Is anti-BDS legislation anti-free speech?

A divisive debate has been brewing recently  over legislation introduced at state and federal levels to combat the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The aim of the BDS movement is to isolate Israel internationally by promoting the idea she is a pariah state that should be dismantled through the use of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. The Palestinians are then expected to be crowned rightful heirs to inherit whatever remains of the Jewish state.

A total of 27 US states have so far passed measures restricting local government agencies from contracting with companies that choose to join the BDS movement. Similarly, a January 2019 Senate bill sought to protect US companies (and by extension, US interests) from being forced to comply with discriminatory financial practices prescribed against Israeli-owned businesses by such international organizations as the United Nations and the European Union.

Opposition to such anti-BDS legislation leans heavily on the complaint that Americans’ First Amendment rights are being infringed upon. However, none of the anti-BDS legislation restricts an individual’s right to boycott Israeli products or businesses. It only restricts the government from being party to such boycotts.

What follows are a few reasons to explain why the US government would take such a stand against the BDS movement.

The Biased Blame Game

The BDS movement incorrectly and unfairly places on Israel all the blame for the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. It totally ignores multiple peace offers from Israel, while also completely ignoring every Palestinian rejection of peace initiatives including the 1938 Peel Commission Plan, the 1947 UN Partition Plan, an offer for land in 1967, the 2000 offer of a state at Camp David, and the 2008 offer of a state by Prime Minister Olmert. The BDS movement’s distortion of history serves only to foster undue antagonism against the Jewish state despite its well proven record of attempts to find peace with her neighbors.

Short Circuiting Peace Talks

The BDS movement holds out false hope to the Palestinians that they can achieve their nationalistic aspirations without having to negotiate a deal directly with the Israelis because only Israel will be forced to compromise for peace.

By attempting to bludgeon Israel into submission through economic isolation, they believe Israel can be weakened enough to capitulate to every Palestinian demand. This is unrealistic, especially given Israel’s strong economic position, and ultimately makes peace far less likely for both sides.\

Singling out Jews for Special Treatment

A central premise of the BDS movement is that the modern Jewish state is a racist reincarnation of the apartheid South AfricaIgnoring Palestinian demands for a Jew-free state, they falsely accuse Israeli Jews of discriminating against Palestinian Arabs as the white minority in South Africa did to the majority black population.

Unsatisfied with this gross distortion of reality—Israeli Arabs enjoy rights, privileges, and opportunities second to none in the Middle East—the BDS movement goes on to raise the supposed human rights abuses of Israeli Jews to a level that exceeds that of states with the worst human rights records in the world. In the United Nations, that translates into giving passes to repressive regimes like Iran, North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, and Venezuela, while once again singling out the Jew as the prime suspect causing the world’s biggest problems.

The Final Solution

The aim of the BDS movement has nothing to do with creating conditions on the ground where Israelis and Palestinians can finally live side by side in peace and prosperity. On the contrary, the final solution the BDS movement ultimately seeks is the complete dismantling of the Jewish state to be replaced with a Palestinian state.

Stand Against Evil

Representatives in state and federal legislatures should be applauded for taking a stand against the destructive aims of the BDS movement. And they should be supported in their efforts because when the BDS movement loses, everyone wins— including Israelis and Palestinians. This is how we give peace a real chance.        

- by Daryl Hedding, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, Deputy Director

Daryl Hedding, ICEJ USA Deputy Director
Publish Date: 
Friday, February 8, 2019