The Blog


BDS: a Summary

The last chapter in an informative series about BDS

November 09, 2016

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image: Flickr


WIZO's series of BDS-related articles concludes with a list of basic facts that you should know about BDS.


What is BDS?

  • BDS is the name given to the movement that supports Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against the State of Israel. Note: no other country is a target for the BDS movement.
  • BDS has become an international movement and is prevalent on university campuses around the world.
  • BDS use the rationale of being a “human rights” organization but their focus is solely on Israel, at the expense of other conflicts and persecuted people around the world.
  • The aim of BDS is to bring into disrepute the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state and is often referred to as the “campaign to de-legitimize the State of Israel”.

Where did BDS originate?

  • The BDS movement really entered international consciousness at the 2001 United Nations Conference against Racism which was held in September in Durban, South Africa.
  • This was hugely symbolic as the central charge BDS has laid against the Jewish State, is that is an “Apartheid State” just like South Africa was and should be treated with the same contempt and tactics that brought that regime to its knees.
  • Prior to the UN Conference, an NGO Forum was held in the August and was marked by repeated expressions of naked anti-Semitism by non-governmental organization (NGO) activists.
  • These NGO’s were condemned as such by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson who chaired the Conference.
  • The Forum’s final declaration described Israel as a “racist, apartheid state” that was guilty of “racist crimes including war crimes, acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing.” The declaration established an action plan – the “Durban Strategy” – promoting “a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state…the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel” (para. 424).

What is the main purpose of BDS?

  • The main purpose of the BDS movement is to isolate Israel from the international community through a policy of boycotts, divestment and sanctions that would ideally cripple Israel’s economy and force the Jewish state into changing its policies that the BDS movement purports to disagree with.

What are the central charges?

  • While there are many accusations made against the State of Israel, the central charge is that Israel is an Apartheid State comparable to that of South Africa. The rationale is that if Israel is treated like a pariah and isolated like South Africa was, policies will change.
  • It must be noted that during the Apartheid era in South Africa, the right of the African state to exist was never questioned – just the racist policy of Apartheid

Who is funding BDS?

  • The largest governmental funder for BDS is the European Union (EU). Under the guise of human rights, democracy, and good governance, EU support is transferred to Israeli, Palestinian, and European NGOs that promote anti-Israel BDS.
  • Individual governments, primarily but not exclusively from Europe, transfer millions annually to pro-BDS groups. In many instances, this is in direct contradiction to the foreign policies of these countries, which explicitly oppose boycott efforts and support a two-state solution.
  • Private foundations contribute millions of dollars and euros to NGOs from across the globe for BDS campaigns. This funding is sometimes supplemented by government funds, occasionally unknowingly. As there are limited legal requirements for public reporting of private donations, in many cases, there is no information regarding the funding provided by foundations.

In distributing funding to NGOs, religious charities claim to fight poverty, distribute development aid, and operate in the spirit of good deeds and improving the world. Instead, by funding BDS, they are conducting divisive political campaigns that increase tension and do not promote peace and mutual understanding. This betrays the important and universal values they claim to embrace. Many times, these campaigns embrace antisemitic theological themes. (ref. NGO Monitor)

*This content was gathered and provided by Rolene Marks