October 13, 2023 | The Algemeiner

The BDS Campaign Embraces Hamas’ Massacre — and the World Will Remember

October 13, 2023 | The Algemeiner

The BDS Campaign Embraces Hamas’ Massacre — and the World Will Remember

The brutality of Hamas’ slaughter of Israeli civilians has put anti-Israel activists in a bind: Should they condemn atrocities against Israel, or should they defend Palestinian actions as extreme as killing babies?

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign made its decision, lauding the “justified use of armed resistance against the oppressors’ military and civilians.” Supporting these atrocities will taint the BDS brand.

As part of Hamas’ attacks, the terrorists ambushed a music festival, butchering at least 260 young partiers who were dancing into the early hours of the morning. At his Las Vegas concert on Sunday, U2 singer Bono dedicated a song to the victims, saying, “We sing for … our people. Our kind of people. Music people, playful, experimental people. Our kind of people. We sing for them.”

Shows of international support — reaching levels not seen in decades — flooded in. Paris’ Eiffel Tower, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, London’s 10 Downing Street, Washington’s White House, Sydney’s Opera House, and many other national monuments were lit up in blue and white, Israel’s colors.

Expressions of solidarity with Israel came from the NFL, the Philadelphia PhilliesLebron JamesMadonnaMark Hamill (the actor who played Luke Skywalker), and many, many more. France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued a joint statement of “support to the State of Israel” and “unequivocal condemnation of Hamas and its appalling acts of terrorism.”

But not everyone has condemned the ISIS-like slaughter of innocents. Despite the videos, pictures, and harrowing accounts, BDS activists at Harvard University declared that they “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”

Black Lives Matter Chicago and several other pro-BDS organizations shared images of a hang glider, seemingly celebrating the way in which Hamas terrorists crossed into Israel and massacred civilians.

BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti has long advocated for “resistance by any means.” This may sound fine in academic circles, but in practice, it means promoting last weekend’s butchery. Law for Palestine, an NGO promoting BDS through legal action and analysis, published a report on Sunday justifying the Palestinian “right to resistance by all means available.”

Many others, including the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, justified Hamas’ barbarism as a “response” to Israeli “provocation.”

National Students for Justice in Palestine, the largest BDS promoter on college campuses, produced a toolkit for organizing demonstrations in support of Hamas’ actions. The director of the Arab Center, a DC-based think tank, called Hamas’ actions “politics by other means.” And the president of the New York University (NYU) Student Bar Association announced, “I will not condemn Palestinian resistance.”

Attempts to counter or downplay reports of Hamas’ brutality may harm BDS. One such effort has been the campaign to debunk reports that Hamas beheaded Israeli children, despite confirmation from multiple media outlets. Even if the campaign succeeds, which it won’t, it will not change the fact that Hamas murdered babies. To make matters worse, some have even justified the murders by claiming that there are no Israeli civilians, even children.

Some BDS activists have already faced negative consequences for their rhetoric. Five Harvard student groups that signed the letter blaming Israel for Hamas’ savagery, including a Nepali association, have withdrawn their support. Relatedly, Hamas murdered 10 Nepali students in one of the attacks. The NYU Student Bar Association has already distanced itself from the statement blaming Israel, and moved to remove the current president, and the firm where the student president was set to work has withdrawn its offer of employment.

The support among many for extreme violence against Jews has already caused some soul-searching among those on the left, which is the BDS movement’s most receptive audience. The BDS campaign bills itself as a human rights effort, but it is hard to see slaughtering civilians as a humanitarian cause. Moreover, one of Hamas’ assumed hostages is a Canadian peace activist.

The operational damage done to BDS will be felt in its inability to convince the general public to wage economic warfare on Israel.

There will always be partisans on the ends of the pro- or anti-Israel spectrum who will reflexively accept or deny BDS’ message. But the campaign’s success hinges on convincing enough of the persuadables in the middle that Israel is a black and white issue that requires direct, personal action. Ambiguity will deter many from action.

The images of Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes, due in no small part to Hamas’ use of human shields, will breathe some life into BDS, but the damage caused from Hamas’ Saturday slaughter is done. The support for or justification of the massacre of innocents will remain a permanent, indelible stain on the BDS campaign.

David May is a research manager and senior research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). Follow David on X, formerly known as Twitter, @DavidSamuelMay. Follow FDD on X @FDD. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.


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