The de-legitimization of Israel is the concerted political project to invalidate, and ultimately overturn, the State’s recognition by the United Nations in 1948. Efforts to de-legitimize Israel take many forms, including:

Declaring Israel an Apartheid State

The claim that Israel is an apartheid state—meaning that, like the former South African regime, it enforces racialized segregation and disenfranchisement—manifests most visibly in Israel Apartheid Week, a now yearly ritual on many college campuses that includes anti-Israel lectures, rallies, and theatrical demonstrations such as erecting mock security barriers, imposing mock checkpoints, and mass “die-ins.” Begun in Toronto in 2005, IAW has mushroomed into a global annual institution. It takes place on a rolling basis from region to region between late February and mid-April, and varies in length from one to two weeks.


Equating Zionism with Racism

Israel's detractors seek to delegitimize the Jewish state by portraying Zionism—the political movement to establish a homeland for the Jewish people in land of Israel—as an inherently racist enterprise. Zionism is sometimes framed as the ideological inheritance of Nazism and Afrikaner racism, and Israel is thus seen as the living embodiment of these defunct enterprises.


Describing Israel in Terms Traditionally Used by Anti-Semites to Describe Jews

There has developed in the world recently a new form of anti-Zionism that the British writer Alan Johnson calls "anti-Semitic anti-Zionism." As Johnson explains, "Antisemitic anti-Zionism bends the meaning of Israel and Zionism out of shape until both become fit receptacles for the tropes, images and ideas of classical antisemitism. In short, that which the demonological Jew once was, demonological Israel now is: uniquely malevolent, full of blood lust, all-controlling, the hidden hand, tricksy, always acting in bad faith, the obstacle to a better, purer, more spiritual world, uniquely deserving of punishment, and so on."


Disrupting Any Speech Related to Israel that Humanizes the Country, and Refusing to Engage in Dialogue

Proponents of BDS have recently, and with increasing frequency, turned to silencing speakers with pro-Israel views and to preventing Israeli nationals from speaking regardless of the topic addressed. Aggressive tactics that entail the takeover of the lecture hall and the chanting of slogans, which deny the right of other to speak, arguably follow from the BDS movement’s categorical rejection of normalization. That is to say, any intellectual or cultural forum in which Israeli society is shown to have the same complexity as any other country is dismissed as a “white-washing” campaign, and any effort to occasion or spotlight cooperation and exchange between Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews is dismissed as a means of collaborating with and perpetuating the occupation. The following incidents cross the line from non-violent protest to the planned disruption of academic activities by imposing the so-called heckler’s veto.


Appropriating the Principle of Intersectionality to Amplify and Universalize Charges of Israel’s Malfeasance

Proponents of BDS have increasingly sought to monopolize campus activism for social justice. The vehicle for linking diverse movements and issues to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a concept known as “intersectionality,” a critical theory that attempts to articulate systemic overlaps among modes of oppression (e.g., racism and white privilege, patriarchy, sexism and rape culture, heterosexual normativity and cisgender privilege). Thus, if one advocates on behalf of people of color, survivors of sexual assault, the LBGTQ+ community, lower tuition, or sustainable environmental practices, then ipso facto one must stand against Zionism and Israel. Conversely, liberal Zionists cannot legitimately engage in social justice work. The larger strategy is to eliminate Jewish students from an arena in which they have long been active and to intensify their social isolation.
The use of intersectionality by proponents of BDS has been well documented: