Home » Opinion » Letter to the editor: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement misunderstood

Letter to the editor: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement misunderstood

Letter to the editor:


We were heartened to see the conversation about Israel’s nearly half-a-century long, illegal occupation of Palestine our recent actions have sparked on campus. As an organization committed to working in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for equality and self-determination, the Campaign for BDS at Ohio State welcomes constructive feedback of its work on campus and in the Columbus community. However, when grossly misleading and inaccurate accusations are levied against our nonviolent, grassroots campaign, we feel compelled to set the record straight.

The Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions movement is a global citizens’ response to the call made in 2005 by Palestinian civil society to pressure Israel into complying with its human rights obligations under international law. The BDS movement supports a targeted campaign of academic and cultural boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it ends the occupation and respects Palestinian human rights.

Arguing that BDS is “divisive,” opponents of BDS, such as Mr. Frankel, who wrote a letter to the editor last week, call for the continuation of the so-called “peace process” and point to dialogue as a means to resolve the current Israeli-Palestinian impasse (as though Palestinians and Israelis are equally powerful and equally culpable in the ongoing conflict). However, as the near-collapse of the latest round of peace talks demonstrates, decades of negotiations have failed to achieve a just resolution to the conflict and have only further entrenched the status quo — and Israel’s privileged position within it.

Mr. Frankel’s arguments, though commonly repeated elsewhere, fundamentally mischaracterize the intent of the BDS movement and its campus components. BDS is not about “delegitimizing” Israel, but putting pressure on Israel to recognize and guarantee equal rights under law for all of its residents. Nor does BDS claim to be a panacea to the problems of the Middle East — rather, it aims to pressure academic institutions, governments, and corporations to critically examine and ultimately end their complicity in the repression of Palestinian human rights.

Perhaps the most outrageous argument against BDS, however, is that it should not be attempted because it would be “impractical.” Listing the millions of dollars that OSU has invested in corporations complicit in the Israeli occupation, Frankel says that BDS supporters would have to “delete their personal Facebook pages” in order to adhere to the spirit of BDS. For the record, the BDS campaign has no interest in regulating what companies individual students support, but rather, seeks to end our institutional investments in such companies. However, the ubiquity of such university investments as highlighted by Frankel is perhaps the greatest argument in favor of divestment. Frankel demonstrates well just how complicit OSU’s investments are in the occupation of Palestine.

Moreover, according to the logic of what is and is not “practical,” OSU should not have divested from apartheid South Africa because it would have been too cumbersome. Although it was late to join the bandwagon and divest from South Africa (OSU didn’t divest until 1985), OSU’s eventual decision to divest not only revealed the folly of refusing to adhere to ethical standards of investment, but also the moral power and inevitable success of BDS tactics.

We in the Campaign for BDS at OSU recognize that many students have strong opinions on this issue, and welcome vigorous debate. To continue the discussion, we invite the campus community to join us for a discussion with Ali Abunimah, an internationally-acclaimed author and journalist on Palestinian issues, on April 16 at 6 p.m. in Cartoon Room 2 of the Ohio Union.


Brian Yeh
Director of Publicity, The Campaign for BDS at Ohio State
Fourth-year in economics


  1. It is fantastic to see dialogue and debate emerge on the Palestinian struggle and the international BDS movement. I hope that, as Brian suggests, everyone who is unsure or is otherwise questioning the movement will come out to the event on Wednesday. It will be a great opportunity to engage in constructive conversation.

  2. Brian, help me understand the following, OK?

    Why is it Muslims are free to violently conquer lands anywhere and everywhere without a word of protest from American Muslims, or any Muslims or any liberals like you?

    But if Jews have a legally established homeland Muslims and liberals and their ilk will never stop protesting against it? Why is this do you suppose? What explanation can be
    given other than as the Qur’an states repeatedly that Islam’s goal is to establish a worldwide caliphate in which all non-Muslims are subjugated.

    For instance, Mohammed was born around 571 AD thousands and thousands of years after Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism existed. But within a few centuries of Mohammed’s birth Islam had violently conquered vast sections of Asia, all of North Africa and smaller sections of Southern Europe.

    Now Muslims tell us that all this land belongs to them even though, for instance, in Afghanistan they killed every last Buddhist who once lived there. According to Muslim logic per Israel shouldn’t this land belong to the Buddhists?

    Or in North Africa all the Berbers have been forcibly converted to Islam or have been killed and now we’re told all this vast landmass belongs to Islam. That’s interesting, if not completely hypocritical.

    And what about Southern Thailand. Did anyone know that in the last several years something like 5,000 Buddhists have been killed by Muslims because, or so we’re told, the land the Buddhists are on belongs to Islam.

    And Southern Russia? Muslims are relentlessly waging a slow reign of terror in Russia because, you guessed it, Russians are treating Muslims poorly and they should give up the Southern section of that country to Muslims since Islam deserves all lands.

    Or, let’s take Sudan as another example. How many millions have been killed in Sudan? How many babies and children have starved in Sudan while Islamists steal the food from aid compounds? How many women have Muslims gang-raped in Sudan
    all because that land belongs to Muslims and only Muslims. All other people can go somewhere else to live, I guess.

    And Kashmir? The same. Despite Hindus having lived there for 3,000 years – something like 2,000+ years before Mohammed was born – Muslims tell us Kashmir belongs to them. Amazing logic isn’t it? Muslim logic, I guess.

    And that brings us to Israel. Israel also belongs to Islam too. Did you know that? It’s true. Just ask a Muslim or a liberal if you prefer. Even though it’s no bigger than a small pimple on the caliphate’s ass it is still their land and they will fight to the death to prove their

    Doesn’t the logic here make a lot of sense. Isn’t it as clear as day? Of course it does. The world belongs to Islam and we’re mere players on their stage.

  3. Google “gays” and “Palestinians” to see how gay people are treated by the people who are calling for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. The first search result is titled, “Palestinian gays flee to Israel”

    Google “Palestinian” and “honor killings” to see how women are treated by the people who are calling for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.

    If you are a femalel student (or alumna) who is thinking about going to “Palestine” to help protest against the Evil Zionists, I suggest that you first read “Female Palestinian Peace Activists Suffer Sexual Harassment, Rape From Palestinians” (just Google on the title). You might want to reconsider.

    As a final note, look up Israel’s and the Palestinians’ relative political and civil rights ratings at Freedomhouse.org. Israel’s are close to the best possible while those under both Hamas and Fatah are almost the worst possible.

    Now, please explain to me again who is guilty of crimes, apartheid policies (e.g. dhimmis or second-class citizens in countries under militant Islamic rule), and so on. I have not even touched on the Palestinians’ long litany of mindless terroristic violence including the Munich Massacre, the massacre of the Fogel family including young children in their beds, and so on.

  4. At the core of SJP’s argument is the notion that Israel is an apartheid state. This is absolutely false: In South Africa, the black population was segregated, banned from voting, and deprived of their citizenship; in Israel, Palestinian citizens of Israel (or Israeli-Arabs) share the same exact facilities as non-Arab citizens, have the right to vote, and hold Israeli citizenship. Though Israel is unfortunately not free of discrimination, there is not a single democracy in the world that is. Whatever forms of discrimination that exist in Israel are essentially no different than those in any other Western democracy.
    A living example of Israel’s freedoms is a Bedouin named Khaldi who was born in a Bedouin tent, voluntarily served in the Israel Defense Forces, and eventually rose to become Israel’s Deputy Consul General in San Francisco. He is the first Muslim diplomat, let alone Bedouin, in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Khaldi considers himself living proof that Israel is not an apartheid state and said, “Israel may be the only country in the Middle East, if not the world, where a Bedouin shepherd can become a high-tech engineer, a scientist, or a diplomat. The sky’s the limit.”
    Arabs hold many other prominent positions in Israel. A few years ago an Israeli Arab Supreme Court Justice, Salim Joubran, sentenced Israel’s former president to prison. In 1999, Rana Raslan became the first Arab Miss Israel. This past year it was an Ethiopian-Israeli. There are many Arabs who hold high ranks in the Israeli military, and the recently appointed director of emergency medicine at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem is also an Israeli-Arab. Furthermore, Arabic is taught in Israeli schools, is on Israeli signs and, as an official language, is provided via subtitles on the state television channel.
    Another major facet of SJP’s argument is that BDS is the solution to fighting Israeli apartheid. Well, we’ve already established that Israel is not an apartheid state—but let’s look at what BDS ultimately does. It would force individuals to boycott Israeli products, musicians, sports teams, companies, and even academics. The BDS movement is nothing but a hypocritical movement aimed at the destruction of the State of Israel. The hypocrisy of BDS begins with its founder Omar Barghouti, who is a graduate student from Tel Aviv University. Since he argues for a full boycott against Israel, including academics, BDS supporters should boycott him as well.
    Boycotting Israeli products is also a challenge when one considers that Israel has made major contributions to many areas of technology, including the cell phone, text messaging, and the Intel chip in the laptop I am using to type this. Even Stephen Hawking’s refusal to fill the role of honored speaker at an event hosted by the Israeli president is hypocritical, as his boycott does not extend to the computer system that gives him the ability to talk. The computer, which is built around an Intel Core i7 Processor, was designed by Israel’s Intel team.
    BDS ultimately hurts Palestinians from an economic standpoint as well. Many of the Palestinians in the region controlled by the Palestinian National Authority commute to Israel for work. The BDS movement attacks Israel’s economy, which could ultimately force Israeli companies to lay off employees—many of whom would be Palestinian. Thus, many Palestinians could suffer severe economic consequences from a boycott aimed at advocating for their well-being.
    Those that support BDS are not “pro-Palestinian.” The movement does not help Palestinians in any significant way; it only hurts them. In all, the BDS movement is nothing but a hypocritical movement that aims to destroy the State of Israel via economic warfare. BDS will not solve the conflict—it will only prevent peace.

  5. Brian your cause is so similar to the Nazi actions, no?

    In order to clarify my concerns, let’s take a look back in history to 1933 when Hitler rose to power and became Chancellor of Germany and the Nazis won a large number of seats in the German parliament. What followed was the notorious nationwide Nazi boycott targeting Jewish businesses and professionals directed by Nazi stormtroopers posting signs everywhere saying “Do not buy from Jews!” Widespread anti-Semitism mounted with the Nuremberg Laws in 1935 depriving Jews of their basic rights as citizens and banning them from all professional jobs in education, politics, academia and industry which escalated in severity ultimately concluding in the “Final Solution.”

  6. Vidar Thorsteinsson

    Hey Arafat, just wondering, how long have you been copy-pasting Islamophobic rants all over the internet? Some of your rants were posted on other websites up to 2 and a half years ago! As a rule, you post the exact same comment on countless college dailies accross the counry. Your skill and speed at rant-posting are such that one wonders, are you a man or a machine?

    I have another question for you. Have your fellow bigots never expressed concern about your plagiarization of their rants? In a recent post, you copied verbatim from a text by Ari Lieberman on the extremist publication FrontPage Mag. Is Islamophobia exempt from intellectual property rights, I wonder? Please show some respect for your fellow Islamophobes, they work hard to spread bigotry, ignorance and prejudice!

  7. The words of the BDS movement’s leadership, from their own mouths:

    “Going back to the two-state solution, besides having passed its expiry date, it was never a moral solution to start with.”
    -Omar Bargouti
    Founder, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel


    “Israel is the oppressor, not the settlements.”

    -Hind Awwad
    National Coordinator, BDS Committee


    “Good riddance! The two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is finally dead. But someone has to issue an official death certificate before the rotting corpse is given a proper burial and we can all move on and explore the more just, moral and therefore enduring alternative for peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Mandate Palestine: the one-state solution.”

    -Omar Bargouti
    Founder, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel


    “(The one state solution means) a unitary state, where, by definition, Jews will be a minority.”

    -Omar Bargouti
    Founder, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel


    “I am completely and categorically against binationalism because it assumes that there are two nations with equal moral claims to the land.”

    -Omar Bargouti,
    Founder, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel


    “Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself…BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state. But can’t I see the value in reaching across the aisle, so to speak? The movement may be burgeoning but remains too small. Why shouldn’t we indulge in ad hoc partnerships to get things done? Richard Silverstein, Richard Goldstone, and many other self-proclaimed Zionists have done an immeasurably positive amount of work in skinning the Zionist cat (That’s a deliberate analogy. I don’t kid myself about how difficult it must be for a Jewish person to criticize the Zionist state), shouldn’t they be asked to join the BDS movement?

    To be sure, I’m not dogmatically against cooperating with people whose views I find objectionable. If it came down to it, I’d be happy to work with the racist up the street to get the city to fix a neighborhood pothole.”

    -Ahmed Moor,
    Pro-BDS Author


    “BDS represents three words that will help bring about the defeat of Zionist Israel and victory for Palestine.”

    -Ronnie Kasrils


    “[Israel] was Palestine, and there is no reason why it should not be renamed Palestine.”

    -Omar Barghouti


    “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel….That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”

    -As’ad AbuKhalil


    “Peace-or better yet, justice-cannot be achieved without a total decolonization (one can say de-Zionization) of the Israeli state.”

    -Michael Warschawski, BDS activist


    “[Palestinians have a right to] resistance by any means, including armed resistance. [Jews] aren’t indigenous just because you say you are….[Jews] are not a people…the UN’s principle of the right to self-determination applies only to colonized people who want to acquire their rights. ”

    -Omar Barghouti


    “I think the BDS movement will gain strength from forthrightly explaining why Israel has no right to exist.”

    -John Spritzler, Pro-BDS Author


    “BDS’s stated goals (ending the Occupation, equality for non-Jews and Jews, and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees) logically imply the end of Israel as a Jewish state….The “state of the Jews” is actually an instrument by which a Jewish elite ruling class of billionaires and generals and politicians secures its oppressive grip on ordinary Jews in Israel…This is why there should not be a Jewish state.”

    -John Spritzler

  8. Vidar Thorsteinsson

    Honest Abe, your posting of random quotations (which you copied from the website “BDS Cookbook”) does not really address the arguments of the article. What exactly are you trying to convince readers of? Do you have realistic suggestions for how to rectify the Israeli state’s human rights abuses against Palestinians?

  9. I wonder if this “Arafat” is a person or an organization. It is a shame that he does’t have the courage to use his own name. Be a mensch. It is also a shame that apparently he plagiarizes even if he makes some good (and some irrelevant) points.

  10. I’m so ashamed. I’ve been caught plagiarizing in the comment section at The Lantern. How will I ever live this down. Lol.


    I did not write this one either. It was written by another Islamophobe, one who actually uses facts to prove Muslims are killing people across the globe.

    What’s it do to your soul to be their waterboy?
    “You want apartheid? Try this.

    The top ten countries for persecuting Christians over the last year were ranked: North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen, according to Open Doors USA, an organization that monitors and exposes Christian persecution around the globe. Particularly, the “2014 World Watch List”, a rather nuanced report, has highlighted these nations based on deep structures of persecution.

    Take note that nine out of ten of these countries are Islamic.

    Looks like Islam is on par with North Korea.”

  11. Arafat is likely a member or sympathizer of the Jewish Internet Defense Force (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Internet_Defense_Force). He’s trying to redirect the center of the conversation away from Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories (and the injustices committed by the IDF within those territories) and towards injustices against religious, ethnic, and sexual minorities by governments and other organizations within the Arab and Islamic worlds in general.

    While injustices committed by Islamic governments and terrorist organizations (and their supporters) certainly should not be ignored, Arafat’s raison d’être is to have you ignore injustices carried out by the State of Israel against the Palestinian people and instead focus on injustices carried out in the Islamic world. What this Arafat character wants you to do is to pretend that the Israeli government is perfectly innocent on this matter and that they are completely justified in all their actions.

    I’m asking you to ignore Arafat. Don’t let him de-rail this conversation.

  12. Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld

    And what, exactly, are these “injustices against the Palestinian people,” Johann? I’ve just read an article on all the family members of Hamas leaders treated in Israeli hospitals recently:


    And by the way, Palestinian Arabs are treated there free of charge. In 2013 alone, Israel treated more than 200,000 Palestinian Arabs in its hospitals, courtesy of the Israeli taxpayer.

    Come to think of it, why are you on the Internet? Don’t you know the role Israelis played in the development of the computer? Why not boycott that? I’ll bet you even have a cell phone.

  13. As American Muslim, I grew up in Morocco is a Muslim country; in the years 60 the majority of Jewish people in the Arab world were in Morocco were living with Muslim people. Not only that Jewish people they are the first people living with the Amazigh tribes in Morocco before Islam and Arabs came to Morocco, Jewish woman was breastfeeding a Muslim baby and Muslim woman was breastfeeding a Jewish baby; both religious groups lived together with peace and love.
    My father made the best business with Jewish community in Morocco with respect and trust. Jewish and Muslim people they have many positive stories and they never caring the hateful. I strongly condemn any loss of human life and cannot be defended or justified under any circumstances or under the name of God. Islam teaches and promotes kindness, generosity, mercy, sympathy, peace, disinterested goodwill, scrupulous and truthfulness towards all creation in all situations. The killing of innocent people is forbidden by Islam, regardless their religion, color, race, name, language or fortune.
    The fact is that all Muslims across the United States, whether they are Arab, Indo- Pakistani, Asian, African American or Caucasian, decry any act of bloodshed against humanity. Fundamental to Islam is the protection of civilians, properties, respect for all human life and justice as a way of life. Many Muslims people suffered also from terrorism in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and other Muslim countries, Muslims worldwide and the Muslim American community condemn these acts of bloodshed and any loss of human life in this earth.

    The statement from Donald Trump against Muslims is hateful rhetoric and unacceptable. The Republican presidential candidates seem to view Muslims as fair game for increasingly harsh words is “reckless and ignorant’. I don’t know if Mr. Donald Trump has the brave to ban himself and his supporters to enter any Muslim country and dealing with any Muslim human been in the earth?

    All Americans with good moral and conscience should denounce and reject any racist statements and fight to preserve freedom and the American way of life, be understandable and part of the solution and not the problem and spread peace and love.

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