BDS supporters often claim that BDS is an apolitical movement aimed only at “making Israel comply with international law.” As a result, many of the campus divestment resolutions accuse Israel of violating international law in a number of ways. This page is dedicated to combating those false accusations. Israel does its best to comply with international law, even though the United Nations is often hostile toward Israel due to the great influence of its many Arab and Muslim member states. Below are some of the top myths cited in campus divestment resolutions:
- Myth: Israel’s Apartheid wall is a violation of international law and must be torn down in order to ensure human rights
- Myth: Companies that do business in the West Bank violate universally-accepted human rights
- Myth: According to international law (UN Resolution 194), Israel must allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in Israel
- Myth: Israel is violating UN resolution 242 by not unconditionally withdrawing from the West Bank and Jerusalem
- Myth: The Gaza blockade violates international law and is only meant to make Palestinians suffer
- Myth: Israeli policy is the source of the Arab-Israeli conflict. If Israel wanted, the conflict could end tomorrow
- Myth: Justice Goldstone remains convinced that Israel committed war crimes documented in the Goldstone Report
- Myth: Endorsing a BDS-supported resolution is different from endorsing BDS itself.
Myth: “Israel’s Apartheid Wall is a violation of international law and must be torn down in order to ensure human rights.”
Fact: All countries have a right under international law to build fences on their borders and an obligation to protect their citizens. No one can deny that the security barrier saves lives; courts are reviewing the route to ease Palestinian hardship.
- The barrier was created as a reaction to suicide bombings, which killed over 1000 men, women, and children, and is the prime reason why bombings are not daily news like there were in 2002. Over 90% of the barrier is fence; the barrier has walls in urban areas only to prevent sniper fire and save lives.
- The UN has ruled that the barrier is 100% legal on the green line.
- When the barrier has created hardships, the court has altered route.
- Palestinians have access to the Israeli Supreme Court, where some have petitioned to alter the barrier’s route. While some court cases are pending, in many cases the court has ruled in the Palestinians’ favor and the route has been changed.
- There would be no barrier without suicide bombings, but there were daily bombings before the barrier.
Myth: “Companies that do business in the West Bank violate universally-accepted human rights.”
Fact: Companies do not violate human rights by working in the West Bank; in fact they have raised the living standard there, offered decent wages, and do not exploit or abuse laborers.
- Jews and Palestinians both work for companies in the West Bank, often giving them a rare chance to interact.
- No one forces Palestinians to work anywhere. In fact, many West Bank inhabitants receive money from the UN and work to receive supplementary income.
- The West Bank economy grew by 8% in 2009. Palestinians are able to work for Palestinian, Israeli, or international businesses in the West Bank. The labor system in no way resembles South Africa, where black labor was exploited by a wealthy white minority.
- Labor conditions far exceed those in factories throughout the Middle East and Asia, and working conditions are not much different than in neighboring Arab countries.
- Many Palestinians do not support BDS and may lose their jobs because of the movement.
Myth: “According to international law (UN Resolution 194), Israel must allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in Israel.”
Fact: There is no basis in international law for the so-called “Right of Return“, which would turn the Jewish democracy into a Palestinian democracy. After a two-state solution is agreed-upon, the new Palestinian state can allow all Palestinians to immigrate to Gaza or the West Bank.
- UN Resolution 184 does not require Israel to repatriate Palestinians for a number of reasons.
- First, General Assembly Resolutions are not considered legally binding.
- Secondly, “should be permitted” is not mandatory legal language. If UN Resolution 184 provided for a Right of Return, it would have been reiterated in UN Resolution 242, which mentions a ‘just solution to the refugee issue’, which can be met by monetary compensation and Palestinian statehood.
- Return is not a requirement under international law, according to the UN High Committee on Refugees, which is the UN body that deals with almost all the world’s refugee issues.
- The UNHCR says Local Integration (integrating refugees into their new countries) is a durable solution to refugee issues.
- Repatriation is not recommended in cases where populations remain conflicted, and is only viable when the society voluntarily accepted refugees. However, resettlement is considered just as durable as repatriation in UN reports.
- The UNHCR does not consider the children of refugees to be refugees.
- Most descendants of refugees already live in surrounding Arab states.
- There is no reason why ‘refugees’ can’t be integrated into their birthplaces, which they are far more culturally accustomed to than Israel.
- In the context of a peace deal, refugees would likely receive monetary compensation.
- A recent EU court ruling shows that refugee property demands are invalid decades after others have moved in, although compensation may be demanded.
- Most importantly, such a return is just not practical 62 years later.
Myth: “Israel is violating UN Resolution 242 by not unconditionally withdrawing from the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”
Fact: UN Resolution 242 only requires that Israel withdraw from part of the territories in the context of a peace agreement.
- Refers to “Relinquishing territories”, specifically not ‘all territories.’
- Israel has already withdrawn from 93% of all territory won in 1967.
- Regardless, Israel requires that peace come with land withdrawal.
- Israel has proven able to do follow ‘land for peace’, as it did in 1978.
- Israel has offered land for peace in many agreements in the past.
- Israel is by no means required to withdraw before peace negotiations.
Myth: “The Gaza Blockade violates international law and is only meant to make Palestinians suffer.”
Fact: Blockades are legal under international law, and Israel has no responsibility for Gazans since it no longer occupies the Gaza Strip.
- The blockade is meant to prevent war by keeping rockets out.
- The blockade is not illegal; it is legal to blockade a hostile entity.
- Claims that the blockade is illegal are based on claim of occupation.
- Occupying powers need to provide aid, but Israel is not occupying.
- Israel has no troops in Gaza, nor does it control all of its borders.
- Israel has 0% control over the border with Egypt.
- Lack of border control, troops means no occupation obligations.
- Gaza Infant mortality rate is similar to Mexico, Bulgaria, or Jordan.
- Life expectancy is higher than Romania’s, Bulgaria’s or Turkey’s.
- Both above the global average according to the CIA fact book.
- You can oppose the blockade and oppose BDS.
- After all, you can oppose to Cuba embargo and still not boycott the USA.
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.
- There was no peace in the region before Israel occupied the West Bank, or even before Israel existed.
- The Arabs rejected Israel and the idea of a Jewish state early on.
- Arab states threatened to push Israel into the sea.
- The end of occupation did not bring peace with Lebanon.
- Israel withdrew from Lebanon fully, and Hezbollah still attacked.
- Occupation was just an excuse for Hezbollah’s violence.
- The UN has proved ineffective at preventing violence in Lebanon.
- If Israel even keeps the Kotel, it could be Hamas’ Sheba Farms
- Even if Israel gives up every inch, Hamas could be like Hezbollah.
- Hamas shot thousands of rockets from Gaza after Israel’s withdrawal from the area.
- Israelis have no confidence that Hamas will be better than Hezbollah.
- Terror created the Separation Barrier, the barrier did not create terrorism.
Myth: “Justice Goldstone remains convinced that Israel committed war crimes documented in the Goldstone Report.”
Fact: In an April 1, 2011, editorial published by the Washington Post, Justice Richard Goldstone retracted his accusations that Israel intentionally targeted civilians and was guilty of war crimes during its conflict with Hamas in Gaza in December 2008.
- Goldstone now admits the work used by Israel’s detractors to vilify Israel was based on incomplete information and falsely accused Israel of wrongdoing.
- The report, which erroneously claimed that Israel led a “deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population,” became a tool for Israel’s detractors to demonize the Jewish state and denigrate its right to self-defense.
- Goldstone now accepts that “civilians were not intentionally targeted [by Israel] as a matter of policy” and that in the aftermath of having thousands of rockets and missiles fired at its cities, Israel had the “right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens against such attacks.”
- Goldstone also takes the UN Human Rights Council to task, saying he “hoped that our inquiry into all aspects of theGaza conflict would begin a new era of evenhandedness at the UN Human Rights Council, whose history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted.”
- Goldstone now rightfully focuses his criticism on Hamas
Myth: “Endorsing a BDS-supported resolution is different from endorsing BDS itself.”
Fact: Every time that the call to boycott Israel is honored the BDS movement claims it as a victory and the boycotting organization as an ally in the cause.
- It has become very common for BDS resolutions to contain a clause rejecting the explicitly anti-Israel goals of BDS as well as BDS itself, while still giving them what they want, which is divestiture from BDS targeted companies.
- However, once the resolution is passed, BDS claims it as a victory nonetheless. This “bait and switch” has been attempted at UCLA, and succeeded at DePaul and the Presbyterian Church.
- It should therefore be concluded that any endorsement of boycotting Israel will be perceived as synonymous with endorsing BDS.
Justice Goldstone Refutes Goldstone Report Findings
For more information about the Arab-Israeli conflict, visit Myths and Facts.