By Rolene Marks
The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and sanctions) movement sure is noisy. While lacking cerebral substance, they understand the veracity of symbolism and language that is provocative, emotive and emotional. They understand that gratuitous use of the word Apartheid is guaranteed to get an emotional reaction from people.
I use the word gratuitous intentionally because BDS have no respect or understanding of the crime that was Apartheid and the trauma of its victims. To them it is simply evocative, sexy packaging that can be used to market their agenda and make it appealing to the masses who maintain they are concerned about human rights.
If you wrap up hatred and sell it in an emotional package, then surely you must be on the side of good, right?
Wrong. There is a more nefarious agenda at play here and it needs to be exposed again and again.
A wolfish agenda in sheep’s clothing
Why is BDS so hell-bent on the accusation of Apartheid?
The motivation is simple. They want to paint Israel with the same colours as that of Apartheid South Africa in order to undermine Israel’s legitimacy as a State in the hope that global opprobrium will lead to isolation of the Jewish State. In fact, the stated end-goal of BDS is the complete eradication of the Jewish nation state – they have been so bold as to announce this on their website. It’s not going to happen because Israel is not Apartheid South Africa, like BDS advocates want people to believe.
BDS would have you believe that boycotts and sanctions contributed to the downfall of Apartheid in South Africa and that the same kind of well strategized campaign can do the same to change Israeli policies. There are very clear differences – in Apartheid South Africa, the minority white population had dominion over the majority black population and eventually, it was the citizens of the country who spoke out overwhelmingly in a referendum that the time had long passed to do away with this heinous regime.
The situation between Israelis and Palestinians is far more complicated. Rather than a loveless marriage, the parties prefer an amicably divorce in best enjoying their national aspirations. It is extremely presumptuous for South Africans to impose their “one-solution-fits-all” to one of the most complex political conflicts in modern history.
Destruction rather than Construction
Did boycotts and sanctions contribute to the fall of Apartheid?
The idea of boycotts and sanctions was debated in the 1960’s but only really gained traction in the 1980’s. In November 1962, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 1761, a non-binding resolution establishing the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid and called for imposing economic and other sanctions on South Africa. All Western nations were unhappy with the call for sanctions and as a result boycotted the committee.
Fast forward to the 1980’s and the height of the regime and it can be said that while sanctions did effect the economy, the credit for ending Apartheid once and for all was the sterling efforts of Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk who took great – sometimes unpopular risks – to ensure a better future for South Africans based of the democratic principles of equality and justice for all.
In South Africa, nobody ever questioned the country’s right to exist as a nation state which is precisely BDS’s endgame. It says so openly and unashamedly – “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. This means that Israel is dealing with a malevolent movement that aims – contrary to the democratic principles that played a part in the South African process – to destroy of one of the main players, namely – Israel.
The German Bundestag voted earlier this year to declare BDS and antisemitic movement and Austria is poised to do the same.
Who stands to lose the most?
It is easy for activists on both sides to play armchair politicians but there are lives at stake and for the most part, Palestinians have more to lose. With an Israeli economy that is booming, the impact of boycotts on the lives on Israelis is minimal – mostly psychological.
For Palestinians on the other hand, boycotts are likely to affect their livelihoods.
One such casualty was SodaStream. SodaStream, an Israeli company manufacturing soda company shut its West Bank factory and moved it to southern Israel. This cut hundreds of jobs for Palestinians that reportedly paid between three and five times the local prevailing wage.
SodaStream’s CEO Daniel Birnbaum denied the move was BDS-related, though its profits plunged after BDS activists got involved.
“It has nothing to do with politics; we’re relocating to a modern facility that is three times the size,” Birnbaum told The Independent. “But if it was up to me, I would have stayed. We showed the world Arabs and Jews can work together.”
Soda Stream had the last laugh though when it was bought by Pepsico for $3.2 billion, proving that Israel is a hot investment destination – and even more so when there is possibility to create jobs for Palestinians.
Should the boycott be successful – who are the beneficiaries and who are the losers? The losers invariably are the Palestinians while the beneficiaries are BDS and their ilk who by their actions, demonstrate that they are anti-normalisation between Israel and her Palestinian neighbours – and anti-peace.
Does BDS really care that their strategies may affect the very people they purport to help?
Of course not; nothing must get in the way of destroying Israel.
Palestinian lives are the sacrificial lambs in a BDS campaign that is about demolishing bridges rather than building bridges.
See how esteemed human rights Palestinian activist explains how the BDS movement and their boycott campaigns impacts ordinary Palestinians in this video clip:
If BDS truly cared about the lives of Palestinians, they would champion for a second Singapore or Start-Up Nation like their neighbour Israel, rather than promote murderous and genocidal incitement. They would engage in dialogue, not deception.
Peace will be built from the ground up. It will start with spirited, committed people – individuals and communities, business people and investors. Boycotts create barriers and discourage positive discourse.
While the situation in the Middle East is a challenge, let us promote positive tracks of building and promoting commerce that will create a thriving economy rather than the destructive path of boycotts!
This way, everybody benefits.