How they Boycott Israel
Boycotts are social protests with the aim of changing Israeli government policy
A major and serious boycott for Israel is the economic boycott. One form is divestment (the opposite of investment), where investors refrain from investing in Israeli companies or in companies that trade with Israel. For example, in the future major European banks will bar their institutions from providing loans to Israeli companies that manufacture, build or conduct commerce in ‘occupied’ territories. This could include a bar on providing funding for mortgages in these territories.
Perhaps the best known boycott is the consumer boycott of Israeli products or businesses that operate in Israel. Other forms of boycott are the academic boycott of Israeli universities and scholars (including granting of scholarships and research funding) and the boycott of Israeli cultural institutions or Israeli sport venues.
Major Boycotting Organizations
- The Arab League comprises 22 Middle Eastern and African countries, including Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. It has maintained an official boycott of Israeli companies and Israeli-made goods since the founding of Israel in 1948, although it is claimed that the boycott has not had serious effect on the Israeli economy.
- The World Council of Churches (WCC) has called on member churches to support an international boycott of Israeli settlement produce and services. It requests member churches to inform themselves about settlement products imported into their countries and for churches to practice morally responsible investment in order to influence businesses linked to the Israeli occupation and its ‘illegal’ settlements.
- The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has been called upon to take action against Israeli and international businesses that are profiting from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
- The European Union (EU) now prohibits EU institutions from cooperating, transferring funds, or giving scholarships or research grants to Israeli bodies in the West Bank, E. Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. In effect, the guidelines forbid the funding or dealing with entities in territories located beyond the 1949 Armistice Line. The EU also says that any new agreements between Israel and the EU should include a provision stating that Jewish communities in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are not part of Israel, and hence not covered by the agreement. Israeli settlement products are also to be labeled.
- The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a global campaign against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. By ‘international law’, it means Israel’s ‘occupation’ of the ‘Palestinian’ West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. By ‘Palestinian rights’ it refers to the land ‘ethnically cleansed’ of its ‘Palestinian owners’ and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.
Today, an alarming number of countries within the European Union and beyond have embraced BDS as a form of economic warfare aimed to cripple Israel’s economy and demonize its very existence
[ US Congressman Peter Roskam, February 2015 ]
Governments don’t Agree
It’s not all bad news for Israel. Canada has a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations with Israel, and in 2015 rejected BDS, link. Canada’s Parliament voted 229 in favour of condemning the BDS movement with 51 opposed. And proposed British Government directives aim to prevent any UK public body from imposing a boycott since such activity is ‘potentially damaging to the UK’s relationship with Israel’, link. Also, despite long-standing US policy concerning Israel and the ‘occupied territories’, the US has introduced legislation which discourages corporate or state-affiliated entities from participating in the BDS movement, link.
The Boycott is Illogical – and Your Loss!
Boycott Israel at your own risk! Since we live in an interconnected world it is virtually impossible to avoid using Israeli products. Take fresh agricultural produce for example. In 2010, Israel’s fresh agricultural exports totaled $1.33 billion, and some 87% was exported to Europe [UN Commodity Trade Statistics].
Fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in Israel and on its settlements in the West Bank can be seen on sale at all the major supermarkets and greengrocers. The UK is the top market for Israeli citrus fruit, followed by Scandinavia, Russia, Germany and France. In UK supermarkets you will find avocado, sweet potato, tomatoes, galia melon, peppers, chilli, figs, strawberries, grapes, mango, plums, pomegranate, lychees and nectarines – all from Israel and its ‘illegal’ settlements! Is it logical to boycott Israeli fresh produce when we eat so much of it? And, despite increasing difficulties for Israeli exporters, will the boycott be totally effective? According to prophecy it won’t:
“Israel will blossom and sprout, and they will fill the whole world with fruit.” (Isa 27.6)
OK. So you should shop around for non-Israeli fresh produce (shopping may take a little longer). But what about your hi-tech world? Does your laptop have an Intel chip inside, or use a firewall, the Google search engine or Microsoft Office? If so, then you are using Israeli designs and innovations (likewise for your cell phone). In 2013 UK cosmologist Prof Stephen Hawking withdrew from a high-profile Israeli Presidential Conference in support of an academic boycott of the country. But to be consistent and fully boycott Israel his whole computer based communication system must be changed since it runs on Intel microchips designed in Israel!
Water for agricultural purposes is at a premium throughout the world – including Israel. But Israeli agricultural research has developed new technologies to enable farmers to use brackish (salty) water for irrigation. Since brackish water is abundant in most desert areas of the world, these Israeli techniques have wide international applications – providing they are not boycotted!
Finally, but by no means least, do you realize that your boycott (which is a form of hatred towards Israel) puts you on the wrong side of the God of Israel? Remember, God says to Israel:
“I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse” (Gen 12.3)