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There’s More Than One Way to Fight a Boycott

The BDS movement has capitalized on the shifted sentiment in the US' left to encourage Americans and other nationalities to boycott Israel both culturally and financially
Statue of Liberty (photo credit: CC-BY-SA Elcobbola, Wikimedia Commons)
Statue of Liberty (photo credit: CC-BY-SA Elcobbola, Wikimedia Commons)
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Full Disclaimer: I am currently employed by Lev Haolam, an organization whose primary focus is to fight the boycott via the purchasing of large quantities of goods produced in the Judea and Samaria regions of Israel.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has become very popular among more liberal and left-leaning circles, especially in Western countries such as the United States. The movement’s goal is to end international support for Israel through a cultural and financial boycott. The popularity which the BDS movement enjoys in the United States in particular is a relatively new phenomenon though, considering Americans previous sentiments toward Israel. In 1948, at the UN, the United States voted in favor of the creation of the state. Until the Obama administration, all proposed anti-Israel UN resolutions were vetoed by the US. Indeed, in Israel’s infancy, liberal Americans were supportive of the underdog state of Israel. They were sympathetic to the new country that was in need of support of a strong ally and surrounded by powerful enemies.

After Israel’s victory in 1967, at the conclusion of the 6-day war, the sentiment slowly shifted among liberal Americans. Liberal Americans began to see Israel as a Middle East superpower. After witnessing Israel’s victory and the humiliating defeat of Israel’s enemies in 1967, liberal sentiments began to sway in favor of the new underdog in the Middle East – the Arab population in Israel who claimed that Israel was an oppressor, an occupier, and at fault for unrest in the Middle East. The fact that in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, Israel was either under direct attack by its enemies or faced an enemy build up on its borders, resulting in a war with her enemies, was of little consequence. Israel’s need to defend itself became a less important issue than the cause for the new underdog, the Palestinian cause. Earlier this year Jonathan S. Tobi, in a National Review article, discussed the shift in American sentiments toward Israel:

“No one who plans to compete in future Democratic primaries can ignore the growing power of their party’s left wing, which has grown increasingly hostile to Israel.”

The BDS movement has capitalized on this shifted sentiment to encourage Americans and other nationalities to boycott Israel both culturally and financially.

In response to the new anti-Israel flame, fanned by the BDS movement, Israel’s supporters have become more vocal. Republican and Democratic legislators alike have begun passing laws opposing BDS in their jurisdictions. To date, at least 22 states in America have passed anti-BDS legislation. In Germany as well, local legislatures have either proposed or passed legislature that would ban local municipalities from conducting business with BDS supporters.

In addition to legislative action, many who wish to show their support for Israel and challenge the BDS movement have done so by demonstrating at college campuses and participating in debates with BDS sympathizers and supporters. These actions are significant because they attack the legitimacy, rationale, and support for the BDS movement. These forms of action are imperative to promote and spread awareness for Israel’s voice and for what is actually happening in Israel- Judea and Samaria in particular. Having real-live people spreading a message of support for Israel and Israel’s pioneers can at times be the only way to cut through the massive amounts of liberal news headlines and social media clutter that fill the screens of the younger generations’ media devices.

There is another form of pro-Israel advocacy that has been garnering support from the international community. This form of advocacy bypasses the BDS movement through the purchase of Israeli products. While creating legislative measures and debating pro-Palestinian factions is essential for those wishing to end a pro-Palestinian agenda, purchasing products from the very targets of the BDS movement undermines the very efforts of BDS and provides immediate financial relief to those whom the BDS movement seeks to isolate and harm.

If they boycott, we will just buy more. If they spread hate, we will spread love.” — Nati Rom, founder of Lev Haolam

One organization, in particular, has created a channel to connect pro-Israel advocates and supporters with Israeli vendors. Lev Haolam is a company that markets products produced by families and small business that have been the target of the BDS movement and factions of the international community that support anti-Israel initiatives. Currently, Lev Haolam is the largest purchaser of goods produced in Judea and Samaria. As Lev Haolam’s founder Nati Rom, a resident of Samaria, says about his company, “If they boycott, we will just buy more. If they spread hate, we will spread love.”

Subscribers who sign up for the Lev Haolam Monthly Package Project receive a package, filled with a variety of products made in Judea and Samaria, delivered to their home every month. The monthly packages contain natural food products, organic cosmetics, jewelry, wines and chocolates. Lev Haolam’s subscribers come from dozens of countries including Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Singapore, Australia, and the USA.

In commenting on her appreciation for Lev Haolam’s subscribers, Shimrit Foychtvanger (Judea) said, “I know that this is not just a sale. I feel a special happiness since there is a connection that is created between Lev Haolam partners and us. I feel that there is an appreciation and a backing; that there are people that appreciate what we are doing.”

For Jo Zander (Judea), a former resident of New Jersey and chocolatier, Lev Haolam proved to be the opportunity for his chocolate business, Holy Cacao, to reach an American audience. “The part that’s been really great for us is that people in America have become aware of our chocolate. I always ask them, how is it that you even know about our chocolates and they say, we get it in the gift basket from Lev Haolam,” says Jo.

When a fellow colleague of mine at Lev Haolam and I visited Boaz Netanel (Samaria), we heard another beautiful and inspiring message from another one of Lev Haolam’s suppliers. Boaz wanted us to tell the Lev Haolam subscribers that, “I think my wife and I put a lot of love into our products; a lot of love and joy. And through the jewelry [that I have created] I hope to be successful in connecting many people, both Jewish and non-Jewish, to the land of Israel and Jerusalem. And if I can, through the jewelry [that I created], manage to connect their love and their appreciation with the land of Israel, then this would be a small act that I would merit to do and it would make me happy to achieve. And may it be that [through my actions] a love for the land of Israel and the Jewish people will be spread.”

Nati Rom established lev Haolam in the community of Shvut Rachel, in 2012. Lev Haolam continues fighting the BDS movement through the Monthly Package Project and through pro-Israel rallies organized across the globe.

Since its inception, Lev Haolam has established a large international following and continues to attract new subscribers to its Monthly Package Project. You can learn more about Lev Haolam at their website, www.levhaolam.com. You can also reach a Lev Haolam representative by sending them an email, at support@levhaolam.com or by calling their Jerusalem number 02-645-5424 (office hours are 10am-6pm Sunday-Thursday, Israel time).

About the Author
Aryeh Powers currently works as a Content Strategist for Lev Haolam. He made Aliyah at the end of 2014 and lives in Jerusalem. In his spare time, Aryeh likes to study words of Torah, hike and explore all of Israel's hidden and revealed natural treasures - the more outdoors the better.
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