I would certainly recommend this book for people interested in the logic and rationale of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions as a means of ending Israel's on-going oppression and dispossession of the Palestinians. The book is composed of 26 chapters written by 29 contributors (some of the chapters are co-authored) coming from a broad range of back-grounds. The chapters are self-contained comments by the individual contributors.
Readers wishing to turn straight away to an explanation of the rationale of BDS should read the chapter by Naomi Klein (ch.19) and Ilan Pappe (ch.20) first. Ilan Pappe describes his decision to support BDS as follows:
"For an activist, the realization that change from within is unattainable not only grows from an intellectual or political process, but is more than anything else an admission of defeat. And it was this fear of defeatism that prevented me from adopting a more resolute position for a very long time.... Supporting BDS remains a drastic act for an Israeli peace activist. It excludes one immediately from the consensus and from the accepted discourse in Israel....But there is really no other alternative. Any other option - from indifference, through soft criticism, and up to full endorsement of Israeli policy - is a wilful decision to be an accomplice to crimes against humanity."
John Berger in his two page chapter (ch.21) provides a short but important analysis of how BDS should be understood and explained:
"Boycott is not a principle. When it becomes one, it risks becoming exclusive and racist. No boycott, in our sense of the term, should be directed against an individual, a people, or a nation as such. A boycott is directed against a policy and the institutions that support that policy, either actively or tacitly. Its aim is not to reject, but to bring about change."
I don't think that the importance of clearly understanding this point could be over-stated. It really is essential for BDS activists to be able to understand and communicate this point clearly if BDS is to be successful in bringing about the change in public consciousness that is required.
The book contains two chapter by South African commentators: Ronnie Kasrils (ch.11), a veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle, and Ran Greenstein (ch.16), an academic from Johannesburg, both of which I found particularly powerful. Perhaps the most unusual chapter is written by Marc Ellis (ch.14), a Professor of Jewish studies at Baylor University in Texas. Although he echoes the discredited myth that Israel was faced with an existential threat prior to the 1967 war (or at least fails to clearly debunk it) he does make some interesting points, including drawing a parallel between the criticisms faced by 'Jews of conscience' and the Biblical prophets:
"Like the prophets, Jews of conscience who argue for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions are charged with treason. And, again like the prophets, Jews of conscience are seen as imperilling the security of the State of Israel and of Jews everywhere. Those who call for concrete measures against the policies of the State of Israel, especially after the Holocaust, are seen as blasphemers by the powers that be. But then the prophets were seen in exactly the same way."
My main criticism of this book is that is has no Introduction or Conclusion and so the reader is left to their own devises to try to pull together the themes of the various chapters into a coherent whole. This strikes me as an omission, and is certainly something that I would have appreciated as a reader. I would agree with the other four star reviewer that there is scope for more writing on this subject, and a more broad-ranging analysis of the tactic of BDS than we have been presented with yet.