The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a propaganda tool being utilized by Israel’s Arab neighbors to do what they haven’t been able to accomplish through multiple wars of aggression and decades of terrorist atrocities targeting Israel’s civilian population — destroy Israel.
The goal of BDS is to delegitimize Israel and collapse its economy. In doing so, Israel’s Arab neighbors seek to force Israel out of the West Bank (land first captured and annexed by Jordan in Israel’s fight for independence), which the Arab’s repeatedly used to launch military strikes against Israel, until Israel captured it in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
To their credit, Israel’s enemies have been doing a good job of rewriting Middle East history to cast Israel as the aggressor in its dealings with the Arab world. The lies and relentless propaganda are used to manipulate the naive, the uninformed, the misinformed — and, of course, the willing — to create enmity toward Israel and generate support for BDS.
Of course, organized boycotts of the Jews are nothing new and come straight out of Chapter One of the anti-Semites playbook, dating back to the Middle Ages. Upon assuming power, the Nazis quickly employed such boycotts and the Arabs have repeatedly sought boycotts of the Jews, long before the State of Israel even existed.
The propaganda nature of the BDS movement becomes particularly apparent when the supporters do their best to fraudulently draw parallels between BDS and the boycott of apartheid South Africa.
The Arab residents of Israel participate as full citizens in every walk of life. They are part of the highest levels of academia, government, industry, military service, and the judicial system. The effort to compare Israel to the racist apartheid government of South Africa, which prohibited its black citizens from having rights equal to those that were white, is part of the great con that is BDS.
For practical economic development, and moral and ethical reasons, I have sponsored legislation in the Maryland General Assembly to push back against BDS. The proposed legislation would prohibit the state from procuring goods and services from any entity participating in the BDS movement. Additionally, it would prohibit the state from investing its pension funds in any entity participating in the boycott.
Since 1988, Maryland has had a signed Declaration of Cooperation with Israel. That document, and the framework for the joint cooperation contained within it, has been the catalyst to a relationship that has benefitted the citizens of Maryland and Israel. As a consequence of our mutually beneficial relationship, there have been significant achievements in scientific, medical, and academic research, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in trade and job creation in Maryland.
Our state policy of cooperation with Israel is clear, and equally clear has been the findings of the federal courts — the states have the right to ensure that public dollars do not undermine public policy, and that includes boycotts.
The racists are free to shout their hate speech, and those who choose to participate in the discriminatory, bigoted boycott of Israel are welcome to do so, that is their constitutional right.
However, these discriminatory actions do not have to be supported with taxpayer dollars — that is the right of the people of Maryland.
Unlike Israel, the Arab governments of Gaza and the West Bank are far removed from democracies. Minority populations in these lands are persecuted for religious, sectarian, and racial reasons. The LGBTQ community is forced to live in the shadows and are frequently subjected to physical violence and imprisonment. Women are treated as chattel and the press is under strict government censorship.
Contrast this with Israel, a nation where women, the gay community, and religious minorities are all part of the fabric of the Israeli populace. The press in Israel is free, independent, and capable of criticizing the government.
The world is full of nations governed by dictators and despots who subjugate their people. Yet, the BDS supporters take no action against them. Instead, they target the region’s only true democracy, that coincidentally happens to be the only nation on the planet with a majority population that is Jewish.
The hypocrisy of the BDS movement is glaring, and yes, anti-Semitism is alive, well, and unequivocally at the heart of BDS.
The world often seems to be happier when Jews play the role of the willing victim.
It is apparent that there are many who struggle with a nation, largely comprising Jews, that says never again will we be marched like sheep to the slaughter. This includes not being victimized by the Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza, whose governments have repeatedly committed themselves to the eradication of every Jew in the Middle East.
BDS is a fraud, and the taxpayers of Maryland are free to boycott the boycotters.
By Ben Kramer
Ben Kramer is a lifelong resident of Montgomery County and is currently a member of B'nai Shalom of Olney, Maryland. Ben has represented District 19 in the House of Delegates for the past 12 years. He has served on the Judiciary Committee and currently sits on the Economic Matters Committee, where he chairs the Subcommittee on Banking, Economic Development, Science, and Technology. Ben also serves as the General Assembly’s representative to the Maryland Economic Development Commission.