Israel and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) have been in conflict within one another for nearly two decades. In this article we compare trajectories of Palestinian-led BDS mobilization and Israeli-led counter-mobilization by deploying two theoretical perspectives, a rationalist, strategic learning model and a political competition model. We find that the difference in balance of power on each side between state and civil society led to strategic convergence by Israel in its counter-BDS efforts but not (yet at any rate) on the Palestinian side. We locate BDS as an example of a transnational boycott movement and identify patterns in its conflict with Israel observed in association with other such movements. Our analysis leads to an explanation of why both sides see the battles between them taking place in the United States and Europe as particularly crucial.
IAN S. LUSTICK is Professor Emeritus and Bess W. Heyman Chair in the Political Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a past president of the Politics and History Section of the American Political Science Association and of the Association for Israel Studies, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Email: email@example.com
NATHANIEL SHILS is a postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania. He studies nationalism and ethnic politics and specializes in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org