BDS: Reality Check

February 24, 2014

In BDS Blog The Israel-Palestine Conflict

Feb 24, 2014


A Facebook correspondent writes: Why isnt it good to use the power one have as a consumer, to not buy products from countries and corporations that are poisoning peoples lifes! I understand that you think BDS is a cult but I mean that boycotting is just to use the little power one have and I dont understand why you think that BDS is a problem? I would be grateful if you answered. Have a good night. Rickard



A tactic such as boycotts, etc. is presumably designed to achieve a political goal. The political goal of BDS is its three-point program: Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories, Palestinian right of return, equality of rights of Israel’s Palestinian citizens.   In recent weeks BDS has boasted that countries like Germany are now on board supporting BDS.  So, the BDS guru proclaims: “We’ve reached a qualitative leap…. We’re starting to see the real financial impact….  The German government [is] excluding settlements from scientific cooperation agreements with Israel….  We’re in a totally different era.”  

(   Can anyone making even tenuous contact with reality believe that Chancellor Angela Merkel—Israel’s most fanatical supporter—has suddenly embraced the BDS program?   It’s one thing for a thousand BDS internet activists to successfully hound Scarlett Johansson.  But putting it most charitably, many intermediate links in the chain must be traversed before one makes the “qualitative leap” from breaking Johansson to cracking the Merkel nut.   What, then, is happening?  It’s obvious to anyone who does pay deference to reality, that the boycotts, etc. tactic has been detached from BDS’s strategic goals and been appropriated by the EU to advance Secretary of State Kerry’s agenda.  The Europeans have gotten behind the Kerry juggernaut because they have wearied of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the Kerry Plan is now the only game in town for “solving” it.   The Kerry Plan marks, as Mouin Rabbani has said, the fulfillment of the process set in motion at Oslo in 1993, that will leave Palestinians bereft of a state, denied their refugee rights and–most important–stripped of all their legitimate claims under international law.  The EU is using boycotts, etc. not to implement the BDS 3-point program but instead to implement the Kerry Plan.  The EU has threatened to inflict boycotts, etc. not just on Israel but also on the Palestinians (the BDS guru forgets to mention this last point) if they don’t “negotiate seriously” on the basis of the Kerry Plan.  The bizarre irony is, while BDS celebrates Merkel’s imaginary capitulation, such victories are in reality a prelude to Palestine’s historic defeat.  What activists should do now is clearly an important question.  But, first, they should be clear about what’s actually happening.  When Germany says it supports boycotts, etc., it is indeed a “qualitative leap”—backward.



Merkel arrives in Israel to talk peace

During her two-day visit, Merkel is expected to back U.S.-led efforts to broker a framework deal between Israelis and Palestinians by April.

By DPA, The Associated Press and Haaretz | Feb. 24, 2014 | 7:45 PM
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin in 2010.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin in 2010. Photo by AP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and almost all ministers of her grand right-left coalition landed in Israel Monday for two days of joint cabinet consultations.

Merkel was to have dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with U.S. sponsored peace with Palestinians set to be high on the agenda.

Merkel indicated Saturday that she will lobby on behalf of American-led efforts to broker a framework deal between Israelis and Palestinians by April.

In Israel, she will hold talks with Netanyahu, with Israel’s divisive settlement policy on the agenda. The visit comes amid growing calls in Europe for a boycott against Israel over its settlements in the West Bank. There are fears in Israel that if the peace talks collapse, the European Union could take punitive measures against Israel.

Israel and Germany are scheduled to hold their fifth annual joint cabinet session – their largest ever – on Tuesday. Merkel and all but two of her ministers are scheduled to be in Israel. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel cancelled at the last minute because he was feeling unwell, a spokesman told dpa.

The conference will feature the signing of a number of agreements, including one that offers German consular services to Israeli travelers in third countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel.

Before departing, Merkel will be presented Israel’s highest civilian award by President Shimon Peres, for her “unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and the fight against anti-Semitism and racism.”

In an interview to German public television ZDF on Sunday, Netanyahu said the Palestinians and Israel would be best served to support U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace efforts and sit at the negotiating table.

Netanyahu reiterated his condition that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, adding that he could not understand the Palestinian leadership’s resistance to doing so.

On Monday, still ahead of Merkel’s arrival in Israel, Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier blasted Israel’s settlement policy as “disruptive” to peace talks. He dubbed the expansion of Israeli settlements in areas the Palestinians want for a future state as detrimental to peace efforts.

Germany is Israel’s closest ally in Europe. Tensions have been on the rise lately between Israel and Europe, and also Germany, over settlement policies. Israel insists the issue of settlements should be resolved through the peace talks.

An article by Der Spiegel last week said that German-Israel ties are at an all-time low, with Netanyahu and Merkel resorting to shouting at each other on the phone on a number of occasions while discussing Israeli policies toward Palestinians.

“Relations between the two countries have never been as difficult during Merkel’s three terms in office as they are now,” the magazine said.