This past summer Steve Wozniak announced a new Apple Inc. office in Herziliya, Israel. Superstar musicians, such as Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, and KISS, performed in Tel Aviv in September. This month, 350 anthropologists from universities, such as Harvard, Yale, and Columbia, signed an online petition endorsing an academic boycott of Israel. In response, the Faculty for Academic Freedom, on its website, posted a petition that now has nearly 1,200 signatures from academics from universities and colleges around the world opposing the boycott. Just a few of many headlines signaling victory and resistance against the infamous Boycott Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement. Although the BDS movement is disturbing showing nothing but hatred toward Israel, it is not a cause for concern historically and economically.
Historically, Israel survived an improbable victory in ’67 without foreign help, especially an embargo on Israel from France. This is discussed in Dan Senor and Saul Singer’s book, “Start Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle”: After Israeli independence, then-President Charles de Gaulle allied with Israel and promised military equipment and fighter aircraft. However, three days prior to Israel’s preemptive attack against Egypt and Syria, de Gaulle retracted his promise and no French military assistance was delivered to Israel. Senor and Singer write, “The French Betrayal had built a consensus in Israel that it could no longer rely so heavily on foreign arms suppliers. Israel decided that it must move quickly to produce major weapons systems, such as tanks and fighter aircraft, even though no other small country had successfully done so.”
Israel did not let this letdown prevent ingenuity and a “can-do” attitude in producing weapons to fight against Egypt’s then-president, Abdel Nasser’s mission: to finish Hitler’s work of annihilating the Jews. This situation is an example of what Israel did and still is able to do: be self-sufficient even militarily. “The major increase in military R&D that followed France’s boycott of Israel gave a generation of Israeli engineers remarkable experience,” writes Senor and Singer.
Economically, the numbers do not lie when referring to the Israeli economy. Diverse startup companies, such as those in the e-commerce and Biotech fields, account for more startups than countries such as Japan, China, and the United Kingdom, and is a testament to how well the Israeli economy performs.
In an article on the website of the media watch group, Honest Reporting, titled “Israel’s Boycott-Proof Economy,” Alex Margolin cites Adam Reuter, chairman of the Reuter Meydan Investment House: “Israeli exports are almost never sold to the end consumer. In fact, this is the case for about 95 percent of Israel’s exports, almost all of which are involved in business-to-business (B2B) trade with the large international corporations who are only interested in the best product or service at the most competitive price.”
In another article published by Margolin, there is a psychological objective to the BDS movement. “Studies typically show that Israel’s economy is resilient enough to withstand the limited effects of BDS. But every time a boycott is called or a divestment measure goes to a vote at a university, it reinforces the psychological position that Israel does not deserve a place among the nations.”
BDS supporter Roy Isacowitz wrote in Haaretz connecting the financial aspect to the psychological aspect of BDS: “they send the message that the country’s policies are unacceptable to the wider world and they damage the self-esteem of those being boycotted.”
What matters is fighting the hatred BDS advocates. The agenda of BDS is not so much to delegitimize the Israeli economy. Rather, it is to delegitimize the only democracy in the Middle East. The only Middle East country to be first responders to places hit by natural disasters. The only Middle East country to advance the fields of technology and medicine. The only Middle East country trying to make peace with its neighbors and make the world a better place. The BDS Movement seeks to detract those qualities.