SPME Launches a BDS Monitor

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Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is pleased to announce the launching of a new BDS Monitor project, directed by Dr. Alex Joffe. Joffe  has been affiliated with the Middle East Forum and has been involved with issues of Israel on campus, academic freedom, and anti-Semitism for over a decade.

SPME recognizes that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement is global, and is active 365 days a year. The movement rejects the existence of the State of Israel not its policies, and college campuses are an especially contested arena.

Pronouncements attempting to appeal to the conscience of academics supportive of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement often depict Israel as a Nazi-like state. These views—once labeled extreme—have become increasingly mainstream as academics call for Israel’s destruction, not by might or power but by bad analogies and misguided ideas.

A careful look at the BDS movement and its methodology shows not legitimate criticism but a movement that is racist and anti-Semitic. Why? Because BDS clearly targets Israel. Its stated goals vary but all include the “right of return” for Palestinian “refugees.” The effort is cloaked to give the impression that ending specific Israeli policies, such as the “occupation” or “apartheid,” would also end efforts to ostracize Israel and would result in peace for the region. Yet their maximalist demand —the flood of Palestinian refugees, which would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state—is carefully hidden.

Overall, the BDS campaign is contrary to the search for peace, since it represents a form of misguided economic warfare.  It is directly in opposition to decades of agreements between Israeli and Arab Palestinians, in which both sides pledged to negotiate a peaceful settlement and a commitment to a two state solution, but only Israel has repeatedly made concessions for peace. Additionally, by focusing exclusively and obsessively on Israel, and not on many other countries in the world where actual human and civil rights abuses exist, the actions of those supporting the BDS campaign are, according to former Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers, “anti-Semitic in their effect if not in their intent.”

With the increase of BDS proposals around the country SPME believes a monitoring project will be a useful educational tool for faculty, students and other stakeholders who care about the well-being of academia. Further, we hope it will help defeat these bills while exposing the non-academic nature of the movement and its followers.

SPME’s BDS Monitor will create a monthly digest of global BDS activities, including a monthly newsletter that will include links to news items, organized by region, and to opinion and analytical pieces, with special attention toward insights from the pro-peace community.

“The new BDS Monitor will serve several important purposes,” said Dr. Richard L. Cravatts, President of SPME. “It will inform SPME members where BDS activities have and will be occurring, and will thus potentially motivate and guide tactical responses. In the strategic sense, it will begin to build a map of the changing geography, intensity, and emphases of BDS activities, and will help in understanding the changing shape of BDS and crafting long-term responses.”

“The BDS Monitor will also begin to undermine the element of surprise that has been a key asset to BDS organizers. And by including opinion and analytical items from the pro-peace community, it will begin to create a central clearing place for ideas that can be drawn upon when necessary,” Cravatts said.

For further information please contact Asaf Romirowsky at Aromirowsky@spme.org

SPME Launches a BDS Monitor

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Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is not-for-profit [501 (C) (3)], grass-roots community of scholars who have united to promote honest, fact-based, and civil discourse, especially in regard to Middle East issues. We believe that ethnic, national, and religious hatreds, including anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism, have no place in our institutions, disciplines, and communities. We employ academic means to address these issues.

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