Daily Current Affairs for UPSC

What is the BDS movement, led by Palestinian groups against Israel?

Syllabus: International Relation[GS Paper-2]

Context: Indian poet Ranjit Hoskote has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism and endorsing the BDS movement.

BDS Movement:

  • Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement promoting boycotts, divestments, and economic sanctions against Israel.
  • In 2005, over 170 Palestinian organisations came together to start a movement that aimed to gain global backing for the rights of the Palestinian people.
  • BDS is a human rights movement that opposes discrimination, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and considers itself inclusive and anti-racist.
  • It takes inspiration from the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
  • The BDS movement advocates for nonviolent tactics to pressure Israel into following international law, with three main demands.
    • Ending Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Arab lands and dismantling the Wall.
    • Recognizing the rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
    • Respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, as per UN Resolution 194.

How does BDS aim to achieve these goals?

  • BDS advocates for the withdrawal of support from the Israeli government, its associated institutions, and companies involved in violating Palestinian human rights. 
  • The statement encourages people to boycott Puma because they sponsor the Israel Football Association, which includes teams in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. 
  • The divestment campaigns are calling for various institutions to withdraw their investments from Israel, while the sanctions campaigns are pressuring governments to fulfil their obligations to end Israeli apartheid and suspend Israel’s membership in international forums.

How does BDS aim to achieve these goals?

  • The BDS movement advocates for boycotting Israel’s government, as well as the institutions and companies associated with it, in order to protest violations of Palestinian human rights. 
  • They specifically target companies like Puma that support Israeli organisations located on occupied Palestinian land. 
  • They also call for divestment from Israel by urging various organisations and institutions to withdraw their investments. 
  • Additionally, they seek sanctions on Israel and its exclusion from international forums. 
  • The movement emphasises the importance of focusing on a smaller number of companies and products to have a greater impact, as long lists circulating on social media may not be effective.

What has the Israeli government said about BDS?

  • Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has connected BDS to anti-Semitism, a belief that promotes hatred and discrimination against Jewish individuals. 
  • However, BDS argues that criticising Israel’s violations of international law should not be seen as anti-Semitism. 
  • Israeli Minister Gilad Erdan has actively opposed the economic boycott of Israel but has downplayed its significance.

What is the economic impact of BDS?

  • In recent years, a few brands and celebrities have refused to continue working in Israel or perform there as part of tours. These include the US ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s and Pink Floyd member Roger Waters.
  • However, it is challenging to determine whether these boycotts are a result of the recent movement or if they stem from the long-standing Arab states’ policy of boycotting Israel. Hence, it is difficult to measure the overall impact of this decentralised movement on the economy of an entire state.


The BDS movement is proving to be a highly effective tool in stopping western support for Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism.

Source: IE

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