The hostile intentions of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement toward Israel are clear. But some believe it is possible to be pro-Israel while supporting just a little BDS – boycotting Israeli businesses located on the West Bank but not those within pre-1967 Israel.
The issue has attracted international attention because actress Scarlett Johansson, the telegenic public face of SodaStream, refused to bow to pressure from the BDS establishment and sever ties with the West Bank-headquartered Israeli soda company. SodaStream’s owner disclaims any political motivation But Oxfam, the well-regarded organization dedicated to fighting poverty around the world, strongly criticized Johansson for her SodaStream connection, leading the award-winning actress to end her role as an international Oxfam “ambassador.”
Oxfam and like-minded groups – some of them Jewish – sincerely but naively believe that boycotting only across the Green Line enables them to issue a moral protest against Israeli settlement policy without being against Israel itself. Some consider their boycott as being in the best interests of the Jewish state. Unfortunately, they seem unaware of whom they are getting into bed with or the consequences of the association.
The BDS movement was founded in 2005 to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the State of Israel by falsely charging it with racism and apartheid, and orchestrating an international economic and cultural boycott against it. BDS finds its model in the campaign that managed to bring down white-supremacist South Africa, where apartheid was real enough.
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry has for some time been engaged in difficult negotiations to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for a two-state solution that would see Jewish and Palestinian states living side-by-side in peace.
According to recent reports from Ramallah, the Palestinian leadership, buoyed by the rising BDS tide, is sorely tempted to back out of a deal yet again. An end-run around the negotiation track and an appeal to the United Nations for recognition as a state – and to the international courts in The Hague to put Israel in the dock – would eliminate the need for the Palestinians to make any concessions at all. They would have all their work done for them by the international community, leaving Israel isolated.
That is exactly the kind of international isolation that the BDS movement has advocated from the start – the worldwide demonization of Israel as the new South Africa. And those morally fastidious boycotters of SodaStream and other West Bank companies who consider their version of BDS to be pro-Israel will realize too late that they have been used.
LAWRENCE GROSSMAN is a contributing writer to JTA, and the American Jewish Committee’s direc-tor of publications. This article was excerpted from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).