When a Republican President Supported BDS

In 1948, Palestinians, forced from their homes by Zionist militia, become refugees.
A look back when a Republican president once used BDS tactics to help contain Israeli violence and injustice.

By Mennonite Palestine Israel Network Newsletter | Aug 2019

Eisenhower used and threatened to use actions central to BDS today: sanctions and economic boycott.

The BDS movement would not begin until 2005, but President Dwight Eisenhower’s foreign policy toward Israel was, in part, shaped around principles central to BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions). Today, President Donald Trump, the Republican Party and most of the Democratic Party would have us believe that to be pro-BDS is to be anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. But Eisenhower would beg to differ.

Writing on August 22, 2019 on the American Conservative website (of all places!), Derek Leebaert detailed three instances in which the Eisenhower Administration censured the Israeli government for illegal aggression, violence and expansion against Israel’s Arab neighbors, including Palestine.

Leebaert described a 1953 massacre in the village of Qibya in the West Bank, a 1954 bombing of two US consulates in Egypt by a self-described Israeli “terror unit,” and a 1955 military assault against Syria. Following each attack, the Eisenhower administration reacted with censure resolutions at the United Nations (UN). Then, in February 1957, Eisenhower addressed the nation, declaring that he was ready to go beyond censure resolutions and threatened to push UN sanctions and to halt US private business dealings with Israel. Foreign Minister Golda Meir quickly back down.

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