Israel sees BDS as a strategic threat: Patrick Martin, Globe and Mail


Globe and Mail Middle East Bureau Chief Patrick Martin told an Ottawa meeting that he was neither in favour of nor opposed to BDS, the international movement to boycott Israel. But in his presentation, he explained why he thinks Israel sees BDS as a “strategic threat”.  He also explained, somewhat ominously, what Israel might thinking of doing about it. Read more.

Patrick Martin has more experience in the Middle East than any other Canadian journalist. Martin’s first visit to the Mediterranean region occurred in 1971, when he motorcycled across the entirety of North Africa. He was based in Jerusalem as the Middle East correspondent for the Globe and Mail for much of the 1980s. During that period, he covered the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and the return of Yasser Arafat to the Gaza Strip. He continues to visit the area on a regular basis.

In the wake of the February 24th motion in the Canadian Parliament to condemn BDS, Martin wrote an article in the Globe and Mail outlining the 3 BDS demands and pointing out that all 3 of them are consistent with longstanding Canadian policy. He says that while his article was purely factual, it provoked a lot of hostile response from Israel’s defenders in Canada.

Martin was invited to speak on April 11th to the Middle East Discussion Group, an Ottawa forum moderated by Dr. Joe Debanne, which is focussed on justice and peace in the Middle East.

The whole event was captured on amateur video. The video starts with a 2 minute introduction of Martin by former CBC journalist David Halton. Martin’s very frank 30 minute presentation follows.


video credit: Dr. Qais Ghanem


Comments? Do you agree that BDS is a strategic threat to Israel? Are you concerned by recent hints by Israeli officials that appear to threaten BDS activists? Any and all respectful comments welcome. 



  1. Thanks for this helpful post, Peter. Can you clarify something from Patrick’s talk?

    I’m wondering if there is an official place where we can find some of the information he cites. For instance, he mentions that in response to the critique that BDS calls for the destruction of Israel because of its reference to “ending the colonization of all Arab lands,” the BDS National Committee issued some clarifications a few years later (that it meant 1967 borders, etc.). I don’t see any of those clarifications anywhere online. Do you know if there are official statements somewhere?

  2. Thank you for your excellent question. I think I can clarify (though others may also chime in.)

    Here is the original BDS statement made in 2005. It does say “all arab lands and dismantling the wall” which could mean all of Israel (which was Arab land before 1948).

    Here is a more recent statement called “introducing BDS” which appears to have been issued in 2007. It has modified the call to say “all Arab lands OCCUPIED IN JUNE 1967, and dismantling the wall”

    Unfortunately, there is no explanation for this change, which I think would be helpful.

    However, if the original statement really intended to mean getting rid of Israel altogether, then its second demand “Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality”, would not make sense, since Israel would no longer exist.

    As I understand it, the 3 demands correspond to the primary needs of the 3 main geographical groupings of Palestinians today: those living under occupation, those living in Israel and the refugees.

    I hope this helps.

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