Palestinian Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions Movement: Yay or Nay?
Everywhere you turn, there is talk of the Gaza conflict. Israel and Palestine have always been infamous for being at odds, but with recent violence heating up, passionate supporters of each side have come out of the woodwork. Yet, with the spotlight constantly being on casualties and deaths, the media sometimes overlooks an import aspect of the conflict that needs to be talked about: economics.
Whether we love it or hate it, we all have to admit that economics is a major component of our globalized world. It helps to explain human nature and can be an unbelievably powerful tool when used correctly. Currently, the citizens of Palestine are harnessing the power of economics to fight for their human rights and put an end to the horrific bloodshed that has become their everyday lives.
The BDS movement, which stands for boycott, divestment, and sanctions, began in 2005, when over 170 different organizations worked to put economic pressure on Israel to end the occupation and bring about equality. Ever since it was created, it has been going strong.
Recently, non-Palestinian parties have also joined this movement. Some European corporations, such as the French company Veolia, have stopped doing business with Israel, and major entertainers, like Pink Floyd, have also refused to do shows on Israeli territory. Many stores are no longer selling Israeli products, institutions are canceling Israeli contracts, and investors are removing themselves from the country.
To say that Israel feels threatened by these actions is an understatement. The Israeli government has directly stated that the BDS movement is a threat against their state, and they have officials working endlessly to counter these economic ‘attacks’. Additionally, the leaders of Israel have voiced their concerns about this movement, stating that if it continues, it will hit each of the government officials hard. The United States has agreed, and has expressed concern over Israel’s increasing isolationism.
The Difference Between Bombs and Boycotting
War has oftentimes been criticized for putting innocent citizens in danger, rather than the government officials responsible for the conflict itself. It can be argued that casualties are not the best way to put pressure on a government, but that other tactics should be used instead. For Palestine, these tactics are economic threats.
One of the main purposes of any country’s government is to help its state succeed both politically and economically. While civilian and military casualties can certainly be a threat to this success, the risk of economic failure is a much larger danger. A state can be successful and powerful while having citizens dying in war, but it cannot be successful and powerful with a collapsed economy. Thus, the key to Palestine cornering Israel does not lie in the dropping of bombs or the massacring of civilians; it lies in the isolation and decimation of the country’s economy.
Putting Pressure on the Right Party
The deaths of citizens are devastating. The lives of their families stop, and many of the country’s communities are directly affected. However, these are not the individuals who are responsible for the conflict, and they by no means have power in regards to it.
When a country’s citizens die, the government is not the party that is paralyzed. The governing force continues to run, and the setbacks that it faces in comparison to those of its citizens are minor. The institution that is responsible for the conflict is not the one being hurt.
When an economy is harmed, however, the government is one of the main parties that suffer defeat. If the economy crashes, the leaders of the state have failed at one of their main duties, and have lost much of the power that they hold in the world arena.
If this were to happen to Israel, the country would be forced to make difficult decisions. It would have to decide between letting its economy flounder, and continuing its onslaught of violence against Palestine. Eventually, if the economy continued its downward spiral, it would have to consider negotiations or face the threat of complete financial failure. This possibility is what will convince Israel to consider an end to the violence, not civilian casualties.
If Palestine wants to give Israel a reason to reconsider its current actions, it needs to start targeting the right party: the government. The results of attacking citizens are fleeting, but the effects of crippling the economy are long term.
Focusing time, money, and efforts on building up the BDS movement, rather than executing violent attacks is a more effective tactic for Palestine in the long run. Doing so will increase the chances of Israel considering negotiations, and will provide Palestine with a tool to help end the conflict without causing further death and bloodshed, while also saving money and capital.