We need some good news for midweek too, not just for Fridays, especially after the very difficult last few days.
With the anger at John Kerry for threatening Israel with a boycott if we do not capitulate to his “peace” plan (i.e. a surrender to the Palestinians’ demands), and with the boasts of the BDS brigade (boycotts, sanctions and divestments) that their nefarious plans are gaining ground, the truth, you might be surprised and pleased to learn, is somewhat different.
Professor Efraim Inbar of the BESA Center explains to us about the boycott mirage:
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is threatening Israel with economic embargoes unless Jerusalem agrees to an American-drafted framework agreement with the Palestinians. While the merits of the current American diplomatic initiative are debatable, raising the possibility of a global refraining from economic interactions with Israel only feeds the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign waged by Israel’s enemies. Such a scenario, however, is very remote.
So far, BDS has not achieved much success; it constitutes a bearable nuisance. With the exception of isolated cases, Israeli exports are well received all over the world, particularly if they are competitive in quality and price. Due to wise economic policies gradually distancing Israel from its socialist past, the Jewish state has adapted well to a globalized economy. Israel has found ways to penetrate important markets and Israeli products are imported even by Arab states. Moreover, some Israeli-made products have unique qualities which make them indispensable.
The Israeli economy has experienced remarkable growth in the last two decades, mostly the result of the liberalization of its economy rather than auspicious political circumstances. Moreover, a survey of the international scene also indicates that the BDS impact is unlikely to change.
The American public support for Israel has remained stable for the past two decades at over 60 percent. A variety of legislative steps have already been adopted to prevent a boycott of Israeli products or institutions. Even the current administration, which has been more than once at loggerheads with Israel on Middle East issues, firmly states its opposition to BDS.
… even in Europe there are strong pockets of pro-Israeli sentiments. The EU itself has announced that it has no plans whatsoever to boycott the Israeli economy. Israeli products originating beyond the Green Line are a different story, but only a small part of the Israeli economic activity is taking place in the settlements.
Israeli exports are gradually, albeit too slowly, being redirected to Asian markets. The future is in Asia. The large Chinese and Indian economies are growing fast, as are those known as the “Asian Tigers.” The Asians are business-like and do not carry anti-Semitic historic baggage. Moreover, Israel is generally viewed in Asia as a successful country and a model to be emulated. This is true even in Central Asian states whose populations are largely Muslim.
At the same time, the political clout of the Arab world that is considered a natural ally of the Palestinians is decreasing.
Indeed, it takes a lot of imagination to see a concerted international effort to boycott the Jewish state. If Israel continues to make products with a clear qualitative edge at competitive prices, there will be many to buy them.
Kerry is simply echoing the arguments of the Israeli Left, which claims that an agreement with the Palestinians is the only way to escape international isolation. […] The electoral decline of the Israeli Left makes it more desperate and less democratic when reaching the conclusion that “Israel has to be saved from itself” by the international community.
Fortunately, Israel is not internationally isolated and most of the world does not care enough about the Palestinians to sacrifice the benefits of good bilateral relations with Israel. Israel has the leeway to decide what is good for itself.
The above good news notwithstanding, Prof. Inbar mentions the possibility of a boycott of settlement products. However, even here there have been some encouraging and interesting developments.
The Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Center, has taken a pro-active stance by suing an Australian anti-Israel academic by using Australia’s own anti-racism laws:
Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, an Israel-based civil rights organization, last year filed suit against Jake Lynch, director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.
The lawsuit focuses on Lynch’s refusal to sponsor an Israeli academic from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for a fellowship in Australia.
Lynch’s opposition stemmed from his support for the BDS campaign against Israel, and, according to reports, the fact that Hebrew University has a campus on Mount Scopus, viewed by some as beyond the Green Line, and ties to the Israeli army.
Shurat HaDin has argued that Lynch breached Australia’s 1975 Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful for anyone “to do any act involving a distinction, exclusion … or preference based on race … or national or ethnic origin.”
“It is the first time that Australia’s anti-racism laws have been utilized against those seeking to harm Israeli academics or businesses because of their national origin,” Shurat HaDin’s Australian-born solicitor, Akiva (Andrew) Hamilton told Haaretz in November.
The case is due to return to a federal court on Wednesday, according to The Australian, when Lynch’s lawyers will attempt to have the case against him thrown out.
Some more BDS fails:
A massive legal win for Israel occurred in France last year when a French court threw out a request by the PLO to sue Veolia for building the light rail in Jerusalem. Following this victory, another one followed recently when a French court fined BDS activists for discrimination when they tried to boycott a supermarket for selling Israeli products.
These wins have now been topped by SodaStream winning an anti-discrimination lawsuit against French BDS activists:
A French court has ordered a Pro Palestinian Authority group affiliated with the Boycott Israel movement to compensate the company and to stop all activities alleging that SodaStream products are illegally made and sold.
Even in Britain, the heartland of the BDS movement, Israel’s cause was upheld when the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by BDS protestors who were convicted of criminal trespass when they tried to boycott an Ahava shop:
Britain’s Supreme Court reject a third and final appeal by four anti-Israel activists, who were convicted for criminal trespass after chaining themselves to the shop of Israeli cosmetics company Ahava.
The incident – in which the activists chained themselves to a concrete block outside the shop in central London’s Covent Garden – took place in 2011, after four years of demonstrations by radical anti-Israel groups calling for shoppers to boycott Ahava. Anti-Zionist groups claimed the company was committing “war crimes” due to the presence of a factory in Mitzpe Shalom by the Dead Sea in Judea, east of Hevron.
But the Supreme Court rejected the appeal, saying that the factory did not contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention simply by being located in a “settlement”, stating that in its view that would only be the case if it actively encouraged people to move there. According to some international legal experts such factories – and the presence of Jewish communities in general – are not illegal at all, since the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to Judea and Samaria.
The judgement further stated that any link to a breach of the Convention “was not an integral part of the activity carried on at the shop, which was retail selling.”
The court further ruled that even if the goods were “misleadingly labeled”, in this case it would not be an offence, since “the number of people whose purchase might be influenced by such a distinction was sufficiently small as to be immaterial” – a stinging blow to the anti-Israel Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has for years failed to garner mainstream support for its calls to boycott the Jewish state.
Britain’s Zionist Federation hailed the ruling as a “victory over bigotry”.
An interesting anti-academic boycott idea has been put forward by Israeli professor Dan Hiuli who suggests an RDS movement: Retractions and Disavowals in Scholarship:
Israeli artist, playwright and professor Dahn Hiuni on Tuesday said he launched a new movement called RDS – Retractions and Disavowals in Scholarship – to encourage academics to revisit their work to excise references from scholars who have since lost credibility as public intellectuals because of their bias against Israel and support of BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanction movement, that threatens to isolate and punish Israel.
In Hiuni’s case, his attempt to remove University of California at Berkeley professor Judith Butler from his 2005 doctoral thesis at Penn State was met with resistance by the school — “though, they had probably never had such a request,” he admitted to The Algemeiner in an interview — so he began circulating a strongly-worded addendum via email and on the Internet, where it has received echo from other scholars also fed up with the anti-Israel tone from reflexively left-wing colleagues on campus.
Hiuni described RDS as “anti-BDS and pro-Israel,”…
In the nine years since Hiuni published his thesis, Judith Butler has been accused of “trying to use ‘Jewish ethics’ to prove that Zionism is illegitimate,” by pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon, for example, while Asaf Romirowsky, Middle East analyst and adjunct scholar at the Foundation for Defense for Democracies and the Middle East Forum, wrote, in an article published by The Algemeiner entitled, ‘The Voices of BDS,’ that Butler now “loathes Israel to a point where she has unapologetically whitewashed Israel’s foes, labeling Hamas and Hezbollah [now recognized internationally as terrorist groups] as ‘social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left.’”
Hiuni said he was frustrated with the relentless Israel bashing in the academic environment and felt that his pro-Israel and pro-Jewish views had made him a pariah on his own campus. In fact, Hiuni said, he left two better-paying, tenure-track teaching jobs to be able to maintain his independence and pro-Israel stance in his art.
At the root of it all, he says, what he’d like to know is how there came to be so many professors like Judith Butler: “I am very frustrated with their ambivalence, people who have never even been to Israel, a Jew, a lesbian, an intellectual, faulting Israeli democracy and praising its opposite, Hamas or Hezbollah. The world has gone mad, but it’s our duty as artists to find ways to tell the truth.”
Read the whole article. It’s an eye-opener, and extremely interesting considering the professor’s field is the Arts, infamous for its extreme leftist credentials.
We wish Prof. Hiuni much success, and may this RDS movement be the seeds of a much larger counter-boycott, pro-active pro-Israel movement.
To conclude, if you want to actively counter the boycott yourselves, you could visit the Boutique Katom website which promotes and sells products from communities in Judea and Samaria (h/t Kenneth Blum from Eli). From the website:
Boutique Katom is a high-end online shop which specializes in items and products created and developed by people located in Judea and Samaria. We are dedicated to providing customers a means to support & connect with those in Judea and Samaria while receiving beautiful goods. We will offer exceptional customer service in a visibly relaxing and engaging online shopping environment. Our mission is to provide customers with unique, high-quality merchandise at affordable prices all at the same time instilling in the buyer that their purchases are directly supporting the people living in Judea and Samaria.
Have another look at my Buycott post for more suggestions. I’m sure that knowing this is for a higher purpose, we will all be able to spend many hours (and shekels) in happy shopping. 🙂