Iran Sanctions vs BDS

Many people today recognize the threat of a nuclear Iran and propose divestment and sanctions to try to prevent Iran from getting the bomb without the use of force. Some BDS advocates may challenge you to explain how their approach toward Israel differs. To quote French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy, there is an inherent “confusion of an era when we combat democracies as if they were dictatorships or fascist states.”

Democracy vs. Fascist Theocracy

Like them or not, Israeli policies are enacted by a democratic government elected by its Jewish, Christian, and Muslim citizens after being debated in a free media where dissent is welcome. Iran, on the other hand is ultimately governed by its unelected Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who imposes Islamic law, violates human rights, stifles all dissent, and rigs elections.

When Iran is sanctioned, these sanctions are aimed at pressuring an authoritarian regime to alter a single policy. BDS is totally different. By sanctioning a democratic government, it is attacking the legitimate choices made by the Israeli people and the very framework of the state itself.

The challenge to world peace posed by Iran’s nuclear program could be easily resolved were Iran to change its policy on this matter. Hence, the broad international support for focused sanctions against the Iranian regime. If Iran ends its pursuit of nuclear weapons, sanctions would end and Iran would be no less secure (and likely more secure) than it is today.

The situation in the Middle East, including the ongoing inability of the Palestinian people to realize their legitimate right to self-determination, is a different story entirely, and is not dependent on Israeli policy. BDS advocates’ campaign to punish and coerce Israeli society on the basis of a completely unfounded and malicious representation of the sources of the Middle East conflict. The only action that Israel could take to convince BDS proponents to cease their call for sanctions would be to give up its right to a sovereign state.

The BDS Movement has a laundry list of demands that threaten Israel’s security and its Jewish character. These demands include:

1) Encouraging 4.5 million Palestinians to move to Israel and giving them houses that Israelis have lived in for generations.
2) Granting those Palestinians citizenship and the right to vote, ensuring the state would become a binational one and eventually come under the control of the Palestinians. The Palestinians would then have two states: one in the West Bank and Gaza and a second that used to be called Israel.
3) Dismantling the security fence that protects Israelis from suicide bombers.
4) Withdrawing all Israeli security forces from the West Bank.
5) Forcing 500,000 Israelis from their homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

BDS proponents give no indication that they would relent if Israel were to submit to one or several of these demands.