The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign

The delegitimization and BDS campaign has two primary objectives. The first, a short-term objective, is to create overwhelming international pressure on Israel to change its policies, circumscribe its military and diplomatic freedom of maneuver, and curtail its ability to even respond in the face of terrorist attacks and other provocations. The second, long term objective, is to weaken and ultimately defeat Israel by eroding its international standing, isolating it and undermining the credibility of its positions in future negotiations and military confrontations. BDS is not about legitimate criticism of Israeli policies. BDS is antisemitic.

The delegitimization and BDS campaign has had a significant impact on international public opinion towards Israel. The good news is that its concrete achievements to date in disrupting Israel’s relations with foreign countries, imposing sanctions and promoting purchasing bans, have been limited. Indeed, the extremist positions taken by many of those active in the campaign have discredited it and led to a partial backlash. Numerous American states, and a number of countries in Europe and around the world, have adopted anti-BDS laws designed to counter the delegitimization movement and ensure ongoing ties with Israel.

Ramifications for Israeli Foreign Policy, Israeli Security and US-Israeli Relations

If one looks just at the numbers, Israel is certainly not isolated. Israel has relations today with more countries than ever before, a testament to its economic dynamism, high-tech prowess and military power. Most countries today, increasingly including those in the Persian Gulf and Moslem world generally, recognize the benefits of a strong bilateral relationship with Israel. It has so much to offer.

While Israel’s bilateral relations are strong, its international delegitimization is severe, the result of an Arab and Palestinian campaign of diplomatic warfare and defamation ever since its establishment. Every negative development and attribute related to Israel have been distorted and magnified out of all proportion, every positive development and attribute, denied or minimized. To this one has to add an automatic Third World majority in the UN , as well as resurgent antisemitism.

In some cases, Israel’s policies have also contributed greatly to its international isolation, none more so than on the Palestinian issue, especially settlements, but this is only part of the picture. Nothing Israel has done can possibly justify its place at the bottom of international comparisons of state popularity, well below notorious violators of human rights, nor its extreme isolation in the UN. Nothing can justify its frequent depiction as a barbaric, racist, apartheid and even Nazi state. In many ways, the Jewish state has become the Jew among nations.

Delegitimization in Europe and the US

Few countries can afford such international opprobrium, certainly not Israel, which is deeply integrated into the processes of globalization, diplomatically, economically and culturally. Europe, as a bloc, is Israel’s largest trading partner (the US is the single largest partner) and the processes of delegitimization in Europe are broad and increasingly entrenched. Israel has been fortunate to have a series of European leaders in recent decades who have been far more pro-Israeli than their publics (e.g. Merkel, May and Sarkozy), but a political disconnect such as this cannot last forever and pressures for change are already apparent.

Crucially, the delegitimization campaign has begun to make significant inroads into the US, particularly among young and liberal constituencies, college campuses and even the Jewish community. On the liberal Democratic side of the American political map, which most of the Jewish community belongs to, the decrease in support for Israel in recent years has been significant and a portents of things to come. If Israel could not afford to lose European public opinion long ago, the loss of American public opinion would be potentially existential.

The Talk

  • BDS, delegitimization and diplomatic warfare, an overview
  • Israel and the UN
  • What the BDS movement has actually achieved
  • Israel’s international standing
  • Ramifications for US-Israeli relations
  • The international backlash
  • Fighting back

Talk Titles

  • Diplomatic Warfare, Delegitimization and BDS; the Challenge and How to Fight Back
  • Fighting Back Against the BDS and Delegitimization Campaigns

For further information and to book a talk press Book a Talk button below.