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The right to boycott is non-negotiable

Regardless of one’s views of BDS, it is ridiculous that one should have to tell self-proclaimed ‘democracies’ that the right to boycott is a basic civil right, not a punishable crime. 

Participants in the Open Hillel Conference, Harvard University. (photo: Gili Getz)

Participants in the Open Hillel Conference, Harvard. (photo: Gili Getz)

Last week, over 120 people attended a conference in Nazareth on the subject of “BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and ‘48 Palestinians (citizens living inside Israel’s 1948 borders).” Although the discussions were lively, many participants were cautious with their choice of words: Israel’s Anti-Boycott Law – which allows groups and citizens to be sued for calling for a boycott of Israeli institutions, including settlements – cast a heavy shadow over the event.

The anxiety of discussing the subject of boycott would have seemed an implausible scenario a decade ago. Boycotts, we always learned, are a legitimate method of political expression, praised in our history books and modern politics as an example of how nonviolence can be more powerful, moral, and strategic in advancing human rights struggles around the world.

Now, in a corrupt twist, the very countries that purport to uphold civil rights have become the main forces undermining them. In recent months (and years), governments and local authorities in the USA, France, the UK, and others have advanced new laws, administrative decisions, and behind-the-scenes pressures to stem the rising tide of BDS activities – simply because they are being applied against Israel. This transnational counter-movement, as Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman recently detailed in the Intercept, is part of a “very coordinated and well-financed campaign” to censor BDS – and “it is succeeding.”

The political backlash to BDS was always expected; similar attacks by state authorities had targeted the boycott movements in the Jim Crow south and against apartheid South Africa. What is shocking, however, is not only the extent to which authorities are working to crush today’s BDS movement, but the use of legal measures to restrict or fully silence boycott activities against Israel. These include criminal convictions of BDS activists in France; the threat of penalties against local councils in the UK that boycott Israeli goods; and new regulations that will fully incorporate West Bank settlements into the US’s trade with Israel, among others.

BDS graffiti on Israeli separation wall, Bethlehem, West Bank, June 17, 2014. (Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

BDS graffiti on Israeli separation wall, Bethlehem, West Bank, June 17, 2014. (Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

The authorities’ manipulation of legal tactics against BDS has severely compromised citizens’ rights. When the Israeli Supreme Court upheld the Anti-Boycott Law last year in a 5-4 ruling, the majority of justices departed from technical arguments and openly endorsed the law’s political goals. One justice wrote that boycott could be a form of “political terror;” another wrote that BDS should stand for “Bigoted, Dishonest and Shameful;” and a third wrote that “There is nothing wrong in anchoring laws passed by the Knesset in the struggle against those who wish to destroy us.” Far from defending freedom of expression, the court willingly gave the green light to deny Israeli citizens a basic tool to challenge the state’s occupation and discriminatory policies.

These legal crackdowns point to the success of Israel and its supporters in portraying boycott as an immoral act: that to support boycott is to be anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic), and to undermine the advancement of peace. This view, of course, is grossly misguided. Boycotts are supported by Jews too – including inside Israel, where many left-wing academics, artists, and figures have expressed their opposition to working in the settlements. Globally, Jewish groups and activists are among the leading proponents of BDS. Boycott supporters, even Palestinian ones, vary in their preferred targets for boycotts, which can range from specific companies and officials, to settlement products only, to blanket boycotts of the state. Moreover, BDS is arguably the only movement that is altering the conflict’s worsening status quo, at a time when political actors are either deliberately or inadvertently preserving it.

It is true that there are some pro-BDS groups and individuals who abuse their rights for politically ignorant and sometimes racist reasons. But that is hardly the majority of BDS supporters (which itself is a diverse and decentralized movement), and is certainly not a justification for trying to suppress the right to boycott for millions of people, as is now becoming the case. Regardless of one’s views of BDS, it is ridiculous that one should have to tell the governments and courts of self-proclaimed “democracies” that the right to boycott is a non-negotiable civil right, not a punishable crime. If they fail to learn that today, history books will certainly teach it to them in the future.

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    COMMENTS

    1. SkyHawk

      Big Cat
      Saturday
      June 27, 2015

      QUESTION: What IS BDS?

      “Boycott is act of hate, not peace”
      – Shimon Peres

      “The BDS movement is anti-Semitic terror of a new type.”
      – Yitzhak Herzog.

      “BDS leaders are ‘out and out anti-Semites’”
      – Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid party leader)

      “All who join the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel “are effectively promoting the dissolution of the Jewish state whether or not that is their intention.”
      – Cary Nelson (Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor of English at the University of Illinois)

      The BDS-movement against Israel is a “CULT”, a “GHETTO”, “dishonest”, “silly”, “disingenuous” and “a whole lot of leftist posturing”, whose goal is to destroy Israel, says Norman G. Finkelstein. “They don’t want Israel. They think they are being very clever. They call their three-tier: we want the end of occupation, we want the right of return; we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever because they know the result of implementing all three is WHAT? What’s the result? YOU KNOW AND I KNOW – WHAT’S THE RESULT?! THERE IS NO ISRAEL. THERE IS NO ISRAEL – FULL STOP!”
      – Norman G. Finkelstein, who is also a virulent anti-Israel critic!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iggdO7C70P8

      Amjad Iraqi, you and your ilk wanna destroy the Jewish State and its Jewish citizens and accomplish what you have failed to accomplish militarily since the war of 1948, while abusing our democracy and hiding behind the very freedom and “basic civil rights” the Jewish State gave you? Dream on, amjad iraqi!

      Reply to Comment
    2. Pál Prónay

      I fully agree with Amjad. In fact, I boycott Jews as much as possible, because without Judaism, there would be no zionism. I dont believe the 2 can be separated

      Reply to Comment
      • Andrew r

        That makes you a Zionist…

        Reply to Comment
        • Pál Prónay

          No Andrew, I am not a zionist. I dont believe Israel has any right to exist, and I look forward to Iran taking care of this problem, since no one else is

          Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            Iran has played a huge role in destroying a Middle Eastern country over the past 5 years and creating the largest refugee crisis since WWII. Which leads to the query, after Iran destroys Israel for you, what’s going to destroy Iran?

            Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          Andrew:”That makes you a Zionist…”

          I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. I think I’ll laugh though, it is better for one’s health…

          This Moron, Pronay, comes here and says that he hates all Jews and he boycotts all of us.

          …and according to Andrew, that makes him a Zionist.

          You know what, Andrew? At least with the likes of Pronay, we know exactly where we stand. He is not one to pretend…

          With the likes of you, Benny, Carmen, Bruce at el, we face hypocrites. You hate us too but you try to pretend otherwise…

          Yes, I know… don’t bother… some of your bestest buddies are Jews.

          Reply to Comment
          • Carmen

            “With the likes of you, Benny, Carmen, Bruce at el, we face hypocrites. You hate us too but you try to pretend otherwise…”

            I only speak for myself when I say I’ve never pretended to like you and have mostly felt disgusted by you. Mission accomplished. Now complain because nobody likes you?

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            LOL. Nobody?

            You are the nobody. There is a big world out there deary. And not everybody is like you. Thank God for that Carmen dear.

            Now let’s talk about YOU. Let’s count who likes you. You like you. Pronay likes you, who else? Maybe a few more. You sound like a butchy frustrated dyke. So maybe you have a few others like you who like you. Not that I have anything against dykes. They are people too and unlike you, some of them are decent people. I am just saying what you sound like.

            Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Andrew there are many layers of deceit operating here. “Pronay” is a right wing Israeli/Jew only pretending to be a Jew hater. He does this to smear by snide insinuation people like Amjad Iraqi and +972 in general, by unctuously saying that he agrees with him. “Pronay” adopts the showy name of a notorious Hungarian n*zi in order to draw attention to himself. Gustav knows all this quite well so that it is nauseating to see Gustav talk about Pronay being “not one to pretend.” Really shameless performance.

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            The only shameless one in here are people like you Benny.

            The only people being besmirched by Pronay are Jews and Zionists (Israel).

            In what way is your Pronay besmirching Amjad Iraqi?! Isn’t he too engaged in besmirching Zionists and Israel? Ok he is not openly besmirching Jews as such but he is certainly besmirching the idea of a state for the Jewish people.

            I know why you are doing this Benny, you are trying to annoy us. But nothing you say can annoy us anymore. We only expect the worst from you. So you are only succeeding in making yourself look stupid. Keep on doing it and I will keep on pointing out your stupidity for as long as I feel like it. There are people out there who may read this who are not part of the group who profess your ideology. I am happy to show you up for who you are to them. The rest of your kind, I don’t care about. Of course they will back you up.

            Oh and it’s good for people like me too because you people really show us who we are up against. There is no common ground with people like you. You are firmly planted right in the middle of the camp of our enemies. You are the leftist version of Hamas.

            Reply to Comment
    3. Ben

      Great article by Amjad Iraqi. Spot on. And by Alice Mishkin, to whom Amjad links.

      Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Amjad’s core point is:

      “It is true that there are some pro-BDS groups and individuals who abuse their rights for politically ignorant and sometimes racist reasons. But that is hardly the majority of BDS supporters (which itself is a diverse and decentralized movement), and is certainly not a justification for trying to suppress the right to boycott for millions of people, as is now becoming the case. Regardless of one’s views of BDS, it is ridiculous that one should have to tell the governments and courts of self-proclaimed “democracies” that the right to boycott is a non-negotiable civil right, not a punishable crime.”

      On the same subject as Ms. Mishkin’s article, however:

      The reluctant boycotter: Why this liberal Zionist now supports BDS
      Calling the occupation ‘unsustainable’ is how liberal Zionists ease their conscience and excuse their timidity, by telling themselves it can’t last. But it will last – unless we start acting more like radicals.
      Larry Derfner
      http://Www.haaretz.com/Opinion/.Premium-1.702155

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ben

      Alice Mishkin:

      “In all other contexts, the Jewish people have demonstrated that we understand boycotts, divestments, and sanctions to be effective, non-violent tools for political change. Yet in the face of the BDS movement, we call it ineffective, illegitimate, and even violent.
      It’s been two weeks since the BDS movement gripped the University of Michigan campus. How long will it take our Jewish community to recognize BDS for what it is – not a divisive movement intent on destroying the state of Israel, but a non-violent call for peace and justice?”

      Reply to Comment
    5. Bruce Gould

      It’s under-reported that the Occupation is a money making enterprise for a lot of people; the Occupation will end when it becomes clear that more money is lost than gained. This is a report on who profits:

      http://www.whoprofits.org/reports

      Reply to Comment
    6. David

      More good news for those who support justice and human rights for Palestinian Arabs, the indigenous inhabitants of historic Palestine:

      http://apartheid-divest.rhcloud.com/faculty.html

      COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK

      FACULTY PETITION

      As both scholars and community members, we are professionally, intellectually, and morally invested in our University. We deem it our duty to hold our institution accountable for the ethical implications of its own actions, notably its financial investments and their implications around the world. In particular, we take issue with our financial involvements in institutions associated with the State of Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian lands, continued violations of Palestinian human rights, systematic destruction of life and property, inhumane segregation and systemic forms of discrimination.

      In 2002, faculty members across various departments called for an end to our investment in all firms that supplied Israel’s military with arms and military hardware. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff agreed to attach their name to a call to remove the State of Israel’s social license in its use of asymmetrical and excessive violence against Palestinian civilians.

      We now stand with Columbia University Apartheid Divest, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine as well as with Jewish Voice for Peace in calling upon the University to take a moral stance against Israel’s violence in all its forms. We demand that the University divest from corporations that supply, perpetuate, and profit from a system that has subjugated the Palestinian people for over 68 years. We note that our position unequivocally stands in support of a non-violent movement privileging human rights as the only means toward finding a political resolution.

      We call on our University to recognize its undeniable role in, and influence upon, global systems, a distinguished role that comes with a commensurately weighty measure of moral accountability.

      Signatories:

      Reply to Comment
    7. Lewis from Afula

      The right to boycott is inalienable!
      I agree – we will continue to boycott Bad Donkey Sh*t (BDS) because it represents an evil and malignant ideology that spreads pro-Islamicist terrorism all over the Middle East.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Pál Prónay

      I enjoy watching roaches fight each other. The best part is that it is free entertainment. I guess enjoying the free part might be seen as a Jewish characteristic

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Hey Magyar Roach, for the record…

        Ben is not Jewish so you should be a bit kinder to him. Fancy that. Calling our little Benny a roach…

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Oh? Really now? This would be funnier were it not paired with your sick pal Pál but it makes it more illuminating. Gustav has decreed Benny is not Jewish or has no Jewish ancestors. Chief Rabbi Gustav has excluded Benny from the tribe. Just like that. Just as Gustav everyday claims to speak for all Israelis and all Jews. “We…our…us….” Now why would Gustav do that? First of all, he apparently cannot conceive that Benny could be “a real Jew.” Yet Benny’s viewpoints are no different than many Jews. Noam Scheizaf and Michael Omer-Man and Ze’ev Sternhell are Jews and Benny’s views are all in all indistinguishable from the views of those men. At the same time there are many non-Jews who agree with Sheizaf and Omer-Man and Sternhell in the same way. Gustav just assumes Benny is “not Jewish” (and is probably an Arab) in the service of an unstated agenda. All the better to play right into this PP’s racist game of pitting Jew against non-Jew and Jew against Jew, relentlessly trying to distract by relentlessly trying to make the I/P conflict fundamentally about ethnicity and religion, Jews and Arabs, and “hate” (and even, in his surpassing bigotry and snide insinuation, so PP-like, tries to weave in “butchy frustrated dykes versus non-dykes…just saying”) instead of what it really is: a human rights struggle. That it is at this point fundamentally a human rights struggle is +972 Magazine’s steadfast, consistent message. What the Internet trolls here try relentless to do is make it at bottom about race, ethnicity, religion, and hate. This links all their efforts. Because that lets them off the hook about many things, especially the occupation. That is PP’s game and it is Gustav’s game. Whether I am right or Gustav is right about who “Pál Prónay” is does not matter. Either way, PP wants to make this about race and Gustav wants to make this about race. This is why Gustav, no matter how sincerely he is appalled at Prónay’s loathsome surface rhetoric, actually relishes the vulgar pseudo-argument these visitations by this troll afford because then Gustav gets to grandstand about how much all his political opponents hate Jews. His political opponents aren’t concerned with human rights, according to Gustav, they just hate Jews. And this tireless message is a superb distraction. So this offensive troll PP uses Gustav and Gustav uses PP as a prop to further this message, this distraction from the subject of human rights. This is the critical issue underlying all these pseudo-debates. The chief aim of all this nonsense is to skirt the central issue explored by +972 Magazine: human rights.

          Reply to Comment
          • Samson

            Ben/ Pál Prónay/Brian/”David”/Bryan, etc. are the SAME person.

            1. Ben supports BDS against Israel and the companies and small businesses of Israeli Jews. Ben is opposed to the Jewish State.

            2. Pál Prónay BDS against Israel and the companies and small businesses of Israeli Jews. Pál Prónay is opposed to the Jewish State.

            QUESTION 1

            What is the difference between Ben and Pál Prónay?

            3. Ben has admitted that he used to post here as Brian. While posting as Brian, Ben not only made clear that he is not Jewish, but also made as much anti-Semitic comments of the same nature as Pál Prónay! Currently, Ben is posing as Pál Prónay to advance the idea that he is a Jew who shares the same opinions as Noam Sheizaf et. al. Ben is a con-artist, who is deluded enough to believe that he fools anyone.

            QUESTION 2

            Is Ben denying that “Ben”, “Brian” and “Bryan” are the SAME person?

            Pls. answer ONLY the two questions, Ben.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Well, Benny-leh? Are you or are you not Jewish? If you say you are, then I’ll apologize to you for making a mistake about you.

            See? It is easy to resolve. People make mistakes and people can apologize for mistakes. So enlighten me and make me apologize stop this “I could be, would be, shoulda be Jewish”.

            As for my comment to Pronay about you not being Jewish, it was a light hearted jibe both at him and you. He made a comment about Jewish roaches fighting amongst each other here and I said you are not Jewish. Lighten up, and correct my mistake if I am wrong. Oh and get off your soap box. LOL. You know? You are an angry little man, oops, I mean dyke, no, er oops I mean dyke, Benny-leh. Did I mention frustrated? LOL.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            The crickets are chirping. Benny lost interest.

            One last try, Benny, you were so scandalized because I dared to say you are not Jewish. Well are you? Or are you not Jewish? Not even an apology from me tempts you to say ‘yes’ if you are? But if you are not then why did you make such a big fuss about it? To show your stupidity?

            Reply to Comment
    9. David

      To quote Patrick Martin, Canada’s Globe and Mail correspondent in Israel:
      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/parliament-votes-to-reject-campaign-to-boycott-israel/article28863810/

      Globe and Mail, Feb. 23/16

      “Yes, the BDS campaign singles out Israel, quite naturally. It was started by a group of Palestinians, including Mr. Barghouti, to elicit help in dealing with Palestinians’ biggest problems. It was not intended to solve all the problems of the world. Just as the worldwide campaign against apartheid in South Africa did not address the ills of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, or the dictatorship in Somalia, this BDS movement is uniquely tailored to safeguarding Palestinian rights.”

      “Israel is increasingly concerned with the successes of the boycott and divestment efforts. In 2014, foreign direct investment in Israel dropped 46 per cent from the previous year, in part, a United Nations report said, because of BDS efforts.

      “These initiatives are taking hold at North American universities, churches and trade unions, where many institutions are dropping investments in Israel or Israel-connected companies. In Europe where hundreds of academics and entertainers are personally boycotting Israel, major companies such as telecom Orange and water company Veolia are pulling out of Israeli ventures, and some EU governments are putting warning labels on products produced in Israeli West Bank settlements.”

      Reply to Comment
      • Samson

        Achmed, for at least 68yrs your Muslim Arab people have been fighting desperately to destroy the Jewish State. For 68yrs your Muslim Arab people have failed. We defeated you. Now, instead of fighting like men, you are hiding behind “human rights” and trying to lie and trick your way to victory with BDS. I got news for you, Achmed, your BDS was dead before it even gathered steam. You failed before. You have failed again. You were defeated before. You have been defeated again. You will always be defeated. You are not even proud of your Muslim Arab heritage, but instead prefer to masquerade as “David”, “Ben”, “Eva”, “BruceGould”, “Carmen”, “Pál Prónay”, etc. all of which are the aliases you use on this site. Keep hallucinating, Achmed. What else can a jihadi do except hallucinate and, when he gets frustrated, start blowing up innocent civilians?

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Nice article, David. Nothing like a dose of common sense for what ails peeple.

        Reply to Comment
        • Samson

          Achmed, if you had any common sense, you would have realized that you cannot hide behind “human rights”, lie and trick your way to victory with BDS and realize your decades old Muslim Arab dream of destroying the Jewish State. But we know that you, Achmed, have no common sense. In any case, keep admiring yourself, congratulating yourself and patting yourself on the back, while telling yourself how great you are for being able to copy-and-paste something, Achmed.

          Reply to Comment
    10. Daniel

      Amjad Iraqi:

      “These legal crackdowns point to the success of Israel and its supporters in portraying boycoot as an immoral act: that to support boycott is to be anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic), and to undermine the advancement of peace. This view, of course, is grossly misguided. Boycotts are supported by Jews too– including inside Israel, where many left-wing academics, artists, and figures have expressed their opposition to working in the settlements. Globally, Jewish groups and activists are among the leading proponents of BDS”.

      Actually, that argument is grossly flawed and frankly idiotic. The involvement of some Jews in the BDS movement against Israel does not neutralize the racist and anti-Semitic nature of the BDS. In history some Jews have done far worse than e.g. support movements like the BDS. There were “Jews” who used their “Jewishness” as a cover to infiltrated Jewish populations/groups/families who were hiding underground from the SS-thugs during WW2, gathered their identities and hiding places and sold out them to be destroyed in concentration camps. That and does not make those n*azi atrocities less anti-Semitic, because Jews were involved in the liquidation of their fellow Jews! BDS is anti-Semitic because its founders and supporters including YOU, Amjad Iraqi, (a) do not believe that Jews are a People and (b) do not accept that the Jewish people have the right to a National Homeland/Jewish State in their ancestral homeland. You recognize Israel as a fact on the ground, but deny Israel’s right to exist. The goal of the BDS is to undo the Jewish state.

      Israelis may or may not be everything you claim they are, but one thing they are not is foolish! Don’t therefore be such a fool to fool yourself into thinking that Israelis are fools, because we see through you and inside your head even before you open your mouth to say anything.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Ben

      There are impressive displays of futile rage, Donald Trump-like interpersonal nastiness and dishonesty, and pure hatred on this page. I think it was Andrew R who said he refers to these pages people who don’t believe the Israeli right wing is that bad. The little cherry on top of this multilayered racist cake:

      “even before you open your mouth to say anything.”

      Reply to Comment
      • Daniel

        Ben or whatever you choose to call yourself at any given time, I believe you are responding to me, but too chicken to respond directly. Instead of get to the substance, you see “racist” everywhere. Not atypical at all.

        The hateful racist are you who support Boycott, Divestment and Sanction against the Jewish State, Israeli Jewish academics, academic- and research institutions, students, athletes, Israeli Jewish companies and businesses, etc. and anyone who does business with them in order to achieve the same goal you – unsuccessfully – have been pursing militarily since 1948: destroy the Jewish State and drive the Joos into the sea. Even Norman Finkelstein ‘could see through you and inside your head and know what you are thinking even before you open your mouth to say anything. And when you do open your mouth, no one believes you, because you double-speak, you are duplicitous, you lie and you fool yourself, while believing that you are fooling others. See the video clip embedded in the first post from SkyHawk above.

        The racist are you who is obsessed with Jews and Israel and single them out for BDS. As Norman G. Finkelstein said, your kind are not just racist and hateful, but outright foolish.

        Do you have a job, Ben? How do you explain your presence on this site every hour of every day? And why did you stop posting as “Bryan”/”Brian” and chose to post as “Ben”?

        Reply to Comment
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