What students protesting Israel's Gaza siege want — and the way their calls for divestment fit into the BDS movement

A wave of protests expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people is spreading across college and university campuses. There was greater than 400 such demonstrations by the tip of April 2024 only within the USA, with many more in Canada and other countries.

The specific requirements vary out of Location To Location. What unites them is a call for schools to make use of their financial leverage and other influence to place pressure on Israel.

The Protesters demand divestmentThese involve the sale of monetary assets either related to Israeli firms or shares in other firms believed to support the Israeli military. Additionally, many protests include demands for Disclosure of those financial relationships. They also contain calls for colleges and universities to distance themselves from Israel Termination of study abroad programs and academic exchange.

The demands are mostly a response to Israel's bombings and other military operations within the Gaza Strip this followed the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2024.

They also stem from broader concerns Israel's long-standing blockade of the Gaza Strip And half a century of military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Both concerns were behind it Boycott, divestment and sanctions Movement for nearly 20 years.

I've spent a long time doing this Teaching and research on Israeli-Palestinian relations and the worldwide politics surrounding these issues. I learned that the discourse surrounding activism within the context of this Middle East conflict is not less than as relevant because the direct impact of activism itself.

BDS tactics

In the 12 months 2005, 170 Palestinian civil society groups got here together to initiate a call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions. Many student organizations, academic associations and other groups later took over the initiative.

BDS activists demand Consumers around the globe are boycotting Israeli-made goods and don't spend any money on it Israeli movies, music and other cultural products. They discourage non-Israeli bands from performing in Israel and urge academics and students not to review or engage with them Israeli academic institutions.

The movement also promotes the divestment of holdings that support Israel's military operations. And it’s attempting to impose sanctions that would hypothetically include arms embargoes, asset freezes or trade barriers.

In other words, the US government would need to participate for the sanctions to be effective. Given the close ties with the Israeli government, this is incredibly unlikely. Nevertheless, the USA has recently sanctioned certain right-wing extremist Israeli units.

For this reason, US-based BDS activists have focused on boycotts and divestment quite than sanctions.

BDS goals

Along with these tactics, BDS has three goalsor columns. The first is to finish Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The second is Dismantling The partition wall winds through the West Bank.

The third point is to attain full equality for Palestinian residents of Israel and the best of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral towns and villages in historic Palestine. Approximately 750,000 Palestinians fled or were forced to maneuver to surrounding areas before and throughout the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Two-thirds of Gaza's current residents are refugees and their descendants who were expelled from their homes in 1948. This Right to return is anchored in international law.

Although Israel never allowed these Palestinian refugees to return, it maintains a “Law of Returnfor Jews.

Protesters with a “TMU reveal divestment” sign and a Palestinian flag.
Students at Toronto Metropolitan University in Canada participate in a protest against the college's ties with Israel on April 30, 2024.
Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu via Getty Images

Response to BDS

BDS has resonated with many Palestinians and their supporters around the globe. But there have been concerted efforts in Israel and the United States to legislate against it.

Israel has Some BDS supporters were banned, with Jews amongst them, from entering the country. And 38 US stateshave passed anti-BDS laws from 2024. Such laws require government contractors to agree not to interact in BDS or require states not to speculate funds in firms that support the movement's goals.

For some Jews who boycott Israeli products reminds us of the Nazi boycott Jewish firms in Germany within the Thirties. Other critics imagine academic and cultural ties should never be restricted for any reason.

There are also BDS critics who imagine the tactic is legitimate but object to at least one or more of the movement's goals. The least controversial goal of the three pillars is full equality for Israel's Palestinian residents. BDS critics almost never object to this goal. Instead, the controversy takes place in regards to the degree to which different People Look at Palestinian residents of Israel as already equal.

The second goal – ending the Israeli occupation – tends to be rejected primarily by right-wing supporters of Israel. These more conservative Israel supporters either imagine that the occupation, including the safety barrier separating Palestinian residents of the West Bank from Israeli settlers and from Israeli residents in non-contested areas, exists essential for maintaining Israeli security – or that there isn’t a solid in any respect.

Other Israelis say so The Israeli settlers deserve it to live in all of the lands of ancient Israel, including the West Bank.

Giving all Palestinian refugees the best to return is probably the most controversial BDS goal, amid fears that Jews would potentially turn into a minority of Israel's residents, prompting the country to accomplish that stop to be a Jewish state.

People with these concerns say that making Jews a minority in Israel could be unjust and even perhaps unjust expression of anti-Semitism.

Another common concern in regards to the BDS movement and the marginally different demands heard on campuses today has to do with the perception that that is the case Israel is singled out for criticism if there’s any many other countries who commit human rights violations.

Modest success stories

The protests on university campuses in spring 2024, including those involving longer camps, had at best moderate success.

For example, protesters at Brown University managed to persuade the administration hold a vote on the divestment of firms linked to the Israeli military. In return, the demonstrators agreed to disband their camp.

Portland State University administrators agreed to a pause its relationship with Boeing, which is each a military contractor and a civilian aircraft manufacturer.

Most importantly, the protests have helped bring Palestinian human rights demands sharply into the general public eye.

image credit : theconversation.com