Sanctioning Israel wouldn’t be the exercise in hypocrisy it’s made out to be

As Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza has unfolded over the last few weeks, international outrage has injected a surge of energy into the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Over the past few years, BDS has emerged as one of the most vibrant and promising tools in working towards ending Israeli apartheid and the occupation of Palestine.

In an exclusive interview with The Canary earlier in May, Prof. Ilan Pappé (himself an Israeli Jew) described BDS as “an excellent organization that galvanizes and knows how to use solidarity in the most effective way”. Naturally, figures on the political right have been aggressively mobilizing to discredit BDS and its supporters. And the hackneyed charge of antisemitism forms a large part of their toolkit. This is obviously ridiculous, not least because a significant amount of BDS supporters are themselves Jewish – including members of Jewish Voice for Peace.

There is, however, a more sophisticated criticism levelled by opponents of BDS. And that is the charge of hypocrisy towards those who support sanctions against Israel yet oppose sanctions against US adversaries such as Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Now this may be more superficially persuasive than the facile antisemitism smear. But a more nuanced analysis shows that there is, in fact, no contradiction here.

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