Two Israelis who support BDS are Professor Neve Gordon and activist and professor Jeff Halper. Neve Gordon teaches Political Science at Ben-Gurion University. He is a former director of Physicians For Human Rights Israel and an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) veteran. He says that the only way Israel can be "saved from itself" and be made to respect its responsibilities to the Palestinians is for it to receive enough pressure to come from the world. That pressure should come in the form of BDS.
Jeff Halper is the executive director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). His group engages in a variety of activities that oppose Israel's occupation and provides services for Palestinians. Like many peace groups in the region, ICAHD shows that Israelis and Palestinians can work together for a common cause. Like Gordon, he sees BDS as a way by which Israel can be saved from itself. Halperagrees thatunless the world sends a firm message, the citizens of Israel will continue to accept the status quo from their government.
An unmentioned problem with BDS is not that it could remind one of the hateful boycotts against Jews practiced by Nazi Germany; rather, it is that BDS could add to the long line of punishments that are a part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These punishments have done nothing more than harden the hearts of the recipients. The only difference that BDS introduces is that punishment is coming neither from the Israelis nor the Palestinians. We should note that the normal cycle of punishment followed by retaliation practiced by the Israelis and Palestinians on each other maintains a tragic and seemingly endless cycle of revenge where each punishment kills the collective conscience of every recipient who feels compelled to have the last word.
I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Jeff Halper speak in person. His perspective on the Isreali-Palestinian conflict is enlightened and human. I asked him if BDS could be seen as an attempt to punish Israel. My concern was whether one more punishment would maintain the status quo. He replied 'no' because BDS is targeting the Occupation. However, his answer did not address the question because one could point out that BDS is simply punishing Israel for continuing its Occupation.
Some ask why we should be concerned about using punishment when punishment seems to be the only response some oppressors understand, Noam Chomsky suggests that an alternative to using punishment when fighting injustice is to refuse to participate in the injustice. Thus if Israel wanted to eliminate the settlements, all it would have to do is not support them. Likewise, if the US wanted to stop Israel's occupation, all it would have to do is refuse to fund it. BDS does stop one's participation in Israel's occupation. The problem is that BDS is also punitive.
There is another way for the world not to participate in Israel's occupation besides joining the BDS movement against Israel and it is surprising that, considering what Israelis like Gordon and Halper have done, no Americans have called for this. Not only can the world follow the BDS guidelines against Israel, the world can do the same to Israel's biggest supporter, the United States. Without help from the U.S., there would be no occupation. In fact, without U.S. aid and protection, Israel would have to abide by the will of the international community and the UN resolutions. Besides, America is not only an accomplice in Israel's atrocities against the Palestinians, it has committed an unrivaled plethora of its own crimes.
If the world does not start a BDS program against the U.S., Israel could rightfully claim anti-Semitism with regards to actions taken against it since a far more guilty party goes unpunished. So perhaps, just as the Israelis need a BDS program to help them change their view that they can always act with impunity, Americans need the same kind of correction from the world.