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BDS Fails

July 12, 2019

The boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign is an effort to delegitimize the state of Israel and deny Jewish peoplehood and sovereignty. Its stated goals are to change Israeli policies with regard to borders and settlements, civil and political rights for Israel’s Arab minority (who in fact already enjoy full civil and political rights), and absorbing millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees who aim to overrun—and ultimately to destroy—the Jewish state. 

Funded by Qatar, the European Union, church groups, and private foundations, BDS has extensive ties to terrorism. Contrary to its organizers’ claims, BDS is not a grassroots “movement” but a coordinated campaign. One of its leaders is a boycott hypocrite who received two degrees from Tel Aviv University!

BDS should in fact stand for bigotry, deception, and slander. Its adherents advocate for economic and diplomatic efforts to isolate and punish Israel. They promote commercial, tourism, academic, and cultural boycotts of Israel. They encourage companies and asset managers to divest their holdings from Israeli companies and from companies that do business in Israel. Judged against their own objectives and strategies, BDS activists have failed miserably.

Since the 2005 launch of the BDS campaign, the Israeli economy is up by 160%. Some of the increase is due to population growth; Israel has a positive net migration and the highest birthrate among developed countries. (Indeed, Israeli fertility rates are double the OECD average. And it’s not all due to the Arab and ultra-Orthodox minorities, secular Jewish Israelis also value large families—a testament to their resilience and optimism.) But even adjusted for population size, GDP per capita is up by 27% since 2005.

During the same time frame, Israeli exports are up by 43%, and tourism up by over 70%. Foreign direct investment—international companies acquiring Israeli assets (including other companies), launching Israeli subsidiaries, building facilities and infrastructure, and hiring employees—is up by an astonishing 277%. No boycott, no divestment, and no country or government has even proposed sanctions on Israel.  A country with an area smaller than New Jersey and population smaller than Michigan is a major world economic power!

Israeli wine exports are especially revealing. Wine is a discretionary consumer product whose country of origin is highly visible. You may not know that the microprocessor in your computer and your smartphone’s navigation software are made in Israel. You may not be aware that the diamonds in your jewelry were polished in Israel. You may not realize that your life-saving medication is made in Israel—and even if you did, you may not have a viable alternative, so any ideological discomfort with using an Israeli-made product could be outweighed by its medical benefit. But there are plenty of alternatives to Israeli wines, whose origin is prominently displayed on every bottle. Moreover, many of Israel’s top wineries are located in the Golan Heights and in the northern West Bank (Samaria) regions—disputed or “occupied” areas under Israeli control. And yet these wines not only win international prizes, their exports are up by a stunning 161% in the last decade. Consumers, obviously, are undeterred by the hateful rhetoric, and enjoying their Israeli wines.

The bigotry, deception, and slander campaign has been an unmitigated failure in promoting actual boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against the Jewish state. So what—if any—are its concrete results or effects? We will turn to this question next.

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Also published at the Times of Israel. As always, your feedback is very welcome and actively solicited. Please contact me with your reactions, additions, and rebuttals.

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