Over the years we have witnessed the rise of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. We have been told repeatedly by BDS campaign groups that it is ‘the popular resistance’.
We are told it is the will of the Palestinian people to boycott Israel and that the majority of Britain (and the world) agrees with them. The BDS faithful constantly beat the same drum, “end the occupation”, “down with apartheid”, “Israel is a terrorist state” and so forth.
We are led to believe that this overwhelming majority of support for the ‘popular resistance’ means that supporters of Israel, like ourselves, are in the wrong. We are often vilified for our beliefs and intimidated into silence and if we do raise a voice against BDS we are labeled a bigot, a racist or just plain ignorant.
However, a new poll by the Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre (BICOM), has provided some surprising results.
The survey, commissioned by BICOM and carried out by Populus, questioned 2,007 respondents in Britain between 16-18 October 2015.
In terms of support for Israel and the Palestinians, the BICOM poll found that only 19% of people felt compassion towards Israel. However, that is almost identical to the 20% who felt compassion towards the Palestinians, meaning 61% of the country is comparatively neutral on the issue of Israel and the Palestinians.
This result is in line with other independent surveys over the years. In 2014 the Israeli Embassy in London commissioned a similar poll and they also found that split between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine supporters was around a 20% for each with the majority of people, 60%, sitting on the fence.
In the same BICOM survey, when asked about their support of BDS, only 12% of responders said they agreed with boycotting Israel.
This is surprisingly low number for a movement that touts itself as ‘the popular resistance’.
While we are being led to believe that the BDS movement is gaining popularity around the world, these statistics are countered even in the Palestinian Territories.
In September 2015, the Palestinian NGO, Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre, released a survey which revealed less than half of all Palestinians now support the total boycott of Israeli products.
In March 2014, 59.2% of Palestinians supported a boycott of all Israeli goods. However, in August 2015, that number dropped by ten percent to 49.1%. The numbers were even lower when looking at those who actively participated in the boycott.
It is also interesting to note that in the time period between these two statistics there was a conflict between Gaza and Israel.
While this conflict fuelled the fires of anti-Israel protesters around the world and an increase in calls to boycott, in the Palestinian Territories it appears it had the opposite effect.
This may be because many Palestinians are seeing first hand how the BDS movement is affecting them. Earlier this year the BDS celebrated its biggest victory, the shutting down of the Soda Stream factory in the West Bank.
Due to pressure from the global BDS movement, Soda Stream took the decision to close down its West Bank factory move its operations into Israeli borders. The problem for Palestinians was that Soda Stream was the largest private employer of Palestinians on the planet. As a result of the factory moving, nearly 75% of Soda Stream’s Palestinian employees are losing their jobs.
Palestinian human rights activist and co-founder of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, said, “This closure is a clear-cut BDS victory against an odiously complicit Israeli company.”
If it was a clear cut victory for the BDS, it obviously worked in proving to the Palestinians that the BDS movement does nothing to support them, as now 10% less Palestinians support the movement.
Palestinian Authority leaders have also spoken out against the BDS movement, including President Mahmoud Abbas. And when Boris Johnson met with the Prime Minister of the PA this week he told reporters, “I think on the boycott it was very striking just now that the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority himself said very clearly and several times that he was opposed to a boycott of Israel.”
Going back to Britain, last week Oxford University held a debate asking if it was right to boycott Israel. The result was a resounding, no. Renowned Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz won the date. Among many important comments he made, he stated, “not a single leader of a democracy anywhere in the world supports the BDS movement.”
James Soren, BICOM CEO summarised their survey saying, “The British public considers Israel the UK’s strongest ally in the Middle East, facing a shared threat from ISIS, and warmth towards Israel hasn’t changed significantly since 2011. There is very little support for boycotts against Israel, which demonstrates that noisy campaigns have failed to make any impact.”
Let’s hope our media starts to pay attention to the British public; we do not support the BDS movement.
Christians United for Israel UK