Move over BDS, you have been rendered obsolete. A new informal conglomerate has emerged out of your shadow, with apparently similar aims and following your rule-book step by step with lethal efficiency. What makes this new group so dangerous? It is born inside Israel, works mostly from inside the country, albeit rapidly expanding abroad, and has succeeded in a short period of time in rallying the press, establishing a wide presence on the web, using the web to coordinate their sabotaging actions, and convincing many Israelis of the justness of their cause. Like the original BDS, it is now seeking international support from Jewish groups abroad, NGO’s and even established international instances. This ad-hoc conglomerate has no name. Some of its components are called “Kaplan Force”, “unaXeptable”, “Brothers and Sisters in Arms”, etc.. I call it BDS 2.0.
BDS is an international movement, established in 2005 by a group of Palestinian organizations. BDS which stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions initially had three stated objectives: ” α – withdrawal from the occupied territories and removal of the separation barrier in the West Bank, β – full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and γ – respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties” (1) In reality, BDS seeks to demonize and delegitimize Israel, calling it an Apartheid State. But these are only means to an end. Let us be clear on that: BDS end goal is the elimination of the Jewish State of Israel (2)
Among many other countries and international organizations who have adopted similar measures to counter BDS, the USA has introduced two federal acts in 2017 and 2019, one against boycotting Israel and one on combatting BDS. Likewise, Israel has adopted two laws: one in 2011 that criminalizes calls to boycott Israel, and one in 2017 that prohibits foreigners who call for such boycotts from entering Israel or its settlements. While in 2006, then President Jimmy Carter gave legitimacy to some of BDS worst rhetoric in his book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”, in 2020 the Trump administration labelled BDS as antisemitic. (3)
Here are some examples of boycott attempts by some of the groups mentioned above, and others.
Just a few days ago, in the New York office of JVP (a leading Israeli Venture Capital firm), a meeting took place to discuss future actions by the protest movements. (4) Among others, this meeting was attended by Israeli and US venture firms including JVP, high tech execs from both countries, Brothers and Sisters in Arms. Margalit, the owner of JVP is quoted as saying: “Today, we host here at the foundation a group of leaders standing at the forefront of protest activities. The goal of this meeting is to brainstorm the next steps, both in Israel and the US.” Included in these “protest activities” are marches that paralyze cities and highways, projecting an image of Netanyahu in a prisoner’s uniform onto the walls of the world-famous Alcatraz prison, pressuring world and business leaders to NOT meet Israeli political figures from the current democratically elected coalition, constantly harassing coalition members, even in their private residences, etc. The presence of foreign firms at such a meeting can only be understood as a warning (or certainly a deterrent) to those who may otherwise seek to do business or to invest in Israel now.
In the US also, the group UnaXeptable prides itself in organizing protests akin to harassment wherever Prime Minister Netanyahu or any member of his coalition would set foot. They have listed in their web site (5) several protests in many cities all over the world. Such actions in foreign countries are clearly set to discourage foreigners (tourists, investors, businessmen) to meet with Israeli elected officials, to visit or partner with Israel.
In a New York Times Op-Ed dated September 5, 2023, Thomas Friedman, a Pulitzer prize winner columnist for that newspaper, wrote: “You cannot have normalization with an Israeli government that is not normal. It will never be a stable US ally or Saudi partner. And right now, Israel’s government is not normal.” And a little further: “So, I want to appeal directly to President Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS): Do not let Netanyahu make you his useful idiots.” One cannot find a better, more direct call to boycott anywhere. Through this article, Friedman who is widely viewed as a Middle East expert, is showing first and foremost his hatred of Netanyahu, his disdain for democracy and his willingness to hurt Israel.
Another example: Ehud Olmert, a former Israeli Prime Minister who served time in Israeli jails, issued the following statement: “I expressly call on the prime minister of Great Britain to cancel the visit of Israeli prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) next week in London and to avoid meeting with him because it would be a shame for the basic principles of Great Britain to be associated with what Netanyahu represents today.” (6) Another direct, unambiguous call to boycott.
By searching the web, one can find a considerable number of such calls to boycott, or events aimed at promoting the boycott of Israel, its industry, and its politicians. Through these examples, one can see clearly the magnitude of these efforts. BDS could never have dreamed of having such efficient and motivated helpers.
In July 2023, “Startupnationcentral”, a high-tech consulting company conducted a survey on the effect of the proposed judicial reform on the Israeli high-tech sector. (7)
Some of the salient results are:
- 68% of Israeli startup companies have begun taking active legal and financial steps, like withdrawing cash reserves, changing HQ location outside Israel, relocation of employees and conducting layoffs.
- 22% of companies report that they have diversified cash reserves outside Israel
- 37% of investors say companies in their portfolios have withdrawn some of their cash reserves and moved them abroad.
While it is important to note the difficulty in isolating these risks and actions of investors and high-tech companies from global economic trends, the BDS 2.0 actors do not hesitate to take credit for these divestment actions.
Keeping in mind the same caveat (BDS 2.0 actions or global economic trends?), “bankers estimate that some $4 billion has been transferred out of Israel and into foreign banks in the past three weeks, amid growing fears over the government’s impending judicial makeover, according to a Wednesday report”. (8) It said that in the past few weeks “about 50 companies, mostly from the high-tech sector, have also moved money abroad”. However, in a statement, the Bank of Israel told Ynet: “Until now there are in fact no unusual movements of funds moved abroad and the bank is constantly monitoring the situation.”
Meanwhile, Ofir Angel, chairman of financial consulting firm Auren Israel, backed up the anonymous officials’ assertion, estimating that the amount moved from Israel in recent weeks was “between $2-4 billion,” adding that he expected the trend “will only increase in the coming days.”
The leaders of the protest movement are keenly aware of the devastating consequences of their actions on the people of Israel, especially the economically challenged strata of the population, but it seems that this is part of their strategy. Moshe Redman, a leader of the Kaplan Force was quoted as saying: “The economic situation is beginning to be very difficult. We can already see that money is being taken out of Israel, we will see in Kerva a process of withdrawing money from the stock exchange. Unfortunately, this will lead to crazy inflation and an increase in interest rates, and it will weigh on the public. People will start choking on mortgages, there will be no money to buy at the supermarket,” he went further, describing how the country would collapse, while the protesters would have to close their eyes and keep their noses shut and let “them” lead us there. (9) While Redman later said that these words were taken out of context, they had been widely published and commented at face value on social media.
How can such alleged leaders or Elites plan such actions that are guaranteed to bring misery and suffering to large portions of the Israeli population?
This trend is not limited to only Israel: a few days ago, the Director General of BVA France and professor at the famed Sciences Po school, explained this: “Immigration” she said” is a technical subject that supposes that we bring nuance. The French may not have the expertise to understand it.” In other words: the French are idiots and I, super-technocrat in chief, will explain to them how immigration is an opportunity for France (10) . This is but one of many examples of Elites justifying their actions against the interest of the general population of their country by simply saying: we are smart and educated, you are not, so shut up!
Like in the case of the Kaplan force leaders cited above, this is a total denial of democracy or as Christopher Lasch Z”L explained so eloquently in his book which 27 years later still appears as prophetic, “a first step towards dictature”. (11)
Truth be told, many “Boycott” and “Divestment” actions have also a “Sanction” aspect: By appealing to foreign leaders to not meet with Israeli politicians, and by pressuring foreign investors to not invest in Israel or worst to remove their money from Israel, an unequivocal act of “Sanction” is taking place.
However. There are also genuine acts of sanction, or thinly veiled incitation to sanction:
YNET reporter Itamar Eichner wrote: “Sources say after ex Mossad chief (Tamir Pardo) claims Israel conducts a policy of apartheid in the West Bank and far-right ministers make racist statements, the country’s legal exposure in the Hague could bring sanctions and isolation” (12) Clearly that statement from Amir Pardo is not accidental or fortuitous. Mr. Pardo is a very vocal radical personality lending his voice, fame, and credibility to the protest movement against the current democratically elected coalition.
Here are just a few among a long list of examples, in no particular order: “Former Mossad Head Calls for Netanyahu to Resign, asks on ‘Every Israeli Citizen’ to Protest” (Haaretz 16 Feb 2023); Ex-Mossad chief Tamir Pardo: ‘Israeli gov’t has let in KKK mentality’ (JPOST 27 July 2023); Pardo was also co-signed of a page ad in the New York Times in which among other flaming statements, the writers accused Netanyahu of “having declared total war on Israeli Democracy” (NYT 14 August 2023);
Commenting on Tamir Pardo egregious statements, especially his assertion of Israeli Apartheid, the Jerusalem Post Editorial staff published the following (edited for length):
“Former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo is the latest in a line of former top officials to cross a line in his desire to bring down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing government. In an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday, Pardo claimed that Israel is implementing an “apartheid state” policy against Palestinians in the West Bank. Although he limited his comments to the West Bank, they will almost certainly be used to attack all of Israel on international platforms. Unfortunately, his comments are factually flawed. As the Post’s Tovah Lazaroff explained last week, this situation (in Judea and Samaria), while not optimal, is not one of apartheid. How curious that Pardo, who was appointed Mossad head by Netanyahu, agreed to hold such a senior position for so many years when he believed the country he was protecting was morally wrong. The “apartheid” libel has become a useful tool to such bodies as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the open-ended United Nations Committee of Inquiry. Their efforts focus only on Israel’s supposed crimes, serving to delegitimize the world’s sole Jewish state. Pardo crossed a red line. He should have known better.” (13)
Clearly, whichever way you read the statements mentioned here, you must admit that these will have as direct consequence the awakening and empowerment of the enemies of Israel. More specifically, these are live ammunitions that the International Court of Justice and others will use in their constant demonization of our Jewish State and in applying sanctions to Israel. BDS could not have done a better job.
BDS 2.0, really?
Just thinking about the disingenuous protest movement taking place in Israel these days as a new, even improved version of BDS, is a highly depressing thought.
Of course, the evidence presented here is compelling, all the basic tactics of BDS can be found in today’s protests, amplified, and made more effective by the well-funded, expert use of social medias. So why be depressed? After all, we have been living with, and mostly winning against BDS for almost 30 years? The sad reality is that this time it is not a lose collection of hate driven foreign organizations lined up against Israel. It is instead a group of educated, astute, driven Jews who are leveraging their undeniable ancestral smarts and the outstanding education they have received in Israeli schools to pursue their agenda. They are using the money they earned for the most part in Israel, benefitting from the extraordinary entrepreneur climate in this country, to now attack the fundamental democratic values that (uniquely in the middle east) has made Israel into a superb place to live and raise a family.
Do not believe the “Elites” when they claim that their superior education makes them more intelligent, do not join them when they ask you to blindly follow their marching orders, do not agree with them when they say that their university degrees make them more apt at dictating how the country should be run. Deep in the Jewish brain is a little voice that tells us to question everything, to make an opinion for ourselves on matters that matter, on which side of the debate is Democracy and which side is Dictature. Never abandon to these so-called “Elites” your power of analysis, reasoning, and judgement.
From right after the passage of the sea of reeds to the modern days, there has been infighting among Jews. But the Children of Israel have always found a way to continue to leave as one people. Along the lines, casualties have been devastating due to endogenous causes: assimilation and mixed marriages, as well as exogenous causes: persecutions, pogroms, and the Shoah. We have lost 10 tribes, millions of our brothers and sisters. Collectively as a people, we have not yet recovered from the Shoah. But today the stakes are higher than they have ever been. In his frightful but credible essay “Zionism and the fate of the Jews” (14) Pulitzer Prize Winner Charles Krauthammer Z”L analyzes the terrible consequences of the disappearing of Israel (G.d forbid) and what it would mean for the future of the Jewish people worldwide. It is frightening because it is credible; it should be mandatory reading for all citizens of Israel.
We are not yet there, and with the help of G.d we will never even come close to that. But each day that passes during which BDS 2.0 continues its destructive actions gets us closer to that unthinkable eventuality.
What it takes for all of us to return to the right tracks is for people from all sides of the political spectrum, especially the extremists of all flavors, and more specifically the BDS 2.0 actors, to pause, consider the possible dramatic consequences of their actions on the country we (all?) love and finally begin to genuinely build together the democratic future we all yearn for.
- Wikipedia – BDS
- Rabbi Marvin Hier – “Mean to be”- Chapter 5
- November 2020 – Joint press conference – B. Netanyahu and Mike Pompeo
- Times of Israel – Tal Schneider – 23 Sept 2023
- Video dated March 17,2023 in middleeasteye.net
- Times of Israel – Ash Obel – 15 feb 2023
- Magazine CAUSEUR (in French) – « L’arrogance des Elites et la Fin de la Démocratie » Didier Desrimais – 25 Sept 2023
- Christopher Lasch « The revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy” Norton Editor, 1996
- YNETNEWS.com – Itamar Eichner – 6 Sept 2023
- JPOST Editorial – 10 Sept 2023
- The Weekly Standard – 11 May 1998