J Street and J Street U released the following statement today as “Israel Apartheid Week” begins on a number of campuses around North America:
As “Israel Apartheid Week” comes to campuses across North America this week to advocate for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel, J Street and J Street U reiterate our strong opposition to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The BDS movement, whose dogmatic, counterproductive approach underlies “Israel Apartheid Week,” aims to delegitimize Israel’s very existence – making no distinction between West Bank settlements and Israel proper, and refusing to support a two-state solution that results in a viable Palestinian state and a secure, democratic Israel that is a homeland for the Jewish people, living side by side in peace and security.
The BDS movement’s lack of support for a two-state solution puts it well outside the mainstream of the entire political leadership of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the United States. We also reject comparisons of Israel to South African apartheid. The analogy clearly implies that Israel is illegitimate, that it deserves a wholesale boycott, and suggests a single state for Israelis and Palestinians would be some sort of solution to the conflict, when in reality, it is a recipe for further violence, strife, and insecurity. The BDS movement wrongly places the entirety of blame for the conflict on Israel. Responsibility for the conflict does not rest exclusively with either the Israelis or the Palestinians, and moreover, this conflict will never be truly resolved if one side wins only at the other’s loss.
The approach of the BDS movement only serves to deepen Israel’s sense of isolation and thus harden Israelis against the compromises necessary to achieve peace, undermining the regular and inspiring cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians on the ground. This is singularly unhelpful particularly as the United States works to re-launch negotiations and as the window of opportunity for achieving a viable two-state solution grows ever smaller. Few events better exemplify the counterproductive polarization on campus than “Israel Apartheid Week.” J Street and J Street U are committed to an open, honest and civilized debate that allows students to work constructively towards adopting positions and actions that can help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Therefore, we strongly oppose Israel Apartheid Week because we believe that it employs inflammatory, inaccurate language, misrepresents the complex truth of the conflict, undercuts debate, alienates significant numbers of students, and advances the agenda of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. We’re proud to continue J Street U’s “Invest, Don’t Divest” campaign, which gives pro-peace students a concrete alternative to the BDS movement and an opportunity to invest in their campus debate, in their communities, and in the Israelis and Palestinians who will bring about the positive change needed to finally achieve two states and real peace and security for all.