Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Boycott Divest and Sanctions Movement?


The global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and upholds Palestinian rights was initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005. It is coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), established in 2007. BDS is a strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice.


Is BDS Anti-Semitic?


BDS very clearly targets what Israel is doing in regards to the Occupation and rights of the 20% of non-Jews (Palestinians) inside of Israel. Simply put, it is what they are doing not who they are.  Once freedom, equality and justice is obtained, BDS will cease.

It is important that there have been other boycotts in the past and the racist card has not been used there. For example, South Africans used BDS against Apartheid and were never labeled as anti-White.

Does BDS target the settlements or all of Israel?


There is a spectrum of approaches in terms of the umbrella of boycott, divestment and sanctions. For example, individuals may only be able to boycott. While organizations such as unions, universities and associations may divest through pensions or refusal to coorperate with Israeli unions/universities. Some focus only on the settlements. While others choose to apply BDS to all of Israel, recognizing that discrimination inside the 1948 borders of the 20% non-Jewish population.

However, collectively, the BDS community seek the same thing: Adherence to human rights and international law.  And a desire to nonviolently advocate for freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people.

Why is Israel being singled out for human rights abuses?


The BDS call was made by Palestinian Civil Society directly following the UN designation as an Apartheid State. In fact, UN Official, John Dugard, a native of South Africa, called Israel Apartheid "infinitely worse" than what was done in his own country.

However, it is important to know that many individuals and groups that are part of the BDS campaign also are involved in challenging other human rights violations around the world, including in our own nation (e.g. Guantanamo).  

Is Israel really an Apartheid State?


Yes really. While Apartheid is used as a pejorative today because of the association with South Africa, it is actually a legally defined term with classifications.

In 2007, the UN classified Israel as meeting the Apartheid definition. UN Investigator John Dugard goes further stating that Israel Apartheid is infinitely worse than that in South Africa.  UN Special Rapporteur, Richard Falk, also has been direct in citing that as a legally defined category which the State of Israel meets.

Where can I read the text of Maryland's 2016 anti-BDS bill?


As soon as the text of the bill is published, we will post it here.

Since the BDS Movement is targeting Israel, which calls itself a Jewish state, is BDS anti-Semitic?


BDS does not target Jews or Jewish businesses, just as the South Africa Boycott did  not target Whites but the Apartheid regime. BDS very clearly targets the policies and practices of Israel in regards to the Occupation and the rights of the 20% of non-Jews (Palestinians) inside of Israel.  In fact, there are a number of Israeli organizations who support the BDS call. Simply put, BDS focuses on what the state of Israel is doing, not the religious identity of its citizens. BDS will end once Israel meets its obligations under international law as outlined in the BDS call.

Why BDS and why now?


Israel has denied Palestinians their fundamental rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination through dispossession, racial discrimination, and military occupation. Despite repeated condemnation of Israeli policies by the UN and major human rights organizations, the world community has failed to hold Israel accountable and enforce compliance with basic principles of law. In view of this decades-long impunity, Palestinian civil society called for a global citizens’ response. On July 9 2005, a year after the International Court of Justice’s historic advisory opinion on the illegality of Israel’s Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Palestinian civil society called upon their counterparts and people of conscience all over the world to launch boycott, divestment and sanction campaigns against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognised in full compliance with international law. Our support of BDS is a response to this call.

How will BDS help resolve the Israel/Palestine conflict?


It is clear from the drastically deteriorating conditions in Israel/Palestine that the “peace process” initiated late last century has not helped resolve this issue. While BDS alone cannot resolve the conflict, the history of similar movements in South Africa, the U.S. and elsewhere tells us that these tactics can effect real change. A non-violent, grassroots movement such as this brings the necessary pressure and incentives needed to alter oppressive policies, and creates the conditions for meaningful negotiations based on principles of international law and respect for human rights. Indeed, the major successes of the Palestinian BDS movement  have forced governments, businesses, academic institutions, and civil society organizations worldwide to consider the harm Israeli policies cause both  Palestinians and Israelis -- something that decades of the “peace process” and UN resolutions never achieved.

What do Marylanders and our state stand to lose from enacting such a bill?


A lot. The implications of having the Maryland General Assembly punish free speech in the Free State, as this bill would do, are disturbing. The right to boycott is a constitutionally-protected form of political free speech that has been recognized in this country for decades. What right do state legislators have to tell Marylanders that we are the exception to this rule? In addition, our Coalition and many others will oppose the bill every step of the way. The state can expect additional legal challenges even if the bill passes. Given the vast needs of our state -- in education, healthcare, social services, infrastructure, to name just a few -- that legislators would prioritize such a divisive, legally-questionable bill should be a serious cause for concern for all in our state. Is this really what Maryland taxpayers what their representatives focusing on?

Why should I care about this bill? How does it affect me as a Maryland Taxpayer?


Most  importantly, it affects you as a *citizen* in that it is an attempt to penalize free speech and free association. Adding insult to injury, the efforts to pass this bill are a distraction from the real work of the Assembly.  Finally, while we support state boycotts targeting human and civil rights abusers, we feel that measures like this anti-BDS bill, sanctioning mere political disagreement, unwisely interfere with what should be cost-benefit or investment return based decisions.


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