Understanding Boycott-Divestments-Sanctions (BDS)


BDS is an acronym for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, which seek to delegitimize and isolate Israel – and Israel alone – around the world and in global forums.

BDS activists promote the false idea that Israel is solely responsible for the Arab-Israeli conflict and, in turn, push for a boycott of the only liberal democracy in the Middle East while exempting the world’s worst human rights violators from such attention. These boycotts take many forms – from telling consumers not to buy Israeli products, to calling for universities to cut ties with Israeli professors and universities, to calls for Israelis to be banned from international sports competitions. By advocating economic coercion against Israelis, BDS is an assault on all Israelis – including, ironically, those Israelis who are staunch peace activists – and BDS uses the kind of language and imagery reserved for “pariah states.

The intent of those employing BDS language seems not to be to resolve the conflict or promote reconciliation, but rather to single out Israel and challenge the Jewish state’s right to be treated with the same standard of fairness applied to any other democracy in the world.

All Canada’s major political parties have unequivocally rejected this odious tactic – a clear demonstration of the fact that BDS is at odds with the Canadian consensus and outside the genuine peace movement that emphasizes fairness and mutual responsibilities.


The Case against BDS

At its core, there are four major reasons why Canadians should reject calls for BDS:

  • BDS is a form of discrimination. In targeting all Israelis, BDS is a modern-day blacklist and a form of discrimination based on national origin. Just as boycotts have targeted Jews throughout history, today BDS activists call for a boycott of the citizens of the world’s only Jewish state and the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. Many leaders in the BDS movement openly declare that their goal isn’t a peaceful, two-state solution, but rather the destruction of the state of Israel. The BDS movement is not pro-Palestinian; it is simply anti-Israel.
  • BDS undermines peace. BDS does nothing to bring the two sides together, promote peace, or improve the quality of the life of the average Palestinian. BDS lays all blame for the conflict on Israel – an absurd premise – and removes all responsibility from the Palestinians. Were BDS successful, it would threaten the livelihood of thousands of Palestinians employed by Israeli companies.
  • BDS imports the conflict. BDS attempts to import the Middle East conflict into Canada by illegitimately targeting businesses, universities, and civil society institutions. Canadian organizations should never be manipulated as a platform for social exclusion and the demonization of Canadians based on their national origin – both of which are at odds with Canadian values.
  • BDS has already failed. Boycotts of Israeli companies are ineffective and, time and again, have only mobilized the Jewish and pro-Israel communities to buy the very products targeted for boycott. Despite calls for BDS, Israel’s economy has experienced immense growth, as have business, academic, and cultural ties between Israelis and Canadians.


The Case for BUYcotts

The purpose of BUYcott Israel is simple: when products are targeted for boycott, BUYcott Israel encourages friends of Israel to buy and promote those products.

Created and managed by CIJA, BUYcott is now used by supporters of Israel around the world as a tool to mobilize grassroots activists to counter BDS through positive, rapid, and effective action.

BUYcott’s premise is that pickets and other calls to boycott Israeli products are more about propaganda value – isolating and demonizing Israel – than they are about economic pressure. BUYcott takes a ‘judo’ approach – deflecting the energy of our opponents to generate support for Israel.

Using multiple social media platforms that involve a global community of Israel supporters of all faiths, any member of the BUYcott network can call for a BUYcott to support a store or product targeted for anti-Israel boycott action. Activists then selectively purchase from that store to offset and even swamp the boycott effort.

Successes are widely publicized with a view to letting anti-Israel activists know that their actions have had the opposite effect from the one intended. As a result of BUYcott, we have seen a marked decrease over the last 24 months in the number of boycott actions aimed at Israel. At the same time, successful BUYcott calls send a strong message to retailers that, even in the face of anti-Israel rhetoric from fringe activists, Israeli products enjoy widespread consumer demand.

Members of the Canadian Jewish community and the broader pro-Israel community are encouraged to buy Israeli products, particularly as Hanukkah and Christmas gifts. Given the serious security and economic challenges facing Israel at this time, a holiday season BUYcott is a timely way of demonstrating solidarity with our friends and family in Israel.

More information on current BUYcott activity can be found at buycottisrael.com.


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