We can choose to ignore the lies of the BDS movement or try to parry blows on a one-to-one basis. Yet history proves that defensive strategies alone do not rally the troops, do not draw new supporters, nor do they lead to victory in the long-run.
Supporters of the BDS movement against Israel claim a monopoly over morality-driven activism in the Middle East. The message that Israel is the source of evil in the region is nonsense, yet it has struck a chord among Westerners ready to blame wealthy and militarily might nations for their neighbors’ problems. It is high-time to take advantage of these sentiments to tackle an ideological imperialism that is wreaking dreadful damage in our days.
The firebrand version of Islam named Salafism that Saudi Arabia lavishly sponsors lies at the heart of the bloodshed we are witnessing in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and North Africa. Salafist organizations such as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and ISIS are concrete expressions of what is taught and preached by the Saudi Arabian religious establishment.
This establishment has exploited Saudi Arabia’s undeserved wealth to lecture hundreds of millions of Muslims through mosques, media and charity networks that Salafism and its outdated ethics is the authentic Islam. Hence the direct correlation between rising oil barrel prices during the last two decades and the concomitant explosion of jihadist violence and bloodshed.
It is time that those concerned about peace in the world act to amend this situation. It is time to give Saudi authorities an ultimatum: Either you cease exporting religious extremism or you will be served the fare of boycott, divestment and sanctions served to Israel.
It is time to picket Saudi embassies, deny entry visas to preachers educated in Saudi religious institutions and block access to religious televisions channels and internet websites based in Saudi Arabia.
People of all stripes must be drawn into this BDS movement: Jews (who are direct targets of Salafist incitement), Christians (who are harassed and denied right to worship in Saudi Arabia), Muslims in West Africa, Indonesia and India (many of whom realize the damage caused to their identities by the Saudi-Salafist hijacking of their faith), migrant-rights activists (who would be appalled to learn about the slave-like conditions in which immigrants are often kept in Saudi Arabia), environmentalists (aware of the damage to our ecosystem caused by Saudi Arabia’s oil industry) and pacifists (who should fight the export of advanced weaponry to a country that tramples every conceivable human right).
We should of course not forget women and gays (whose representatives are denied basic freedoms and even life in Saudi Arabia) and the families of the victims of 9/11.
In this struggle we cannot count on the backing of the Western political, financial and journalistic establishments pocketing petrodollars. The recent appointment of Saudi Arabia to head a panel at the UN Human Rights Council vividly illustrates this reality.
Nevertheless, we must leverage the multiple tools provided by the internet and social networks to educate citizens about the Saudi menace to human rights and world peace. To reform Saudi Arabia through a boycott campaign is for these reasons the most moral campaign concerning the Middle East.
Rafael Castro is a member of the Facebook community "Boycott Saudi Arabia."