Challenges to Israel's Legitimacy

A Definition of BDS

**The B of BDS, boycotts, promotes academic and/or cultural boycotts of Israel, contradicts the principles of academic freedom and the open spirit of international cooperation between scientists, artists and others. It is particularly counterproductive to target Israel’s academic community, which promotes honest debate, criticism and self-examination within Israeli society. Israel’s universities enroll significant numbers of Arab students and are important forums for interaction and cooperation between Jews and Arabs. It is for that reason that the American Association of University Professors has rejected any academic boycott of Israel. For similar reasons, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which represents 312 affiliated organizations in 156 countries and territories representing 176 million workers, rejected calls to support the BDS Movement and, instead, called for a two-state solution to allow both peoples to live in peace and security. Recently, the United Auto Workers International headquartered here in Detroit reversed a California local which had endorsed BDS.

**The D of BDS, divestment, calls for the selling of stock in Israeli companies or companies which do business with Israel. These efforts have been widely rejected by a variety of organizations as being counterproductive to the goal of reaching a peaceful solution to the conflict. All American university and college presidents, and most churches and investment funds, have rejected BDS initiatives brought before them. Recently retired Michigan State professor Kenneth Waltzer is now heading the newly formed Academic Engagement Network, an effort to combat divestment and other BDS initiatives on college campuses The BDS efforts often damage the civility and open debate at our universities, pit student against student, sometimes result in anti-Semitism and test the limits of political correctness.

**The S in BDS, sanctions, typically refers to attempts by national governments, multilateral organizations and other international bodies to limit or ban trade and other relations with Israeli institutions or individuals. In 2010, the influential Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) did just the opposite, by voting unanimously for Israel to join its ranks, praising its scientific and technological progress as having “produced outstanding outcomes on a world scale.”