Is BDS — Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel — the social activism for you? Check it out. It’s easier than you think.
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BDS is believed by many to be the best way to fight against what they believe is Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and suppression of the people. It includes academic boycotts discouraging cooperation with Israeli institutions of higher learning and research and even individual researchers, avoiding buying products and goods from Israel, and refusing to invest in portfolios that include firms dealing with arms or other military investments in Israel.
In case you are not yet convinced that you want to join in the BDS movement, take the following short quiz. It should provide you with a rough indication of how important the relevant issues are to you and will suggest the kind of activism that might suit you best.
The BDS Activist Quiz
On a piece of paper, write the numbers 1 to 9 in a column. Then read each statement below and beside the respective number on your list, write either true, if the statement is true for you, or false if it is not. The key for interpreting your answers is below that.
- I care about human rights for all peoples: freedom, equality and self-determination.
- I hate racism and racists – apartheid is racism in one of its worst permutations.
- I care about academic freedoms for all peoples.
- I hate hypocrisy – when people put themselves forward as something they are not.
- I care about International Law and believe no nation is above the Law.
- I care about refugees and believe that they should be allowed to go home when safe to do so, or to be compensated for their loss of property and given the means to make a fresh new start.
- I believe the weak should be supported when they are being oppressed by the strong – there is justice in this.
- I care more about damning Israel than I do about my own health and access to technological advances.
- I believe people should just mind their own business and not get worked up about such things.
Key for Analyzing the BDS’er Quiz
- If you wrote (care about human rights)
- true – you are not a potential BDS’er. Sorry.
- false – you might be a worthy candidate for the BDS campaign against Israel. BDS is effectively saying that Israel must resist the impulse to defend its people when attacked by missiles, when stabbed in the streets or rammed by cars or blown up by suicide bombers. That is because the attacks against Israel are deemed legitimate violence by terrorists who say they are fighting for a Palestinian state. You will not, however, call them terrorists in the case of the conflict between Israel and the Arabs. The media usually refers to them as militants, but more recently merely as “Palestinian man, Palestinian woman or “Palestinian teenager”. The fact that such a man, woman or teen was wielding a knife or throwing rocks at Jews does not seem to concern anyone. Thus, if you deny to the Jews (Israel) the human rights you say all peoples deserve, then you must mark this statement false. You can correct your answer now if you misinterpreted the statement.
- If you wrote (hate racism and apartheid)
- true – then nothing can be said about whether or not you are a potential BDS’er; the distinction would depend upon whether or not you know what apartheid really is and what that means in the Israeli context. If you know what apartheid is and agree with part 2 (false) of this section, then you are certainly someone BDS’ers would welcome among their ranks. If you know what apartheid is and disagree with the explanation just below, then you are not suitable to be a BDS activist.
- false – then you are a candidate for the BDS movement against Israel. If you do not care about racism and apartheid, then you do not likely give a damn that Jews are not permitted to drive into Arab towns in Judea & Samaria (J&S, aka the West Bank) nor that the vision for any future Palestinian Arab state, should one come into being, is for a state without a single solitary Jew to “pollute the soil with their dirty feet”, as so eloquently declared by Mahmoud Abbas, current President of the Palestinian Authority. You do not care that Arab citizens of Israel are free to take an active and important part in Israeli society, many of them doing so to great personal, community and national benefit, thus contradicting the claim that Israeli Jews are racist.
- If you wrote (care about academic freedoms)
- true – you are not a likely BDS’er.
- false – you should be received with open arms among BDS activists. The word going around is that Israel restricts the movement of students and faculty of universities in Gaza and J&S but that is not quite so as shown by responses to queries I got from PA universities to which I “applied” and recorded here and here and a report I wrote on academic activities at one university as an example. First of all, there are no Israelis within Gaza so movement is free within that entire region – as free as Hamas wants it to be, that is. It is true that Israel controls the border between Gaza and the rest of the world, but I argue that there is no blockade as is commonly portrayed in the media. There are security checkpoints in J&S, making travel between PA towns rather inconvenient at times, but that does not prevent academic freedom as noted in my articles above. In fact, it does not prevent some institutions of higher learning from providing fertile soil for the nurturing of terrorists and hatred against Jews. Just think: Amira Hass, a virulently anti-Israeli writer for the left-wing paper, Haaretz, was thrown out of an anti-Israel conference at Birzeit University just because she is a Jew. And so, if you think academic freedoms and the open exchange of ideas should be allotted to everyone except Israelis, then you are a BDS supporter. Good for you!
- If you answered (hate hypocrisy)
- true – the jury is out regarding whether or not you can join the ranks of BDS activists: if you answered true for statements 1, 2, and 3 above but believe that Israel should be singled out as undeserving of the human rights and freedoms you believe everyone else merits, then you are a hypocrite and you are a worthy applicant to the army of BDS’ers. If you are puzzled by what I just said, then you need to educate yourself and then make up your mind.
- false – well, at least you are being honest and I think you may have to lie about this when you meet with other BDS’ers.
- If you answered (care about international law)
- true – I hope you know something about international law and that UN General Assembly resolutions are not law but merely proposals.
- false – you are a great candidate for BDS activist, but, like for point 4 above, you will lie about this and claim you support international law and then make up your own version of it.
- If you answered (care about refugees)
- true – and do not raise your voice in favour of support for Yazidi and Kurdish refugees, and don’t care that African refugees are languishing for decades in refugee camps without insisting that your home country invite peoples from these communities to safe harbour on your shores, then you are a hypocrite and can proudly declare yourself a potential BDS’er. BDS’ers only seem to care about Palestinian Arab refugees in J&S. They do not care about Palestinian Arab refugees being slaughtered in Syria or discriminated against in Jordan, for example. So, welcome to the noble BDS club!
- false – you are selfish and lack compassion for your fellow human beings so lie about this one when you attend BDS activities.
- Was your answer to this one (support the weak)
- true – Make sure you understand the context of the Palestinian Arab-Israel conflict and history since the signing of the Oslo Accords to see if you understand the meaning in this environment of “strong” versus “weak” because in this case, strength and weakness are multifaceted and not necessarily obvious. If my mere suggestion that you do some research on this topic gives you a headache, then you can say: “Whoopee! I am a potential BDS’er!”
- false – See answer 6 (2) above.
- If you answered (care more about damning Israel)
- true – unless you are a hypocrite and a liar, avoid all use of Israeli medical and technological contributions to our modern society. And when announcements come out in the news about such new developments coming out of Israel, such as equipment that promises to let paralyzed people walk, or treatments that can cure diseases that have so far resisted all efforts at relief (Parkinson’s for example), make sure you take advantage of the talk-back section to scorn the Israelis for such nefarious achievements that are surely only an example of science-washing.
- false – do yourself a favour and learn something about the Palestinian Arab-Israeli conflict by using balanced sources; you will be glad you did.
- If you answered (mind your own business)
- true – the best you can probably manage is signing pro-BDS petitions when they are shoved under your nose just to avoid appearing callous and uncaring. But if you really want to be honest, then don’t sign anything you do not know enough about.
- false – depending on how you feel about the points above, you should either join pro-BDS or anti-BDS activist groups. Not sure? Then you might just want to pay attention to what both sides are saying and make up your own mind about what you believe. I know that is asking a lot. Oh well.
It takes minimal effort to join the ranks of BDS activism. All you really need is a desire to meet new people by attending demonstrations, wave Palestinian flags (and avoid thinking about how it is almost identical to the Jordanian flag), hold protest signs with catchy slogans, shout out those same slogans, and then go off with your new friends to a pub and congratulate yourself on a few hours well-spent in making this world a better place for anyone as long as that anyone is not a Jew.
This article first appeared on Israel Diaries.