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Former BDS members whose families were victims of apartheid in their native South Africa describe the difference between what they were told about Israel and what they discovered when they actually went there.


Okay, BDS according to me. Obviously simple definition is Boycott, Divestment, Sanction.

The reason I joined BDS is because of they told me Israel is an apartheid state. I grew up under apartheid and I didn’t want to see that happen.

I think it was 2014 when one of my friends who was also in the ENC challenged me in a debate about what is really happening in the Middle East…I said okay fine, I went into the debate and it didn’t necessarily go my way, because I came to realize that unfortunately when you’re in the BDS, you don’t engage both materials. You engage your material, because the other material on the opposite side is propaganda.


You take and you assume what you're taking is correct. So after that debate I was prompted to do more research. 

So I got an invite to go to Israel for the January trip.

I went to the west bank, I went to [the] Jerusalem side, I went everywhere. I engaged with the Palestinians, and I engaged with the Jerusalem-Israeli, I engaged with the Bedouins, I engaged with Muslims from Israel. You know, I engaged with everyone who was involved in the conflict, on a person-to-person basis. And I found that what I'm reading here is really assisting. 

I would've always thought that BDS is revolutionary...which it's not. It's a lobby group that advances a particular view. And that lobby group does not necessarily represent the interest of the Palestinian people. 

Obviously, before I went to Israel I thought it was this apartheid state...I just saw segregation in my mind. I just pictured the blacks, Ethiopians, Arabs or anyone from Palestine just being abused. 

I went to Israel, 2015 July...but before I went BDS sent us, thirtee of us, saying, "If you go you're going to get expelled from our organization when you come back."

We went to Nazareth, we went to Tel Aviv, we went to Jerusalem, we went to the West Bank, all those things. But the most important part is when we went to Jerage. They have bomb shelters. and we're never told. That's what I started questioning myself.  

Why does BDS never tell us about bomb shelters? They only tell us about what's happening in Gaza, but never about what's happening in ISrael

They didn't tell us that Hamas took the money that they could've used for better things to build. They digged and used the terror tunnels to go attack. The amount that was used on that that could've been used on better things. They didn't tel us that Hamas fired from high schools and hospitals. And the rockets would be fired into Israel. And when they got into Israel, Israel would obviously reply and they reply with a rocket. Where is that rocket going to hit? 

The very same hospital, the very same school and rockets were fired from. BDS doesn't tell us that

The utilization of the word "apartheid" in Israel and Palestine conflict is not only wrong but it seems to undermine everything that South Africa stands for. My mother, even to this day, is suffering because of apartheid. I'm, to this day, suffering because of apartheid. Apartheid is a, it's a bad taste in our mouths. 

I'm not saying ISrael is perfect, I'm not saying there's no conflict -- there IS a conflict. But is the conflict similar to South African generation apartheid? No, it's not. 

You can't tell me about solutions for Israel if you have never been there. Or tell me that it's apartheid when you have never been there. Or tell me that the people of Palestine want it this way when you have never even engaged with them. 

Read, investigate, find out, especially if you're going to partake in a particular campaign on a subject matter. 

Not being informed is the worst crime a person can ever commit to humanity. 



Africans for Peace Speak at Boston University