I dream of the day that Israelis and Palestinians will live together in peace. The status quo is unjust, unsustainable, and painful to say the very least.

Even so, Wesleyan Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) attempt to boycott Sabra products is not the answer.  

During the club fair last week, SJP handed out pamphlets that urged students to refrain from purchasing Sabra products. The pamphlet cited the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement as a way for people to internationally support the Palestinian quest for freedom.

BDS is not a constructive tactic in solving this complicated issue, and boycotting Sabra is no exception. By calling upon Israel to end its occupation and dismantle its security barrier, the BDS movement does not offer any productive solutions that will resolve the conflict, nor does it address relevant security concerns that Israel faces. Instead, BDS unilaterally condemns Israel. Furthermore, if one would carefully observe the demands of BDS, they would notice that the “Right of Return” demand included in the tenets of BDS would “de facto” result in the dissolution of the state of Israel. The “Right of Return” stipulates that every Palestinian refugee should be allowed to resettle within the borders of Israel. Yet, Palestinians are the only refugees in the world whose status is inherited generationally. This caused the original number of 750,000 Palestinian refugees to grow into the 5 million recognized by the UN today. As Israel is about the same size as the state of New Jersey, it would not be possible for Israel to absorb such a large number of refugees and remain a Jewish state.

Additionally, a tactic such as BDS, which also amounts to a cultural boycott of Israel, is hateful. One can disagree with the politics of a country without demonizing the entire state and all of its citizens. It is important to recognize that citizens of a state can be disassociated with their current government. For example, should America be isolated in the international community because of President Trump’s policy decisions?

While BDS’s stated aim is to help the Palestinians, in reality, boycotting Israel ultimately hurts the Palestinian economy as the Israeli and Palestinian economies are intertwined. Additionally, BDS prevents Palestinians from enjoying the benefits available to them through Israeli institutions. In fact, the co-founder of BDS, Omar Barghouti, received his degree in philosophy from an Israeli university.

A special interest of BDS is Sabra products. This is because Sabra is partially owned by the Strauss Group, a company linked to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Boycotting Sabra because of its connection to the IDF demonizes the Israel Defense Forces without acknowledging that the IDF is responsible for the survival of the Jewish State. All Israeli citizens are required to go to the army after high school due to Israel’s perpetual and existential security threats.

Displayed in Wesleyan’s dining center at the end of last year was a pro-BDS poster with pictures of companies it claims “uphold apartheid, imprisonment, and torture in Palestine.” On the poster were companies such as Airbnb, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and HP. While all these companies do have ties to Israel, the poster left out a multitude of other companies that also have close ties with Israel. This begs the question: where does boycott stop? Should students also boycott Apple, Google, Microsoft, L’oreal, Ralph Lauren, Victoria’s Secret, Volvo, Intel, Motorola, McDonald’s, etc.? Does boycott exist only so long as it is convenient? Boycotting Israel would also mean discontinuing the use of life-saving medical advances such as the First Care Emergency Bandage as well as groundbreaking technologies such as drip irrigation. It’s no coincidence that political leaders in this country such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders have all condemned BDS.

It is important to critique Israel, and Israel certainly has flaws. That said, the situation is far from a simple, black and white issue. There are multiple sides to every story, but, when a campus is dominated by only one narrative, a vacuum is created that is reductive and often biased. Furthermore, it seems as though there is a magnifying glass upon Israel. This is not to say that Israel should not be held accountable when she falls short; it is to adduce that Israel is often held to the highest of moral standards. Furthermore, there is a difference between critiquing specific policies or actions of the Israeli government and delegitimizing the existence of the entire state.

I understand that some people at Wesleyan may feel uncomfortable purchasing Sabra products because of the company’s ties to the Golani Brigade—a unit in the IDF that has been accused of perpetrating war crimes in the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza. Even so, we should use a discerning lens while examining these accusations.

Wesleyan SJP’s pro-BDS pamphlet quoted a 2009 Ha’artez article stating that the Golani Brigade “is known as a brigade that struggles with no small number of disciplinary problems and scandals…bad behavior…abuse of Palestinians.” This same article, entitled “The IDF’s Golani Brigade: Always First on the Scene at the Front Line,” also states, “Despite serious disciplinary problems within the brigade, Golani is called to take on IDF’s toughest battles.”

If you insist on holding Israel to a double standard, you yourself should refrain from purchasing Sabra products, but who are you to make that choice for the rest of the Wesleyan community?


Shani Erdman is a member of the class of 2019. Shani can be reached at serdman@wesleyan.edu. 

  • Arafat

    The BDS movement is no different than Hitler’s step-by-step approach to destroying Jewish businesses in Germany. Sure it’s explained differently – the propaganda rationalizing it is different – but it’s one of the same.

    If the BDS movement were to have its way, like Hitler, they would proceed to the next step, and then the next, the next and then the final solution.

    Because we all know what they really want, “From the river to the sea…” And cutting through all the pretty little lies we all know what this really means. It means eliminate the Jews from their 3,000 year old homeland replaced by another Sharia compliant Muslim hellhole.

    It’s worded differently but anyone familiar with Islam’s history of conquest and genocide know how this story would end if the Muslims had the power to write the script. In the Muslim Hadiths one can find the story of what Mohammed and his men did to the Jews in the village of Qurayza. Suffice it to say all the men and adolescent boys were beheaded and all the women were taken as slaves. In the Hadiths it is written that the Jews are the vilest of creatures and that Muslims are to treat them as such.

    Now I know Wesleyan is a Leftist university where PC speech supersedes truth and that I as the messenger will be attacked instead of having my litany of facts addressed rationally, but schools like Wesleyan will be seeing more and more messages like mine. Your days of shutting down truth under the guise of calling it hate speech are numbered.

    And this ties in nicely with the beginning of my comment. Specifically just as BDS has been embraced by the Left even though BDS’ true intentions (destruction of Israel) are clear so too is the Left’s embrace of eliminating opposition writers, speakers, professors from their purview.

    But delightfully there is a tsunami of truth coming your way and the pendulum is just beginning to swing the other way: My way. And all the Left can do about it is either embrace the truth, acknowledge their stupidity, or buy a six pack of Leftist Tear Mugs because you have a lot more crying ahead of you.

    • Ron Barak

      Hear, hear!

  • free palestine

    fuck all states… especially genocidal ones like israel!! state power is built off of racism ! states need undercastes to survive! lol the idea that u just shouldn’t buy sabra if u don’t want is funny– that defeats the whole point of a boycott. sabra funds the IDF, the IDF is a colonial army occupying palestine, enacting genocide. also the idea that bds is the only narrative on this campus is sooo funny! omg we literally have an israeli film series! and zionist donors shut down the BDS campaign entirely last time just by threatening to pull funding ! stop setting up false “everyone is at fault” bullshit…. look @ who is dying/ who is being evicted/ who’s homes are bulldozed vs. who has literal airbnbs on occupied and stolen land….

    • Informed Friend

      Do you oppose the existence of all states, or just Israel’s existence?
      is Israel Racist ? try and build a synagogue or a church in Saudi Arabia , or be a Shia in Pakistan .
      your analysis of the situation is highly flawed and misinformed

      Why do you the word genocide so loosely? When has there been a genocide in Israel?

      hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingas have just been slaughtered , raped , there villages burned to the ground in Maymar , do you arrange a BDS against Maymar. ? is it a genocidal country ?
      How about hundreds of thousands Syrians slaughtered by The Assad regime , is this a genocidal country ?
      is Isis genocidal by slaughtering hundred of thousands non believers ? I can go on and on .

      Israel is not perfect but by far better than any other country surrounding it . It is the sole democracy in the middle east . the Arab population in Israel Has full citizens rights and representation in parliament and the judiciary .
      despite your badmouthing of Israel I will bet you that any Palestinian in the West Bank thanks Allah every day that he is not under Hamas rule , or in Syria or Iraq, their well being under Israel is far better than most of their ” free” brethren in the middle east .
      the Palestinian problem is not Israel and BDS is not their salvation , Israel withdrew from Gaza and Hamas
      did nothing for its citizens .
      until the Palestinians get rid of their corrupt picket lining leadership and get down to serious negotiations there will be no peace .
      BDS will certainly not do it

      • Ron Barak


    • Arafat

      Dhu al-Faqar was one of the 9 swords owned by the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and with it he claims he was “made victorious through terror.” Appropriately named “cleaver of vertebrae,” the ancient weapon was used to butcher his enemies who insulted Islam.

  • Ron Barak

    Re “The “Right of Return” stipulates that every Palestinian refugee should be allowed to resettle within the borders of Israel.”

    No. No. No.

    The ‘Palestinian’ Arabs refugees of the Arab genocidal war of 1948, unlike any other refugee group before or after WWII, are defined as those who resided in the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine for the two years preceding the Arab aggression of 1948, and more over – unlike any other refugee group – are able to bestow their refugee status on all their descendants.

    So, the ~711,000 original Arab refugees of 1948 (of which there remain now only a few score thousands) are not the issue (even forgetting the ~850,000 Jewish refugees from the Arab/Muslim world, which nobody talks about, conveniently ignoring the de facto population exchange that occurred) but the ~5,000,000 Palestinian Arab ‘refugees’ who comprise of second, third, and fourth generation of Arab refugees, many of them reside in the Mandate area (Gaza, Judea, and Samaria) or are full citizens of various countries (not Arab countries though, as the Arab regimes – following an Arab League resolution of the 1950s – do not grant citizenship to Palestinian Arabs, even if they are third generation born in the Arab country).

    • Arafat

      Just for the record the Nation of Israel was established in 1312 BCE 2000 years before the rise of Islam. As for the “military occupation of Israel” Arabs were not driven out of their homes by Israel. Following the UN decision on Partition in 1948, the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders. These so called leaders promised to purge the land of Jews. They argued that an “Arab presence” would only get in the way of the planned devastation. Sixty-eight percent left Israel without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.
      Interestingly enough Arab refugees were INTENTIONALLY not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled. Despite the vast Arab territory that surrounds Israel the 100,000,000 refugees fleeing various nations since World War II, Arabs are the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own peoples’ lands.