What Sort of People Are Boycotting Israel?

The path Europe has taken regarding Israel is unclear. Not a day passes without important new accords being signed, and Angela Merkel’s visit to Israel with all of her ministers earlier this month is only one of the signs of enormous European interest in Israeli high tech, medicine, innovation, and the general vitality that Israel produces. On the other hand, however, the new European directives, in particular the so-called “guidelines” promulgated by Lady Ashton last July, demonstrate an increasingly evident animosity toward Israel, a hostility that is whipped up in the imaginations of those who believe the big lie of “Israel, Apartheid State,”itself an echo of the 1975 UN “Zionism equals Racism” resolution.

In 2012, there were 60 new accords and framework agreements facilitating exports from Israel to Europe. But in 2013 the guidelines arbitrarily overstepped any future accord between Palestinians and Israelis, and dictated that the Green Line, or the 1967 borders, should be the future borders of the Palestinian State. Those arbitrary guidelines not only run counter to all UN Security Council Resolutions agreed upon by both the Israelis and the Palestinians, but also against any bridges for peace that have successfully been built in the West Bank.This gratuitously persecutory European stance derives- and may expand –from the framework position adopted in 2012 by the EU Foreign Affairs Council: “Every agreement between the State of Israel and the European Union must unequivocally and explicitly indicate its inapplicability to the Occupied Territories.” The UN considers these disputed territories, but Europe apparently thinks it knows better. The famous territorial swaps that are eventually supposed to overtake the Green Line as birders in the territories are also still under dispute, but the EU has evidently already decided what the borders will be. As we said, it knows better.

Everyone asks whether the boycott and divestment, the BDS, which broke apartheid in South Africa, where there really was apartheid, can really affect the future of Israel or whether it is just a political propaganda movement destined for failure. What they have done is popularize an obvious and malignant lie: fabricating the idea that Israel is a racist state, and that Israel must therefore be punished by the international community for crimes it never committed. In Israel, the Arab minority — despite the cultural disadvantages tied to its own archaic traditions regarding women and tribalism, and the desire of its political leaders to avoid integration — enjoys total legal equality that is evident everywhere. Ther are Arab members of the Knesset, Arab political parties, Arb judges on the Supreme Court, Arab diplomats in senior posts. All one needs to do is look around. An Israeli hospital is a clear example of how Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians, can be patients in neighboring beds and practice as doctors side by side in the wards. In an Israeli University, Jewish and Arab professors and students are all work together.

The world has nevertheless largely swallowed the “Israel, Apartheid State” nonsense. Even more shameful, more lies are floated, such as “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians and other never-committed horrors. The theoretical basis of BDS is prejudice — judging before taking the trouble to know what you are talking about — and in the Arab world it is widespread. A Syrian child who came to Israel, like so many others, to receive medical care, had a woman assigned constantly to monitor the Israeli doctor because “they told us that they were stealing organs to sell them.”  Europe’s boycott strikes not just the disputed territories, but maliciously all of Israel. A large bank, for example, Bank Hapoalim, was put on Deutsche Bank’s blacklist for having abranch in the West Bank. Presumably if it did not, it would be accused of being apartheid for “refusing” to service the Arabs there. It is only extremist Palestinians and false liberals, such asHananAshrawi and Omar Barghouti, who are enthusiastic about the boycott and the guidelines. Mahmoud Abbas does not appreciate the wave of aggression that the movement for divestment and boycott – and with it the European attitude – has been known to develop: it has only served to fan anger against him and lead the Palestinians into the waiting arms of Hamas.

So now banks or companies in part of Europe, probably afraid not to appear politically correct, put this or that company on the blacklist, while applauded by the extremist movements and NGOs throughout the world. Deutsche Bank, Danske, Nordea, and PGGM try to harm the banks simply for their willingness to serve everyone. Large pension funds, such as the Dutch PGGM and the Norwegian funds, have withdrawn their money. The UK Trade and Investment discourages all business with Israeli companies involved with“settlements,: probably without realizing that to both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority the entire country of Israel is considered one big “settlement” — even though it is only the size of Rhode Island — that in their view, even before the day of its birth in 1948, must be destroyed and displaced.

Do the European boycotts also include vital drugs for serious diseases; research on Alzheimer’s Disease and cancer; virtually all computer parts ad electronic instruments such as the device Stephen Hawking uses to talk; the thousands of high-tech inventions that power computer communications throughout the world and the countless Nobel discoveries that alter the paths of chemistry, physics, and biology? If these were to be were to be developed at HarHatzofimUniJewishversity in East Jerusalem, would they be boycotted too?

The European boycott pushes on, just like the anti-Semitic boycott of Jewish professors, Jewish products, business, and books during the Nazis’ run-up to Second World War in he 1930s. In recent weeks, Vitens, the Dutch water company, decided to boycott its Israeli counterpart, Mekorot, which had created an important water project for Israel, the Palestinians, and the Jordanians. In Norway, the supermarkets Bama and Coop will no longer provide their virtuous clients with products from the settlements. Other factories have abandoned their investment shares in the territories, and the people who will suffer from this – even more than Israeli workers are the Palestinian workers. In the factories of the West Bank, the “apartheid Jews”provide treatment and working conditions, salaries, bonuses and benefits and pensions identical to that of the Jews there with whom for years they have worked.  Do you know what happens when the Palestinians are laid off? First they sell their car, Then they move to a smaller house. After a few months, someone knocks on the door and offers to pays them if will they will throw rocks. The first year they say no. The second year they might well say yes.  The boycott is immoral. It is a method of blackmail. Its effect is to spur the Palestinians not to negotiate, to continue a policy of calling for murder and throwing rocks. It helps to exalt terrorism, promote hate, and to lead the Palestinians to expect that the international community will hand them everything that they want. The guidelines also highlight the true natureof the Europeans who promote these double standards. Turkey,Morocco, and China — all countries that occupy others, and all far less respectful of human rights — are not being sanctioned by boycotts.

There are also large eastern markets, and especially American markets, ready to replace the European ones. Israel can pivot. What Europe seems not to want to understand is that Israel has tried for decades to achieve peace, but cannot do so by compromising the safety of its people.A country, like a person, should never give in to blackmail — especially if the blackmail is based on a lie.

This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Shalom; English copyright, The Gatestone Institute

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.