Fighting the BDS in the UK

by Mona Young

Before Sussex Friends of Israel was created, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement was well-known in Brighton UK. They had been protesting against Israeli goods for years, targeting different shops – from supermarkets to smaller stores.
When Ecostream, a “Green”/Refill/Ecologically-friendly shop, (part of Sodastream, an Israeli-based company) opened in September 2012, it was met with a picket by BDS activists, shouting, and screeching through a megaphone. It was the noise being made, that drew two men, (Simon Cobbs, – a Jewish man, and Daniel Laurence a Christian) to the shop to see what was happening. Not being able to believe the hatred and bigotry directed at one shop, especially antiIsrael lies expressed so viciously, Cobbs and Laurence went back to their own communities and told them what was going on down at Ecostream, both resolving to do something.
The following week, both men went to Ecostream again, each with a group of friends, and the group that became known as Sussex Friends of Israel quickly began to grow. People of all ages: Jewish, Christian, and other, and members of the LGBT community started to turn out in support started to turn out in support, and pro-Israel leaflets were distributed. Sussex Friends of Israel was “officially” born in January 2013, becoming a registered organisation, with a director and “board” of both Jewish and Christian members. Locally, SFI goes to anti-Israel seminars at universities and speaks up for Israel as much as possible. SFI has also presented a petition to the UK store Co-op which boycotts settlement products.
In July and September, “Bagels against Bigotry” Street Party was launched in response to the BDS march/demonstration called “National Day of Action/Day of Rage” against Ecostream.
Bagels against Bigotry included a huge array of smoked salmon bagels, cakes, Israeli food, and Jewish cuisine. The public enjoyed themselves, and when the BDS march arrived at Ecostream, the police prevented them from standing outside, and soon after, directed them to the opposite side of the road. Meanwhile, Ecostream reported it had broken its record for a day’s trading since the shop opened!
In December, Cakes against Hate was launched, a belated “Chanukah and Christmas” themed street party with cake and biscuits, Father Christmas and street music. It certainly was a festive occasion!
When SFI Facebook was revamped in September 2013, within 4 months, our following increased from 252 to over 3,000 Likes. So far, 50 countries have responded to SFI in support in various ways, and our average audience is approximately 50,000 a week, with a picture of one of our supporters once reaching 140,000 views. The Israeli Knesset gave moral support, as did 12 other Israeli Embassies in various other countries.
In January 2014, when a replica of Israel’s security barrier was erected around St. James’ Church in Piccadilly, London UK, in what many have called “an anti-Israel stunt” the majority of SFI got on the train to London after the usual Ecostream demonstration, to stand with the other pro-Israel organisations, with flags and leaflets, and countered a simultaneous anti-Israel protest.
What is incredible with SFI is that none of us have been activists before! We were simply residents of Sussex who had enough of hatred toward Israel.
We at SFI literally have no idea what will happen in 2014. Last year was a non-stop rollercoaster of a ride – defying self- expectations and our opponent’s expectations! We hope 2014 will do the same!

Is Your Alma Mater Complicit in ASA’s Israel Boycott?

— by Ronit Treatman

This week, the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to endorse an academic boycott of Israel. A Cornell University professor, William Jacobson, is leading an effort to encourage universities to disassociate themselves from the ASA.

As of this writing, Brandeis University, Penn State University Harrisburg and Willamette University have disassociated themselves with the ASA, and Northwestern University heavily criticized the boycott, but the ASA still has many members.

I have sent an email to the president of Temple University — my alma mater — Neil D. Theobald, inquiring about Temple’s position on this matter. I pointed out that Temple is a member of the ASA, and as such supports it financially.  

Please use the contact information after the jump to contact the president of your university and share your thoughts, and use the link at the end to share a link to this article with your friends and family so that they can do the same.

As alumni, donors, and parents of potential future students, we have the right to know where our schools and their American studies departments stand.

Is the college you attended a member of the ASA? Contact information after the jump.
Remaining Members of the American Studies Association

List current as of publication. Please send updates or corrections.

Alabama

Alberta: See Canada.

Arkansas

California

  • California State University, Fullerton
    • Mildred GarcĂ­a, Office of the President, 800 N. State College Blvd.,  CP-1000, Fullerton, CA 92834, 657-278-3456, [email protected]  
    • Chair of the Board of Trustees: Bob Linscheid, c/o Trustee Secretariat [email protected], 401 Golden Shore, Suite 620, Long Beach, CA 90802, (562) 951-4020  
    • Chancellor: Timothy P. White, [email protected], Office of Public Affairs, 401 Golden Shore, 6th Floor, Long Beach, CA 90802-4210, Phone: (562) 951-4800, Fax: (562) 951-4861

  • California State University, Long Beach  
    • Donald J. Para, Interim President, California State University, Long Beach, Office of the President, Brotman Hall BH-300, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90840-0115, 562/985-4121, [email protected]  
    • Chair of the Board of Trustees: Bob Linscheid, c/o Trustee Secretariat [email protected], 401 Golden Shore, Suite 620, Long Beach, CA 90802, (562) 951-4020  
    • Chancellor: Timothy P. White, [email protected], Office of Public Affairs, 401 Golden Shore, 6th Floor, Long Beach, CA 90802-4210, Phone: (562) 951-4800, Fax: (562) 951-4861

  • University of California, San Diego  
    • Janet Napolitano, University of California, Office of the President, 1111 Franklin Street, 12th floor, Oakland, CA 94607, Media office: (510) 987-9200, [email protected]  
    • Board of Regents, Office of the Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Regents, 1111 Franklin St.,12th floor, Oakland, CA 94607, fax: (510) 987-9224, [email protected]  
    • Pradeep K. Khosla, Office of the Chancellor, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive # 0005, La Jolla, California 92093-0005, (858) 534-3135, [email protected]  
    • Peter King, Public Affairs Executive Director, Phone: (510) 987-0279  
    • Daniel M. Dooley, External relations – Senior Vice President, Phone: (510) 987-0060  
    • Charles F. Robinson, General Counsel and Vice President – Legal Affairs, Phone: (510) 987-9800

  • Stanford University

  • University of Southern California  
    • C. L. Max Nikias, USC Office of the President, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-4019, Phone: (213) 740-2111, Fax: (213) 821-1342  
    • Chair of the Board of Trustees, Edward P. Roski Jr.   USC Alumni Association, Epstein Family Alumni Center, 3607 Trousdale Parkway, TCC 305, Los Angeles, CA 90089-3106, (213) 740-2300

Connecticut

Delaware

District of Columbia

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

  • University of Hawaii  
    • David Lassner, University of Hawaii, Office of the President, 2444 Dole Street, Bachman 202, Honolulu, HI 96822, [email protected], tel (808) 956-8207, fax (808) 956-5286

Illinois

  • DePaul University
    • Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., Ed.D., Office of the President, 1 East Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604-2287, 312-362-8850, [email protected]  
    • American Studies Department, Allison McCracken, Director, Schmitt Academic Center, 5th floor, Room 560, 2320 N. Kenmore Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614, 773-325-7194, [email protected]
    • Tracy Krahl – Assistant Vice President, Alumni Engagement, Alumni Center, 2400 N. Sheffield Ave., Suite 150, Chicago, IL 60614, 312-362-5577, [email protected]
    • Board of Trustees, Secretary of the University, Edward R. Udovic, C.M., 312-362-8042, Fax: 312-362-6606, [email protected]ul.edu
    • Chancellor, Rev. John T. Richardson, C.M., 773-325-8712, [email protected]

  • Northwestern University, Contact information needed.

Indiana

Iowa

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

Ohio

  • Kenyon College, Contact information needed.
  • Youngstown State University
    • Dr. Randy J. Dunn, President, One University Plaza, Youngstown, Ohio 44555, [email protected], 330.941.3101  
    • Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, Tod Hall, Room 203, Youngstown State University, One University Plaza, Youngstown, Ohio 44555, Phone: (330) 941 3370, Fax: (330) 941 3108
    • Dr. Sylvia J. Imler, Chief Diversity Officer/Interim Director, [email protected]
    • YSU Board of Trustees Chair: Sudershan K. Garg, M.D., Chairman, c/o YSU Office of the President, One University Plaza Youngstown, Ohio 44555, (330) 941-3101

Oklahoma

Ontario: See Canada.

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

Washington DC: See District of Columbia.

Washington State

Wyoming

Canada

Japan

United Kingdom

Source: American Quarterly, September 2013, Volume 65, Number 3.

 

Boycott Divestment Summer Camp

— by Alana Goodman

Reprinted with permission from The Washington Free Beacon

Anti-Israel college students will trek to a scenic campsite in upstate New York this summer to learn how to launch campus boycotts against the Jewish state at a program subsidized and run by one of America’s largest Quaker faith groups.

The American Friends Service Committee “We Divest Campaign Student Leadership Team Summer Training Institute” describes itself as a “five (5) day intensive program for campus [Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions] organizers-those with campaigns already running and those hoping to get one launched in the 2013-2014 school year.”

More after the jump.
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign was officially launched by a network of pro-Palestinian groups in 2005 and seeks to use economic and cultural boycotts to isolate Israel, force the government’s hand on Palestinian negotiations, and evoke comparisons between the Jewish state and South Africa’s Apartheid regime.

Students attending the AFSC’s Summer Training Institute, which is also sponsored by the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace, will participate in “anti-oppression analysis workshops,” “non-violent direct action planning,” and “strategy sessions with BDS movement leaders,” according to the AFSC website.

The program runs from July 28 to Aug. 1 and promises “fun in a summer camp-like environment!” The cost of room and board is subsidized by the AFSC and the JVP, according to the website.

An AFSC official said the number of attendees for this year is not yet finalized and said the 2013 program will focus on “call[ing] attention to what is happening in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories while supporting a just and lasting peace that benefits both Palestinians and Israelis.”

Pro-Israel groups have vehemently opposed the BDS movement, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center released a report that said the campaign was driven by anti-Jewish sentiment in March.

“It doesn’t help a single Palestinian. It doesn’t improve the quality of life for Palestinians. It is simply anti-Israel,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Abraham Cooper told the Washington Free Beacon. “Unfortunately, the community of the people associated with this particular church have embraced [the BDS campaign] completely, so much so that they are using up whatever moral capital they have to do training for an immoral, hypocritical, and anti-Semitic undertaking.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center report said the BDS program meets Natan Sharansky’s “three D’s” test for anti-Semitism: It follows “double-standards” by criticizing Israel while overlooking human rights abuses across the Arab world; “demonizes” Israel by comparing its actions to those of Apartheid regimes; and attempts to “delegitimize” the Jewish state by targeting its existence.

Cooper said students attend these events “thinking their actions are doing the equivalent of the folks that [participated in] the Montgomery Bus Boycott, or following the route of Martin Luther King Jr.-complete and utter nonsense.”

“What a shame, for young people, who are highly motivated that want to do something good in the world,” he added.

The AFSC’s Michael Merryman-Lotze, who helped organize the summer program, objected to the argument that the BDS campaign is anti-Semitic.

“We see nothing inherently anti-Semitic in the use of these proven nonviolent tactics nor in the BDS movement as a whole,” said Merryman-Lotze. “Are BDS opponents next going to argue that these same tactics were anti-White in the Jim Crow south and apartheid era South Africa?”

Merryman-Lotze also disputed claims from critics that the campaign has been ineffective.

“Why, if BDS is ineffective and largely a failure, have the Israeli government and groups like the ADL, the Wiesenthal Center, and AIPAC invested millions of dollars in developing campaigns to counter minimally funded grassroots BDS activism?” said Merryman-Lotze. “If our efforts are ineffective, why write a story about our planned training program? The answer is that BDS is effective and successful.”

While the BDS campaign has gained traction on college campuses and won support from some high-profile names such as Elvis Costello and Stephen Hawking, it has failed to have an impact on the Israeli economy or influence policy.

Israel’s tech industry in particular continues to boom, with Google purchasing Israeli company Waze for $1 billion on Tuesday.

“Culturally-just this week-two enormous, international sporting events were held in Israel,” one D.C. Jewish organization official told the Free Beacon. “Economically, the world’s largest tech companies are rushing to invest there. Politically, Israel stands out more than ever as the only stable Western ally left in the entire Middle East.”

The BDS movement’s failure to meet its objectives suggests that efforts to fund and support the campaign are aimed at opposing the Jewish state rather than achieving any legitimate policy goal, according to pro-Israel advocates.

According to the D.C. Jewish organization official.

“You’ve really got to ask yourself where boycott advocates keep getting the energy, given that efforts to economically and culturally isolate Israel have been an utter failure. Let’s pretend that boycotters succeed in getting everyone to stop buying Israeli hummus, which is something they actually think is important. If they keep that up for a few thousand years, it will almost offset this week’s billion-dollar acquisition of Waze by Google. No company in its right mind is ever going to boycott a country that’s been nicknamed ‘Start-Up Nation.'”

Alicia Keys to Perform in Israel Despite BDS Pressure

— by Steve Sheffey

Alicia Keys confirmed that she will perform in Tel Aviv on July 4 as scheduled, despite public pressure to boycott Israel from Alice Walker (who refused to authorize a translation of “The Color Purple” into Hebrew) and Roger Waters. “I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show,” she said.

Walker called Israel an “apartheid country,” said that the Israeli system is “cruel, unjust, and unbelievably evil,” and called Israel the cause of “much of the affliction in our suffering world.” Walker refused to authorize a new Hebrew translation of “The Color Purple.” Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd, also urged Keys to cancel. Waters previously convinced Stevie Wonder to cancel an appearance at a Friends of the IDF event in Los Angeles.

More on the anti-Israel BDS movement after the jump.
For an excellent refutation of the canard that Israel practices apartheid, read this op-ed from Richard Goldstone, a former justice of the South African Constitutional Court.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is condemned across the pro-Israel political spectrum, even by those who strongly believe that Israel should find a way to extricate itself from the West Bank.

According to J Street:

For some, the BDS movement has become a convenient mantle for thinly disguised anti-Semitism” and “the BDS movement fails to explicitly to recognize Israel’s right to exist and it ignores or rejects Israel’s role as a national home for the Jewish people. In addition, the promotion by some in the BDS movement of the return to Israel of Palestinian refugees from 1948 and their families indicates support for an outcome incompatible with our vision of Israel and incompatible with a two-state solution to the conflict.

A statement signed by the National Jewish Democratic Council and 60 other Jewish organizations opposing the BDS movement explained that “Criticism [of Israel] becomes anti-Semitism, however, when it demonizes Israel or its leaders, denies Israel the right to defend its citizens or seeks to denigrate Israel’s right to exist.”

So what do we do about it?

My view is that if an artist or scientist attempts to economically harm or delegitimize Israel, we should not economically support that person.

As much as I used to enjoy Elvis Costello’s music, I can’t listen to him anymore. I have a long list of books to read. Why read Alice Walker when there is so much other good literature? We certainly should not reject the scientific ideas of Stephen Hawking, but why buy his books? (If you must read him or Walker, use the library).

I’m not suggesting that we deny ourselves art based on the anti-Semitism of its creators. If we did, we would deprive ourselves of a large portion of Western culture. I also suspect that if we knew what was in the minds of some of our favorite artists, we might not be too happy. Rather, I am suggesting that we single out the subset of artists who have chosen to single out Israel for boycott. If they won’t play for Israelis, we shouldn’t pay money for them to play to us. So you won’t find Elvis Costello, Santana, or Stevie Wonder on my playlist, and you certainly won’t see me at their concerts.

Perhaps most important, we should visit Israel or buy Israeli goods — no matter where we are on the political spectrum.

Click here to sign up to Steve Sheffey’s newsletter.

Buy Israel Week: Fighting the Anti-Israel BDS Movement

— by Ronit Treatman

Since yesterday you can join people from all over the world in supporting Israel by participating in the Buy Israel Week.

In 2005, the Palestinian-Arab BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement was founded. It is a global movement trying to delegitimize Israel by boycotting Israeli universities, events featuring Israeli speakers, stores selling Israeli goods, and Israeli companies. The Buy Israel Week was organized in order to combat their efforts with the purchasing power of Israel’s supporters. The Week’s sponsors are calling to buy Israeli products from your local businesses, or online, with a categorized list of attractive deals in the Week’s website.  

Anti-Israel Sentiment on Campus Goes Trendy

— by Joshua Berkman

With the arrival of Chanukah, a celebration of Jewish resilience, Jews on campuses across North America have evoked the Maccabee spirit in recent weeks to counter the increasingly loud calls from anti-Israel groups that have demanded boycotts of Israel, divestment from it and sanctions against it (BDS).

More after the jump.
The most recent round of anti-Israel activism, aimed at delegitimizing the Jewish State of Israel, was triggered by Israeli military strikes on terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were more than 100 reported anti-Israel demonstrations on campus in November, attracting thousands of college students nationwide. In response, a cadre of 56 Jewish Agency Israel Fellows to Hillel, serving 70 campuses, successfully mobilized groups of Jewish students, many of whom were not previously vocal Israel advocates.

Jewish Agency Israel Fellows to Hillel are young Israelis in their twenties who, after serving in the army, come to the United States and spend up to three years on college campuses to rally support for Israel, foster discussion with other religious groups on campus, and recruit participants for overseas programs in Israel, such as Birthright Israel and Masa Israel Journey and help Jewish students fend off anti-Israel attacks,.  The Israel Fellows program is a partnership between Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and The Jewish Agency.

Now, more than ever, Jewish Agency Israel Fellows play a critical role in maintaining a campus atmosphere that enables students from a range of different backgrounds to openly engage in civil dialogue about Israel, and support the United States’ closest ally in the Middle East, namely Israel. .Just as the Vietnam War became the principal cause around which campus radicals rallied in the 1960s, the existence of a sovereign and secure Jewish state — in the Jewish ancestral homeland — has increasingly offended the sensibilities of the campus Left. Leading figures in the Jewish community see the problem as growing.

“Anti-Israel student groups will likely seek to capitalize on the momentum surrounding the Gaza conflict by pushing with renewed intensity their anti-Israel tactics and campaigns,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a recent statement.

This has created an environment where many Jewish students, that have not been educated about Israel, feel social pressure to ‘play down’ their Judaism and Zionism rather than assert their identity proudly as their parents and grandparents did. In fact, prior to the latest round of violence in Gaza, the environment on a number of campuses – had become hostile for many Jewish students- especially those in coastal cities – The past year alone saw more than 700 anti-Israel protests on North American campuses. Some of the higher-profile anti-Israel campus episodes include:

At Columbia University, a Middle Eastern Studies professor told a Jewish student in front of a lecture hall full of students that she couldn’t have ancestral ties to Israel because of her green eyes. Also, a professor asked an Israeli student, “How many Palestinians have you killed?”

At UC-Berkeley, a group of faculty and students launched “Apartheid Week”, a program that has gained traction nationwide and which features students who dress in army fatigues, carry mock assault weapons and stage checkpoints to block and intimidate students on their way to class. In 2010 a female student reported that she was assaulted by an anti-Israel check-point demonstrator who rammed a shopping cart into her.

At Florida Atlantic University last year, local members of the group “Students for Justice in Palestine” posted mock eviction notices  on the doors of more than 200 students  in a dorm known for its high concentration of Jewish students.

At UC-Davis last month, a group of anti-Israel protesters took over an administration building and held discussion groups that linked Zionists with perpetrators of genocide.

At UC-Irvine — the same campus where Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. was aggressively and relentlessly taunted during a lecture — the Student Senate unanimously passed a BDS resolution Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, was aggressively and relentlessly taunted during a lecture.
From their time on campus, many Israel Fellows have found that Jewish students are uncomfortable planning and participating in visible, pro-Israel rallies and instead choose to engage in more substantive forms of activism. Last year, when the University of Pennsylvania hosted a conference for the national BDS movement, Jewish students took the opportunity to dramatically increase and deepen the pro-Israel campus coalition. Tactics involved thousands of students and a semester of programs and activities that increased pro-Israel sentiment on campus through deep and sophisticated conversations. At the University of Michigan, students lobbied influential professors to vocally support Israel and cosponsored an event to showcase Artists for Israel.  At Baruch College, a young woman responded to what was “a battle of fliers” on campus by organizing a discussion forum that was cosponsored by Muslim student groups.

“The Israel Fellows, other Hillel staff and student leadership took the opportunity to model a different kind of activism – one that dramatically helps Jews and non-Jews to help better understand Israel and communicate positive messages,” said Abi Dauber Sterne Hillel’s vice president for global Jewish experience.

According to Ronen Weiss, the Jewish Agency’s National emissary to Hillel, these types of nuanced pro-Israel activities can yield long-term value and are taken seriously by the community at large.  That said, as the pressure against Israel’s legitimacy mounts, Weiss sees an urgent need for more Israel Fellows on more college campuses to stem the tide.

“It is important that Jewish students show public solidarity, Israel Fellows are focused on the outcomes of connecting students with a deep and lasting relationship with the people, land and state of Israel, rather than on publicity stunts,” Weiss said. “We need to empower even more students nationwide to hold meaningful dialogues about Israel in dorms and cafeterias, and encourage pro-Israel representation in student governments and among campus speakers.”

Ultimately, what is at stake is securing the Jewish future and a strong Israel.  As the battle for Israel’s legitimacy heats up on college campuses, Israel Fellows are standing at the ready.

Presidential Campaign Fail To Vet Their Supporters

The Obama and Romney campaigns are both being attacked today having failed to vet their list of supporters.

Meanwhile, Romney has similar problems of his own:

  • Dr. John Willke is the doctor who misinformed Rep. Todd Aiken that women who are victims of “legitimate rape” do not become pregnant because their bodies “shut down” due to the trauma. Aiken is under pressure to abandon his US Senate campaign against Claire McCaskill in Missouri for having given voice to such an ignorant, misogynistic point of view. Dr. Willke told The Telegraph that he had a private meeting with Mitt Romney at his Cincinnati home last October and that Romney thanked him for his support and told him, “we agree on almost everything.”

    The 87-year-old endorsed Mr. Romney’s bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination and was one of his official campaign surrogates. “I am proud to have the support of a man who has meant so much to the pro-life movement,” Mr. Romney said at the time.

  • As we reported in June, the GOP selected Yossi Gestetner as their “Jewish Outreach Director” in New York. As reported by The Jewish Channel and Vos Iz Neias, “The newly appointed Director of Jewish Outreach for New York State’s Republican party has resigned from his position after just eight days in office, calling himself a distraction to the party.” The distraction? Espousing anti-Zionist positions, among others.

    As Vos Iz Neias notes,

    “According to a report by The Jewish Channel, Gestetner’s resignation came less than thirty minutes after Josh Rubin, a reporter for NY1, asked State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox about an investigation of Gestetner by The Jewish Channel, which conducted an hour long on-camera interview with Gestetner. During that interview, Gestetner discussed several issues that may put him at odds with both the Republican party and many of New York State’s 1.6 million Jewish residents, which include his being a spokesman at a fundraiser to benefit an alleged child molester, his controversial stance on referring suspected cases of child abuse to a rabbi before alerting the authorities, his views on government assistance programs and his work for Torah True Jews Against Zionism, an anti-Israel organization that states that Zionism is contrary to Torah Judaism.”

 

Now’s the Time for Financial Zionism

Tal Brody— by Tal Brody

Many casual observers of contemporary Israeli affairs face a puzzling dilemma when asked to think about the effects of the so-called BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.  On the one hand, they hear reports of ever-increasing accomplishments in the Israeli hi-tech sector with Israeli corporations being purchased by international conglomerates and increases in exports all over the globe.  On the other hand, they are being told that BDS is deeply hurting the Israeli economy and is a force that needs to be combated with all the intensity possible.  Despite the seeming contradiction between these two realities, the fact is that both are true.

More after the jump.
Yes, Israel continues to hold remarkable influence over global markets and Israeli corporations are able to report growing export figures each year.  But, when one takes a look beyond the mega-companies and examines the sales reports of smaller Israeli manufacturers and so called “mom and pop” commercial entities, the effects of BDS are deeply troubling.

It is a phenomenon that cannot be trivialized because literally thousands of Israeli jobs could be lost should the tide not be reversed.

Many abroad think that there is little that can be done to silence the BDS movement.  They rightfully assume that these campaigns are being instigated by callous hate-mongers who are unwilling to recognize Israel’s contribution to the world out of their ignorance of the realities of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Those same people think that it is best just to ignore BDS and it will go away- that it’s a laughable attempt to disrupt Israeli commerce.

Perhaps this was a position which led some credence in the early days of BDS, when it was just a fringe protest movement, with little to no serious following.  But no one cannot laugh any longer when we’re witness to factories closing and hard working Israeli men and women forced out of their jobs.

Appreciating that BDS is a real threat is the first step and I believe that more and more within the pro-Israel community are waking up to that.  But the question is what we can each do about it?

Calling out Israel’s critics for the sheer absurdity of their claims is one way to go and certainly should be done wherever possible.  Israeli innovation serves at the center of pretty much every technologically-charged industry that drives our modern world.  From medicine, to computer engineering to entertainment, thousands of different operations are only made possible because of the brain power invested by Israeli developers.  Before the critics power up their computers, play with their entertainment devices or undergo a medical procedure, they should be prepared to forego the experience if they are truly honest about boycotting Israel.  My guess is that most of these BDSers wouldn’t be so prepared.

But there is a far more practical side to what can be done by defenders of Israel and that is to defend our beloved nation through their wallets.  The concept of buying blue and white is not a new one but it is becoming increasingly imperative that people recognize what is at stake if Israeli commercial enterprises are abandoned.

The most fragile actors in any major economy are the little guys.  These are the small-businesses without the financial resources to overcome the loss of even a small percentage of their annual revenue.  When boycotters choose to publically call for the cessation of purchases from Israel, they directly harm Israeli manufacturers at the lower end of the production chain including small companies who produce Israeli-oriented products like Judaica, souvenirs and crafts.  These companies are unable to overcome the hurdle imposed by a significant drop in income and are forced to lay off laborers.  Perhaps it’s ironic but in many cases the boycotts hurt Palestinian laborers just as much as Israelis because dips in employment in Israel typically hurt Arab workers just as much as their Jewish counterparts.

The response that we can therefore each take upon ourselves is to make the decision to invest in Israel in some small way by going online today and buying blue and white.  This need not be a major purchase but the collective financial strength of the pro-Israel community around the world is surely far stronger than that of the BDSers.

This is one way for us to all support Israel in a pro-active and lasting way and show our enemies that we cannot be destroyed and in so doing add “Financial Zionism” to the long list of ways we’ve shown our love for the Jewish State throughout its remarkable history.

A former basketball star in the United States and Israel, Tal Brody is a Goodwill Ambassador for Israel and the Honorary Chairman of www.shop-a-fada.com – an online campaign to promote financial support of Israel.
 

Britain’s Cooperative Group Embraces The Boycott Against Israel

— By Eric Lee

On 28 April, the fifth largest supermarket chain in Britain, the Co-operative Group, voted to stop trading with Israeli companies that source some of their products from Jewish settlements in the West Bank.  It is the first British supermarket chain to do so.

For those of us who oppose boycotts targetting the Jewish state, it is easy to dismiss this as irrelevant.  After all, it’s not like the Co-op voted to ban all Israeli products.  In fact the Co-op went out of their way to say precisely that.  They’re not boycotting Israel, they said.  They’re just boycotting “companies that profit from the occupation”.

More after the jump.
The decision comes despite the Co-op’s already having taken care of the problem last year.  According to their “Human rights and trade policy” report from 2011, “Significant time and resource is dedicated to safeguarding our Policy.  For example, to ensure that none of our produce originates from the illegal Israeli settlements, we use a robust policing system of grower codes, map grid references and spot check audits on our complete supply chain. In this way we can guarantee that none of our produce comes from these settlements.”

Despite that guarantee, the Co-op felt it had to go one step further. Apparently, it was not enough to guarantee that no produce from the Jewish settlements.  They’ve gone one step further.

Before dismissing the Co-op’s decision as being no big deal, it’s worth having a look at what supporters of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the UK are saying.

The London-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), which supports a “one-state solution” which would effectively destroy Israel, is ecstatic about the Co-op decision.  “Fantastic news!” they declare on their website.  “This important development … shows yet again the growing movement for solidarity with Palestine is having a concrete impact.”  They are certain that other supermarkets will follow the Co-op lead.  And they encourage all their supporters to now sign up as members of the Co-op to show their support for the boycott decision.

In the eyes of the PSC, this is a massive win.  They’ve managed to extend the boycott of settlement goods to include produce grown inside of Israel proper.  And they’ve done this by tainting Israeli agricultural export companies as bodies which “profit from the occupation”.

This new concept allows one to call for boycotts of all kinds of Israeli companies and institutions not directly linked to the settlements.  In doing so, the boycotters are deliberately blurring the distinction between West Bank settlements and the rest of Israel. Theirs is a patient, one-step-at-a-time campaign aiming towards a complete boycott of the Jewish state.

The Guardian, a newspaper notoriously hostile to Israel, once again made no attempt at objectivity in its coverage.  Referring to the pro-Hamas PSC as “Palestinian human rights campaigners”, they noted that this was “the first time a supermarket anywhere in the west had taken such a position”.

After quoting from several supporters of the boycott (but no one from the Jewish community in Britain), they concluded their account with a sneering reference to official Israeli policy.   “Boycott campaigns against Israel are routinely denounced by Israeli officials as part of a drive to ‘delegitimise’ the Jewish state,” they wrote.

Routinely denounced.  Delegitimise —  in quotes.

British Jews are deeply worried by this development, saying that “the Co-op has not fully understood the Jewish community’s serious concerns with an ever-increasing slippery-slope boycott policy.”

They should not be alone in making this argument.  They need allies in Britain, elsewhere in Europe and around the globe.

One can oppose the policies of the Netanyahu-Mofaz government including opposing the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

But to go from there to supporting a boycott of Israeli companies that may have “profited from the occupation” is a step too far.

The PSC’s strategy is absolutely clear and they’re not hiding it. They are taking this one step at a time.

First, persuade groups like the Co-op to boycott settlement goods. Few on the Left would speak out against that.

Second, ban goods from companies which source some of their products from the settlements.  Again, very few voices would be heard against that either.

The next step is to ban all Israeli products on the basis that the Israeli economy and society “profit from the occupation”.

British Jews are feeling very worried about these developments.

One might think that this sort of thing can’t happen in America.  But it can.  The same logic – first ban settlement goods, then ban goods from those who “profit from the occupation” may well resonate in the US as well.

But if it can be shown that the concept of “those who profit from the occupation” is actually a code word for Israelis (or even Jews), we can turn this around.

The pro-Hamas “Palestinian human rights campaigners” may have gone a step too far.

This is a fight that we can win.