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Opinion: Why BDS isn’t just another harmless movement critical of Israel

An Egyptian man demonstrates in front of the logo of BDS, the pro-Palestinian movement urging a boycott of Israel.
(Amr Nabil / Associated Press)

To the editor: Freedom of expression and political dissent are alive and well in Israel — just read Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper you quoted, as one example. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (also known as BDS), however, is something different entirely. (“Israel should stop trying to wall out its critics,” editorial, July 8)

It is a weapon being used in a political and ideological war underway in the United Nations, on college campuses and in the media with the goal of isolating, stigmatizing and ultimately eliminating the state of Israel.

The BDS movement is as much a security risk to the state of Israel as terrorism, and to ignore this reality is to have one’s head in the sand.

Malka Weitman, Berkeley

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To the editor: The Times is correct that Israel is violating its own standards of democracy by enacting a law that bars entry for supporters of nonviolent boycott with the goal of ending the occupation of Palestinian territories.

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Many Israel supporters say other countries are worse and ask why critics target Israel. The Times rebuts that argument by pointing out that Israel claims to be a bastion of democracy and is accepted as such, and so therefore it must be held to high standards.

An anti-boycott law might be tolerated in a theocracy such as Iran, but it should not be in a country that claims to be a Western democracy, such as Israel.

Jeff Warner, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Israel does tolerate peaceful dissent — by its residents. Many Israelis support the BDS movement, and they are free to demonstrate peacefully whenever they wish.

But when did Israel, or any other country for that matter, become obligated to grant equal rights and privileges to nonresidents? The United States does not; why should Israel?

Charles Taubman, Cupertino, Calif.

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To the editor: In describing BDS, you omit the ineluctable truth: that fulfilling the movement’s goal of returning Palestinian refugees to Israel would destroy the Jewish state.

Upon the founding of Israel, hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from Arab lands, Jews who were successfully integrated into Israel. That’s about the equivalent of Palestinians who either left of their own accord or were putatively expelled.

You also ignore, just as the BDS people do, the numerous times Israel offered a two-state solution but was rejected. You also do not mention BDS’ omission of human rights abuses by Syria, Iran, Russia, China, North Korea, Sudan, Somalia and many other countries — only Israel is the target.

Democracy is not a suicide pact. Those who call for the destruction of Israel, whether implicitly or explicitly, do not qualify for free speech protection or entry into the country they wish to eliminate.

Jack Salem, Los Angeles

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