A new survey suggests that nearly half of Canadian supporters of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign would continue seeking to penalize Israel, even if it agreed to all of the campaign’s demands.
The poll — commissioned by the group La’ad Canada, and carried out by Campaign Research in mid September — found that 12 percent of the 1,485 Canadians surveyed were aware of the Palestinian-led boycott movement, which has attracted support from a limited but growing number of students, academics, cultural figures, and others in North America.
When given a basic definition of BDS, 19 percent said they backed its positions, while 33 percent disagreed and 48 percent said they did not know.
Of the 19 percent who expressed support for BDS, 45 percent said Israel should be subject to additional boycotts, even if it abides by all BDS demands — namely, withdrawing from “occupied territories,” which were not defined by the poll, but are understood to include eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and — indirectly — the Gaza Strip.
The other two demands include removing the West Bank “separation barrier,” which was erected to stop Palestinian suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks during the Second Intifada, and allowing Palestinian refugees of the 1948 Israeli War of Independence and their five million descendants to immigrate to Israel — a right Palestinians say is enshrined in international law, but the Israeli government says is meant to turn the country into a Palestinian-majority state.
“The fact that almost half of those who support a boycott of Israel would do so even if Israel complied with all of the BDS movement’s demands certainly sends a loud message about the beliefs and values of its proponents,” said Amanda Hohmann, executive director of La’ad Canada. “Proponents of BDS claim that the movement is motivated strictly by a desire to end so-called abuses by Israel. However, the results of this survey appear to show that for almost half of BDS supporters, that is simply not true. This begs the question of what motivates these individuals, because it’s clearly not about coexistence.”
“Israel is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people,” Hohmann added. “Our holy sites are there, our ancestors are buried there, and much of the Jewish religion can only be properly practiced in the land of Israel. For half of the supporters of BDS, their issue is with the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state. Make no mistake — this is the very definition of antisemitism — that the Jewish people do not deserve the right to self government.”