In recent weeks, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has logged several impressive achievements. The giant home-sharing Airbnb site announced Nov. 19 that it was removing listings of accommodations in Israeli settlements in “the occupied West Bank,” claiming they were at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — although the movement expressed disappointment that the decision did not cover listings in East Jerusalem.
Shortly after, on the Nov. 28th International Solidarity Day with the Palestinians, the Irish Senate moved forward with legislation boycotting products made in the Israeli settlements after Israel’s efforts failed to soften the language of the proposed bill. On the following day, Chile’s Congress gave overwhelming approval to a proposal calling on the government to boycott the settlements in any future agreements with Israel, and to re-examine past agreements. Lawmakers also decided to issue directions to all Chileans visiting Israel or doing business there to “ensure they will not support colonization or cooperate with the violation of human rights in the occupied territories.”
The BDS movement recently issued a list of 18 “extraordinary strides,” as it described them, that it took in 2018 on behalf of Palestinian rights by “exposing Israeli crimes and apartheid policy.” The movement called on its supporters to donate money in order to turn the words “freedom, justice and equality” from an aspiration into reality.
Indeed, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the settlements it established there constitute an ongoing violation of international law, reminiscent in large measure of South Africa’s apartheid regime. However, it is high time the leaders of the BDS movement took a clear look at the situation and asked themselves a simple question: Have their “extraordinary strides” brought the Palestinians an iota closer to realizing their desire for freedom, justice and equality than they were when BDS was launched in July 2005?
The BDS activists can find the answer to the question of the movement’s influence in the findings of a new study that examined the link between a sense of national coherence (SONC) and fear of the “other” — the link between identification with a consensual ethos and the rejection of other peoples or, in other words, how the desire of Israeli individuals to feel part of the Jewish nation affects their approach to non-Israelis/Jews and especially to Palestinians.
According to Shifrah Sagi, who directed the study, the findings indicate a negative link between the desire to identify with a national ethos and the willingness to accept as legitim the collective narratives of other peoples.