A senior Israeli official has acknowledged that activists in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign are doing a "great job", but warned that there "will be a price tag" for such actions.
Ron Brummer, executive director for operations of the Israeli Ministry for Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy, made the remarks at an Israeli American Council event on 5 November, at a panel on how to fight BDS, reports Mondoweiss.
Brummer told the well-attended session that "the BDS organisations…have evolved. They have improved. They are doing a great job on the other side and we have to adapt ourselves".
Echoing the rhetoric of Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, whose purview includes combating BDS, Brummer said Israel has "to move from defence to offense".
He continued: If you want to promote boycotts against Israel, be my guest, it's your right. But there will be a price tag.
According to Brummer, "what is happening now in Europe" with respect to "economic divestment" campaigning "might be ground zero for the next stage of BDS", what he described as "a much more severe danger to Israel".
Promoting divestment from Israel based on the alleged saying that companies who operate in the West Bank, over the Green Line, are violating human rights– this is the narrative that BDS organizations are trying to implement in the UN, in different institutions, but mainly when they encounter European companies.
The Israeli official recognised the success of BDS campaigners' tactics.
Think about the process. I'm CEO of a company. I'm being approached time and time, over and over again by those BDS organisations, who claim that 'Because you operate in the West Bank, you are violating human rights'. If I want to react and I want to do something – and all of us don't want to be considered as violators of human rights – I might just consider stop working in the West Bank.
Revealingly, Brummer claimed that there is little to distinguish between boycotting West Bank settlements and Israel "proper", telling the audience: "Israel does not have two different economic ecosystems, like, Israel within the green line and Israel over the green line."
"If you want to divest from the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, you have to divest from Israel, which means you boycott Israel completely. This is exactly what the BDS delegitimisation organisations are trying to do these days."
According to Brummer, it is the growing threat posed by divestment in Europe that has driven the recent wave of anti-BDS legislation in US states.
Because eventually when a CEO of a company let's say in Denmark, has to decide, Does he listen to any kind of UN institution or any kind of human rights report that is being published, or does he want to lose 10's of millions of contracts in Texas or in Florida? – most of the CEOs will decide not to lose those 10's of millions of dollars.
Brummer claimed that "the Israeli government has nothing to do with" the legislative initiatives, "but we look at it from the side, and we think this is a very good process".