The anti-Israel boycott campaign’s record of total failure

Robert Fulford, National Post

Shahid Alam, writing this week in a Cairo magazine, Al-Ahram, declared that “slowly but steadily, the Western people are throwing their support behind the campaign to divest from, boycott and impose sanctions on Israel.” It certainly seems that way. I’ve read often, over many years, about students demanding that their universities sell whatever stocks they own in Israeli companies and in corporations supporting the defence of Israel. I’ve read, too, about boycotts of Israeli products and attempts to get churches and corporations to sell Israel-connected stocks.

In Canada, a union proposed that Israeli professors not be allowed to lecture here. And of course, everyone knows that Elvis Costello recently deprived Israelis of the two performances he was scheduled to give in Israel, on grounds of “conscience.”

This is all part of a plan co-ordinated by Palestinian leaders and activists to pressure Israel with boycotts, divestment and sanctions (routinely abbreviated on websites and placards as “BDS”). The more mild-mannered supporters of BDS say they want to encourage Israel to improve its treatment of Palestinians and seek peace. It seems clear to me that their main goal is to destroy Israel.

Given the publicity BDS has received, the program should be on the way to success. And probably it has helped discourage some Israelis and their supporters. But is it working on a more practical level? Surprisingly, the clear answer seems to be No.

Jon Haber, a Boston writer who runs the website Divest This!, recently reported in The Jerusalem Post that — despite the passage of nearly a decade of BDS activism — not one college or university has sold even one share of a company the divesters identify as an immoral supporter of Israel. The divesters are good at attracting crowds, writing manifestos, passing motions and getting their opinions onto TV. But they get few results: Boards of universities, corporations and churches all reject divestment proposals.

In May, the divesters were greatly cheered by news that Deutsche Bank had sold its shares in Elbit, the Israeli arms company. Wiltrud Rosch-Metzler, a campaigner with Pax Christi Germany, called that “a huge success.” A representative of various Palestinian organizations said: “Palestinian civil society warmly welcomes the principled decision taken by Deutsche Bank.”

This news was closely followed by Deutsche Bank’s announcement that it was untrue. The bank pointed out that it had no Elbit shares to sell. Evan Jones of the University of Sydney, trying to argue last week that the BDS movement “has acquired fresh impetus after each Israeli outrage,” had to acknowledge that, “Alas, the heralded divestment of Deutsche Bank from Israel’s largest defence firm appears to have been a false alarm.”

Last year, a group called Students for Justice in Palestine celebrated its triumph at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. They claimed Hampshire had become the first college or university in the United States to divest from companies involved with Israel. But the board claimed its decision said nothing at all about Israel. True, the idea of ethical investment had been raised by Students for Justice in Palestine, but the board’s decision to sell the college’s shares in an investment fund was based on a study of 200 companies said to have violated the college’s standards for social responsibility in labour practices, environmental abuse, unsafe workplaces, etc. The students had named six companies it accused of supporting Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. Three of the six failed a screen for socially responsible investing based on their sales of military equipment, employee safety record and other violations. Two of the companies named by the students passed the screen. A sixth company turned out not to be on the list of the college’s investments. Less than a stirring victory.

Curiously, during the period when enemies of Israel were doing their best to cut its economic lifelines, Israel’s economy remained in much better shape than equivalent economies elsewhere. As David Rosenberg wrote recently in a paper published by the Gloria Center, “Israel experienced no more than a mild recession as a result of the global financial crisis that began in 2007.” Of all the OECD nations, Israel was the last to show signs of recession (in the fourth quarter of 2008) and among the first to begin recovering (in the second quarter of 2009). While under verbal attack from gangs of ranters in every corner of Europe and North America, it had by far the shortest downturn in the OECD.

July 14, 2010 | 8 Comments »

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  1. She didn’t write that, but she did write this: “There’s no crying in baseball.” It’s just between you and Shebrew because it’s supposed to be a spooky ghost writer deep dark secret.

    I know ,she quoted Seinfeld:

    ayn reagan says:
    January 3, 2010 at 3:48 am

    The connections and inner-workings of the mind are very interesting

    Only if the inner-workings actually work.

    Alas, my inner-workings have retired and moved to Sun City.

    JERRY: How ya doin’?

    SIDRA: Good. How you doin’?

    JERRY: Good, feel good…you know that Jayne Mansfield had some big breasts. Really big, huge…just coming out the top of her dress, they were like, chokin’ her.

  2. She didn’t write that, but she did write this: “There’s no crying in baseball.” It’s just between you and Shebrew because it’s supposed to be a spooky ghost writer deep dark secret.

    Shebrew brings more good news: “There was plenty of hand-wringing after IDF commandos stopped the Mavi Mamara from running Israel’s blockade of Gaza, though not on this blog if I recall correctly. Israel’s action, which brought international condemnation, was said to have injured Israel’s standing and provided a boast to Hamas.

    But according to this analysis by David Pollack in the Jerusalem Post, the attempt at blockade-busting has, if anything, backfired on Hamas. Moreover, Israel’s blockade remains in place, which was Israel’s purpose in stopping the Mavi Mamara. Israel has expanded the list of items it will allow into Gaza, though.

    There has been talk about more blockade-busting, but so far no one has been foolish enough to attempt it. Last month, Iran backed away from such an attempt, and now a LIbyan-backed ship carrying cargo for the Gaza Strip has docked in Egypt rather than attempting to reach Gaza.

    This was a signifcant setback for Hamas. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh had implored the boat’s captain and crew to continue sailing for Gaza, while calling for more pro-Palestinian “freedom flotillas.” “The sea and land convoys must continue,” said Haniyeh. “We hope we can depend on Islamic nations to help us lift the blockade.”

    He could not. Nor could he depend on the international community. Unlike with the Mavi Marmara, this time European diplomats, knowing that Israel would not back down, worked diligently to divert the ship. The Jerusalem Post reports that “statements against bringing cargo into Gaza by sea, made by the US State Department, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and Quartet envoy Tony Blair, were only the public manifestations of feverish diplomatic efforts that took place behind the scenes.”

    It’s also quite possible that the captain and crew were willing to be talked out of their dangerous mission. The captain apparently is Cuban, and presumably non-Muslim. He may well have thought he had little to gain from martyrdom on the high seas.

    That’s from Powerlineblog, and IT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON ISRAEL CAN LEARN! Take care of business, let the world shit in its pants, and you win every time. It’s the OPPOSITE of what liberals say, ie., world opinion and all that bullshit. Fuck world opinion. Kill people who want to kill Jews and the world will have conniptions, but Israel will come out way ahead of the game.

    Here it is in a nutshell. If the world isn’t furious at Israel, Israel is failing to protect itself. The world bitching about the rotten Israelis is a good thing. What do they say in Nautilus training? Enjoy the pain because it’s good for you an it keeps you healthy. Being unpopular is a pretty small price to pay for staying alive, especially when you’d be unpopular anyway.

    I hope BB and the rest (although never Barak obviously) learn from this. The world went apeshit, but Israel won this little scrape, and Israel’s enemies (including the Europeans according to this analysis) are now trying to avoid provoking Israel. How fucking cool it is to be so strong! Strength is the only thing the world respects, or fears, or call it what you will. Intimidated might be the word, and I love it. What’d the guys say, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning!”

    Fear the Jews, assholes.

    I’m off to the beach for an all nighter. See ya tomorrow.

  3. Some random thoughts:

    Who is Elvis Costello?

    Who is Bill Narvey?

    Bernard Henri-Levy is that rare individual who is never right, a two-headed coin that somehow always comes up tails.. Yet Bernard Henri-Levy continues to be the Ethel Mertz of philosophers: not very bright, but quite unappealing.

    The Israelis should rename the Golan “Texas”.

    “That Jayne Mansfield sure had some big breasts”. (ayn reagan)

  4. It all fits Shebrew’s shrewd observation that opponents of Israel are basically pond scum right across the board.

    Exactly. Those who lack any morals or ethics in their personal lives can’t be expected to take the morally correct stance on a broader scale.

  5. This sham philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy who founded J Call said he was ecstatic that Roman Polanski wasn’t extradited for raping that little girl. It all fits Shebrew’s shrewd observation that opponents of Israel are basically pond scum right across the board. Supporting the Arabs and supporting child molestors fits hand in glove. I’m So Very Washed Up Mr. Elvis Costello can no longer make news unless he’s blowing his cocaine nose on Jews, kind of like that butt maggott Farrakahn but at least Malcolm X-Lax doesn’t look like Woody Allen.

    Good news alert! HAMILTON — The Hamilton Presbytery of the United Church of Canada hosted an anti-Israel propaganda event last week, featuring a gallery of photographs from Gaza – the usually stereotypes of leathery-skinned old men, babes in arms, tears streaming down the face of a woman probably celebrating the martyrdom of a loved one – and barely anyone showed up.

    Less than a score of aging hippies and leftists attended and they could not fill a ’60s-style coffee house which, according to its own website, is in danger of being closed by the landlord. The coffee house describes itself as “a non-profit worker-coop dedicated to the goals of progressive social and environmental change.”

  6. The purpose of these campaigns is to give a platform for demonizing israel. They don’t expect to actually acheive a boycott.

    I went to two “debates” at York U in Toronto where the debate was “should we boycott Israel”. Thus in a university setting with local newspaper coverage the pro forces just attacked Israel with all kinds of bogus claims.

  7. This report should be some comfort to those of us who are so angered by the loud mouthed anti-Israel factions. Does this signify that Westerners and Western institutions are not cowed by the sound and fury of anti-Israel voices or is it that Westerners and Western institutions in the main are not into anti-Israel messaging and are more concerned about issues that affect them directly?

  8. And of course, everyone knows that Elvis Costello recently deprived Israelis of the two performances he was scheduled to give in Israel, on grounds of “conscience.”

    You guys in Israel feeling deprived?