How they Boycott Israel
Boycotts are social protests with the aim of changing Israeli government policy
A major and serious boycott for Israel is the economic boycott. One form is divestment (the opposite of investment), where investors refrain from investing in Israeli companies or in companies that trade with Israel. For example, in the future major European banks will bar their institutions from providing loans to Israeli companies that manufacture, build or conduct commerce in ‘occupied’ territories. This could include a bar on providing funding for mortgages in these territories.
Perhaps the best known boycott is the consumer boycott of Israeli products or businesses that operate in Israel. Other forms of boycott are the academic boycott of Israeli universities and scholars (including granting of scholarships and research funding) and the boycott of Israeli cultural institutions or Israeli sport venues.
Major Boycotting Organizations
- The Arab League comprises 22 Middle Eastern and African countries, including Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. It has maintained an official boycott of Israeli companies and Israeli-made goods since the founding of Israel in 1948, although it is claimed that the boycott has not had serious effect on the Israeli economy.
- The World Council of Churches (WCC) has called on member churches e.g. the Methodist Church to support an international boycott of Israeli settlement produce and services. It requests member churches to inform themselves about settlement products imported into their countries and for churches to practice morally responsible investment in order to influence businesses linked to the Israeli occupation and its ‘illegal’ settlements.
- The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has been called upon to take action against Israeli and international businesses that are profiting from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
- The European Union (EU) now prohibits EU institutions from cooperating, transferring funds, or giving scholarships or research grants to Israeli bodies in the West Bank, E. Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. In effect, the guidelines forbid the funding or dealing with entities in territories located beyond the 1949 Armistice Line. The EU also says that any new agreements between Israel and the EU should include a provision stating that Jewish communities in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are not part of Israel, and hence not covered by the agreement. Current EU law stipulates that Israeli products originating from beyond the pre-1967 lines cannot be labeled as “Made in Israel.” So Israeli settlement products are to be labeled.
- The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a global campaign against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. By ‘international law’, it means Israel’s ‘occupation’ of the ‘Palestinian’ West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. By ‘Palestinian rights’ it refers to the land ‘ethnically cleansed’ of its ‘Palestinian owners’ and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.
Today, an alarming number of countries within the European Union and beyond have embraced BDS as a form of economic warfare aimed to cripple Israel’s economy and demonize its very existence
[ US Congressman Peter Roskam, February 2015 ]
Some Governments Reject BDS
Canada: It’s not all bad news for Israel. Canada has a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations with Israel, and the Canadian Parliament rejects BDS, link, link. In 2015 Canada’s Parliament voted 229 in favour of condemning the BDS movement with 51 opposed.
United Kingdom: Proposed British Government directives aim to prevent any UK public body from imposing a boycott since such activity is ‘potentially damaging to the UK’s relationship with Israel’, link. British leaders have publicly opposed boycotts:
We believe in Israel’s right to defend itself and we will always oppose boycotts [David Cameron]
I utterly oppose boycotts of Israel … I also will reject any attempt to delegitimise the state of Israel [Ed Miliband]
United States: Despite long-standing US policy concerning Israel and the ‘occupied territories’, the US has introduced legislation which discourages corporate or state-affiliated entities from participating in the BDS movement, link.
BDS is Failing
According to a 2016 Bloomberg report, BDS may not be working. Israel’s economy is actually looking better than some of its allies, link:
Israel’s economy is expected to grow 2.8 percent this year compared with 1.8 percent for the U.S. and the European Union. In 2015 its industrial high-tech exports rose 13 percent from a year earlier to $23.7 billion [Bloomberg, 2016]
An honest evaluation shows that the BDS campaign has achieved nothing positive … BDS has not weakened or isolated the Jewish state. Quite the opposite: Between 2004 and 2016, Israel experienced unprecedented growth and became significantly more secure economically, socially, and diplomatically. During the campaign, foreign investment in Israel has increased by 200 percent; foreign trade has grown by 42 percent; trade with EU countries has more than doubled; trade with the US has risen by more than 35 percent; trade with Asia has increased 1,200 percent; and Israel’s GDP has grown by more than 64 percent. [Rabbi Eugene Korn, April 2018]
The Boycott is Illogical because it’s Your Loss!
Boycott Israel at your own risk! Since we live in an interconnected world it is virtually impossible to avoid using Israeli products. Take fresh agricultural produce for example. In 2010, Israel’s fresh agricultural exports totaled $1.33 billion, and some 87% was exported to Europe [UN Commodity Trade Statistics].
Why boycott and go hungry?
What Bible prophecy says is happening today – Israeli food is spanning the world:
In the days to come the people of Israel, the descendants of Jacob, will take root like a tree, and they will blossom and bud. The earth will be covered with the fruit they produce (Isa 27.6)
The most notable Israeli fruit exports in 2014 were dates, grapes, avocados, bananas, peaches and citrus fruits, link. Most of the produce from Israel’s Arava region, such as tomatoes, peppers, dates and mangoes is exported. Fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in Israel and on its settlements in the West Bank can be seen on sale at all the major supermarkets and greengrocers. The UK is the top market for Israeli citrus fruit, followed by Scandinavia, Russia, Germany and France. In UK supermarkets you will find avocado, sweet potato, tomatoes, galia melon, peppers, chilli, figs, strawberries, grapes, mango, plums, pomegranate, lychees and nectarines – all from Israel and its ‘illegal’ settlements! Is it logical to boycott Israeli fresh produce when we eat so much of it? And, despite increasing difficulties for Israeli exporters, will the boycott be totally effective?
OK. So you should shop around for non-Israeli fresh produce (shopping may take a little longer). But what about your hi-tech world? Does your laptop have an Intel chip inside, or use a firewall, the Google search engine or Microsoft Office? If so, then you are using Israeli designs and innovations (likewise for your cell phone). In 2013 UK cosmologist Prof Stephen Hawking withdrew from a high-profile Israeli Presidential Conference in support of an academic boycott of the country. But to be consistent and fully boycott Israel his whole computer based communication system must be changed since it runs on Intel microchips designed in Israel!
Why boycott and go thirsty?
Water for agricultural purposes is at a premium throughout the world – including Israel. But Israeli agricultural research has developed new technologies to enable farmers to use brackish (salty) water for irrigation. Since brackish water is abundant in most desert areas of the world, these Israeli techniques have wide international applications – providing they are not boycotted!
“I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse” (Gen 12.3)