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Letter to the Editor: In response to a petition to boycott Israeli companies


You may have been approached in the Marshall Student Center, enticed by the offer of a free slice of pizza. Or maybe it was in the Library, as you were studying for an upcoming test. 

Do you support human rights, they ask? Do you support the ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr.? 

Well, of course, doesn’t everyone? 

You’re then told that Israeli companies are responsible for the death and suffering of the Palestinian people and that in support of human rights, you must boycott them. You don’t know much about Israel, and you’re not really sure what this is all about, but you’re being handed a clipboard with a petition attached, so – why not – you add your name to the list.

But what did you actually just sign? 

Don’t be fooled when you see #USF4HumanRights on social media. 

The movement promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel, BDS, is not concerned with violations of human rights and international law. 

The movement does not focus on North Korea or Sudan, known human rights violators whose oppressive governments subject political dissidents to inhumane imprisonment and torture. Nor does BDS focus on Syria, which is experiencing a brutal civil war, with more than 100,000 causalities and the death toll continuing to rise. It doesn’t focus on Iran, China, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. 

BDS compares itself to the boycott of South Africa’s apartheid, claiming that Israel is an “apartheid” state. 

Israel is a democratic state and strong ally of the U.S. Israeli Arabs serve as Supreme Court justices and as legislators in the Knesset. Israel simply cannot be referred to as one of the world’s most egregious human rights violators, nor can it accurately be called an “apartheid” state.

You’re fed the false claim that the Israeli army targets civilians, while you aren’t informed that Israel faces threats to its existence on a daily basis. You aren’t told that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group in control of Gaza, has fired hundreds of thousands of rockets into Israel, aimed at civilian targets. But BDS doesn’t focus on human rights violations perpetrated by Hamas. 

So before you sign a petition and lend your support to a cause, especially one regarding an issue as complex and controversial as this, make sure you are well-versed in the facts.

Danielle Haberer is a junior majoring in mass communications.