MK Michael Oren vigorously criticized the government on Sunday, March 27 for lacking a coherent policy to combat the international Boycott, Sanction, and Divestment (BDS) movement against Israel.
“There is no magic solution to BDS, but it is impossible to explain Israel’s position without a clear narrative. We don’t have one while the Palestinians do have one, and that plays against us,” Oren said at a conference held at the Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem.
“We also do not have a policy,” added Oren, who is a former ambassador to the U.S. “Just like we dealt with the danger of terrorism, we should now deal with the boycott danger.”
The conference was convened in order to address the BDS threat and it was attended by over 240 people, according to event co-organizer David Liran.
“The main driving force of the boycott movement are NGOs,” said NGO Monitor Senior Researcher Itai Reuveni. “The boycott movement is non-hierarchal and it is not possible to fight it with hierarchal means. That is why the government should not be at the front of this battle.”
Many of the panelists emphasized the threat posed by the BDS mindset.
“The BDS movement is not interested in criticism and dialogue,” argued Asher Friedman, the coordinator for fighting BDS in the Strategic Affairs Ministry. “The only solution in [its] view is to erase Israel from the map.”
“The left has a fantasy that help will come from external pressure by bypassing the Israeli democracy and that is a colossal mistake that mainly harms the Israeli left,” claimed Michael Manekin, executive director of Molad, the Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy, a left-leaning NGO. “The BDS movement has anti-Semitic characteristics and it aspires to end Israel as the Jewish nation-state.”
Last week, it was reported that Lev Haolam, a group of activists in Israel and abroad assisting Jewish businesses in Judea, Samaria, and the Golan in fighting the efforts of the BDS movement, held a meeting at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
“The meeting was organized to showcase our project of fighting the boycott by selling items abroad and within Israel,” Lev HaOlam customer relations manager Ezra Barry told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).
“We’re going out and saying that this is the way to fight the boycott and to end the suffering of all these companies in Judea and Samaria,” continued Barry.
“For me, this is not just about a package with beautiful products that I receive every month, but it’s about understanding that there is a name, a family, a face, and a story behind every product,” said Arjanne Kloos, a customer of Lev Haolam who helps the organization run educational and informative events about Israel in Holland.
Kloos expressed continued determination to be victorious over the efforts of those attempting to boycott Israel.
“If they want to label or boycott Jewish products, we will proudly buy even more,” stressed Kloos. “If they want to spread hate and lies about Israel, we will work even harder to spread the truth and to educate people.”
Kloos’ passion and commitment to spread the truth about Israel developed as a result of some of her own independent discoveries.
“I come from a Christian background and I remember that I read a book a couple of years ago called ‘Blood On Our Hands,’” Kloos related to TPS. “It is specifically about the history of Christianity towards Jewish people in Europe, and I remember closing the book and thinking, ‘Why did nobody tell me this before? Why have I never heard about the big [European] theologians saying the worst things about Jewish people?’”
“If we don’t tell people, they won’t know,” Kloos concluded.
Jesse Lempel (TPS)