BDS Co-Founder Won't Put His Money Where His Mouth Is If Israel Develops COVID Vaccine


Being an anti-Israel organization in a time when the Jewish state might be on the cutting edge of an important medical breakthrough must create quite a conundrum for such principled folks.

Not so, at least according to Omar Barghouti, the Palestinian co-founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

The BDS campaign promotes the boycott of Israel, but apparently only to the point where it precludes followers from benefiting from a possible Israeli coronavirus vaccine.

In a Sunday webinar streamed live on the Arabic-language BDS Facebook page, Barghouti told followers, “if you use medical equipment from Israel — it’s not a problem,” according to The Jerusalem Post.

“Cooperating with Israel against the virus — to begin with, we didn’t consider it normalization,” he said, hinting at the fact that BDS warns against any possibility of acceptance of Israel’s worldview in what it calls “colonization of the mind.”

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“The BDS announced normalization criteria long ago,” Barghouti told viewers. “If Israel finds a cure for cancer, for example, or any other virus, then there is no problem in cooperating with Israel to save millions of lives.”

Despite that reasonable-sounding exception, The Post reported the webinar’s invitation also included accusations of Israel “continuing to exploit Palestinian workers … without the simplest protection against the virus” as well as the usual charges of Israel’s “looting of land, arrests, oppression and killing” consistent with the BDS playbook.

As Mark Levin, author and conservative radio personality, noted in a tweet Tuesday, “Isn’t this magnanimous, I.e., if Israel can save their lives with a vaccine these anti-Semites won’t boycott Israel’s vaccine.”

Israel had announced in February that scientists were on the cusp of creating a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Israeli researchers at #MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute developed a vaccine against avian #Coronavirus Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) and adapting it to create a human vaccine,” the Jewish News Agency said in a Feb. 28 tweet.

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Despite delays, The Post reported on April 2 that human trials for the COVID-19 vaccine might begin as soon as June 1.

The report noted the swift development of the vaccine was a matter of happenstance. Scientists at the Galilee Research Institute already had been working on a vaccine that produced immunity to avian coronavirus and found that their research could be applied to COVID-19 since it shared much of the same genetic material and mechanism for infection.

This good news comes from a country that shouldn’t even exist, according to many pro-Palestinian advocates, including Barghouti.

According to a New York Times piece on the movement, BDS uses political and economic pressure on Israel to end what it considers the occupation of land supposedly belonging to Palestine, although like many places in the world, the land has changed hands following conflicts and their resolutions. Critics of the movement recognize that the true result the movement seeks is the dissolution of Israel altogether.

The report said Barghouti was asked if he thinks a Jewish state should exist, to which he replied, “Not in Palestine.” Furthermore, though purportedly nonviolent, BDS supports “resistance” to Israel up to and including through armed uprising, as well as tolerating terrorists within its ranks.

Still, when it comes to the possibility of a medical breakthrough that might be beneficial, Barghouti is willing to put all that aside, if only for that narrow benefit of Israel’s possible medical achievements.

If Barghouti were truly committed to his cause, he would surely not trust or accept the help of a people and state that he finds so repugnant.

It’s telling, then, that coronavirus becomes the great equalizer in bridging the gap between the two sides, not because of any concession Barghouti is willing to make on behalf of Israel, but only because it is potentially valuable to him and his followers.

The next time someone is inspired to extremism by a movement such as BDS, he or she should reconsider that loyalty knowing how easily its prominent defenders back down when it serves their own interests.

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Christine earned her bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University, where she studied communications and Latin. She left her career in the insurance industry to become a freelance writer and stay-at-home mother.
Christine earned her bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University, where she studied communications and Latin. She left her career in the insurance industry to become a freelance writer and stay-at-home mother.