Blessing Instead of Cursing: Why the Boycott of Israel Has No Prospects
“I will bless those who bless you,
I will curse those who curse you”
The last 2017 and this year 2018 have seen a whole constellation of memorable dates, somehow connected with the Jewish state. Which in very different senses of this word, by no means remained without public attention. These dates and anniversaries have become a reason for many events — festive, economic and memorial — for the Israelis and their friends and partners in the world. And for the enemies of the Jewish state — both the Arabs and their leftist, neo-fascist, Islamist and other anti-Semitic allies, the reason for another attacks on Israel and headline-making campaigns to de-legitimize it.
Among them is the half-century anniversary of Israel’s spectacular victory over the armies of the five Arab countries in the 1967 Six-Day War, which decisively changed the geostrategic alignment of forces in the Eastern Mediterranean. In August of 2017, was marked the 120th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress. Then, on November 2, the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration on the recognition by Great Britain, and after it, by other great powers and some regional forces, including Turkey and the “Emir Faisal’s faction” in the pan-Arab movement of Palestine (in the Jewish historical tradition — Eretz Yisrael, that is the “Land of Israel”) a place for a “national home for the Jewish people”.
And on November 29, 2017 — the 70th anniversary of the fateful vote in the UN General Assembly on the division of the territory of Western Palestine between Jews and Arabs — which, as is known, was accepted by the Zionist movement and opened the way to the proclamation of the State of Israel. But it was firmly rejected by the leaders of the Arab League and the Palestinian Arabs who initiated the first Arab-Israeli war (in the Israeli tradition — the War of Independence), in which the Arabs were defeated, and the issue of creating another Arab state on the West Bank of the Jordan was for a long time (and perhaps forever) removed from the agenda.
A large-scale anti-Israeli event — “Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” — annually hold in the United Nations
The Failure of the Arab BoycottIt is significant that exactly on November 29, since 1977, that is for 40 years now, on the initiative of the Arab-Muslim, pro-communist and “non-aligned” countries, annually hold a large-scale anti-Israeli event in the United Nations — “Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” coinciding with “anti-Zionist” (in reality, anti-Semitic) provocations. Participants in these anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist circles have made considerable efforts to no less impressively “mark” the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel, which was celebrated in April and May 2018. To that anniversary were timed a series of diplomatic and information campaigns in the Middle East and Western countries and demarches in the UN, as well as provocations in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and around Gaza, the peak of which was to become the “march of return” — attempts of mass violent breakthrough of the border in the South of Israel, organized by the Islamic terrorist group Hamas ruling in the Gaza Strip.
In September 1937, the pan-Arab summit in the Syrian village of Bloudan called for a “boycott of Jewish goods and activities”
Since then, attempts to mobilize economic means of pressure have become an integral part of the “hybrid war” of the Arabs and their allies — Islamist, communist and others — against the Jewish state. And, with the unequivocal defeat or loss on “points” in “conventional” and “preconventional” conflicts with Israel (Arab-Israeli wars and terrorist campaigns), the anti-Israeli “red-green alliance”’s emphasis on trade and economic instruments of struggle has been growing. The peak of this activity is considered to be the “oil embargo” of Arab countries exporting hydrocarbons to states that supported Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War (first of all the USA and its European allies and also Japan), with the aim of exerting political pressure on the world community and reducing support for Israel by Western countries.Almost ignored was another good round figure — the 80th anniversary of the conference in the Syrian village of Bloudan, where the pan-Arab summit assembled in September 1937 at the call of the head of the Supreme Muslim Council in Palestine and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, rejected recommendations of the commission of Lord Peel (who proposed the first, much more favorable for the Arabs option of division of the Palestine) and called for a “boycott of Jewish goods and activities”. In 1945 this idea became the official line of the then newly formed Arab League (League of Arab States), in whose structure in 1949 the Office for the Boycott of Israel was established, to coordinate Arab sanctions against countries and organizations supporting economic relations with Israel.
The boycott caused some loss to the development of the Israeli economy, but in general the Arab blockade did not achieve its goal. It failed to stop the growth of Israel’s industry, agriculture, trade, science and technology, humanitarian sphere, and moreover, to a certain extent it stimulated the economic development of Israel and strengthened its ties with foreign markets. (And, we will note in brackets, the development of energy-saving technologies and the renewal of “fixed capital” in Western countries). In turn, the boycott initiated by the Arab-Muslim and communist bloc negatively affected the economies of the Arab states, depriving them of many of the benefits of trade with Israel and with the countries of the free world.
Including due to the circumstances mentioned at the beginning of the article: the initiators of the boycott themselves became subject to retaliatory sanctions. For example, in 1977, the US Congress passed a law prohibiting American companies from supporting or participating in the anti-Israeli boycott. The law said that the boycott “goes to the very heart of free trade among all nations”. Among other things, the law “seeks instead to end the divisive effects on American life of foreign boycott aimed at Jewish members of our society”. Following the United States, similar laws were adopted in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and other countries.
Moreover, the fact that most companies of democratic countries continued to trade with Israel did not prevent many of those states from expanding trade with Arab countries. As for Israel itself, the theme of economic relations already at the turn of the 1970s–1980s ceased to be a function of its relations with the Arab-Islamic world. Including because the Israeli economy oriented towards the development of advanced industrial and agrarian models and the conservative agrarian-industrial and raw material economy of most Arab and Muslim countries moved in different directions.
Thus, after the signing of the peace treaty with Israel in 1979, Egypt, which had previously strongly supported an anti-Israeli boycott, opposed it. But in reality, the volume of trade between Israel and Egypt in the 1980s – early 2000s was small due to the reluctance of the Egyptian authorities, trade unions and other organizations to pursue a policy of economic and political cooperation with Israel. On the contrary, the lack of diplomatic relations and the formal state of the conflict between Israel and the Persian Gulf countries did not become an insurmountable obstacle to the development of relations in some economic fields and the security sphere.
A history of boycotts against Israel
Another example is Turkey, whose relations with Israel, which began in 1949, kept growing in the next decades, until they turned into a strategic partnership in the military, political and economic spheres at the turn from the 20th to the 21st centuries. However, with the establishment of R. Erdogan’s Islamist regime in Turkey, replacement in 2002 of the European vector of Turkey’s foreign policy with the doctrine of “neo-Ottomanism”, and Ankara’s moving into the camp of the most harsh critics of Israel, Turkey’s strategic partnership with Israel was gradually phased out. And in 2010, after the participation of the Turkish leadership, which claimed to the symbolically important status of the main patron of the Palestinian Arabs in the Arab-Islamic world, and participated in the organization of the loud anti-Israeli provocation, it turned into open conflict. But large-scale economic cooperation between the two countries continued to develop, including a two-fold increase in mutual trade since the beginning of the diplomatic crisis.
The influence of the theme of conflictual relations between Israel and the Arabs of Western Palestine/Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) (which until recently was considered almost the main factor in the continuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict) on the willingness of Arab and other Third World countries to maintain trade-economic relations with Israel, remains a matter of disagreements. On the one hand, the signing in September 1993 of the “Palestinian-Israeli Declaration of Principles” (the so-called “Oslo Accord”) weakened the Arab boycott of Israel. For example, on October 1, 1994, representatives of six Arab states of the Persian Gulf, soon joined by the Maghreb countries (Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, as well as Mauritania [which soon established diplomatic relations with Israel]) declared their giving up the boycott of the Jewish state.
It is also true that the beginning of a new round of terrorist war of Palestinian groups against Israel (the so-called Al-Aqsa Intifada) in September 2000 re-intensified the anti-Israeli Arab boycott. The Palestinian National Administration (PNA), which arose as a result of the “Oslo Accords”, became its participant (although, mainly, at a declarative level). Formally supporting diplomatic dialogue with Israel and de facto being part of its financial system, commodity market and labor market, the PNA, nevertheless, regularly calls for international campaigns to boycott Israeli products and stop foreign investment into the Israeli economy.
On the other hand, it is easy to see that the Arab-Israeli wars, the waves of terror and economic boycotts that accompanied Israel throughout most of its history, could not become an obstacle to its progressive (despite negative trends in some years) economic development. Thus, Israel’s GDP had grown from 1.5 billion US dollars in 1949 to 387.4 billion US dollars at face value, or 361 billion US dollars at purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2017. That, per capita was more than in France, Britain and any country in Southern Europe, with GDP and PPP in Israel almost equaled by 2017. Since 2012, the average growth rate of the Israeli economy has been 3.3 %, which is significantly higher than the average in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) member countries. The volume of exports had increased from 50 million US dollars in 1949 to more than 105 billion US dollars in 2017, and the volume of foreign exchange reserves reached 116 billion US dollars in February 2018, with their almost complete inexistence at the beginning of the journey.
At this, the qualitative leap of these indicators, which marked the transformation of Israel into one of the world’s leading centers of innovation and technological development (the start-up nation), occurred exactly in the first and early second decade of this century, most of which took place against the background of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, the “Arab Spring” and the stagnation of the diplomatic process. This, in principle, confirms the opinion of those who do not see any significant connection between Israel’s impressive economic growth (and in particular the Israeli “economic miracle” of the last one and a half or two decades) and the result of the Arab-Israeli, let alone Palestinian-Israeli “peace process”.
Followers of this point of view suggest paying attention, for example, to the fact of the annual growth of Israel’s GDP by 8–14 % during the five years after the victorious conclusion of the Six-Day War. And this despite the fact that the position of the Arab countries defeated by Israel for more than a decade remained within the framework of the doctrine of the three “no”: no recognition of Israel; no negotiations with it; no signing peace agreements with it. And in the 1990s (against the background of mass Aliyah from the former USSR) — an average of 9 % before the conclusion of the “Oslo Accords”, and about 4–7 % after them. So, neither the negative impact of the first, nor the direct positive impact of the second event on Israel’s economic growth, if we follow this logic, was recorded (rather, in a sense, on the contrary). Then, by the beginning of its peace negotiations with Egypt in 1977, Israel had a 42.5 % annual inflation, which in the era of “positive expectations” of the start of the peace process with the Arab countries jumped to 111.4 % in 1979 and to 445 % in 1984. Its decline to 19.7 % in 1986 and the current unambiguous (3 %) figures were achieved through a policy with which the world and Egypt hardly had anything to do.
In fact, as Israeli diplomat and publicist Yoram Ettinger rightly points out, this “unique economic growth has been driven by Aliyah (Jewish immigration), fiscal responsibility, brain power, cutting-edge commercial and defense technologies, exports, military posture of deterrence and (most recently) natural gas; not by the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, or the Oslo Accord with the PLO”.
Of course, in general, it would be wrong to ignore the influence of the Arab-Israeli conflict on socio-economic processes in the Jewish state, and even more so, on its position in the system of regional, and in general international relations — which in turn affects the national economy in one way or another. For example, these circumstances play an important role in Israel’s relations with the countries of Europe, which were and still are important (at times — the main) partners of Israel in international trade, and bilateral relations with most of them have always been correct and often friendly. However, Europe’s ever-increasing dependence on Arab oil-producing states has contributed to the adoption of the Arab narrative towards Israel. What we saw in the 1970s and early 1990s, when the Arab terror and the Arab economic boycott reached their peak. And also after the beginning of the Intifada Al-Aqsa, when the strengthening of pro-Palestinian orientation and the EU’s “imbalance of the policy” in the Arab-Israeli conflict, as seen in Jerusalem (including the participation of some European government structures, companies and public organizations in campaigns to boycott Israel), often resulted in serious diplomatic crises.
Such a crisis arose in late 2015, when the European Commission (the executive authority of the EU) recommended members of the European Union to introduce a special marking of Israeli goods manufactured in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 — in Judea and Samaria (West Bank of the Jordan), in the Golan Heights and in East Jerusalem. In Israel, this EU’s demarche was perceived as an act of discrimination and de-legitimization of the Jewish state; in response, Jerusalem announced the suspension of diplomatic contacts with the institutions and representatives of the European Union on the settlement of the conflict with the Palestinians for the period of “revising the role of the EU in the Middle East peace process”. Only having got Brussels’ assurances about the rejection of the policy of the boycott of Israel and the EU’s having no intentions to impose territorial parameters of the settlement on the parties to the conflict, the incident was exhausted.
So, in general, there is no question of the real effect of the levers used by the enemies of Israel in the economic war against the Jewish state.And yet, we should not forget that despite all the disagreements, we are talking about the relationship within the same club of democratic regimes of the Western type. Therefore, in the relations between Israel and the European Union there is a well-developed mechanism of “factoring out” the questions over which the parties could not reach an agreement — for the time being or in principle, and of the development of large-scale cooperation in virtually all other things they are interested in. Thus, the critical attitude to the regional course of the Jewish state has never been an insurmountable obstacle to the development of sufficiently dynamic relations with the countries of the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Union (EU). The trade turnover between Israel and the EU countries in 2016 amounted to more than 42 billion US dollars, which makes this region the first or second most important market for Israeli products (including defense ones, with a tendency to increase the share of its military exports to Europe from 1/5 to 1/3 of its total volume). Today, Israel is perceived as an informal member of the European Union, which has a higher status in some of its institutions and programs than, for example, such European countries as Norway and Switzerland.
The Rise and Fall of BDS
This finale was a serious challenge to the entire anti-Zionist concept of the “red-green alliance”, the response of which was an attempt to drag its anti-Israeli activism onto the field of “human rights policy”. This ultimatum “man”, as envisioned by the initiators of the new strategy, is of course, a Palestinian Arab, whose humanitarian and civil rights, allegedly, in violation of international law and human morality, are suppressed by the “collective Jewish Zionist”.
The methods used by the centers directing BDS and organizations associated with them were called the policy of the “diplomatic intifada”, which included a wide range of campaigns to de-legitimize and isolate the Jewish state. One of its popular elements was the filing of endless suits in international courts with complaints about, more often than not, fictitious “crimes of the Zionist regime against the Palestinian people” and countless démarches in international organizations — especially at the General Assembly and in the UN relevant structures (such as UNESCO and the UN Human Rights Council).Actually, it was this concept that became the ideological basis of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is believed to have originated in Durban, South Africa, where the United Nations World Conference Against Racism was taking place in 2001. The participants of the forum of non-governmental organizations, instead of coordinating efforts to combat real manifestations of racism, used the platform to launch the boycott of Israel in broad spheres of public life — science, education, media, social rehabilitation, culture, sports, politics and others — as well as in the reoriented to new goals human rights work proper. This movement became formal with the establishment in July 2005 of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, which brought together about 170 “human rights” organizations in Arab enclaves controlled by the PNA, and dozens of branches in different countries around the world.
Another direction of BDS was its active manipulating international public opinion. A wide range of such actions included useless, in the sense of satisfying the real needs of the Arab population, but having a considerable propaganda effect of “caravans of solidarity” (such as the sensational “Freedom Flotillas”) which tried to break the far-fetched “humanitarian blockade” of the Gaza Strip. And almost ritual demonstrations of activists of Islamist and left-extremist organizations at the “security fence” erected in the zero years, which has become one of the effective obstacles to the penetration of Arab terrorists into the hinterland of Israel. And incitement to terror and staged clashes with security forces, followed by massaging for days the theme of “disproportionate use of force by the occupying army” in all available media. And, finally, the organization of headline-making provocations against Israeli institutions, diplomatic missions and Israeli cultural centers abroad.
The third direction, on which they specially relied, was an attempt (which had already failed in the past) to revive, on this new basis, the idea of boycotting the scientific developments and cultural projects created by the Israelis and, in particular, the goods of Israeli production. The latter seemed logical to the initiators of such actions in the light of the trend that was gaining popularity in the system of international relations at the turn of the century, especially after the EU’s adoption in the first decade of this century of the principle of a moral economy — the demand to stipulate economic relations with countries by their respecting personal and collective civil rights of citizens.
It was within the framework of this logic that the above-mentioned attempt was made to withdraw the products of Israeli enterprises located beyond the Green Line out of the preferences granted to Israel by free trade agreements. This immediately provoked the attempts of BDS organizations and activists to organize in the West a boycott of absolutely all Israeli products.
But it was at this point that the so vigorously and quite successfully launched campaign began to malfunction, which eventually became the prologue to the crisis of the entire BDS project. As the reason, experts mention the low level of vulnerability of the Israeli economy to politically motivated boycott campaigns, since up to 90 % of Israeli exports are carried out as part of direct agreements between the seller and the buyer (business-to-business). And the demand for high-quality Israeli products in medicine, irrigation, agriculture and water management, science, advanced industrial technologies, education and security casts aside political considerations.
This explains, for instant, the reason why, despite the IDF’s anti-terrorist operation in Gaza in 2014 during and immediately after which anti-Israeli propaganda exceeded all previous records, its impact on Israel’s foreign economic assets was minimal. For example, Israeli exports to the UK, whose leaders are quite critical of Israel’s business and civil activity beyond the Green Line, and which is one of the recognized operational centers of organizations associated with BDS, jumped in 2014 compared to 2013 by 38 %, and the trade balance grew by 28 %.
Greater understanding in business and political circles find more active Israel and international organizations’ (created to ensure free economic activity) efforts to suppress BDS initiatives in the economic sphere. The moral dilemma associated with the need to prefer business interests to the protection of human values and rights is resolved at the moment when it turns out that the well-being of the Palestinian Arabs themselves is the last thing about which care most of the organizers of the boycott of Israeli products.All this is just a case of a more general phenomenon: the policy of boycotts cannot be really effective, because it contradicts the real interests of countries and serious national and transnational companies that set the tone for the segment of the world economic ties to which Israel is included. Suffice it to recall, among other facts, that Israel has one of the world’s largest intellectual resources in the sphere of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) — 140 scientists, technologists and research engineers per 10 thousand employed in the national economy (in the USA this figure is 85 per 10 thousand). As a result, Israel ranks second in the world, after the United States, in the absolute number of high-tech venture companies, one of the five largest exporters of weapons and defense technologies in the world (worth 6–7 billion US dollars a year). It also has 5 out of 10 companies that manufacture medicines, related services and devices that are part of Forbes’ list of world-changing corporations, and research and development centers (R&D) established in Israel by more than 250 of the world’s largest corporations in the sphere of high-tech and information technologies. Including Intel, Bloomberg, Microsoft, IBM, Apple, Motorola, Computer Associates, Qualcomm, HP, EMC, GE, AT&T, Xerox, Dell, AMD, Marvell, Cisco, GM, Google, Oracle, PayPal, McAfee, Polycom, Telefonica, EBay, AOL, Yahoo, SanDisk, SAP, Siemens, Philips, Deutsche Telekom, Volkswagen, Samsung and others.
An example of such an approach is the refusal of the PNA, which is the main inspirer of the campaign, to accept the proposal of US Special Representative for the Middle East Jason Greenblatt to take part in an international conference to resolve humanitarian problems in the Gaza Strip. Commentators did not ignore the fact that the authorities of the PNA clearly preferred the propaganda benefits of another diplomatic clash with the USA and Israel to the chance to take part in efforts to provide the Arab population with electricity, water, sanitation and health services.
Another vivid example of this trend is the work of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), the tone to which is often given by the most odious dictatorial regimes, and which is known for its almost obsessive prejudice against the Jewish state. As the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said, explaining her country’s willingness to gradually stop cooperation with the HRC, Israel — the only real democracy in the Middle East with a strong human rights record, is subject to more than 70 condemning resolutions of the Council. While only 7 such resolutions are devoted to Iran, a country with an abysmal human rights record, which, according to N. Haley, is a sufficient reason to understand that “something is seriously wrong” there.
The NY Times journalists say, that least of all the members of the HRC are concerned with the fact that these Israeli and foreign companies “provide jobs for Palestinians and that the blacklist could cost many of them meaningful work. Or that the companies provide needed goods and services to anyone, no matter their background or where they live”. Thus, journalists conclude, “the move by the HRC isn’t really about fighting human-rights abuses. It’s about trying to hurt Israel in any way possible”.Confirmation of these words did not take long: at the turn from 2017 to this year, the HRC became a platform for an illustrative action. Which even by the authors of the editorial article in the New York Times, a newspaper characterized by a sharply critical attitude to the leadership of Israel and its policies in Judea and Samaria, was called a “territory of absurdity”. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein (famous for comparing Donald Trump to ISIS), instructed his subordinate department to compile a “blacklist of companies that directly participate in the construction of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories”. And thus, according to the logic of the authors of the document, promote “the violation of human rights”, and “the destruction of all aspects of the life of the Palestinians”. Commenting on the results of the report, N. Haley mentioned that “they wisely refrained from listing individual companies, but the fact that the report was issued at all is yet another reminder of the Council’s anti-Israel obsession”.
But these factors are not all the reasons for which the company of de-legitimization of Israel as a whole has failed. Let’s name a few more reasons.
Sane world leaders understand that among the complex of priority challenges and threats facing humanity, the “Palestinian-Israeli conflict” takes a marginal place, and is not resolved not so much because of Israel’s intransigence, as for a completely different reason. Namely, due to the lack of willingness, for the sake of its settlement, to compromise with Israel (and many believe — the readiness to agree to the fact of its existence) on the part of both, the radical nationalist (Fatah/PLO), and the Islamist (Hamas and others) factions of the Palestinian-Arab elites. As a result, the legitimacy of BDS in the eyes of these leaders is weakening with the inflation of the official reason put forward by this movement as a moral justification for the idea of anti-Israeli sanctions.
One can add here one of the results of the “Arab Spring”’s turning into the “Islamist Winter”: many world, regional and national leaders (including those of a number of countries in the Middle East) more and more see Israel not as a source, but, on the contrary, as a possible ultimatum factor for solving the most acute problems of regional and global security.
No less important is the success of the “peripheral strategy” of Israel’s foreign policy that has intensified in this decade, complementing the strategic partnership with the United States, Great Britain and Germany. This means the expansion of the Israeli trade, economic and diplomatic presence in the regions, on the one hand located outside the zone of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and on the other — outside the European epicenter of BDS. First of all, with countries that are regional “centers of power” and factors of economic and/or political influence at the global level: India, China, Russia, South Korea, and in recent years — also with key countries in Africa and Latin America.
Of particular importance in this strategy is its aspect, which we have designated as “peace in exchange for technology”. That is, the establishment of a strategic partnership between Israel and those countries and regional blocs that are not ready for the sake of supporting an irrelevant narrative of the Arab-Islamic conflict with the Jewish state to miss the opportunity to partner with the world center of the development and supply of advanced technologies in various sectors of the economy and defence, which Israel is today.
Thus, a study initiated by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which included a representative survey of the population of 54 countries, including those that do not have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, showed that in 50 of them the majority of citizens recognize and respect the achievements and power of Israel in various spheres. From intelligence, development of the armed forces, effective defense technologies and fighting traditional and cyber terrorism — to breakthrough agricultural, water, energy, and other developments. And they are ready to admit that their countries can benefit from cooperation with Israel in these and other spheres. This is the point of view not only of 80–90 % of non-Muslim regions taking part in the survey (especially popular this view was in the countries of Eurasia and Africa). But of almost half of the interviewed citizens of 12 countries of the Middle East, only two of whom have diplomatic relations with Israel, and some formally are in a state of war with it.
Finally, it’s also the matter of the character and image that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is gaining today. Pushed out from the centers of important decision making to the sites where it only has a relative success — some international structures and public organizations, Islamist communities, ultra-left media and, it must be admitted, not so few high school campuses, where the tone is set by the proponents of tendentious pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist-anti-Semitic narratives — it is degenerating into a marginal totalitarian-extremist project. Its participants, as many see today, are trying to aggressively dictate their agenda through obstruction, tendentious manipulation of information, racist discrimination, physical and intellectual violence and suppression of dissent. That is, by methods, the struggle against which, allegedly, is the declared goal of this movement.
But even under such circumstances, it can be said that the BDS activists have not achieved their goals, even in those intellectual circles that previously were in principle ready to weigh their arguments. Thus, Professor of the University of California, Mark Pilisuk, who supports BDS, has confirmed that the main reason for the failure of their movement is the lack of “public recognition” of the goals and methods declared by them. Indeed, the strong anti-Semitic reputation of the BDS movement contributes to a sharp decline in its influence, even where its ideas once circulated in a “viral way” — in those professional academic circles where the tone is given by the mentioned “scholar-activists”.According to Asaf Romirowsky, Executive Director at Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, “most academics who support BDS fall into the category of “scholar-activists”, a phenomena that has been growing in North America since the 1960’s, where individuals focus more on “political theater” rather than enduring scholarship”. These radical critics of Israel, often denying its right to exist as a Jewish state, or its right to exist in principle, in the scientist’s words, “have increasingly retreated away from serious engagement of issues surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict and replaced it with anti-intellectual demonology of Israel and its supporters”. As a result, A. Ramirovsky concludes, it is rather difficult to confront these university employees, because they are not true researchers, they are polemicists, and it is therefore extremely difficult for their colleagues to maintain a dialogue with them using rational arguments.
A similar tendency, the further, the more conquers a sphere, where in the recent past the BDS activists felt like at home — culture and art. An example was the initiative of the member Florida House of Representatives Randy Fine to ban a concert by a popular New Zealand singer Ella Marija Yelich-O’Connor using the stage name Lorde. The reason for this appeal was the cancellation of the Lorde’s concert planned for June 2018 in Tel Aviv, which happened because of the pressure of the activists of the international boycott campaign of Israel (BDS). And ground was the Law of the State of Florida, unanimously adopted by its legislative assembly exactly two years ago (in March 2016), clearly prohibiting local official institutions any business relations with organizations supporting the boycott of the Jewish state.
This is what Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had in mind, when speaking at the conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on March 6, 2018, said that “the good news” is not limited to the ability of the Jewish state to protect itself with the help of “strong military and strong economy” of the country. Israel, in his words, is establishing new relations with the countries of the world, and “pretty soon the countries that don’t have relations with us they’re going to be isolated”, that is why, according to B. Netanyahu, the countries and institutions that support the anti-Israeli boycott, should not be surprised if they themselves become subject to isolation and boycott.It should be borne in mind that Florida is not alone here: similar laws prohibiting state institutions from investing or using the services of companies boycotting Israel have been adopted (at the federal level) by the US Congress, as well as by dozens of states and a growing number of municipalities. And a similar trend is gaining momentum in a number of other democratic countries. Thus, the message contained in R. Fine’s initiative has only one interpretation: efforts to de-legitimize Israel are a double-edged weapon, and can cost their initiators a legal, political and economic price.
It is clear that BDS in its current form can hardly be acceptable in sane political and rational intellectual circles, as well as — the further, the more, among the general public. All this explains why, in the general balance, at the moment the efforts of BDS supporters have brought Israel no more than minor troubles. And, consequently, Israel is on the road to victory in this war too.