By Ray Hanania
There are two Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements, which can be confusing. Some want to boycott specific companies and products made on illegal Israeli settlements (the original intent of BDS), while the other wants to boycott anything that is Jewish and Israeli (the new and expanded Alt-BDS movement).
Soon, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) will release a document listing companies contributing to rights abuses in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, which will help distinguish between the two movements.
The original BDS targets companies that engage in the manufacture or growth of products on land illegally taken by Israel and turned into Jewish-only settlements. Most of the world recognizes these settlements as illegal and obstacles to achieving peace. They are built on land forcibly taken from Christian and Muslim Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Settlements are racist in that they discriminate against non-Jews. They also engage in state-sanctioned violence against non-Jews and former owners of the lands they have stolen. The original BDS also targets Israeli companies that have expanded work into settlements. It is fueled by support for the two-state solution, by which Israel and Palestine would exist as two states, with border modifications defined in peace negotiations. That is the BDS I support.
The Alt-BDS boycotts anything Israeli. It does not matter whether the companies are involved in the theft and exploitation of land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It is about building opposition to Israel. The goal of the Alt-BDS is to return the land to the 1920s, before Jews were encouraged by Western anti-Semitism to leave and resettle in Palestine.
It is ironic that Western countries hated Jews and were the fuel for anti-Semitism, reaching a crescendo in Europe under the Nazis during World War II. The Arabs welcomed Jewish refugees, including into Palestine, until it became obvious that the organizers hoped to eliminate non-Jews to create an exclusively Jewish state.
But going back to the 1920s is impossible. It is ideological and extremist. The only solution to years of conflict is compromise: The two-state solution. It is opposed not only by Arab extremists but also by Israeli and Jewish ones, backed by Israel’s fanatic government.
The HRC, an intergovernmental body comprising 47 member states, will publicly release its list very soon. Protecting human rights is what the HRC is all about. Of course, both Israel and the US oppose it because much of its worldwide operations focus on Israel’s continued violation of human rights in the Occupied Territories. It is an example of how America plays games with human rights, only caring about those rights when it involves people it supports.
The HRC has been working on compiling the list since the resolution authorizing it was approved on March 24, 2016. The US has refused to join the HRC, claiming that too much of its work focuses on Israel’s violation of human rights. America has made every effort to block any condemnation of those violations.
Israel and the US are scrambling to prevent the UN from releasing the list. To help Israel, 14 US states have adopted laws that strip Americans of their constitutional right to support human rights by boycotting Israel’s illegal settlements. And a national law has been introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer that would impose stiff fines and jail sentences against any American who “boycotts” Israel.
The list is expected to be finalized in December and presented to the HRC in January. It will not change America’s human rights hypocrisy. But it will make it much easier for BDS supporters of the two-state solution to concentrate their efforts on boycotting businesses that operate in the occupied territories, rather than simply opposing everything Israeli, as the Alt-BDS does. That kind of pressure is needed to push Israelis to replace their extremist government and elect new leaders who can embrace peace.