Why BDS? The Legal And Moral Justification

Goals of the BDS movement

In 2005, over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations appealed to the international community to impose a strategy of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) as a way to pressure the Israeli government to respect Palestinian rights and international law. The BDS movement will end once Israel complies with these three demands: 1) End its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall; 2) Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3) Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

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Why is CJPME calling for a boycott of Israel?

  1. Over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations have asked for such a boycott. They did so because the international community's attempts to modify Israel's conduct by "constructive engagement" (i.e.dialogue, pressure at the UN, etc.) have failed entirely. Successive Israeli governments have ignored dozens of UN resolutions condemning Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights, its siege of Gaza, its establishment of illegal colonies (settlements) in occupied Palestinian territories, and its systemic discrimination against Palestinians resident in the occupied territories and Israel. Israeli governments have also violated most of the key commitments they undertook in signed peace accords to stop engaging in those actions. Since Israel is an image-conscious, trade-dependent country, a boycott may well work where diplomacy, dialogue, and negotiations have not.
  2. Many multinational and Israeli companies are violating international law by investing in or profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Click here for targeted brands and why you should boycott them. All economic ties with Israel - even ones not directly implicated in the occupation - bolster its economy. This in turn has helped successive governments fund and promote the Occupation.
  3. BDS tactics have had success in other contexts, including the international campaign against apartheid in South Africa. We can learn from this legacy, which shows that non-violent resistance and economic pressure can play a major role in challenging systems of oppression.

To learn more about why BDS is justified, check out these quick talking points.


What injustices are being committed by Israel?

The original Palestinian call for BDS was motivated by the following injustices by Israel…

  • Continued construction of the Wall built on occupied Palestinian territory in contempt of the International Court of Justice’s 2004 finding that the Wall and its associated regime are illegal.
  • Continued expansion of Israeli colonies, to a population of almost 500,000, 40 years into Israel's occupation of the Palestinian West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights.
  • Unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and de facto annexation of large parts of the West Bank by means of the Wall.
  • Sixty years after the State of Israel was built mainly on land ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian owners, a majority of Palestinians are still refugees, most of whom are stateless.
  • Israel’s entrenched system of racial discrimination against its own Arab-Palestinian citizens.

Each of these acts is in violation of International Law and, most notably, International Humanitarian Law.

Responding to criticisms

Sometimes, BDS is criticized and it is important to know what to do if ever you hear BDS being criticized as being, for example, antisemitic or violent. Check out the resources below to stand up for BDS!