BDS is more than a tub of Sabra hummus

What better way to capture a reader’s attention than with photos of Natalie and Leonardo (two of many luminaries who snubbed Israel)?

What better way to capture a reader’s attention than with photos of Natalie and Leonardo (two of many luminaries who snubbed Israel)?

The Israel Advocacy Movement seemed pretty smug after it discovered that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) used the Israel-based Wix platform for her campaign website.

Robert-Willem van Norren promoting a boycott of Israel atop an Israel-made mobility scooter in January 2019. (Michael Jacobs)

Robert-Willem van Norren promoting a boycott of Israel atop an Israel-made mobility scooter in January 2019. (Michael Jacobs)

And JTA scooped the world when it reported that Robert-Williem van Norren, a Dutch supporter of BDS , spends hours “waving Palestinian flags and anti-Israel posters three times a week” - on a mobility scooter that (wait for it) was made in Israel. (“Pro-Israel activists in Holland,” whose lives must be pretty dull, “rejoiced over the origin of the scooter.”) Talk about far-reaching, cutting edge journalism.

David Rosenberg of Ha’aretz considers these incidents to be “BDS hypocrisy” and, apparently, laziness: “If Tlaib was serious about her BDS and had troubled to take 30 seconds to do a Google search,” she could have saved herself from this highly damaging, front-page-worthy publicity.

Rosenberg then exposes yet another unforgivable scandal within the BDS movement, revealing that activists “prefer that others do the boycotting and make the sacrifices.” He points out that since individual activists don’t patronize Caterpillar or G4s, it’s convenient for them to push for boycott of those companies. “It’s likewise painless,” he continues, “to ask a university’s trustees or a big pension fund to divest Israeli shares from their portfolios,” disclosing that it’s “someone else’s money.”

It is apparently lost on Rosenberg that a lone BDS advocate doesn’t have the economic clout that a big pension fund or a movie star has - in terms of financial investment and negative publicity for the Israeli occupation. Boycott proponents go after Sodastream, not because they don’t want to put their personal savings accounts at risk, but because Sodastream is high profile.

When one shopper chooses to leave Sabra hummus on the shelf, that’s an invisible act of solidarity with Palestinians. When a corporation or VIP goes on record for Palestine, that’s a big win for justice.

Patrisse Cullors speaks at the New York Women's Foundation, 2015.  (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Patrisse Cullors speaks at the New York Women's Foundation, 2015. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Let’s name names.

Remember when over 1,000 US civil rights activists signed a statement acknowledging “Palestinians, whose suffering does not go unnoticed and whose resistance and resilience under racism and colonialism inspires us”? Signatories included Black Lives Matter founder Patrice Cullors. (Fun fact: the name of Cullors’ memoir is When They Call You a Terrorist.)

Or the time when Israel invited 26 Oscar winners for a visit - and nobody showed up? Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Kate Winslett, and others opted to #skipthetrip.

Natalie Portman, Alice Walker, Stevie Wonder, Dustin Hoffmann, and many more celebrities, bands, and artists have dissed Israel in one highly visible way or another.

Let’s move on to educational institutions. The likes of NYU, Princeton, Stanford, UCLA, George Washington University, the Universities of Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan - to name a few - have embraced BDS in one way or another.

Episcopal, Presbyterian, Quaker, Mennonite, UCC, Lutheran, Baptist, Unitarian, and Methodist denominations are on board.

In states and cities from California to Delaware, BDS has scored victories; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Morgan Stanley have taken a stand.

Oh, and remember Angela Davis and Michelle Alexander?

BDS doesn’t expect to push Israel to the verge of bankruptcy or bring about its destruction. BDS strives to bring freedom, justice and equality to Palestinians. The reason the movement has not succeeded yet is because Israel persists in its practices of illegal occupation and oppression.

Think about it.

A few parting thoughts, Mr. Rosenberg:

Instead of characterizing everyday BDS supporters as “useful idiots,” consider the purpose of the movement: “BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.” Mr. Rosenberg, why would you not want all people to have rights?

And instead of accusing Rep. Tlaib with her Wix website of being “a small cog in a great machine oppressing Palestinians,” take a look at the machine itself.

Israel. Oppresses. Palestinians.