Now Reading
The Zionist Case Against Anti-BDS Laws
Gefilte Guilt
Messy Meshugane. Again.
The Art of Kosher Cheesemaking
Smitten with Schpilkes
Behar, and the Source of all Sustenance
Conflicted Convert

The Zionist Case Against Anti-BDS Laws

When Ben & Jerry’s announced their decision to cease selling their ice cream in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory” this past July — a move, quite frankly, that should not have been too surprising considering their long history of supporting left-wing causes — it was met with swift and forceful blowback from certain parts of the American Jewish community and even the Israeli government. 

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Ben & Jerry’s “has decided to brand itself as the anti-Israel ice cream,” and that the move would have “serious consequences, legal and otherwise.” 

As a part of the pressure campaign, Israel’s ambassador to the US urged states that have passed laws to combat the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to act on them in order to essentially sanction Ben & Jerry’s. Additionally, Texas threatened to use their anti-BDS law against Ben & Jerry’s — while Arizona and Florida actually did.

Anti-BDS laws have been hotly debated ever since they began to gain traction in state legislatures across the country starting in 2015. And in the aftermath of the Ben & Jerry’s fiasco, they have taken on new importance (despite the fact it is disputable whether or not their actions actually constituted a boycott of Israel).

Anti-BDS laws have been passed in 35 states, meaning the campaign to implement them across the country has been largely successful. On its face, this sounds like an affirmative good for the pro-Israel movement. But, even if you are stridently opposed to BDS as a movement — as I am — there are still significant questions about the prudence of anti-BDS laws. In order to understand why, we first need to understand what they are.


What Are Anti-BDS Laws?

The basic goal of anti-BDS laws is simple: to discourage boycotts of the state of Israel.

In order to effectuate this goal, state governments have passed various laws which preclude certain parties from contracting with the state if they engage in such boycotts. However, not all of the laws are the same. There are two main types.

The first type of anti-BDS law mandates that the government does not contract with — or have investments in — any business that is engaged in a boycott of Israel. As a part of most of these types of laws, the state creates a list of companies that boycott Israel and prohibits the state from contracting with those on the list.

The second type of anti-BDS law requires any person or business signing a governmental contract to certify, in writing, that they do not currently, and will not, boycott Israel for the duration of the contract. For states that pass such a law, it means that a lot of people will have to sign that pledge. Just think of how many public employees there are that sign contracts with the state: school teachers, police officers, firefighters, DMV workers, etc. Under this type of anti-BDS law, each and every one of them is required to affirm in writing that they will not engage in a boycott of Israel.


The Costs

In order to assess whether a law is worthwhile, considering its benefits and drawbacks — and then comparing them — is a helpful place to start. The issue with anti-BDS laws is that while their costs are immense, their benefits are marginal — and possibly even non-existent.

First and foremost, anti-BDS laws draw a great deal of negative attention. While looking into the subject, it is impossible not to notice the vast imbalance in the coverage of them. Articles from non-profits like the ACLU, or Palestine Legal, or news organizations like Middle East Monitor or Al Jazeera often dominated the search results. Even mainstream outlets usually frame anti-BDS laws in a negative light.

This is doubly true when we realize that much of the coverage associated with these laws come from the lawsuits filed by organizations, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the ACLU, in an effort to strike them down. To date, there have been six lawsuits filed in states ranging from Arkansas, to Texas, to Arizona, to Georgia. They have mostly been filed because a public employee — whether it be a school teacher or speech pathologist — did not wish to make a pledge to the state that they would not engage in a personal boycott of Israel. These lawsuits have had varying degrees of success. 

But, whether or not any individual lawsuit is successful is irrelevant to the fact that it generates news coverage centered around the narrative that these laws are a threat to the American peoples’ First Amendment rights. With that narrative comes the covert message that the pro-Israel movement has values antithetical to those of the U.S. Constitution.

The pro-Israel movement should be fighting for the liberal democratic values that both the US and Israel hold dearly — not against them.

It is also important to note that all of this is only taking perceptions of the pro-Israel movement into account — meaning it is a somewhat limited analysis. There are also significant questions about what implications these laws have for principles of freedom of association and speech. Seriously grappling with those questions would make the case for anti-BDS laws even weaker.


The Benefits

On the other hand, if anti-BDS laws were serving a truly important purpose — and doing it effectively — then a certain amount of negative press would be a relatively small price to pay. The issue is that for all of those costs, the benefits are largely non-existent. 

First, in states where the law holds that companies that boycott Israel should be divested from and not have the ability to contract with the state, this has been applied to very few firms. Among the states with publicly available lists of companies that boycott Israel, three-quarters of them list less than 10 companies. Moreover, only one lists more than 20 companies, and zero list more than 40 companies. 

It is important to point out that the number of companies that have actually been divested from is certainly smaller than the number of companies on the list. The reason is simple: the list does not only consist of companies that the state previously had investments in. 

Next, there is no evidence to suggest that these laws have actually discouraged people from either boycotting Israel or holding anti-Israel attitudes more generally. During the most recent flare-up between Israel and Hamas, large anti-Israel protests were held across the country. Polls also show that young people (age 18-34) are dramatically less likely to support Israel than those who are 35+ and that over half of Democrats now want the U.S. to put increased pressure on Israel.

Lastly — and this may be the most important point — BDS poses no actual threat to the Israeli economy. Studies from the Brookings Institute, and even the Israeli Knesset itself, confirm this. 

So, on one hand, anti-BDS laws don’t really do much in terms of positive impact. They are not being used by states very often; they are not leading to less anti-Israel sentiment; they are not protecting the Israeli economy from actual harm. On the other hand, they are attracting a lot of negative attention to the pro-Israel movement while also creating negative perceptions of it.

The conclusion I draw from this is simple: as the Brookings Institute wrote, those who advocate for these laws are “providing more fuel to a fire that is small to begin with.”


Alternative Paths Forward

The real way to discourage boycotts of Israel is not to coerce our opponents but to make a persuasive argument against them. 

Point out that the BDS movement has strong links to terrorists. Point out that the founder of BDS, Omar Barghouti, is not interested in a peace deal where both sides concede some things; rather, he has said that he does “not buy into the two-state solution” and would like to “end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.” Lastly, simply point out the willingness of Israel to make peace — two states for two peoples — for as long as it has been a country, even while they have had no partner to make it happen.

Additionally, getting involved with various organizations is now easier than ever. Whether it be through established groups such as AJC or AIPAC, or new groups for young Jews such as New Zionist Congress, the opportunities to promote Zionism and fight against BDS are innumerable.

We should continue the good fight against BDS. But we should not get distracted by counterproductive laws.

View Comments (111)
  • Terrific work! That is the kind of information that should be shared around the web. Disgrace on Google for now not positioning this submit higher! Come on over and consult with my site . Thank you =)

  • Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

  • My partner and I stumbled over here different website and thought I should check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to exploring your web page repeatedly.

  • Magnificent goods from you, man. I have be mindful your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely magnificent. I really like what you have bought here, really like what you’re stating and the way through which you are saying it. You’re making it entertaining and you continue to take care of to keep it smart. I cant wait to learn much more from you. This is really a wonderful site.

  • F*ckin’ tremendous issues here. I’m very satisfied to look your article. Thanks so much and i am taking a look ahead to touch you. Will you please drop me a mail?

  • Hi there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks of hard work due to no backup. Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?

  • Thank you for another informative blog. The place else may just I get that kind of information written in such an ideal means? I have a project that I’m simply now operating on, and I have been on the glance out for such info.

  • Appreciating the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed material. Excellent read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  • I’m no longer certain the place you’re getting your information, but good topic. I must spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic information I was looking for this info for my mission.

  • Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a 25 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  • I intended to send you the little word so as to thank you so much yet again for those marvelous tactics you’ve shared in this article. It has been really incredibly generous of people like you to allow freely exactly what a lot of folks would’ve sold for an electronic book to make some money for themselves, specifically seeing that you might well have done it if you ever desired. The techniques as well worked to be a easy way to realize that other people have the identical passion much like my own to know a good deal more in respect of this problem. I’m sure there are lots of more enjoyable sessions up front for folks who view your blog post.

  • Thank you for sharing superb informations. Your web site is very cool. I’m impressed by the details that you’ve on this web site. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for more articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the information I already searched all over the place and simply couldn’t come across. What a great web site.

  • Greetings from Florida! I’m bored at work so I decided to check out your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the knowledge you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m surprised at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, very good site!

  • I’d have to examine with you here. Which is not one thing I usually do! I take pleasure in reading a post that may make folks think. Additionally, thanks for permitting me to comment!

  • What i do not realize is actually how you are now not actually much more well-liked than you may be now. You’re so intelligent. You know thus significantly when it comes to this subject, made me in my opinion consider it from a lot of varied angles. Its like women and men don’t seem to be interested unless it’s something to do with Lady gaga! Your personal stuffs excellent. All the time handle it up!

  • When I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the identical comment. Is there any method you may take away me from that service? Thanks!

  • Thank you for another great post. Where else may just anyone get that kind of information in such an ideal manner of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am at the search for such info.

  • I as well as my pals were found to be taking note of the nice recommendations from your web page and instantly developed a terrible feeling I had not expressed respect to the web site owner for those tips. All of the people are already so happy to read all of them and have in effect very much been making the most of those things. Thanks for actually being considerably accommodating and for obtaining some superb subject areas millions of individuals are really eager to be informed on. My very own honest regret for not expressing appreciation to earlier.

  • Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

  • Pleasant article. I was checking constantly this web site and i am impressed! Extremely helpful records especially the very last role we worry when it comes to these types of records a lot.

  • Please allow me to introduce myself I’m a man of wealth and taste I’ve been around for a long, long year Stole many a mans soul and faith And I was round when jesus christ Had his moment of doubt and pain.

  • Hi would you mind letting me know which hosting company you’re working with? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most. Can you recommend a good web hosting provider at a reasonable price? Thanks a lot, I appreciate it!

  • I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. thank you

  • Have you ever thought about creating an ebook or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog centered on the same topics you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers would value your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e-mail.

  • I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have put in writing this blog. I am hoping the same high-grade blog post from you in the upcoming as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own blog now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a good example of it.

  • I’m still learning from you, while I’m improving myself. I certainly love reading all that is written on your site.Keep the aarticles coming. I enjoyed it!

  • I was wondering if you ever considered changing the page layout of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  • Some genuinely fantastic info , Gladiola I found this. “The minute one utters a certainty, the opposite comes to mind.” by May Sarton.

  • I like what you guys are up too. Such intelligent work and reporting! Carry on the superb works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my site :)

  • A person essentially lend a hand to make seriously posts I’d state. This is the very first time I frequented your website page and up to now? I surprised with the analysis you made to create this particular post extraordinary. Excellent process!

  • Hello my friend! I wish to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include approximately all important infos. I’d like to see more posts like this.

  • What i don’t realize is in fact how you’re now not actually a lot more neatly-favored than you may be now. You’re so intelligent. You realize thus significantly when it comes to this matter, made me in my opinion imagine it from a lot of various angles. Its like men and women aren’t fascinated unless it’s something to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your personal stuffs excellent. At all times deal with it up!

  • This design is steller! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  • Thanks , I’ve recently been looking for information about this topic for ages and yours is the greatest I’ve discovered so far. But, what about the bottom line? Are you sure about the source?

  • I discovered your blog site on google and check a few of your early posts. Continue to keep up the very good operate. I just additional up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking forward to reading more from you later on!…

  • I haven?¦t checked in here for a while since I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are great quality so I guess I will add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend :)

  • naturally like your web site but you have to test the spelling on several of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to tell the reality however I’ll certainly come back again.

  • A person essentially help to make seriously articles I would state. This is the first time I frequented your website page and thus far? I surprised with the research you made to create this particular publish incredible. Fantastic job!

  • Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

  • I happen to be commenting to let you be aware of what a extraordinary encounter our girl found viewing your site. She discovered such a lot of things, not to mention what it’s like to possess an awesome helping mood to get other individuals without hassle have an understanding of some grueling matters. You undoubtedly surpassed our own expectations. Many thanks for coming up with the precious, trusted, informative not to mention fun thoughts on this topic to Jane.

  • When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks!

  • excellent post, very informative. I’m wondering why the other experts of this sector don’t realize this. You must continue your writing. I’m confident, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!

  • Hi, just required you to know I he added your site to my Google bookmarks due to your layout. But seriously, I believe your internet site has 1 in the freshest theme I??ve came across. It extremely helps make reading your blog significantly easier.

  • Hi, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Firefox, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, excellent blog!

  • Very good blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any ideas? Thank you!

  • Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

  • Someone essentially lend a hand to make critically articles I would state. That is the very first time I frequented your website page and so far? I amazed with the analysis you made to create this particular submit extraordinary. Magnificent process!

  • Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you’re a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will come back in the foreseeable future. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great writing, have a nice evening!

  • Hi there would you mind letting me know which web host you’re using? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different web browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot faster then most. Can you suggest a good internet hosting provider at a fair price? Thanks, I appreciate it!

  • Howdy very cool website!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Wonderful .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds additionally…I’m glad to seek out numerous useful information here in the post, we need work out more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  • You really make it seem really easy with your presentation but I to find this matter to be really one thing that I think I might by no means understand. It seems too complex and very vast for me. I am taking a look ahead to your next post, I¦ll try to get the hang of it!

  • I like the helpful information you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and check again here frequently. I’m quite certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

  • I just couldn’t depart your site prior to suggesting that I actually enjoyed the standard information a person provide for your visitors? Is gonna be back often to check up on new posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top