Paul Berman on the Confederate Flag and What BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) Does not Seem to Understand

Confederate flag



The article by Paul Berman on the Confederate flag debate is just too good to pass up. Click here to read it.








The BDS movement (which stands for boycott, divest, and sanction) against Israel is an aggressive social movement designed to challenge the existence of the State of Israel. The video below is a typical example of the BDS arguments against Israel. They are the standard exaggerations designed to criminalize and delegitimize Israel. The goal is not simply to pressure Israel but to challenge the very existence of the Jewish polity. Take a few minutes to watch the video.

A report on just who runs, funds, and supports BDS is available here. The report explains how BDS presents itself as a movement for human rights designed to economically pressure Israel. The BDS organization claims it is doing little more than engaging in the democratic process by organizing for a social cause. They present themselves as a grassroots Palestinian organization inspired by issues in human rights. The truth is that BDS is part of the ongoing campaign to subvert the Israeli economy in an effort to damage the state.

The BDS movement misleads institutions and international organizations into believing that they are a benign social movement looking to establish a Palestinian state and the peaceful coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians. The truth is that they are far more aggressive and have malicious intentions with respect to the state of Israel.

What the BDS Does Not Understand

But interestingly the BDS movement does not realize the damage it does to Palestinians. They are so preoccupied with their own ideology that they are, in fact, doing more damage to the Palestinians and the prospect of peace than they are to Israel.

The BDS is making things worse for the Palestinians. BDS is misreading the relationship between the Palestinian economy and the Israeli economy. A recent article in the publication Fathom explains how Palestinian unemployment is related to strains in the Israeli economy. There has been a marked decline in Palestinian employment in Israel which the authors estimate amounts to 13% of Palestinian GDP in 2005-2006. Palestinian work in Israel is central to the good health of the Palestinian economy. And this will remain true even after some future peace agreement is signed. The state of one side’s economy in a conflict is important to the peace process because economic stability is necessary after treaties and agreements are signed. Otherwise, economic problems are the primary reason peace accords fail. Estimates are that the size of the Palestinian labor force needs to double. The report in Fathom goes on to clarify the impact of restrictions on Palestinian labor and on the future importance of a flow of labor into Israel from Palestine.

BDS is raising poverty levels in Palestine. When BDS opposes economic ties with Israel – Palestinians go hungry. The settlements are a problem and Israel must confront them in the future. There is little doubt that a hypothetical future peace arrangement will include the removal of many settlements. But to boycott settlement products only damages Palestinians. Settlements provide work for Palestinians who are paid on the average twice as much as those employed elsewhere. Moreover, there are some successfully Israeli-Palestinian business arrangements that will be important as future models of coexistence but boycotts threaten these partnerships.

Economic partnerships and interdependence creates unity and trust. They are an important foundation for peace. Organizations such as Hamas gained popularity through their social support programs and Hamas will be more attractive as economic conditions worsen. Boycotts and divestment will not lead to cooperation, improved fiscal infrastructures, and energized entrepreneurship. Any successful consequences of BDS will harm only Palestinians and, ironically, slow the removal of settlers from the West Bank.




About Donald Ellis

Professor Emeritus at the University of Hartford.

Posted on July 5, 2015, in Communication and Conflict Resolution. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Paul Berman on the Confederate Flag and What BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) Does not Seem to Understand.

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