Oct. 11, 2019
BDS Was Started by Western NGOs and European Governments, Not the Palestinians – Gerald Steinberg
When Omar Barghouti was recently barred from entering the UK, many media reports referred to him as founder of the Israel boycott movement BDS. This is factually incorrect: he was added for marketing purposes four years after the BDS launch.
In reality, the BDS movement was officially launched in 2001 at the NGO Forum of the anti-Semitic UN World Conference on the Elimination of Racism, held in Durban, South Africa. The instigators were a group of radical NGOs that demanded “the complete international isolation of Israel as an apartheid state.” A few months later, the first boycotts began when Trotskyite cells in the British academic union manipulated votes to get support for boycotts of Israeli universities. In parallel, anti-Israel activists in the U.S. organized rallies outside board meetings to demand an end to Israeli sales by corporations like Caterpillar.
As these activities increased, a movement ostensibly on behalf of the Palestinian cause led by Westerners became visibly and politically awkward. To give BDS a more authentic facade, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was launched through a letter signed by a group of Palestinian intellectuals. In the years that followed, BDS activists sought to market their campaign as a response to the Palestinian boycott call, although this was false. BDS was and remains largely a Western anti-Semitic movement led by NGOs and financed by European governments.
The writer is a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and founder-president of NGO Monitor. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)