The Politics of the Palestinian BDS Movement

This article explores the Palestine-solidarity call and movement advocating for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel. I examine the significance of the BDS call made in 2005 by Palestinian civil society, along with the framework it utilizes for struggle, the numerous solidarity-based BDS campaigns around the world, and finally the possibilities it offers for understanding and implementing the politics of solidarity.

On July 9, 2005, a coalition of Palestinian civil-society organizations, activists, academics, intellectuals, and trade unions called for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions1 of the state of Israel. They called upon the international community “in the spirit of international solidarity, moral consistency, and resistance to injustice and oppression” to implement this call “until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by: 1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; 2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”2

The call for BDS was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian organizations, collectively referred to as “representatives of Palestinian civil society,” within the Occupied Territories of West Bank and Gaza, the national territory of Israel, and the Diaspora. The call was taken up by numerous Palestine-solidarity movements, primarily volunteer-driven and in the West. The heterogeneous and variegated international BDS movement3 has become a significant component of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli oppression. The explosion of BDS struggles across the world (especially after Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2008-09, when the BNC and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel saw a surge in BDS struggles the world over)4 has injected new life into solidarity-based movements supporting the Palestinian liberation struggle.

Opponents of the BDS movement

Nothing illustrates the significance of the global BDS movement more than the multitude of reactions from the Zionist establishment, including the Israeli state and its apparatus of support. These reactions have spanned the spectrum in sentiment. They are, however, consistent in two ways: they stem from the traditional powers-that-be in today’s imperialist world, and they display an obvious fear of the strategic non-violence and moral high-ground that the BDS movement adheres to.5 I would like to analyze briefly some of these responses as a way of showcasing the significance of the BDS movement.

The Reut Institute, one of Israel’s leading think tanks, published an extensive study on the global BDS movement. It essentially stated that the ‘Delegitimization Network’ (the BDS movement and larger Palestine-solidarity movement) and the ‘Resistance Network’ (comprising armed militant groups) were the two biggest existential threats to Israel as a Zionist state.6 It betrayed its opposition to true democracy in the region when it wrote: “The Delegitimization Network…aims to supersede the Zionist model with a state that is based on the ‘one person, one vote’ principle” and Israel must face this network by “focusing on the hubs of delegitimization…[and] undermining its catalysts.” The study called for the Israeli government to direct substantial resources to “attack” and “sabotage” this movement in what Reut believes are its various international “hubs” in London, Madrid, Toronto, the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.7 The Reut Institute later removed words like “attack” and “sabotage” in an attempt to sanitize the document, but the intent was clear. Israeli lobby groups ranging from the rabidly right-wing Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), to the more centrist J Street, expressed alarm at the growing BDS movement “delegitimizing” Israel.8 While the ZOA expressed its opposition to BDS with manic venom, even condemning other Zionist groups in the process,9 AIPAC aimed to counter it with plans to end Israel’s isolation in international forums. The steps laid out by AIPAC’s Executive Director during the group’s March 2010 conference, which included high-ranking US officials like Hillary Clinton, were to pursue aggressive strategies to end Israel’s isolation in international forums like the UN Security Council, make Israel a part of the OECD and NATO, and end the Arab boycott of Israel that was instituted in the 1970s.10 J Street offered a more liberal counter to BDS, condemning it but upholding BDS activists’ rights to free speech, while simultaneously pushing for a 2-state solution. J Street was instituted as a lobby group that was more liberal and peace-minded than AIPAC. It pursued a policy of being “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace.” In response to the BDS movement, J Street issued a policy statement where it attempted to advocate a pro-peace stand while still upholding the notion of a Jewish nation-state, condemning the BDS movement for its “punitive approach towards Israel,” and accusing it of becoming a “convenient mantle for thinly disguised anti-Semitism” (ignoring the vast number of Jewish activists in the BDS movement).11 The Anti Defamation League (ADL) issued a statement identifying the “top 10 anti-Israel Groups in America,” which included even antiwar groups.12 The mainstream media in Israel and the US also portrayed the prevailing pro-Israel establishment viewpoint. While numerous articles condemning the BDS movement continue to appear in Israeli newspapers from the Jerusalem Post to Haaretz,13 even sizeable American news outlets, like Newsweek and the ultra-liberal Huffington Post, started carrying pieces on the BDS movement, again condemning it in similar fashion.14

Major steps were soon taken to target the BDS movement. The pan-American Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) launched the “Israel Action Network…a multimillion-dollar joint initiative to combat anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns” in order to “influence civic leaders,” while political groups like the ZOA, AIPAC, and J Street were to “focus on the political arena,” and institutes like Israel Project and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) were to “key in on the media.”15 The millions of dollars in funding was for hiring people in universities, NGOs, civic institutions etc to primarily combat BDS. One could see the effects of these heavily funded efforts almost immediately. The Reut Institute contacted many BDS groups around North America with strange requests for meetings.16 Zionist groups on campuses across the nation targeted BDS efforts and the Palestine-solidarity groups via large national bodies like the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC),17 which includes Hillel, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), and almost all other Zionist groups as members. Various Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters involved in Palestine-solidarity work across North America were attacked in different ways, including having their posters torn down and members slandered. Academics critical of Israel were attacked and even students studying Palestine were campaigned against.18 Campus Watch, a Zionist organization “Monitoring Middle East Studies on Campus,” has been at the forefront of targeting Palestinian and Palestine-solidarity students/teachers, normally utilizing highly Islamaphobic rhetoric.19 Simultaneously the Israeli state started a PR campaign, Faces of Israel, to counter delegitimization on North American campuses.20 Documentaries blatantly attacking Palestine-solidarity activists, Muslims, and progressives alike, and websites attacking the BDS movement were created.21 The benignly named NGO Monitor, a pro-Zionist group monitoring NGOs for any anti-Zionist or anti-Israel references/people, started devoting major efforts towards targeting and maintaining a blacklist of organizations with even cursory ties to BDS activities.22

These are only a few examples of anti-BDS initiatives with many more in existence, too numerous to mention, save one more. The anti-BDS frenzy fueled by Zionist institutions reached the highest echelons of the Israeli state, with legislation being introduced that shows the state cutting a steady path to outright fascism and theocracy.23 Two pieces of legislation merit a brief look. First is the Loyalty Oath Bill24 that forces non-Jewish citizens of Israel to swear loyalty to Israel as a Jewish nation-state, the passing of which was catalyzed by anti-BDS sentiment (resulting ironically enough in an increase of boycott campaigns25). Indeed, Israel already has a loyalty oath to “the state of Israel,” but the new legislation seeks to make it a loyalty oath to “the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” Second, and the one more directly targeting BDS, is the anti-boycott legislation called the Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott, also known as the Boycott Law, which threatens to punish anyone calling for the boycott of Israel with either fines or jail time, without even requiring proof of actual damage being caused.26 The Loyalty Oath Bill met with full cabinet approval on October 10, 2010, while the Boycott Law was approved in the Knesset on July 11, 2011.

Of interest is the homogeneity of reactions from the right-wing Zionists to the more liberal Zionists, with the BDS movement almost acting like a galvanizing moment to bring them together. In February 2011, a statement condemning BDS was released, signed by a wide spectrum of over 60 Zionist groups, from lobbies to faith-based groups to college fraternities.27 This indicates the relatively little distance among them on the political spectrum, despite public posturing to the contrary.28

The only Jewish groups expressing positive reactions to BDS were ones actively participating in BDS movements, like the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) and American Jews for a Just Peace (AJJP), i.e. those who adhered to the basic framework of the BDS call, or others like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), who have not publicly endorsed BDS, but actively participate in boycott movements targeting Israel. The crucial difference between the Jewish groups endorsing or supporting BDS and those that opposed it was the separation of Jewishness from Zionism, and the willingness to combat, or at least consider an alternative to, the fundamentally racist notion of a Zionist state, while still upholding Jewish identity.

The reactions from Zionist groups shed light on the liberating potential of the BDS movement. The Reut Institute29 is a major Israeli think-tank advising the state of Israel that was, in its own words, “established to serve Israeli government agencies and decisionmakers” pro-bono, and was established by a former member of the Israeli Prime Minister’s office, who served as secretary of the negotiating team with the PLO from 1999 to 2001. Groups like ZOA, AIPAC, J-Street, ADL, JFNA, JCPA, ICC, Hillel, JCRC, Israel Project, CAMERA, and numerous others constitute the citadel of Zionist lobbying and image-boosting for Israel in the US. This citadel is crucial for the enormous apparatus of support the US provides in propping up the state of Israel.30 The reactions from the very institutions that buttress the oppression of the Palestinians show that the BDS movement has the potential to undermine and ultimately dismantle those structures of oppression. Following the Reut study, multiple reactions emerged from activists and writers highlighting the study as indicative that the BDS movement poses a serious challenge to the structures of oppression that Palestinians faced.31 It’s important then to understand the guiding framework of the BDS call that causes it to have such potency in the long run. This will further expand on its liberating possibilities and, thereby, the reasons for the institutions of oppression to fear it.

The BDS movement’s theory and structure

The framework of oppression laid out by the BDS call is brought to focus through its demands. The BDS call identifies a tripartite structure of oppression: Colonialism (marked by the demand for the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees and an end to colonization), Apartheid (marked by the demand for full equality of Palestinians in Israel), and Occupation (marked by the demand for an end to the occupation and the dismantling of the wall). It also lays out a clear definition of the oppressor institution (the Israeli state) to be targeted non-violently with BDS until the oppressed people (Palestinians) are liberated. Finally, it clearly defines what liberation from said oppressor means in material terms, again clearly reflected in demands that reflect all three systems of oppression that together constitute what the Palestinian people as a pre-defined cultural-national entity suffer. Thus it clearly defines the framework of oppression and the framework of liberation.

What the BDS movement represents, and is calling for, is a transformative praxis of emancipatory resistance that matches the evolving socio-spatial apparatus of oppression. This oppression is the Israeli state strongly supported by numerous international allies, the United States being the most powerful of them, and a large, powerful Israeli lobby outside the national territory of Israel. The call understands that the political-economic sources of the oppression of Palestinians exist beyond the specific geographic boundaries of the state of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

At play in the Palestinian call for BDS are two clear notions of solidarity. One, it defines the Palestinian people against a tripartite structure of oppression consisting of colonialism, apartheid and military occupation that has been suffered by them as a cultural-national entity. Two, in opposition to this historic injustice, it makes an emotive call for solidarity from “international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world,” outside of that cultural-national entity, to boycott Israel until the oppression ends with the implementation of their three demands. This includes a specific invitation to “conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.” Thus there are three entities – an oppressed people defined, an oppressor institution identified, and everyone else called to stand in solidarity with the oppressed people.

The call thus represents an urgent attempt, among others, to create an alternative socio-spatial imaginary that strives to match and struggle against that oppression through a call for solidarity. This alternative socio-spatial imaginary is framed in the three demands that the call clearly states, with the idea that solidarity-based BDS measures must be implemented until the demands are met.

This is however not a new concept or strategy, and the BDS movement is inspired by another boycott movement that was rather successful in getting its demands met. This is crucial to understanding the possibilities that the BDS movement offers, not only for the liberation of the Palestinian people, but also liberation struggles in general, and the obvious fear it evokes in the powers-that-be…because it has worked before.

The Palestinian BDS call was inspired by solidarity-calls for the boycott of Apartheid-era South Africa. The African National Congress and other groups fighting apartheid in South Africa had issued calls for boycotting South Africa until Apartheid ended, starting with Albert Luthuli’s call in 1959, and derived from the ANC’s Freedom Charter.32 These were taken up in a variety of ways over the years through anti-Apartheid movements in the West, the global Artists United Against Apartheid, different Third World governments in the UN working to institute the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid, and campaigns in the Commonwealth countries to implement the highly successful sports boycott. The sports boycott was particularly crucial in isolating South Africa from two of its most popular sports, cricket and rugby. The cricket boards in former colonized countries like India, Pakistan, and the Caribbean nations took the lead in the cricket boycott, while the New Zealand group Halt All Racist Tours played an important role in spurring the rugby boycott. India also boycotted the 1974 Davis Cup tennis final against South Africa.33 The leaders of the South African anti-apartheid movement realized early on that international boycott would be a useful tool in their fight against apartheid. While the degree of influence is difficult to assess, one cannot avoid the fact that the boycott movement played a key role in bringing down the legal structures of apartheid in the country.

There are, of course, differences between the situations in Palestine/Israel and South Africa, both in objective conditions and subjective forces, with sheer numbers being possibly the most crucial. Black South Africans were and continue to be the overwhelming majority in the country, so when they took on a boycott of White South African institutions, including mass labor strikes, it was bound to have major effects. Indeed, the ANC’s labor struggles were hugely important in bringing down apartheid, because White South African capitalists relied heavily on the exploitation of Black labor.34 This is not the case in Palestine/Israel. Palestinian citizens of Israel are around 20% of the population, and even if one includes Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, it still only adds up to around the same number as the Jewish population of Israel. The Israeli economy used to be fairly dependent on exploiting Palestinian labor from the Occupied Territories, but this has changed with Israel reducing its dependence on Palestinian labor35 by importing labor from South and Southeast Asia, thus preventing a South Africa-like situation of Palestinian labor strikes from threatening the status quo of a Zionist state.

However, akin to the South African boycott movement and a form of internationalism (not unlike the proletarian kind), the Palestinian BDS call has spawned numerous solidarity-based movements across the world, whether via existing Palestine-solidarity movements implementing BDS campaigns or in the birth of new ones. In fact, given the differences, there is reason to believe that BDS may be even more effective in the liberation of the Palestinian people than it was in the liberation of Black South Africans.

The different BDS campaigns together with the BDS leadership in Palestine form the heterogeneous global BDS movement, a movement whose campaigns operate independently from each other, while maintaining some coordinating mechanisms. The solidarity campaigns that emerged in response to the BDS call have been primarily based in the West, though many have emerged in South Africa and West Asian countries, with nascent campaigns starting in India, Pakistan, and Southeast Asia too. The solidarity campaigns in the West are the ones causing the maximum consternation to the Israeli state and its supporting apparatus. These have spanned the spectrum of BDS campaigns, and include academic boycott, cultural boycott, sanctions, and economic divestment.36 They have primarily emerged out of existing Palestine-solidarity networks and the larger peace movement. They are heterogeneous and volunteer-driven, but are also coalescing into a logic of their own, derived primarily from a shared unity under the rubric of the BDS call.

The BDS movement also faces gargantuan opposition. In terms of strategy, almost all the campaigns have to take into account backlash from the existing apparatus of support for the Israeli state, including the US polity. The movement is unlike other solidarity-based movements in the Western world because of the cultural-hegemonic stranglehold the Zionist lobby has over mainstream discourse, primarily in the US and Europe.

Because of this stranglehold, the BDS call asks for people to take a stand, an uncompromising position where good intentions alone will not suffice, because those good intentions can be swept up by establishment discourse. In a sense, what the BDS call is saying is that you cannot hedge when it comes to resisting oppression, even at times when nuanced hedging seems reasonable. Noam Chomsky and Uri Avnery, both progressive thinkers highly critical of Israel, found themselves reinforcing an oppressive status quo precisely because they hedged. Chomsky, while calling for universities to boycott companies doing business in Israel, was not in favor of academic boycott itself, instead calling on Western academics to utilize other means to fight Israel’s atrocities; Avnery went with the liberal Zionist argument of distinguishing between the occupation/settlements and the Israeli state as a whole, even surreptitiously playing the anti-Semite card.37 The BDS call essentially tells us there is no hedging until the oppression stops, no matter how uncomfortable it might get to the Western, liberal-rationalist mind for which nuanced hedging is a privilege that those facing multiple forms of oppression cannot afford.

The possibilities the BDS movement offers to any solidarity-based struggle – class, nationalist, gender, anti-colonial, anti-imperialist or any other – are not necessarily unique or new, but they should be stated regardless. The demands are critical to a clear understanding of what liberation means. Liberation is not an abstract concept, nor is it a utopian one. Liberation has to be grounded in material reality; thus, the stand that the BDS call asks people to take is one of actual material conditions rather than easy platitudes.

However the BDS movement is not without its limitations, most of them inherent in the form of struggle it takes. They have to do with not knowing the trajectory of struggle after liberation has taken place. The movement doesn’t offer a political program beyond the guidelines of liberation. Because the movement is enmeshed in solidarity, it is not as structured as a political party, and cannot expect to have rigorously disciplined cadre.

Moreover, there are spaces of tension within the model of struggle the movement employs. Because it is predicated on volunteer-driven solidarity from people occupying positions of immense socio-economic privilege compared to most Palestinians, it is always subject to dilution and revisions not stemming from actual material conditions. Different participants in the movement are not subject to the same kind of accountability, in theory at least, that one would find in a cadre-driven party or as an elected representative of a trade union. The accountability is based on a moral commitment to the cause rather than the franchise of a voting member, or money from either funding or membership dues. This makes BDS campaigns less susceptible to corruption but more susceptible to waywardness. The heterogeneity of the movement, which is one of its greatest strengths, can also be a potential weakness because of the ever-present danger of traditionally privileged actors exercising dominance.

Nevertheless, the BDS movement offers something crucially important in understanding non-violence as a strategy for taking the moral high-ground against a vastly more powerful oppressor. It puts the oppressor on the defensive by going on the offensive, framing the conditions of liberation rather than having them framed by the oppressor. It provides clear guidelines for solidarity activists, and thus is against utopianism and fence-sitting, because it clearly asks for a stand to be taken and lays out guidelines on how it must be taken.

Understanding solidarity

In that spirit of solidarity in real-life struggles I would like to conclude by reverting back to the two moments of solidarity at play in the call. The first is the manner in which the “Palestinian people” are defined. This is predicated against a common oppressor (in this case the Israeli state), similar to understandings of black solidarity that were explored during black liberation struggles,38 or to solidarity among women workers,39 and crucially also very similar to the basic manner in which class-solidarity is conceived of by Marxist thought, i.e. based on common material interests, which in Marxism are broadly dependent on a person’s relationship to the means of production.40 But the definition of “Palestinian people” is also based on the logic of a national identity similar to the kind of nationalism that is critiqued as potentially damaging to working-class internationalism.41 It is important to understand that this notion of “Palestinian people” is deployed by the BDS call specifically in order to construct a notion of solidarity with Palestinians as an oppressed whole, based on the fact that all Palestinians, regardless of differences among them, face numerous forms of oppression at the hands of the Israeli state.

The second moment of solidarity is that which the BDS movement calls for from the international community. Here too, one can see consistency with other forms of solidarity like that of class, because the Palestinian call that seeks to end the oppression that Palestinians suffer as a cultural-national people will (at least theoretically) undo the contradiction between Palestinian and Israeli workers, which falls fully within any notion of class-solidarity, even if that is not the stated aim of the call. However the kind of solidarity that the BDS call seeks from the international community is just as vital as feminist and other forms of solidarity because it is seeking solidarity from people clearly identified by the call itself as being outside of the immediate realm of oppression that the Palestinians are under.

The BDS call thus also tells us that theoretical calls for solidarity need to be constantly tested against real-life struggles that occupy different socioeconomic and spatial realms. Workers on the same shop floor have an immediate common material interest in organizing in class-solidarity with each other, as do Palestinians in Ramallah and Jerusalem organizing in national-solidarity with each other against Israeli oppression. When activists outside of those immediate material conditions act in solidarity with them, the commonality of interests becomes more abstract and less immediate, but remains important as an investment in common material politics.

The BDS call occupies distinct spatial and socioeconomic levels. The socioeconomic and spatial conditions inherent in the Palestinian people, while not accounting for differences among them, differ markedly from the socioeconomic and spatial conditions of the international community in the Global North (including Israeli society) whose solidarity the BDS movement is calling for. Seen in this manner, the BDS call provides an interesting platform to understand that it is in the lived politics of solidarity-based struggle that one is able to determine where greater attention to difference is needed, where commonality of interests lies, and how to engage with the contradictions arising from different forms of solidarity for a transformative political movement. Above all, it is a movement that will not stop until liberation is achieved, through multiple highs and lows, because it is based on an ironclad set of simple demands meant to dismantle the structures of oppression through strategic expressions of solidarity.


1. See and for more information.

2. BDS National Committee (2005), Palestinian United Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, 9 July 2005.

3. My rationale for calling it a ‘movement’, despite it being dispersed and multi-sited, is primarily because it has a loose, yet coherent, logic stemming from the BDS call. I refer to the ‘BDS Movement’ as the Palestinian leadership (i.e. the BDS National Committee or BNC), and the BDS struggles worldwide that have responded in solidarity to the call.
See,, and for more information.

4. See BNC Statement (27 December, 2010), “On the Second Anniversary of Israel’s Bloodbath in Gaza: End International Complicity, Intensify BDS,”, PACBI Newsletter #1 – 2009 BDS Highlights, The general sentiment among progressives following that assault was expressed by Naomi Klein in a fiery op-ed entitled “Enough. It’s time for a Boycott,” Guardian, 10 January 2009.

5. Bakan, Abigail and Abu-Laban, Yasmine (2010), “Palestinian resistance and international solidarity: the BDS campaign.” Race and Class, July 2009, vol. 51 no. 1: 29-54.

6. The Reut Institute. (2010), The Delegitimization Challenge: Creating a Political Firewall.

7. Abunimah, Ali. (2010), “Israel’s new strategy: ‘sabotage’ and ‘attack’ the global justice movement,” Electronic Intifada, 16 February 2010.

8. Ibid; and Horowitz, Adam. (2009a), “AIPAC ED fears the growing movement to sanction Israel could fundamentally change US policy towards Israel. He’s right” and (2009b), “J Street seeks to undermine BDS,” both in Mondoweiss: The War of Ideas in the Middle East,,; and Young, Art. (2009), “Pro-Israel lobby alarmed by growth of boycott, divestment movement,” Links: International Journal of Socialist Renewal,

9. In its vitriol against BDS, the ZOA condemns even the civil-rights leaning, soft-Zionist, New Israel Fund. See ZOA Press Release. (22 November 2010), “ZOA: New Israel Fund Admits It Funds Groups That Promote Boycotting, Divesting From, & Sanctions Upon, Israel.”

10. See “AIPAC Outlines Plan to Decrease Israel’s Isolation,” Jewish Daily Forward, 22 March 2010.

11. J Street (2010), Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions Movement.

12. ADL included anti-war groups like Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) in its list. ADL Press Release. (14 October 2010), “ADL Identifies Top 10 Anti-Israel Groups in America,”

13. See for example: “BDS: Nuisance or genuine threat,” Jerusalem Post, 15 June 2010,, and “Anti-Israel economic boycotts are gaining speed,” Haaretz, 5 September 2010,

14. See Weisberg, Jacob (2010), “Don’t Boycott Israel: The very idea is repellant,” Newsweek, 24 July 2010,, and Lévy, Bernard-Henri (2010), “Why the Call to “Boycott Israel” Is Crap” Huffington Post, 25 January 2011, where the repetitive arguments of anti-semitism, contradictory statements of Israel being a Jewish nation-state that is also democratic, Israel not being a totalitarian regime, and boycotts impeding free speech are used.

15. Berkman, Jacob (2010), “Federations, JCPA teaming to fight delegitimization of Israel,” in JTA: The Global News Service of the Jewish People, 24 October 2010.

16. Various members of the national organizing list of BDS groups in North America started getting emails in early 2011 from the Reut Institute requesting meetings concerning anti-Israel activities.

17. “Countering Delegitimization (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Resources” from the Israel on Campus Coalition website, 8 November 2010.

18. Various accounts of SJP chapters in the national SJP organizing list indicated attacks on different SJP chapters in schools across the country (Source: email exchanges on list). Researchers and students studying Palestine from a perspective critical of Israel often face roadblocks, from denial of funds and tenure to blocking research.

19. Source:

20. See Connie Hackbarth’s February 2011 article in The Alternative Information Center,

21. See the documentary film, Crossing The Line: The Intifada Comes to Campus (, as well as websites Divest This! (, and BDS Cookbook (

22. The list includes human rights organizations like Addameer, Al Haq, Alternative Information Center, and Coalition of Women for Peace, all in Europe (Source: NGO Monitor has, among others, Zionist ideologues like Alan Dershowitz on its advisory board.

23. See Levy, Gideon (2010), “The Jewish Republic of Israel,” Haaretz, 10 October 2010,, an article where he condemns the Loyalty Oath. Levy states “[T]he Knesset is to debate close to 20 other anti-democratic bills…a loyalty law for Knesset members; a loyalty law for film production; a loyalty law for non-profits; putting the Palestinian catastrophe, the Nakba, beyond the scope of the law; a ban on calls for a boycott; and a bill for the revocation of citizenship. It’s a dangerous McCarthyist dance on the part of ignorant legislators who haven’t begun to understand what democracy is all about.”

24. See “Israel’s loyalty oath time bomb,” Jewish Week, 11 October 2010, “Rally against loyalty oath: Israel becoming fascist” in YNet News, 10 October 2010, and “Israel approves loyalty oath” in Al Jazeera, 10 October 2010 at,,7340,L-3967277,00.html, and respectively

25. British filmmaker Mike Leigh cancelled a trip to Israel following the passage of the Loyalty Oath Bill (Source:, while conversations I had with Jewish Palestine-solidarity activists indicated that the passing of the bill pushed some individuals and groups that had previously not endorsed BDS to call outright for endorsement.

26. This was passed as a direct result of the burgeoning BDS movement. See: “Israel’s anti-boycott legislation” in Alternative Information Center, 4 July 2010, and “Israelis inciting anti-Israel boycotts could soon be forced to pay dearly” Haaretz, 14 July 2010, at, and respectively, as well as “Israelis divided over new law that backs businesses hit by trade boycotts,” Guardian, 15 July 2011,

27. See “Statement of Jewish Organizations on BDS,

28. A few liberal Zionist groups like J Street take a moderate stand against the occupation and settlements in West Bank and Gaza, but fail to take into account apartheid and historical colonialism.

29. Source:

30. See Bakan and Abu-Laban , “Palestinian Resistance and International Solidarity” (note 5), where they point to “an international racial contract which, from 1948, has assigned a common interest between the state of Israel and international political allies, while absenting Palestinians as simultaneously non-white, the subjects of extreme repression and stateless,” something they state the BDS movement has challenged.

31. See for example: Kane, Alex (2010), “New Reut Institute ‘case study’ tacit admission that BDS is working,” in Mondoweiss: The War of Ideas in the Middle East, 8 August 2010,, and Abunimah,  “Israel’s new strategy” (note 7).

32. See Ngeleza, Bangani (2005), “The Role of International Campaigns for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions,” in Badil’s quarterly journal, al-Majdal, Spring 2005,

33. See an essay written by E.S. Reddy, former director of the United Nations Center against Apartheid, entitled “Sports and the liberation struggle: a tribute to Sam Ramsamy and others who fought apartheid sport,”

34. For a more detailed discussion see Wolpe, Harold (1972), “Capitalism and Cheap Labour-power in South Africa: From Segregation to Apartheid,” Economy and Society, Vol. 1 No. 4: 425-456.

35. For a more detailed examination see Farsakh, Leila (2005), Palestinian labour migration to Israel: labour, land and occupation. New York: Routledge, and Abu Shemala, Nawaf Mahmoud. (2006), “The Future Of Palestinian Workers In Israel,” in Al-Siyassa Al-Dawliya, Issue 165, July 2006,

36. There are perhaps 150 or more active BDS groups in North America. They include academic boycott (e.g.,,, cultural boycott (e.g.,, direct divestment (, faith-based (, multi-pronged (,,, large coalitions (,,, company-focused (,, and community-centric (, A number of these campaigns are also part of a national coalition in North America, with a fundamental adherence to the BDS call as a guiding framework.

37.  See and listen to for a challenge to Chomsky. Also see

38. See Shelby, T. (2005), We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity. Cambridge, London: Belknap Press.

39. See Mohanty, C. T. (2003), Feminism Without Borders. Durham: Duke University Press.

40. Marx and Engels differed with the more anarchist Bakunin in this regard, i.e. on the primacy of the relationship to the means of production as opposed to material conditions alone as what was important to understanding class-based revolutionary subjectivity. Bakunin, for instance, considered the lumpen proletariat to be a revolutionary class while Marx and Engels didn’t. For a more detailed exploration see Marx, K. and Engels, F. (1848), Manifesto of the Communist Party; Marx and Engels (1872), Fictitious Splits in the International,; and Marx (1864), Inaugural Address of the International Working Men’s Association,

41. See Pasture, P. and Johan Verberckmoes (eds.). (1998), Working-Class Internationalism and the Appeal of National Identity. Oxford: Berg.


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