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Boycott goes prime-time in Israel

The country’s number-one news show runs lengthy piece on the growing movement – and blames it not on anti-Semitism or Israel-bashing, but on settlements.

Stock photo boycott activists in France. (Photo: Olga Besnard / Shutterstock.com)

On Saturday night the boycott of Israel gained an impressive new level of mainstream recognition in this country. Channel 2 News, easily the most watched, most influential news show here, ran a heavily-promoted, 16-minute piece on the boycott in its 8 p.m. prime-time program. The piece was remarkable not only for its length and prominence, but even more so because it did not demonize the boycott movement, it didn’t blame the boycott on anti-Semitism or Israel-bashing. Instead, top-drawer reporter Dana Weiss treated the boycott as an established, rapidly growing presence that sprang up because of Israel’s settlement policy and whose only remedy is that policy’s reversal.

In her narration, Weiss ridicules the settlers and the government’s head-in-the-sand reaction to the rising tide. The segment from the West Bank’s Barkan Industrial Park opens against a background of twangy guitar music like from a Western. “To the world it’s a black mark, a symbol of the occupation,” she reads. “But here they insist it’s actually a point of light in the area, an island of coexistence that continues to flourish despite efforts to erase it from the map.” A factory owner who moved his business to Barkan from the other side of the Green Line makes a fool of himself by saying, “If the state would only assist us by boycotting the Europeans and other countries causing us trouble …” The Barkan segment ends with the manager of Shamir Salads saying that between the European and Palestinian boycott, he’s losing about $115,000 to $143,000 a month in sales. “In my view,” he says, “it will spread from [the West Bank] to other places in Israel that have no connection to the territories.”

Weiss likewise ridicules Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who runs the government’s “hasbara war,” as he puts it. Weiss: “Yes, in the Foreign Ministry they are for the time being sticking to the old conception: it’s all a question of hasbara. This week the campaign’s new weapon, developed with the contributions of world Jewry: (Pause) Another hasbara agency, this time with the original name ‘Face To Israel.’” She quotes the co-owner of Psagot Winery saying the boycott is “nothing to get excited about,” that people have been boycotting Jews for 2,000 years, and concluding, “If you ask me, in the last 2,000 years, our situation today is the best it’s ever been.” That final phrase, along with what Weiss describes as Elkin’s “conceptzia,” are the same infamous words that Israelis associate with the fatal complacency that preceded the surprise Yom Kippur War.

The Channel 2 piece features abortive telephone calls with boycott “victims” who didn’t want to be interviewed for fear of bad publicity. The most dramatic testimony comes from Daniel Reisner, an attorney with the blue-chip law firm Herzog Fox Neeman who advises such clients. He explains:

Most of the companies victimized by the boycott behave like rape victims. They don’t want to tell anybody. It’s as if they’ve contracted some sort of disease and they don’t want anyone to know.

More and more companies are coming to us for advice – quietly, in the evening, where no one can hear them – and they say: ‘I’ve gotten into this or that situation; is there something you can do to help?’”

Without giving the names of his clients or the extent of their losses, Reisner says the boycott is causing Israeli businesses to lose foreign contracts and investors. “My fear is of a snowball effect,” he says. Prof. Shai Arkin, vice president for R&D at Hebrew University, says there are many cases of Israeli candidates for research fellowships at foreign universities being turned down because their resumes include service in the Israeli army.

Advice from a friend abroad comes from Matthew Gould, the British ambassador to Israel: “I love Israel. And I’m worried that in another five years Israel will wake up and find that it doesn’t have enough friends.”

Weiss asks the EU ambassador here, Lars Faaborg-Andersen: “If Israel would change its policy, all this would go away?” The ambassador replies: “Yes. It is about Israeli policies. If the settlement business continue[s] to expand, Israel will be facing increasing isolation.”

The piece presents Tzipi Livni as the country’s would-be savior. She says the current negotiations with the Palestinians (in which she represents Israel, along with Netanyahu confidant Isaac Molho) are holding back the boycott’s expansion, but that “if there is a crisis [in the talks], everything will break loose.” She says she is “shouting at people to wake up.”

Weiss: “What does this all mean? What is it going to be like here? South Africa?”

Livni: “Yes. I spoke with some of the Jews who are living n South Africa now. They say, ‘We thought we had time. We thought we could deal with this. We thought we didn’t need the world so much for everything. And it happens all at once.’”

Sixteen minutes of prime time on Israel’s all-popular TV news show on Saturday night, the end of the week in this country. Bracing stuff. A wrench thrown into the national denial machine – and by Channel 2. Definitely a sign of progress – and of life. Another reminder of why this country is worth fighting for – which, for many of us Israeli boycott-supporters, if not necessarily most of us, is what the boycott, strange as it may sound, is all about.

(Watch the segment here. The English-language segments, interviews with UK Ambassador Matthew Gould and EU Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen, can be seen at 08:11 and 14:05, respectively.)

The world’s blatant double standard – in Israel’s favor
The academic boycott of Israel: No easy answers
Hiding from the boycott: An industry of settlement deceit
What can we learn from the Israel apartheid analogy? 

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    1. Rehmat

      The trick is to blame the dog and not its master. Israeli government plans and several Jewish groups in the US and Canada fund the new Jewish settlements.

      These settlements have been condemned by the US, EU and UN for decades – but Tel Aviv has always defied world opinion while rubbing Palestinian nose.

      The so-called “antisemitic” or “Israel bashing” terms are reserved for those who criticizes Israel’s thuggish policies – and not things which serve Zionist interests in the long run.

      Both Chomsky and Finkelstein are against BDS movement – while David Horowitz claims that BDS supports new Jewish holocaust.


      Reply to Comment
      • Enola Gay

        Rehmet, you are being disingenuous. This article was written by and attempting to reach people who want Israel to exists. It is an attempt to trade the settlement project for normalization which thre ambassador to the EU suggests. You, on the other hand, want Israel to go away and you would like the Jews to emigrate.

        Reply to Comment
        • Rehmat

          Since you two didn’t write the article, you can interpret its intention as required from a professional hasbara agent.

          BTW: There are a number of Muslims who’re Crypto-Zionist, like Zakria Fareed of CNN, notoriou Rushede and India’s ambassador in London, Sir Feroz Khan Noon, who edited the Balfour Declaration to become sellable to the Muslim world.

          Let’s not forget, it was Turkish ambassador in Paris who saved 100,000 European Jews while several Zionist militias were helping Nazi Army.

          In fact, I know two Jewish bloggers, Gilad Atzmon and Roger Tucker, who want Israel to “vanish” into one democrat state Palestine.


          Reply to Comment
          • Enola Gay

            Why is it so important to you to see who is Jewish?

            Reply to Comment
      • Joel

        No. The trick is for white, leftist Europeans to find common cause with anti-Zionist Muslims, since the whites are too scared or clueless to fend off the growing Islamization of their country.

        It’s right out of Scapegoating 101.

        Reply to Comment
        • JG

          Where do you get this brilliant thoughts from, Anders Breivik?

          Reply to Comment
          • Joel


            I can’t believe you even remember that guys name. Who’s the oddball here?

            Reply to Comment
    2. William Burns

      So, did they talk to any boycott supporters?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Richard Witty

      Nice article.

      BDS is a mixed bag. It is the idealistic least violent means to force Israel to adopt humane policies and practices towards sovereign Palestine, Palestinian community and individual Palestinians.

      It seeks a lawful outcome.

      And, BDS is a fascist unconditional movement to remove Jews from the region. Willing to deny Israelis civil rights through the maximalist definition of right of return (anyone descended from anyone that ever lived anywhere in what was Palestine, to anywhere in what was Palestine. In a word, a great-grandchild of someone that once lived in Ramallah to Jaffa).

      From volume, its hard to know if the idealist and moderate BDS is the real BDS, or if the maximalist ethnically defined shunning is BDS.

      IF Israel responds to the idealist approach, as Larry implies, then it will land as Israel, and a better Israel.

      If Israel rejects the idealist approach, or if the Palestinians close paths for actual negotiation – either for internal division or ideological purity (also a factor), then boycott will ensue that likely devolves/is the more fascist kind.

      There are fascist themes even in some of the idealist proposal. Like requiring mass forced removal of Jewish residents that previously were subsidized, rather than allowing for choice as to residence and sovereignty, and compensation to perfect title.

      Mass forced removal of 650,000 east of the green line, is NOT benign, not law.

      Reply to Comment
      • There are fascist themes even in some of the idealist proposal. Like requiring mass forced removal of “Jewish residents that previously were subsidized, rather than allowing for choice as to residence and sovereignty, and compensation to perfect title.

        Mass forced removal of 650,000 east of the green line, is NOT benign, not law.”

        If I were a settler, I doubt I would want to stay absent the IDF. Giving them that choice isn’t much of a choice. One of the consequences of all the decades of conflict is that people are spent like coins to abstract ends, at least abstract to the person spent. There truly was a brutality to the Gaza settler removal.

        Even compensation involving funded resettling and employment can fail to touch the believed reason for settlement. There is something of a no return to settlement expansion.

        A permanent settlement freeze, dismantling of those considered illegal even in Israel, and a change in IDF accountability might help open new options. But those options would not be liked by many settlers remaining. This policy, begun as a people the ground defensive measure, has boxed all sides into apparently intransigent positions.

        Reply to Comment
      • BOOZ

        @Richard :

        Idealists and maximalists are under the same tent.

        I might have understood the idealists motivation.

        Joining hands with the maximalists…Hell, no, never. IMHO, they are part of the problem,not of the solution, whenever they use disparaging notions such as “apartheid” “colonialism” and so on.. As Ami Kaufman half admitted it on this website,the + 972 team are also colonists… notwthistanding their pretense to try to heal themselves.

        Reply to Comment
        • Richard Witty

          I think the issue poses two questions:

          1. Is Palestine endeavoring to be a democratic state, applying equal due process before color-blind law, or less than that in design and in practice.

          2. If settlers are willing to be Palestinian citizens (not Israeli), then that is their choice, key word is choice.

          Both features seem necessary to me for peace, and for human decency and justice.

          The original settlement design is the very bad judgment in this case, again reiterating the primary importance of design (for pragmatic and moral concerns – related).

          Noting that there are two BDS movements is important. Its important for Israeli defenders to note that most of BDS movement at least in the west desires a change in policies, to the European standard of democracy constructed by consent of the governed.

          And, for the left to be aware that there is a BDS that is outside of consistency with moral sensitivity and democratic principles.

          I personally will participate in peace demonstrations in which the two-state solution is the clear goal, and some support BDS.

          I will NOT participate in a demonstration that has ANY presence of “Zionism is racism”, as that is contrary to my voice, not skew, not similar.

          I believe that Zionism is important to the Jewish people, was and is, that our condition as a whole in the world, would be far far worse without the presence of Israel.

          Reply to Comment
          • Marianne Torres

            Richard Witty: You asked: “Is Palestine endeavoring to be a democratic state, applying equal due process before color-blind law”.

            Why would you demand it from Palestine when Israel is absolutely not willing to do it and has proven that since its inception 70+ years ago?

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Witty

            Are you seriously arguing that Palestine does not intend to be a democratic state? Or that it should not?

            That would make the BDS movement a lie.

            Better that it be a truth, that Palestine really does mean to be a better state than just another fascist one in the region.

            And, the question really is important for progress of actual peace efforts.

            Reply to Comment
    4. Kolumn9

      The worst thing that can happen to the Israeli economy is rockets on Tel Aviv and bus bombs in Jerusalem. Compared to a decline in a growth rate that a boycott might cause, these are vastly more damaging. Both are significantly more likely if Israel surrenders its security assets to the Palestinians. If Israel surrenders the Jordan Valley the Palestinians will be bringing in rockets and setting them up pointing at Tel Aviv tomorrow. If Israel surrenders East Jerusalem a suicide bomber would have to walk a couple of blocks to get on a bus in order to massacre Israeli women and children. A boycott isn’t going to change either of these realities, nor is it going to make Israelis more likely to embrace risk. The reverse is more likely to be true.

      Better to lose money than lives.

      Reply to Comment
      • Y-Man

        “If Israel surrenders East Jerusalem a suicide bomber would have to walk a couple of blocks to get on a bus in order to massacre Israeli women and children” Well it’s a good thing your politics isn’t driven by paranoia, fear and victimization. Very healthy and normal way to see the world.

        Reply to Comment
        • Richard Witty

          Since its only happened in the neighborhood of 600 times in the last 15 years, calling concern about terrorists “paranoia”, is a little off.

          Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Healthy and normal? No. Realistic? Yes.

          Buses full of civilians blowing up and rockets falling on our cities is not paranoia. It is an unfortunately likely scenario that we already went through. That you think it fantastic only demonstrates how little you know about what goes on here. It is a bit rich that you have the gall to comment on the topic at all.

          Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        We’ll see how brave you are when a tank of gas costs you 20 NIS a liter. My guess is you’ll be doing a lot less driving and a lot more walking, so I hope you’re in good shape.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          My choice is between paying 20 nis per liter or seeing my loved ones blown up? Yeah, this one is going to be hard.

          Reply to Comment
    5. Marianne Torres

      It’s not just the settlements. It’s apartheid. It’s the concept of a racist, apartheid state for one kind of people only that keeps fuels BDS.

      The settlements are just a SYMPTOM of that racism.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Greg Pollock

      “Definitely a sign of progress – and of life. Another reminder of why this country is worth fighting for –”

      No side has a monopoly on patriotism or national love. The suppression of speech, as in the Boycott Law, is an attempt to make patriotism the property of the national right. The national right seemed to have won the electoral debate, but keeps pressing forward, creating, I think, new vulnerabilities for itself.

      Heartening to hear your recounting of Livni. But, given the actions/statements of three ministers, it is hard to believe she holds more than cosmetic sway.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Ibn Yusef

      Leftist ASSH*LES do more damage than Hamas and Hezbollah together.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Eddie

      The “conceptzia” analogy is entirely false. had Israel not had the Sinai and Golan Heights in 73, they may not have survived the YK war. Think about that. there was also an arms embargo on Israel back then.
      The overall exports from Settlement is not that huge. the trade balance with the EU and Israel is such that Israel imports more than it exports – so Israel can also boycott the EU if they get really silly, eg Scandinavia.

      Reply to Comment
    9. sh

      “A wrench thrown into the national denial machine …”

      I wish. I remember Haim Yavin doing a series on the settlers. Prime Time, Channel two, circa 2005. The dust settled after a week or two and so did hundreds of thousands more settlers.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Tomer

      BDS is a waste of time. I have been listening to this rubbish for years – even Norman Finkelstein thinks its a loony cult & will achieve nothing.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Jean-Pierre

      Larry Deftner’s paper is typically « left-zionist ». It brings the blame of BDS advances to post-67 settlements and not to the State which has supported them for almost 50 decades. It (still) expresses the idea that a war criminal israeli politician – Tzipi Livni – may present an alternative long-term view to the the slow swallowing of anything palestinien on both sides of the (erased) Green Line. I have fun at seeing that BDS may scare some bad people, but I also realize that getting rid of an abnormal “ethnic” or “religious” state – in favour of a state for all its citizen” is quite another matter.

      Reply to Comment
    12. It all goes back to the book of Exodus, which was written by a real estate mogul. What god would encourage a people to attack and destroy a village and take it for itself? This set a precedent for everyone to conquer in the name of God. The whole attitude of the world has to be totally overhauled.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Apparently the Economic Minister hasn’t gotten the memo about an international boycott threatening Israel. Check out this post from Naftali Bennett.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Hypocrite world

      Good to see people standing against injustice to occupation of palestine .
      Few years ago there were very few voices against occupation today people all around the globe are against it and are showing disgust to Israeli actions of settlement enterprise .
      It is because US supports ISrael in its terrorism and occupation .
      If US vetos any UN resolution condemning settlements then voices grow more .
      Only Boycotts and sanctions can make Israel follow international law

      Reply to Comment
    15. UR

      curious that the main source for the ‘observation’ that the BDS is being felt is Reisner who, probably more than any one, might be deemed responsible for the demonization of Israel as his role as chief honcho at the public international law dept of the IDF – not the correct mil language but that’s effectively what he was at a crucial period in which the demonization was taking hold (mid 90s to mid noughties) – the time at which we were being primed and coached for hate on the basis of the blood and gore which was on view thanks to him.

      and now he’s making a bloody private business of it.

      i suspect there’s some kind of private issue going on here – perhaps he left because he was trying to warn them about the demonization and they didn’t listen or he was booted out and now he’s experiencing schadenfreude at the witnessing of all this hatred.

      in any event, i don’t think he’s reliable – if nothing else he’s tripping over his ego

      Reply to Comment
    16. Ragfish

      In 1938, Sudeten Czechoslavakia was ceded to Germany owing to Nazi claims of oppression of the ethnic German population in that region.
      The result is that the Czech fortifications were diplomatically surrendered, leaving that nation open for Hitler’s Lebensraum expansion.
      Today, the Arab narrative is parallel regarding the residents of Judea, Samaria, East Jerusalem and Gaza. The results of creating another terror state between Israel and Jordan is predictible.
      According to KGB defector Ion Pacepa, the Romanian KGB crafted the narrative of a Palestinian people, entitled to self determination and national liberation. In the 1960’s this was a global sceam to undermine the West with similar movements crafted in Latin America, Cuba and the Middle East.
      American Jewry has been duped into believing this narrative, ignoring the fact that a Jewish state, Israel, has been a blessing to them. It must be recognized that those advocating for an end to Israel’s authority over Judea and Samaria are signing onto Israel’s death warrant. International pressure should instead be directed to Jordan, the Palestinian (Judenrein-ethnically cleansed of Jews) state created out of 78% of the British Mandate in 1946. Talk about apartheid, how many synagogues (or Jews for that matter) are permitted to live within Jordan or the 22 Arab/Islamic nations surrounding Israel in the Middle East?
      The strategy of maintaining Arabs for 4 generations as refugees is unique only to the descendents of the Arabs who left Israel. Jordan’s disenfranchising their West Bank citizens in 1983 is to their shame and has left their Arab coreligionists stateless.
      The spirit of Amelik is riding high as even some Israeli Jews are being duped via the humanitarian, social justice argument.
      Proverbs 12:10 – … the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

      Reply to Comment
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