A BDS initiative is introduced on your campus. You are confronted with questions, accusations and misinformation. Here is a quick recipe for action which includes first response strategy, 6 reasons to oppose BDS, and the top 6 BDS Myths and Facts
- Get all the information you can on the campaign, including a copy of the divestment resolution as soon as possible.
- Bring together pro-Israel activists to decide if a response is necessary.
- Contact the Israel on Campus Coalition rapid response team, which will activate the relevant local and/or national organizations. Click here to contact the ICC or here to contact us!
- Build an active coalition that includes students, faculty, and community members (Jewish organizations, non-Jewish organizations, political groups on campus, progressive groups, etc.)
- Contact administration and trustees as necessary.
- Develop a press strategy.
- Prepare responses on three fronts:
A. Process (E.g., Is the initiative legal? How is the debate structured?).
B. Substance (What does the initiative say? What are the claims/responses?).
C. Implications (Will this advance peace or harm it? How will this affect our campus and community?)
Click here for a full list of your available tools for dealing with a divestment campaign
Six Reasons to Oppose BDS
- The BDS movement does not recognize the state of Israel and seeks its destruction.
- The BDS movement applies a double-standard in criticizing Israeli policy and ignoring abuses by other nations and the role of the Palestinians in the conflict.
- BDS initiatives are opposed by college administrators and will not change Israeli policy, so their main impact is to create unnecessary divisions on campus and a hostile atmosphere.
- Boycotts trample the academic freedom that universities stand for and deprive students of their right to international viewpoints. A boycott of Israel unfairly singles out one nation, blacklisting all voices and perspectives.
- Boycotting Israeli products does nothing to help the Palestinians improve their lives, begin state building, or develop democratic institutions.
- Well-known critics of Israeli policy and peace activists oppose BDS campaigns as counterproductive.
Know the Facts
Myth: “Israel’s ‘Apartheid Wall’ is a violation of international law and must be torn down.”
Fact: All countries have a right under international law to protect their citizens. No one can deny that the security barrier has saved lives as the number of suicide bombers from the West Bank has been reduced to zero since its construction. The Israeli High Court has held that the barrier is legal but has issued rulings to alter the route in certain locations in response to Palestinian complaints. Click here to learn more.
Fact: There is no basis in international law for the so-called “right of return.” Israelis from all the major political parties agree that Israel would cease to exist as an independent Jewish state if 4.5 million Palestinian Arabs, few of whom ever set foot in the area, were allowed to move to Israel. Israelis do agree with the United States that the refugees should be allowed to immigrate to a future Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank. Click here to learn more.
Myth: “The Gaza Blockade violates international law and is only meant to make Palestinians suffer.”
Fact: Blockades are legal under international law. The current blockade is maintained not only by Israel, but also by Egypt. Israel has no responsibility for Gazans since it no longer occupies the Gaza Strip, but it has nevertheless provided humanitarian aid and continues to provide electricity and other resources to Gaza even as the Hamas leadership there continues to engage in terror attacks and declare its refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Click here to learn more.
Myth: Israeli policy is the source of the Arab-Israeli conflict. If Israel wanted, the conflict could end tomorrow.
Fact: This theory is entirely backward. In truth, it is terrorism that has shaped Israeli policy, not the other way around. Israel has repeatedly offered compromises in an effort to achieve peace with its neighbors. Today, it remains committed to reaching a peace agreement that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state beside Israel. Click here to learn more.
Myth: “Israel is an apartheid state.”
Fact: The term “apartheid” refers to the official government policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in South Africa. Under apartheid black South Africans could not vote and were not citizens of the country in which they are the overwhelming majority of the population. Arab citizens of the State of Israel, just like their Jewish counterparts, enjoy full and complete citizenship rights, including the right to vote and be represented in the government. Palestinians from the territories are allowed to work in Israel and receive similar pay and benefits to their Jewish counterparts. They are allowed to attend schools and universities. Currently, twelve non-Jews (ten Arabs, two Druze) are members of the Seventeenth Knesset and an Arab currently serves on the Supreme Court. No such opportunities were possible for South African blacks. Click here to learn more.
Myth: “Israel ‘occupies’ the West Bank and Gaza and the violence can only end when the occupation ends.”
Fact: After the Oslo accords, Israel transferred virtually all civilian authority over Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. Israel retained the power to control its own external security and that of its citizens, but 98% of the Palestinian population in these territories came under the PA’s authority. Israel has withdrawn from every inch of Gaza in 2005; not a single Israeli soldier or civilian remain. As recently as 2008, Israel offered to withdraw from 96.5 percent of the territory it now controls. The Palestinians rejected the offer. Click here to learn more.