the small club populated by Cuba, Syria, Iran and North Korea. Because Israel’s most serious enemies are themselves Middle Eastern despotisms, they have to convince other nations and people that Israel is as evil and dangerous as they are. Though Israel hasn't earned the status of a pariah, the BDS Movement is trying to do that for them. The movement’s supporters want to spin enough falsehoods and semi-truths to convince people that it is a pariah regardless of the facts. .

Though presented in the guise of a humanitarian campaign, the BDS movement is in fact nothing less than an ideological assault on the existence of Israel as a Jewish nation. It is an asymmetrical attack on a nation that seems unprepared or reluctant to engage its enemies in that manner. And, for that reason, it is as great a threat as Israel has faced.

Jed Babbin served as a deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration and is a senior fellow of the London Center for Policy Research.
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Jed Babbin

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The Washington Examiner