Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement was formally launched in 2005, and is a call to states, religious groups, and individuals to put extensive pressure on Israel. The movement with years has gained momentum because of the UN’s World Conference against Racism (2001) and the Second Intifada (2000). BDS claims to be part of a solution in resolving the violation of human rights by Israel on the Palestinian territories. The BDS movement was started as a coalition of 170 Palestinian civil society groups that referred to the movement as “people of conscience.” However, it has proven to be a strategy of Palestinians, Muslims, and Arabs also known as “rejectionists” against Israel, and they hold the BDS campaigns based on anti-Israel big lies or propaganda to help destroy the Jewish nation. Whenever BDS movement is mentioned, it matches legitimate criticism on Israel policies using Natan Sharansky’s “3Ds” test on anti-Semitism. First, Double Standards- a violation of human rights in the Arab world is ignored when criticizing the Jewish Nation. Second, Demonization of Israel- Israel is criticized for its actions using false comparisons with South Africa’s Apartheid rile or the Nazis regime. Third, Delegitimization- there is denial on the existence of Israel as a nation, which is too anti-Semitism.
The BDS movement is based on a global justice framework. Activists on their BDS campaigns revolve on certain themes that give different perceptions on seeing and thinking about Israel/Palestine. The violation of Palestinian human rights and international law, and the importance of justice is highlighted in the BDS campaigns. Such themes provide the framework of the movement, thus, bringing the understanding that target (Israel) and the reason for being targeted. Using these lenses, the status quo of Israel/Palestine framework is clearly understood.
Christian “Supersessionist” holiness is utilized by the BDS movement claiming the Jewish people’s assumed sins have made the nation lose its divine favor. Despite increasing attention directed towards the Jewish community on fighting the “new” delegitimization of the BDS campaign, there is little new about the movement. Israel has instead been stigmatized and its image has been eroded for years. The BDS movement has called on divesting from companies and boycotting of Israeli products, thus, creating an Israeli separation barrier. In Western churches, that have been claimed to support the movement by revitalizing the anti-Judaism, this has brought shame on part of their history.
Cristian Zionism (CZ) has been accrued to the BDS movement. CZ defines the relationship between the Christians and the Jews. According to Robert Smith, a leading scholar, CZ is “A politically militarized aspect of Christian fundamentalism that is devoted on preserving Jewish control over all historic Palestine, thus, ensuring its realization of the movement’s own end-time hopes.” This definition indicates Zionism supports modern Israel-state based on Biblical end-time prophecies such as Joel, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Zechariah. The interpretation of the Bible is used to represent the dispensationalism of Christian Zionism. Concerns are raised on the issue “dividing the land” that is claimed to be under God’s Judgement. CZ actors use two strategies; the churches supporting the BDS call and making decisions that are anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli are highly criticized by the Zionism and stigmatizing Christian individuals or organizations who influence churches on supporting the BDS campaign.
Churches have actively influenced the BDS movement. This can be illustrated by the decision of the World Council of Churches on calling upon its supporters to boycott Israeli products and services and supporting the non-violent Palestinian resistance. The Methodist Church of Britain also passed a similar resolution against the illegal occupation of Israel on Palestinian lands. Measures have been put by these churches accusing Israel on lack of respecting the freedom, human rights, property, and livelihoods of the Palestinians. However, there has been increasing momentum on the debate on combating the BDS movement that is seen in the evangelical community. Majority of the evangelicals seems to still support the Jewish nation, thus, has led to growing the effort to a sentimental shift. A conference held by Bethlehem Bible College (in West Bank) that discusses Israel critically has, over the years experienced a high attendance. This may have influenced the evangelical opinion shift.
BDS movement has led to diplomatic isolation that has led to a central venue in Israel’s establishment. Three emergency sessions were called upon in 2003 by UN’s General Assembly regarding Israel. On the wave of terrorism, the UN Security Council in 2016 made resolutions that condemned terrorism against Israel. Other sessions discussing the violation of human rights by Israel have been held, thus, increasing Israel’s diplomatic isolation as it is not involved in such decisions. Another central component of the BDS movement is economic isolation. This isolation has convinced individuals, companies, and nations to boycott goods and services from Israel. Boycott efforts have caused a negative impact on Israel’s economy due to decreased tourism and instability.
Brackman, H. (2013). Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel: An Anti-semitic, Anti-peace Poison Pill. Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Brown, D. (2017). Understanding God’s Eternal Plan for Israel. Lulu Press, Inc.
Cohen, M. S., & Freilich, C. D. (2018). War by other means: the delegitimization campaign against Israel. Israel Affairs, 24(1), 1-25.
Diker, D. (2015). Unmasking BDS: Radical roots, extremist ends. Jerusalem, Israel: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Haugen, H. M. (2017). Defining Christian Palestinianism: Words Matter. Middle East Policy, 24(2), 41-56.
Synan, V., & Yong, A. (Eds.). (2017). Global Renewal Christianity: Spirit-empowered Movements Past, Present, and Future (Vol. 4). Charisma Media.
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