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War in Gaza: What is the Future of BDS?

Earlier this year I’ve argued in a book about BDS that a fundamental change in several conditions will lead to the inevitable decline of the movement (see concluding chapter in the book Challenging the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement” (Edited By Ronnie and Lola Fraser, Routledge). 

BDS protest in a supermarket

The current war that is coupled with a deep rise in antisemitism, seemingly creates the need to reassess this. Yet, I think that the prediction of BDS's failure remains potent. BDS will fail despite the expected rise in Antisemitism


BDS is led by very few and marginal anti-Zionist groups, often from radical left and fundamentalist Islamic organizations (the cooperation between these two groups is labeled the red-green alliance). By using human rights language to hide their ideological agenda, the red-green alliance managed to garner support for BDS from people who are not necessarily anti-Zionists.

The bad news is that antisemitism is on the rise and is likely to continue to flourish following the war. This could seemingly offer fertile ground for BDS. Antisemitism may surge, but it will also face growing robust opposition. I argue that the ability of anti semites, especially from the left, to translate their agenda into an operational framework (such as the boycott campaign) will be hampered.

This is why:

  1. Red-Green Alliance and Progressive Values: Inherent contradictions within the red-green alliance have been exposed, particularly when Hamas's actions are weighed against progressive values. The dissonance highlighted by recent conflicts threatens to dissolve the alliance's unity, diminishing BDS support.

  2. Jewish Awakening and Academic Challenge: An increased recognition of bias within progressive circles, especially in academia, has spurred a Jewish counter-pushback. This counters the narrative BDS leverages in academic institutions, curtailing its spread.

  3. Jewish-Muslim Alliances and Grassroots Cooperation: The emergence of Jewish-Muslim grassroots alliances in the past year in several places, inspired by the Abraham Accords and appalled by Hamas atrocities, is potentially undermining BDS.   

  4. Jewish Cohesion and Solidarity: Jewish communities, despite internal differences, have shown a remarkable sense of unity in the face of hostility. This collective resilience is pivotal in effectively confronting antisemitism and dismantling BDS's influence. The bitter truth is that Jewish communities often failed to generate a united broad front against BDS. This is going to change, except for only marginal groups.

  5. Legal framework: in the above mentioned book. I’ve argued that legal measures that pro-Israel groups have been promoting obstruct BDS supporters. These frameworks are likely to expand. An indication of this could be seen by the decision of several institutions and states to set affirmative actions against slogans associated with BDS, including from the River to the Sea Palestine will be Free, which basically calls for the annihilation of the State of Israel.

In sum, the war with Hamas is igniting antisemitism, but at the same time fortifies the elements that forecast a decline in BDS's influence.


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