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Why is Israel 
so worried about BDS? 
Peter Larson 
Chair 
National Education Committee 
on Israel/Palestine 
National Cou...
Why is Israel 
“the only democracy in the middle east” 
so worried about BDS? 
“a legal, non-violent movement for human ri...
Outline 
 Background – what is the BDS movement? 
 How did it originate? 
 The 3 demands or objectives 
 The 3 element...
What is the BDS movement? 
In 2005, Palestinian civil society 
issued a call for a campaign of 
• Boycotts, 
• Divestment,...
Some examples: 
Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine 
Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) 
Global Palestine Righ...
The call 
“We (…) call upon (…) people of conscience all over 
the world to impose broad boycotts and implement 
divestmen...
The 3 objectives of the BDS movement 
1. “Freedom” Ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands 
and dism...
The logic of the 3 objectives 
The campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions 
(BDS) is based on a rights-based appro...
The 1948 Nakba 
scattered the 
Palestinians around, 
and out of, Mandate 
Palestine
Where are the 
Palestinians today? 
1. West Bank* 2.4 M 
2. Gaza* 1.6 M 
3. Refugees in Lebanon, 
Jordan, Syria 3.5 M 
4. ...
The Three BDS elements (or levers) 
1. Boycott 
2. Divestment 
3. Sanctions
1 Boycott 
Targets products and companies (Israeli and international) 
that profit from the violation of Palestinian right...
2 Divestment 
Targets corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian 
rights and ensuring that investment portfoli...
3 Sanctions 
Targets Israel’s membership of various diplomatic and 
economic forums. 
Who does it? 
- States and internati...
Growing support for BDS 
2005 – BDS call 
2007 – First Palestinian BDS Conference 
2007 - Creation of BDS Coordinating Com...
2011 – Growing international support
Progress so far: 
Boycott – growing rapidly 
• Sodastream 
• Stephen Hawking 
• Musicians: Bono, 
• Elvis Costello, and ot...
Some Churches around the world have taken up a 
partial “boycott” 
e.g. United Church of Canada 
GC41 August 2012 
Calls o...
Main differences between BDS and UCC position 
• UCC “unsettling goods campaign” limited to boycotting goods produced in 
...
Israel’ is starting to notice…. 
Israel’s politicians sound rattled 
by the campaign to isolate their country 
Feb 8th 201...
Israeli reaction to BDS 
• 2011 Knesset passes 
“anti boycott” law 
• debates “whether to 
launch an aggressive 
public ca...
2013 reaction stiffening 
• BDS is “Immoral and anti- 
Semitic” – Shimon Fogel, CEO 
of CIJA 
• Kenney’s “buycott” 
Left –...
Netanyahu’s speech in Washington, March, 2014 
Mentioned BDS 14 times 
“Netanyahu repeated several times that the BDS move...
“An academic boycott is against academic freedom”
“If Palestinians don’t boycott Israel, why should you?”
“The goal of BDS is the end of the State of Israel itself”
“A boycott will have negligible economic effect” 
Main exports - high technology products, telecommunications 
equipment, ...
The three main impacts of BDS 
• Boycott – educational 
• Divestment – economic 
• Sanctions - political 
=> All result in...
Why is Israel so worried about BDS? 
1. BDS arisen out of the lack of progress since Oslo in 20 years of 
“negotiations” 
...
Where will this end? 
Why is Israel so worried 
about BDS? 
“As long as there is hope for a 2 state solution, Israel is sa...
Is the movement to boycott Israel ethically justified, and why does Israel seem to be afraid of it?
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Is the movement to boycott Israel ethically justified, and why does Israel seem to be afraid of it?

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BDS appears to be growing, but some people say it is unfair and immoral. This presentation reviews the origins and objectives of the BDS movement

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Is the movement to boycott Israel ethically justified, and why does Israel seem to be afraid of it?

  1. 1. Why is Israel so worried about BDS? Peter Larson Chair National Education Committee on Israel/Palestine National Council on Canada-Arab Relations (NCCAR)
  2. 2. Why is Israel “the only democracy in the middle east” so worried about BDS? “a legal, non-violent movement for human rights” Peter Larson Chair National Education Committee on Israel/Palestine National Council on Canada-Arab Relations (NCCAR)
  3. 3. Outline  Background – what is the BDS movement?  How did it originate?  The 3 demands or objectives  The 3 elements: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions  BDS and Palestinian unity  Progress so far  Victories  Israeli reaction  Dangers - can the BDS movement be “hijacked”?  The United Church of Canada and BDS  Conclusion
  4. 4. What is the BDS movement? In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for a campaign of • Boycotts, • Divestment, and • Sanctions Endorsed by 170 Palestinian organizations in the West Bank, in Gaza, inside Israel, in refugee camps and in the Palestinian Diaspora Source: http://www.bdsmovement.net/
  5. 5. Some examples: Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS) Federation of Independent Trade Unions General Union of Palestinian Workers Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions General Union of Palestinian Women Union of Palestinian Farmers General Union of Palestinian Teachers General Union of Palestinian Writers Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) Union of Public Employees in Palestine-Civil Sector Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall) Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)… ……And 150 other organizations
  6. 6. The call “We (…) call upon (…) people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel (…) and pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. (…). 2005 – First BDS Call by Palestinian civil society
  7. 7. The 3 objectives of the BDS movement 1. “Freedom” Ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the wall 2. “Equality” Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3. “Return” Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.” From BDS website
  8. 8. The logic of the 3 objectives The campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is based on a rights-based approach and highlights the three broad sections of the Palestinian people: 1. the refugees, 2. those under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and 3. Palestinians in Israel. Source: BDS website
  9. 9. The 1948 Nakba scattered the Palestinians around, and out of, Mandate Palestine
  10. 10. Where are the Palestinians today? 1. West Bank* 2.4 M 2. Gaza* 1.6 M 3. Refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria 3.5 M 4. Israel 1.4 M 5. Diaspora 2. M Total 10.9M * - More than 1.4 M of the people now living in the WB and Gaza are refugees from what is now Israel.
  11. 11. The Three BDS elements (or levers) 1. Boycott 2. Divestment 3. Sanctions
  12. 12. 1 Boycott Targets products and companies (Israeli and international) that profit from the violation of Palestinian rights, as well as Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions. Who does it? - mostly individuals Examples: • Individual consumer products • Music groups/sporting events/academic events NB: does not apply to: • Individual academics who go to/come from Israel • Touring Israel to see the situation in historic Palestine
  13. 13. 2 Divestment Targets corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian rights and ensuring that investment portfolios are not used to finance such companies. Who does it? - mostly big money managers and institutions Examples: • Pension funds • Banks • Individuals (e.g. Israel bonds)
  14. 14. 3 Sanctions Targets Israel’s membership of various diplomatic and economic forums. Who does it? - States and international organizations Examples: • International bodies – e.g. FIFA • State-to-State agreements – e.g. Canada Israel Free Trade Agreement
  15. 15. Growing support for BDS 2005 – BDS call 2007 – First Palestinian BDS Conference 2007 - Creation of BDS Coordinating Committee 2009 – “A moment of Truth” – Palestinian Christian churches join in
  16. 16. 2011 – Growing international support
  17. 17. Progress so far: Boycott – growing rapidly • Sodastream • Stephen Hawking • Musicians: Bono, • Elvis Costello, and others Divestment – some movement • Dutch pension fund giant PGGM withdrawn its investments from Israel's five largest banks. • Norwegian government pension fund divests Sanctions – early stages • Debate over Palestinian representation at UN • Question over Israeli participation in FIFA
  18. 18. Some Churches around the world have taken up a partial “boycott” e.g. United Church of Canada GC41 August 2012 Calls on United Church members to take concrete actions to support the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories • Initiates “Unsettling Goods” campaign • Focus on boycotting goods produced in illegal settlements • Much attention on SODASTREAM
  19. 19. Main differences between BDS and UCC position • UCC “unsettling goods campaign” limited to boycotting goods produced in settlements, and not Israel as a political entity. • “The church does not support the formal BDS Campaign, which calls not only for a comprehensive boycott of all Israeli businesses and products, but also for the full implementation of a Palestinian Right of Return.” • “The Church recognizes Israel as a Jewish State” - Statement of Church policy
  20. 20. Israel’ is starting to notice…. Israel’s politicians sound rattled by the campaign to isolate their country Feb 8th 2014 | JERUSALEM | ONCE derided as the scheming of crackpots, the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, widely known as BDS, is turning mainstream. (…) That, at any rate, is the fear of a growing number of Israelis.
  21. 21. Israeli reaction to BDS • 2011 Knesset passes “anti boycott” law • debates “whether to launch an aggressive public campaign or operate through quieter, diplomatic channels.” • Lobbies in Canada, Australia and USA for anti-boycott legislation in other countries
  22. 22. 2013 reaction stiffening • BDS is “Immoral and anti- Semitic” – Shimon Fogel, CEO of CIJA • Kenney’s “buycott” Left – Jason’s “buycott” – the tweet that went across Canada
  23. 23. Netanyahu’s speech in Washington, March, 2014 Mentioned BDS 14 times “Netanyahu repeated several times that the BDS movement would fail, but the more he elaborated on the issue, the more he revealed just how worried he is that these activists will actually succeed in their efforts to isolate Israel and portray it as an apartheid state.” Haaretz reporter Barak Ravid
  24. 24. “An academic boycott is against academic freedom”
  25. 25. “If Palestinians don’t boycott Israel, why should you?”
  26. 26. “The goal of BDS is the end of the State of Israel itself”
  27. 27. “A boycott will have negligible economic effect” Main exports - high technology products, telecommunications equipment, military equipment, pharmaceuticals, mechanical machinery and machinery based equipment, cut diamonds and jewelry, agricultural products and foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles and apparel. Source: "Israel: Trade Statistics". Global Edge. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
  28. 28. The three main impacts of BDS • Boycott – educational • Divestment – economic • Sanctions - political => All result in pressure building on Israel
  29. 29. Why is Israel so worried about BDS? 1. BDS arisen out of the lack of progress since Oslo in 20 years of “negotiations” 2. BDS cannot be dealt with militarily 3. BDS is broadly based – its leadership cannot be bought off 4. The 3 BDS demands attack the fundamentals of the State of Israel 1. Freedom for Palestinians under occupation 2. Equality for Palestinians in Israel 3. Return for the refugees 5. The more Israel attacks it (e.g. recent laws in Israel), the more support grows for BDS
  30. 30. Where will this end? Why is Israel so worried about BDS? “As long as there is hope for a 2 state solution, Israel is safe. But when that hope evaporates, the Palestinian struggle will change. It will become a struggle for equality and human rights. That is a struggle Israel cannot win in the court of world opinion” Jonathan Cook – Ottawa, March 2014

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