On Apr. 1 1933, the Nazi regime implemented a nationwide boycott of Jewish businesses in Germany. Hitler’s Sturmabteilung storm troopers stood outside Jewish shops to prevent customers from entering, and vandals painted Jewish stars across doorways with slogans like “Germans! Defend yourselves! Do not buy from Jews” and “Go to Palestine!” This phenomenon quickly spread to other countries, with boycotts against Jews occurring in Poland and Hungary in 1935 and 1938, respectively.
Unfortunately boycotts targeting Jews, are not a unique product of the Nazi regime. On Aug. 22 1922, the 5th Arab Congress met in Nabulus and passed the following resolutions: no land sales to Jews, no Jewish immigration, and the boycott of Jewish goods to oppose a national Jewish homeland.
In 1945 the Arab League, an organization comprised of 23 Middle Eastern and African countries, also began a boycott of Jewish goods in the British Mandate territory of Palestine. After Israel’s independence in 1948, the Arab League boycott was formalized against Israel and widened to include three levels, which are still in effect today. The first prohibits the importation of Israeli goods and services, the second prohibits individuals from engaging in business with any entity that does business with Israel, and the third prohibits doing business with a company that has dealings with countries on the Arab League blacklist for their good relations with Israel, such as the United States.
The Arab League boycott has religious backing from well-known clerics across the globe. For example, Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in addition to denying that Palestinian suicide bombings are acts of terrorism, supports the Arab League boycott by regularly issuing fatwas (religious decrees) calling for boycott of the Jewish state, demanding “a complete boycott of the enemies’ goods.”
Today, the calls for boycotts against the Jewish State continue on college campuses as part of the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS)” movement. One may see fliers advertising “BDS” at MIT lining the infinite corridor. Sponsored by over two dozen Arab groups, the BDS movement calls for “boycott as a central form of civil resistance to Israeli occupation,” and targets “products and companies that profit from the violation of Palestinian rights, as well as Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions.”
Sound familiar? That’s because BDS boycotts are no different from those issued in 1922, 1945, and 1948. Although the leaders of the BDS movement put a new spin on the boycott by claiming to be concerned with Palestinian liberty, in reality their end goal is the same as that of the 5th Arab Congress: boycott in order to dismantle and ultimately erase the Jewish nation.
After all, if the BDS movement really stemmed from a newfound concern for Palestinians’ treatment in Israel, why were there widespread Arab boycotts of the Jewish State 26 years before Israel’s independence, and 45 years before Jews had any autonomy over the “occupied” West Bank or Jerusalem? We would have expected the boycotts to begin only after the Jewish State was founded. In reality, a huge portion of the world’s Arab population fundamentally opposes the existence of a Jewish state, and they are utilizing the age-old tactic of boycotts to weaken the Jewish State economically. The BDS movement simply relabeled discriminatory boycotts in the name of Palestinian civil rights.
No one should be fooled into supporting BDS on the premise of upholding human rights and curing injustice. College students should see that BDS is an unoriginal tactic used to stifle Zionist dreams of a Jewish homeland, and is not rooted in any lofty modern day human rights aspirations. It is said that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but when it comes to the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” movement, it is clear you certainly can give an old dog a new name.