How BDS Undermines Peace

“The reason I don’t believe the boycott is the way to go is that I believe peace must be built on the bridge between two civil societies…While some people believed that one way to deal with Israelis was ‘to bash them on their heads,’ the other way is to reach to their hearts, and it’s the reaching out that’s important.”

– Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al Quds University in east Jerusalem


  • Repetition: As the timeline indicates, Israel has repeatedly offered a variety of compromises that would have allowed the Palestinians to establish a state.
  • Zero-sum approach: By contrast, in its rhetoric and in practice, the BDS Movement rejects the peace process. It is routinely dismissive of virtually every peace effort ranging from the 1978 Camp David Peace Accords to the Oslo Process to Obama’s peace efforts. With their zero-sum approach to everything Israeli, they make no attempt to address issues of reconciliation and coexistence. Moreover, they do  not acknowledge any Palestinian responsibility or accountability.
  • BDS advocates the “one-state” solution: Under the false premise of being “apolitical,” BDS advocates claim they are not advocating any one solution. In reality, this is purposeful ambiguity, as their three demands clearly spell out a “one-state” outcome, which has no basis in international law and which is code for the destruction of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. While disavowing any interest in a formula for concluding an Israeli-Palestinian agreement,  their preconditions make it impossible to see an outcome whereby an independent state of Palestine would coexist beside a secure Jewish state. Meanwhile, BDS proponents use this ambiguity to try to recruit well-meaning people unaware of the movement’s true agenda, BDS is, therefore, a recipe for disaster, not coexistence. Creating “one state” with the “right of return” would mean that there would be no Israel and no self-determination for the Jewish people. This is not a basis for peace but a formula for perpetual conflict.
  • Isolation not compromise: Rather than encourage compromise, efforts to isolate Israel only make its citizens feel more vulnerable and  raise the already high level of risk associated with evacuating additional territory.
  • Just as anti-peace as the Arab boycott: The Arab League boycott, which has been in force since 1945, before the creation of the state, did nothing to help the Palestinians achieve independence nor did it prevent Israel from becoming one of the world’s economic success stories.
  • The progressive argument: Progressives are usually the ones to oppose BDS-style maneuvers against countries like Cuba or Iran. They tend to be attentive to the arguments that isolation is ineffective, counterproductive, or immoral. They should ask themselves: Is collective punishment a solution that we should embrace? Why should we accept this method against Israel when we oppose it in every other context? The same progressive argument used against isolating any country can be made for Israel: it hurts moderates, and makes compliance seem like folding to international pressure.

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