The Instigator
Pro (for)
4 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Europe countries should join the BDS and boycott Israel

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/31/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 600 times Debate No: 88962
Debate Rounds (4)
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Hi there,

I just noticed your current ongoing debate about "Europe countries should join the BDS and boycott Israel".

I was struck by two things. Firstly how civil it was considering the topic which is always a joy when it so often turns nasty and secondly how, despite the fact that I agree his point of view IRL, I don't think OsamatheCityzen put his points as well as he could have done and I'd like a chance to be able to put forward my views on this contentious topic in the open and hospitable manner I saw in the last thread.

For that reason I've issued this closed challenge.

Would you like to have a repeat of it with me?



I accept the debate. I'm happy to get another chance, I think I will be better this time. The reason I've accepted it only now is because I was busy in the last few days.

For all those who join us now, this debate repeats this previous debate:

I guess this debate will be held in a similar way?

Anyway, good luck, Pro!
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for accepting.

This is a contentious topic but I thought the discussion was very well-mannered in your previous debate. Despite the fact we may have to be critical of countries and organisations involved in the I/P conflict, I think we can do this in a manner that keeps on the right side of legitimate criticism.

In regards to the topic at hand, my argument can be summarised as:

- Israel is committing war crimes against the Palestinians
- It is right to take action to stop war crimes against the Palestinians
- Boycott is an effective economic strategy to end the war crimes and should be the method employed
-- Therefore European countries should join the BDS and boycott Israel

War Crimes

Israel has and is committing a series of human rights violations and war crimes against the Palestinians. That this is occurring is attested to by UN Reports [1], the International Court of Justice [2], human rights NGOs both inside[3] and outside[4] of Israel and even by the testimonies of Israeli soldiers themselves[5 - Youtube].

These collectively attest to :

- The indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians
- Imprisonment without trial
- Torture of people arrested without trial
- Illegal occupation
- Illegal blockade
- Use of men, women and children as human shields
- Collective punishment against entire communities
- Denial of basic service like medical care

That is some of the war crimes being comitted but is not exhaustive.

That these war crimes are occurring is something that has one of the biggest consensuses in all of international politics, with the UN GA passing a resolution affirming the illegality of Israel's occupation each year by massive measures. The most recent one passed 94 votes to 7 [6]. Even of the 7 who voted against, it is largely a case of being politic and not wanting to bring it up rather than saying that it is wrong as the USA for instance still stands by it's SC resolutions which amount to the same like UNSC 242. [7]

Why We Should Care

That people have universal human rights and are deserving of protection is a fundamental belief that is based in the core concepts of Western liberalism and enshrined in international law[8]. People are suffering greatly and not able to help themselves, so we should help.

Indeed membership into the UN means agreement with the UN charter[9], committing members to (as per article 2) "ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter" and "refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

As the war crimes committed are a use of force used in the continuation of an occupation which stops the political independence of Palestine, we are required to "fulfill in good faith the obligation ... in accordance with the present Charter" in accordance with our UN membership and commitment to these principles.

Now some might think that because this is a two-sided conflict, because Palestinian Militants enact war crimes, that this is grounds for not taking action. I would argue against this for two key reasons

1) There is no grounds for making war crimes permissible as Palestinians have inalienable rights[10] and the ban on war crimes is absolute[11]

This could perhaps be summed up as "Two rights don't make a wrong". To put it in more depth, the rights of the Palestinians are inalienable and cannot be removed so simply. More than that, as put by Israeli Human Rights organisation B'Tselem in their report called Absolute Prohibition: The Torture and Ill-treatment of Palestinian Detainees [11]:

"Like murder, rape, and slavery, torture is a form of absolute evil that justifies the imposition of an absolute prohibition, even if the prohibition clashes with other important values"

Similar reasoning is present for all War Crimes. The Geneva Convention and similar documents do not allow war crimes to be committed if a state can find reasons to call the person (or nationality) they are performing the war crimes against bad dudes. Such allowances do not exist and would render the entire point of such prohibitions useless.

Palestinian militants do commit war crimes, but this does not mean that no action should be taken in regards Israel - It means action should be taken in regards to Palestine as well as Israel. What exactly this action should be is outside the scope for this debate.

2) The argument that Israeli war crimes are allowable based on Palestinian militant war crimes quickly becomes circular, as it follows that Palestinian militant war crimes should themselves be allowable based on the Israeli war crimes they are a response to.

This then quickly turns into a race to find who can find the earliest abuse of one side against the other - that one original act that was not in response to any previous war crime - and this demeans the entire process by trying to rationalise the decades of bloodshed as somehow legitimate for one side or the other.

Why economic boycotts should be used

Economic boycotts lack the implicit harm of direct military involvement. I'm sure my opponent will agree that if action is going to be taken, it is far more preferable for it to be economic pressure rather than an invasion of Israel. As such this will be my shortest section.

The key point is that boycotts and sanctions have been shown to work. The analogous boycott towards Apartheid South Africa was "pivotal in both changing attitudes towards South Africa and to the struggle to end apartheid"[12]. Just recently Iran made an agreement on it's nuclear development after the sanctions it were linked to its agreement[13].

Indeed such sanctions are the norm for countries involved in major conflicts, from Syria[14] following the civil war and even to UNSC member Russia[15] following its involvement with Ukraine.

Boycott is therefore consistent with the response that should be expected towards a country in Israel's situation and its current treatment is anomalous, with Israel receiving massive and disproportionate aid rather than boycotts for its war crimes. For instance: "Total U.S aid to Israel is approximately one-third of the American foreign-aid budget, even though Israel comprises just .001 percent of the world's population and already has one of the world's higher per capita incomes"[16].

I believe that taken together, these three arguements show that Europe should join BDS movement and boycott Israel. Vote PRO.



First of all, I will reply your arguments.
Israel absolutely not kill civilians indiscriminately. The procedures of the Israel Defence Forces says that it is absolutely prohibited to attack a target if it endangers innocents. [1] The truth is that the IDF warns civilians, and it's the only army in the entire world to do so. (Does the US army warns innocent citizens in Iraq and Syria before attacking ISIS? I don't think so.) [2] [3] [4]
Israel does hold prisoners without trial, yes. Terrorists. In any other country they were executed, but in Israel it's different. It is legal to kill someone only if he is responsible for many terror attacks (like Osama Bin-Laden or Mohammad Deif). If a soldier kills a Palestinian, even if the Palestinian tried to murder him and the soldier defended himself, he broke the law and will be punished. [5]
Israel lets the civilians in Judea and Samaria live as they want. Palestinians are allowed to work in Israeli Businesses, and even have their own government: the Palestinian Authority. Israel does block the Palestinian areas in Judea and Samaria lately, but only as a temporary solution until the wave of terror will pass. [6]
Israel does not use human shield. It is forbidden, illegal and most important, unethical (and the IDF maintains its morality). Images like this:, are fakes. The captions says "police", but Israel's police cars doesn't look like that. But you know who does use human shields? The Hamas. [7] [8] Many attacks were aborted because of people who refused to leave, but not every time death could be prevented if the Hamas doesn't allow people to evacuate. As our prime minister said: "If the Arabs will lay down their arms, there will be no war. If Israel will lay down their arms, there will be no Israel." It is also correct for here.
Israel transfers food, water, electricity and money to Gaza, but all of it is taken by the Hamas and used for terror. With the money used to build the terror tunnels they could've built hospitals, schools and buildings. [9] [10]
At the end of the day, all I want to say is that even if Israel has committed war crimes (and Israel has), boycotting will not be helpful enough. If you want to stop the killing, the best thing to do is to stop the Hamas.

One last thing: Most of the readers might've heard and read many anti-Israeli opinions, most of them are clearly biased. I'm not saying my sources are more objective, but if you'll hear both sides, it will probably be easier to reach the truth. So please, visit this website, that explains everything from our point-of-view:

Debate Round No. 2


Thanks to my opponent for his reply.

CON seems to focus solely on the issue of whether Israel commits war crimes, the first of my three points, and does not reject my arguments that if they are happening then we should care and if we care then the appropriate method is through economic boycott and sanctions like BDS.

In this round I will therefore solely focus on the issue of whether Israel commits war crimes and human rights abuses.

Does Israel Kill Indiscriminately?

Two fundamental basis of International Military Law (IML) are discrimination and proportionality[1]. When either of these are not met the killing can be called indiscriminate. Simply put armed forces are required to recognise the difference between civilians and military and to ensure that any incidental civilian casualties are proportional to a legitimate military goal. or to put it another way, incidentally killing one civilian while trying to kill twenty terrorists is a tragedy - incidentally killing twenty civilians while trying to kill one terrorist is a war crime.

CON argues that because the IDF says they cannot attack a target if it endangers innocents, they must not be able to. In the face of the bias inherent in using a a source with a vested interest in not being found guilty of war crimes, the much stronger and more neutral sources I cited in R1 and the mere existence of an IML presupposing that states cannot be trusted to judge themselves guilty or not of war crimes, I find this argument very lacking.

Further, by reference to evidence we can see CON's claims are false.

For instance Israel has been willing to fire heavy munitions into civilian homes and even level entire neighbourhoods both killing residents and pushing those who survive into a life of homeless poverty[2]. The first link includes quotes to Israeli soldiers own testimonies on this, so it is hard to refute.

The UN Report On Protective Edge[3] also includes examples of them killing families of 20 odd civilians with precision weaponry for no valid reason.

If Israel doesn't indiscriminantly kill civilians, what happened to the 22 members of the al-Daya family that were killed? What about the use of indiscriminate fletchette ammunition (which inherently makes it a war crime on par with Palestinian militant group's missiles) to kill five mourners at the Abd al-Dayem funeral? The 15 civilians killed at the al-Maqadmah mosque? The killing of all 8 members of the Al Hajj family? The 9 dead, 3 women (One of them pregnant) and 6 children, on the attack on the Al Qassas family? The 19 killed, 11 of which were children including an 8 month old baby, when a 1,000 or 2,000 lb bomb was dropped on the Al Najjar household? The 19 killed in the attack on the Abu Jabr house in a refugee camp?

Human Shields

CON states the IDF does not use human shields but his only evidence is his personal testimony that the Israel police cars are inconsistent with that. I beleive this can be disregarded because:

1) The Jeep is that of the Israeli Border Police (IBP) that operate in Palestine, not the police that CON would see within Israel and be familiar with.

2) That picture is from 2004 [4]. Based on his profile, CON would have been approx 3 y.o. at this point in time and I think it is reasonable to assume he wouldn't have developed an indepth knowledge of the vehicles used by different police branches at this age.

3) It is consistent with other unrelated pictures of IBP vehicles.[5]

4) In 2004 the IDF was using people as human shields by Israel's own admission. It was only on 2005 that the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that human shields (or the "neighbour procedure" as it is euphemistically known) was illegal with Israeli defence officials claiming that "the Israel Defense Forces made use of the ‘human shield’ procedure on 1,200 occasions over the last five years"[6]. I will present the case momentarily that they continue to use people as human shields afterwards even though it now violated their own laws as well as international ones, but this shows CON's argument for why they weren't using human shields can't possibly be true.

5) There is compelling evidence to show that Israel is still using human shields. The Youtube link I included in R1 is from NGO Breaking the Silence, where IDF soldiers have spoken out about the culture of human rights abuses and war crimes. He explicitly states that they sued human shields and he is not the only IDF witness[7][8].

Other systematic approaches looking at the evidence have concurred. For instance the UN report I cite in R1[9] examines this in detail throughout paragraphs 1032 to 1106. Although to dense to quote their reasoning and the individual evidence they use to come to the conclusion (it relies on evidence from Palestinians AND Israelis however) they conclude:

"1105. The Mission also finds that the intentional use as human shields of those whose accounts
are presented above qualifies as inhuman treatment of and wilfully causing great suffering to
protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention. As such, the Mission considers the
conduct of the Israeli armed forces in relation to such persons to amount to grave breaches of the
said Convention. The use of human shields is also a war crime under article 8 (2) (b) (xxiii) of
the Rome Statute."

6) Even Israel admits there are still occasions when people use human shields[10], that example being from a few years ago when soldiers ordered a child to open a package they thought might be boobytrapped so the child would get hurt in the event of this being the case rather than them.

Although Israel only very rarely recognises when soldiers commit human rights abuses (this example being a rare time they do)[11] and the punishment was very lax, it shows that your argument of "Israel never uses human shields" is even more pro-Israel than Israel's official position.

This is followed by an argument that Hamas uses human shields. Part of my argument in R1 raised the issue that human rights abuses and war crimes are not allowed if someone commits them to you first. Con has not challenged this so I think this argument is irrelevant.

Further, neither argument fits the definition of a human shield as presented in international law:

"493: The Mission finds it useful to clarify what is meant, from a legal perspective, by using civilians or a civilian population as a human shield. Parties to a conflict are not permitted to use a civilian population or individual civilians in order to render certain points or areas immune from military operations. It is not in dispute that both Palestinian armed groups and Israeli forces were fighting within an area populated by civilians. Fighting within civilian areas is not, by itself, sufficient for a finding that a party is using the civilian population living in the area of the fighting as a human shield. As the words of article 57 (1) show (“shall not be used to render”, “in order to attempt to shield”), an intention to use the civilian population in order to shield an area from military attack is required. "[9]

Even the IDF admits that merely taking part in military action in proximity to civilians does not in and of itself justify the classification of "human shields.

Pnina Sharvit-Baruch, a researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies, and former Head of the International Law Department of the IDF Military Advocate General, explained in a conference at the University of Haifa:

"In a scenario like the Gaza Strip you cannot expect the other side or demand the other side to act only from empty areas, to go out of all the populated areas, fire only from there or from the beach area when no people are there, it's not something that is expected. Therefore to say that the fact that they are operating from populated areas, in itself is a war crime or is in breach of the law of armed conflict, is not a plausible argument"[3]

Simply put, the expectation that Hamas should march out into barren areas like 17th century line infantry is frankly bizarre and inconsistent with IML. Urban warfare is almost as old as human civilisation and it is not inherently wrong or criminal. Soldiers specifically shielding themselves with civilians is and this is something that so far we only know that Israel is guilty of.

Israel is good because of X

Con provides several reasons why Israel should be viewed as good. As none of them contest my R1 argument that the prohibition against war crimes is absolute and there are no reasonable excuses for them, I beleive it is irrelevant. However in the short space left, I'd like to show how they're still misrepresentations.

Israel does provide some services to Palestine, but the rationale for this is not benevolent. Israel has been economically blockading and damaging Palestine for a long time[12], keeping them from developing their economy and keeping them dependent on Israel. this allows Israel to use it's power to coerce Israel - for instance by shutting off those vital services it supplies[13] in contravention of IML[14].

Similarly Israel's warning to Palestinian civilians to evacuate entire neighbourhoods before they attack is Israel's rationale for then declaring entire areas terrorist zones - allowing IDF to shoot kill any civilians with no heed for the basic principle of distinction.[3]

Lastly in regards to administrative detention, the unsupported claim that they are all terrorists do not hold up. In fact "Israel has administratively detained Palestinians for their political opinions and non-violent political activity."[15]



yuvalne forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Unfortunately CON has FF, so I will spend this post further rebutting their R2 argument. Although I used basically all 10,000 characters available to me, I thought some parts were still a little truncated.

Israel lets the civilians in Judea and Samaria live as they want

I would very very much disagree with this on several counts.

Firstly, Con's source does not in any way say that civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (The oPT or as some Israelis call it, Judea and Samaria) can do what they want. It says that the Israeli occupation shouldn't count as an occupation under IML. Now as I've already shown in R2 there is a massive international consensus that Israel is occupying the oPT and CON's only source is the Israel government itself - which is hardly a neutral and unbiased party in regard to whether or not it is committing war crimes. On this basis I think it could be easily disregarded, but even then it doesn't matter because it's not in any way saying that people in the oPT can live as they want so it in no way supports CON's claim.

Secondly, Israel has controlled the oPT for decades in various manners. The formulation over the last two decades is based on the Oslo Accords II of 1995. In these the oPT was largely split into three areas, A B and C. The Palestinians have most control in area A, less in area B and no control in Area C.

This was meant to be a temporary measure, a small step during an interim period whereby Palestine would gain full independence and Israel would withdraw it's troops. Israel reneged on the deal and Palestine never got its independence, but Israel still used these areas as the status quo for the last 15 years, employing its military with impunity throughout approximately 80% of the oPT and deploying them in the remaining 20% when necessary. The basis that Israel controls the oPT and has done for the last 20 years is specifically one where Palestinian rights are limited to different degrees throughout different areas of the oPT.

Thirdly, the massive overwhelming evidence that Palestinians cannot do as they want.

Military Orders given by the IDF in 1967, limiting freedom of speech and assembly such as stopping 10 or more people from being allowed to gather for political purposes.[2]

Using military force to effect ongoing expulsion of Palestinians from their land to be replaced by illegal israeli settlers[3], a policy which fits the IML definition of ethnic cleansing as ""a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas."[5]

Illegal israeli settlers being given army protection so that they can throw stones at Palestinian children going to school, peace activists and olive farmers trying to gather their harvest. [5]

The massive crushing poverty and horrible conditions that palestinians live in due to the occupation, for instance the UN stating that "Three Israeli military operations in the past six years, in addition to eight years of economic blockade, have ravaged the already debilitated infrastructure of Gaza, shattered its productive base, left no time for meaningful reconstruction or economic recovery and impoverished the Palestinian population in Gaza, rendering their economic well-being worse than the level of two decades previous. The most recent military operation compounded already dire socioeconomic conditions and accelerated de-development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, a process by which development is not merely hindered but reversed."[6] Indeed by some metrics this has lead to parts of the oPT being the worst in the entire world, for instance the World Bank citing Gaza as having more unemployment (due to Israel's attacks and economic blockade) than anywhere else on earth - as well as poverty overall being very high. Further it states that even "These numbers, however, fail to portray the degree of suffering of Gaza’s citizens due to poor electricity and water/sewerage availability, war-related psychological trauma, limited movement, and other adverse effects of wars and the blockade"

Indeed movement is a major form of discrimination that has already been mentioned, albeit in depth in one of my sources given in R1. Palestinians have massive trouble moving throughout the territories, the Area A where they are given the most rights being small enclaves seperated from each other by Israel controlled area.[8]

This is of course on top of the arrest without trial, torture, indiscriminate killings, etc that have been mention in previous rounds.

I find the idea that "Israel lets the civilians in Judea and Samaria live as they want" a complete non-starter as once again it is not just contrary to the international consensus and all evidence, but it's also more pro-Israel than even israel's official position which is that Palestinians can't do what they want in OPT and face varying levels of Israeli control and abuse depending on whether they're in areas A, B or C of the West Bank or Gaza.


I believe CON's arguments are not supported by the evidence presented and arguments made.

Furthermore, even if they were, they would be irrelevent as he has not contested two central points made by me in R2:

1) That at no point do war crimes become acceptable based on various rationalisations. It doesn't matter if you consider yourself the good guys and the people you're comitting war crimes against the bad guys. The international laws which embody conventional morality do not have ssuch exceptions.

2) The "They committed war crimes against us, so our war crimes in retaliation are justified" argument is not only basis in terms of IML but is as applicable to the Palestinians as it is to Israel - hence useless as it can't be made to distinguish between which of the two sides is justified.

While CON could perhaps argue against these in the last round, I must point out that doing so only in R4 where there is no chance for me to respond accordingly should be taken into consideration.

Please vote PRO.



yuvalne forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Sam7411 2 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro wins conduct because Con forfeited two rounds. Con lacked any main points and focused solely on the point that Israel does not commit war crimes, Pro wins arg.