The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel is animated by a pragmatic strain that views external sanctions as effective pressure against a small democratic state and by a moralistic Manichean strain that portrays Israelis as oppressors. Both strains hearken back to the earlier campaign against apartheid in South Africa. We argue that doing so misreads the lessons of South Africa. Sanctions may have contributed to ending apartheid, but they operated in conjunction with improved security and interpersonal trust among negotiators. Key contenders moved from a discourse of oppression to one that humanized one another as partners with legitimate concerns. These conditions are missing from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both sides consider their security to be precarious and they are locked in competing narratives of victimization, which further erode mutual trust and security. Measures to improve the parties' security and trust would contribute to mutual concessions and greater justification for sanctions if the Israeli government is intransigent.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science