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BDS is part of the greater struggle

June 8, 2015 at 12:17 pm

The state of Israel is being very sensitive when it comes to the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, with decision-makers in Tel Aviv considering it to be a strategic threat to the state. So much so, in fact, that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has appointed Minister Yigal Ardenne to deal with the consequences of BDS and to implement efforts that will reduce the harm that comes from the movement’s activities. Ardenne’s initiatives will include any ministries that could possibly have any relation to the greater struggle against BDS; he is also working to include Israeli embassies and pro-Israel Jewish organisations around the world, especially in Europe and the Middle East.

The situation is not limited to this particular front; in fact, Netanyahu’s government is focusing a great deal of energy on working directly with the US Congress so that it may place pressure on any European country ready to apply sanctions on Israel. This was expressed in the bill that US politician Ben Cardin proposed to the Republican majority congress, urging the government to persuade its European counterparts not to place limits on Israel or pressure it to stop producing goods in the occupied Palestinian territories. The cluster of Israeli settlements that are responsible for producing the majority of exportable settlement goods in Israel have expressed their concern that BDS is now a major way to shake the foundations of Israel’s legitimacy.

Despite the fact that many Zionist thinkers and researchers have been tracking the developments and effects of BDS, a thorough investigation led by right-wing journalist Ben-Dror Yemeni is due to be published in Yedioth Ahranoth and is said to expand on and monitor the risks of the growing movement and the action required to address its threats. While Yemeni has made it clear that BDS has yet to have a significant impact on the Israeli economy, it has succeeded in changing global consciousness towards Israel, especially in the United States, Israel’s closest ally and home to the most influential pro-Israel lobby in the world; any change in the US can be felt in Tel Aviv. Despite the fact that Israel enjoys a great deal of public support in America, according to opinion polls, Yemeni believes that this is misleading and says that there is a clear and steady shift in Israel’s status within US universities, research centres and the media.

The current trend within the US Democratic Party is to not to hesitate when it comes to contributing to BDS initiatives because the small numbers of anti-Zionists within the party are now a force to be reckoned with; all Democrats wishing to run in the presidential elections must take BDS into account. There is no doubt within Israeli society that if the movement continues to grow at this rate, it has the potential to threaten the Israeli economy, which has already suffered indirect losses. Cooperation between Israel and Europe could grind to a halt, not least in scientific research.

What is undoubtedly the most troubling factor of the BDS campaign for Israelis, though, is that anti-Zionist Jewish Americans are among its most enthusiastic supporters; indeed, Jews are behind most large BDS campaigns in major American cities. What Zionist forces within Israel find frustrating is that a number of young Jews today have alienated themselves completely from the Israeli government and community and have taken an anti-Zionist stance. There is no doubt that the participation of young Jewish elites in the BDS campaign is causing a rift within Jewish communities around the world; for this reason, Israel is attempting to implement a programme worth billions of dollars that will enhance communication between Jews, aimed specifically at young American Jews.

The BDS movement can have many positive returns for the Palestinian community and it is therefore imperative that they develop a comprehensive strategy that will enable them to communicate effectively with leaders in countries around the world in order to see what the most effective strategies are. It is also assumed to be within the PLO’s best interest to cooperate with BDS activists in order to help them work efficiently and collect the funds necessary to carry out their activities and events. Palestinian political factions must be reformulated in a way that will serve the purposes of the BDS moment for more effective results. It is also very important to communicate with Jewish communities around the world, especially those in the US, in an effort to explain the gravity of the Palestinian situation to them and the magnitude of the crimes that are committed by Israel on a regular basis. We must encourage Jewish communities to question Zionist propaganda and adopt positions that are in line with universal human rights and values. In short, the call of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel is part of a greater struggle that we must endure.

Translated from Al-Araby Al-Jadid, 4 June, 2015.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.