Is BDS a Bust?
In 2005, a coalition of organizations claiming to represent Palestinian civil society issued a call to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel. Since then, the BDS movement has acted, in church organizations, on college campuses, and elsewhere, to make Israel the equivalent of apartheid-era South Africa; a pariah state. BDS has been active in the U.S., and COMMENTARY has covered many of its individual wins and losses. But it is worth pausing every now and again to consider its overall effect on American public opinion.
At least as Gallup measures it, that effect has been zero.
In 2005, 69 percent of U.S. adults held a favorable view of Israel and 25% held an unfavorable view. Today, those numbers are 71 percent and 25 percent.
A particular target of BDS has been young people, and polling has for some time shown that young people view Israel less favorably than their elders. In the 18-29 age group 63 percent view Israel favorably and 33 percent view Israel unfavorably. But BDS has focused on college campuses. “Israeli apartheid week” is, unbelievably, a feature of the American college landscape, and divestment votes, more often than not BDS fails, took place at 50 schools from 2012-2016. It is therefore surprising that young people view Israel so favorably. In spite of the longstanding leftward lean of our campuses, college graduates and postgraduates remain on par with non-graduates in their favorable views of Israel.
This year’s results are so far similar to last year’s, though Gallup has not yet released its findings concerning how 18-29 year olds view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For U.S. adults in general, though the numbers—62 percent sympathize more with the Israelis, 19 percent more with the Palestinians—are considerably better for Israel than they were when the BDS campaign began.
Michael Lumish: This Week on Nothing Left
This week Michael Burd and Alan Freedman speak live with Michael Lumish in the San Francisco bay area about the latest developments in the United States; we then speak live with Alex Ryvchin from the ECAJ in Sydney about a range of issues.
Following this we hear from Israeli political activist May Golan on Israel’s illegal immigration problem, and finish with Isi Leibler in Jerusalem.
3 min Editorial: Anti-Netanyahu petition
14 min Michael Lumish in USA
50 min Alex Ryvchin, ECAJ
1 hr 11 min May Golan, Israeli political activist [ also check NL facebook page terrific interview with Hanity on Fox News]
1 hr 32 min Isi Leibler, Jerusalem
On February 15, 2017, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström announced that Sweden will be naming a “special envoy” to the Arab-Israeli conflict, tasked with working “full-time on the Israel-Palestine conflict,” responsible for establishing “contacts” in the region, and representing “Sweden in international talks.” According to Wallström, the sense that “hope can turn to despair” was repeated in her consultations “with almost 150 Israeli and Palestinian civil society organizations” during a December 2016 trip to the region.
Prior to this, during preparation for the January 15, 2017 Paris Peace conference, Sweden, “initiated and led” a “civil society component” as one of three areas of focus to further a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Emphasizing Sweden’s close relationship with highly politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs), a diplomat stated that prior to the Paris conference, “We spoke to NGOs, associations, bloggers and other actors. Everyone apart from politicians. The results of our survey are by no means scientific, but I believe they reflect well the situation at hand…” (emphasis added).
This alliance with favored NGOs does not occur in a vacuum – for many years, Sweden has provided large-scale funding to many such groups.
In 2015, Sweden budgeted approximately $16.1 million to NGOs active in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Many of these NGOs lead and take part in campaigns that are inconsistent with Sweden’s foreign policy goals of promoting peace and a two-state framework in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some groups have even used antisemitic rhetoric and have apparent links to terror organizations.
In addition, Sweden provides over $5 million, to the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (Secretariat) – a framework that supports NGOs that promote BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) and “lawfare” campaigns against Israel. (h/t Yenta Press)
The clash between Charles Michel, the prime minister of Belgium, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over funding for NGOs involved in the conflict and war crimes allegations highlights the sensitivity of this issue, and the need to go beyond the headlines. For many years, the government of Belgium, together with the United Kingdom and most other Western European governments, provides millions of euros, krona and dollars every year to groups that are supposedly “non-governmental.”
In this process, Israeli and Palestinian groups get a highly disproportionate amount through entirely secret decision making, and this has a direct impact on our society and political system. Whether one likes or dislikes Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Yesh Din and the 20 additional Israeli recipients of Europe’s largesse, there is no denying that the money they receive gives them a major impact on Israel. (No groups on the right of the political spectrum receive any European funds, which explains the polarized debate in Israel.)
Through humanitarian aid groups that endorse and campaign for BDS and other forms of discrimination, such as Broederlijk Delen and Oxfam, Belgium – which has its own deep political fissures – currently funds Breaking the Silence, Adalah, Yesh Din and Zochrot, a “1948 agenda” organization that considers Israel, regardless of borders, to be illegitimate. The Israeli groups get between NIS 100,000 and 270,000 annually. In addition, they partner with and support groups such as Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), Health Work Committee (HWC), Union of Health Work Committees, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) whose officials are reportedly affiliated with a notorious terror group – the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
These activities, and, in particular, the NGO campaigns that are central to the effort to label many Israeli military and political officials, including Tzipi Livni, as war criminals, are a major concern for Israel, as reflected in Netanyahu’s comments to Prime Minister Michel, as well as to British Prime Minister Theresa May earlier in the week. All foreign government funding to political NGOs operating in another democracy is a violation of sovereignty and self-determination, and this issue is particularly important for Israelis.
Israelis across the political spectrum repeatedly express concern over NGOs’ foreign funding that enables unfounded anti-Israel vitriol on behalf of foreign governments that are otherwise natural allies to Israel. For the past 15 years NGO Monitor has been conducting in-depth research on the funding and activities of civil society groups that proliferate false allegations and inflammatory rhetoric against Israel around the world. In recent weeks, this has been brought to the fore with a major escalation, prompting reactionary responses from the Israeli government and other prominent figures – which while perhaps emotionally satisfying do little to actually address the root of the problem.
Such responses include MK David Bitan’s (Likud) suggestion to revoke B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad’s citizenship; Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev’s call for canceling a Breaking the Silence lecture so as not to give the “left-wing extremist organization… a stage to present its views on the city’s account”; the questioning of the New Israel Fund’s vice president, Jennifer Gorovitz, at Ben-Gurion Airport; and plans for new legislation that would prevent foreign government funding to organizations that “harm IDF soldiers.”
These and other responses have understandably aroused an outcry against the restriction of civil society’s space in Israel.
No less important, these responses do nothing to resolve the very real issue of government-funded NGO political campaigns. If anything, such backlash lends legitimacy and credibility precisely to those who wish to delegitimize and discredit Israel, and obstructs dialogue with those with whom we should be trying to engage and cooperate.
“Jews only live once” and “stuff Jews in the oven” are among the offensive comments flooding the social media pages of current and former students at the University of Texas, Arlington (UTA), a dossier recently released by a covert campus watchdog group revealed.
According to the document, compiled by Canary Mission – which anonymously monitors anti-American, anti-Israel and antisemitic activity on US college campuses — 24 UTA students and graduates have likened Israel to Nazi Germany, called for violence against Jews and both denied and championed the Holocaust in Facebook and Twitter posts.
Majority of the posts come from former and current students affiliated with the school’s chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Muslim Student Association (MSA).
In 2014, UTA student Mariam Ghanem — an SJP activist and member of MSA — compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Hitler, and tweeted a cartoon equating Nazi soldiers and IDF officers.
A California school’s student senate was mocked on Tuesday for taking “a brave and consequential step against chickpea paste,” after voting to ban Sabra hummus from campus dining halls.
In an anonymous letter to the editor of University of California, Riverside’s student newspaper, The Highlander, the writer ridiculed the boycott of the company for its alleged financial ties to the Israel Defense Forces, as The Algemeiner reported, and for showing “solidarity” with Palestinian and Muslim students by condemning the “the villain behind all” their struggles — a tasty dip.
“[I]t occurred to me, since our student senate is so good at resolving international issues and aiding the oppressed, could we, dare we, stop at hummus?” the author wrote, before suggesting that students and faculty should be prohibited from driving cars — as motor vehicles require oil from countries that murder gays — or that a ban should be placed on travel to and courses about countries performing female genital mutilation.
It would be disappointing in the extreme if McGill University in Montreal falls short of taking disciplinary action against a student who recently called on fellow students to physically attack Zionists on campus.
Having urged his Twitter followers to “punch a Zionist today,” Igor Sadikov — a board member of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) — stands justly accused of inciting violence, a criminal offence in Canada.
Apparently “shocked” by his malignant tweet, McGill principal Suzanne Fortier issued a statement in which she condemned “all expressions of hatred and attempts to incite violence.” But it remains to be seen what measures, if any, McGill will adopt to address this disturbing issue.
Sadikov should not be allowed to get away with his incitement, but it’s clear that the SSMU will not punish him. On February 13, its board of directors narrowly rejected a motion to remove him from his position, thereby implicitly condoning his offensive behavior.
The World Jewish Congress and Israel’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations will co-host the second annual Ambassadors Against BDS conference to be held March 29 at U.N. headquarters in New York.
According to the WJC’s website, the international summit aims to provide students with tools to fight the delegitimization of Israel on campus. Dozens of diplomats, dignitaries, and public officials, as well as thousands of students, will take part in high-level discussions on tactics to combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement’s efforts to delegitimize Israel.
“Since our first conference in May 2016, so many students, professionals, and academics have joined the fight against the BDS movement. And we have seen our efforts met with success, as the BDS movement continues to suffer setback after setback,” WJC CEO Robert Singer said.
“Unfortunately, we are far from stopping this phenomenon. For every victory, we also witness new campaigns aimed at promoting the boycott of Israeli businesses, culture, and academic institutions, actions which undermine any hope for peace. In order to stop the BDS movement in its tracks, we need to continue to stand strong, and stand together.
Yesterday I posted about a flurry of motions in the re-trial of Rasmea Odeh for immigration fraud.
I focused on the prosecutor’s motion to take the testimony in the West Bank of Rasmea’s two co-conspirators in the bombing of the SuperSol supermarket in 1969, Prosecutors seek testimony of Rasmea Odeh bombing co-conspirators. That post has extensive background on the case, so please head over to the link if you are not yet familiar.
The original immigration fraud trial was in November 2014. The re-trial is May 2017.
For this post, I’m focusing on an issue that first caught my attention in October 2014. I’m pretty sure I had not heard of Rasmea prior to that, but I saw a link or article about a judge issuing an order to protect jurors from harassment by anti-Israel activists. It’s not very often that a court needs to issue such an order, so I began to look into the case of Rasmea Odeh.
On October 6, 2014, just before the first trial, I posted Palestinian activist groups accused of attempting to influence jury
We have frequently reported on the aggressive protest tactics of anti-Israel groups.
According to a motion filed in federal court in Detroit, some of those groups allegedly have crossed a line, or plan to cross a line, from legitimate and protected protest into improperly trying to influence the jury in the upcoming trial of Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, who is accused of lying on her naturalization application by failing to disclose terrorist connections.
The Motion for Anonymous Jury … spells out the allegations against the protest groups….
“Raised fist” logo only hate speech when Jews use it?
Sheila Gunn Reid reports on Facebook’s selective treatment of the Jewish Defense League’s raised fist logo after the social media site pulled their page and banned one of their founding members for it.
With reports that President Donald Trump apparently will not insist on a two-state solution as he meets today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Agence France Presse set out to explain “What is the two-state solution”? Unfortunately, the influential wire service confounded the core issue of this very question – do these two states include a specifically Jewish state or not? – but commendably corrected following correspondence from CAMERA’s Israel office.
The agency’s story originally erred (12:59 PM GMT):
In 1988, then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat unveiled a declaration of independence which, for the first time, referred to “two states for two peoples.”
This recognition is endorsed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which includes most Palestinian movements.
First, nowhere in the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence does the phrase “two states for two peoples” appear. Instead, the declaration states:
Despite the historical injustice done to the Palestinian Arab people by their dispersion and deprivation of the right of self-determination after the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947, which partitioned Palestine into two states, Arab and Jewish, that resolution still provides the legal basis for the right of the Palestinian Arab people to national sovereignty and independence.
Thus, the declaration refers to UN Resolution 181, concerning the partition of the Palestine Mandate into a Jewish and Arab state, in order to establish the “legal basis for the right of the Palestinian Arab people to national sovereignty and independence.” The declaration does not similarly affirm the right of a Jewish state to sovereignty.
In addition to Ryvka Barnard – senior campaigns officer at ‘War on Want’ – panel guests included Kamel Hawwash of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Ibrahim Mogra of the Muslim Council of Britain, Paul Charney of the Zionist Federation and Tom Wilson of the Henry Jackson Society.
Notably, audiences were not provided with background information concerning the rich history of anti-Israel campaigning by both ‘War on Want’ and the PSC, the antisemitism which has come to light in both those organisations. Neither were audiences informed of the obviously relevant fact that both organisations support the boycott campaign (BDS) against Israel – which is actually the topic of this discussion.
Compared to some previous editions of the programme in which Israel related topics were discussed, this one was noteworthy for the fact that baseless anti-Israel propaganda and Nazi analogies promoted by some speakers were in several cases – though not all – challenged by the host, panel members or members of the audience.
However, as can be seen from the transcript below, historical context was frequently lacking with, for example, uninformed viewers remaining none the wiser with regard to the fact that the final status negotiations concerning Area C have yet to come about because the Palestinians chose to launch the second Intifada or the fact that Israel came to control Judea & Samaria because Jordan chose to attack once again in 1967. Similarly, viewers were given a monchrome impression of ‘international law’ which was not challenged by the host.
Earlier this month we documented the BBC’s promotion of a map produced by the political NGO B’Tselem in three separate BBC News website reports.
Since then the same politically partisan map has also appeared in an article titled “Israel passes controversial law on West Bank settlements” published on February 7th, in an article titled “Rights groups challenge Israel settlements law in court” published on February 8th and in an article titled “Trump urges Israel to ‘act reasonably’ on settlements” which appeared on February 10th.
In addition, the same map has been added to the BBC News website backgrounder titled “Israel and the Palestinians: Can settlement issue be solved?” which first appeared in late December 2016.
The backgrounder was subsequently amended in January 2017 to include a link to the website of the political NGO ‘Peace Now’ and a map of Jerusalem produced by B’Tselem and UNOCHA which had been found in previous BBC material.
Since then, that backgrounder has been amended yet again and the B’Tselem/UNOCHA map of Jerusalem has been replaced with two versions of the new one produced by B’Tselem. In addition, the section previously titled “What difference will Donald Trump make?” has been retitled and rewritten.
The operator of a Japanese hotel chain already in hot water for denying a Japanese World War II atrocity has come under fire for reported anti-Semitic remarks.
Toshio Motoya is CEO of APA Group, which calls itself Japan’s largest hotel chain, and has drawn China criticism for writing a book denying the 1937 Nanjing massacre happened and placing copies in hundreds of APA hotel rooms.
The group also runs 40 hotels in North America and its February edition of an in-house magazine for guests staying at its Canada properties contained the anti-Semitic remarks.
“Jewish people control American information, finance, and laws, and they benefit greatly from globalization because they move their massive profits to tax havens so they don’t have to pay any taxes,” Motoya said in the magazine, according to Canadian online news website National Observer and the Japan Times newspaper.
In response to a complaint by the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, Motoya denied being anti-Jewish.
The Trump administration imposed sanctions against Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, accusing him of playing a major role in international drug trafficking.
El Aissami, who has has been accused of anti-Semitism and ties to Iran and the terrorist group Hezbollah, has been barred from entering the United States. The executive decree issued Monday is the result of a years-long investigation.
One confidential intelligence document links El Aissami to 173 Venezuelan passports and IDs that were issued to individuals from the Middle East, including people connected to Hezbollah, reported CNN.
There was no immediate reaction from the Venezuelan government or El Aissami, who has long denied any criminal ties. He was tapped as the South American country’s vice president by President Nicolas Maduro in early January.
“Not only implicated in drug trafficking and relations with the Colombian terrorist FARC movement, El-Aissami has inherited ex-President Hugo Chavez’s hatred of Israel and Jews and can now pursue Maduro’s anti-Semitism, further threatening Jewish lives in Venezuela,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s representative in Latin America, Ariel Gelblung, said in January.
He added: “Indeed, El-Aissami may transform anti-Semitism into state policy and further the transplantation of the Middle East conflict to South America.”
Carmakers Honda and Volvo opened a new “innovation center” in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, the Israeli financial newspaper Globes reported.
The research hub was created in partnership with the car rental company Hertz, the Israeli telematics company Ituran, and DRIVE, a research center founded by Mayer Group, the official Israeli importer of Hondas and Volvos.
The Japanese car company’s Honda Xcelerator program will provide expertise and resources to Israeli startups whose technology could be applied to the automotive sector. This will also allow Honda to deepen its ties with Israel’s thriving high-tech startup scene.
“Honda Xcelerator has engaged with a broad array of startups in Israel over the last few years, working on innovative technologies with the potential to transform our future products,” Dennis Clark, strategic alliance lead for Honda Xcelerator, said in a statement. “Our partnership with DRIVE will enable Honda to collaborate even more closely with local innovators and continue to accelerate and drive innovation.”
Nick Sugimoto, the senior program director of the Honda Silicon Valley Lab, spoke at an investor summit in Jerusalem in January 2016. When asked if Honda would open a research and development office in Israel, Sugimoto replied, “We have no plans to open an office here yet, but who knows?”
“I’m very impressed by the innovation and entrepreneurial support of the startup nation and we definitely want to join forces to develop disruptive technologies for the future,” he added.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the nation’s largest aerospace and defense company, and India’s Dynamatic Technologies Ltd (DTL) said Wednesday they were joining forces to develop unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the Indian market.
The cooperation agreement, signed at the Aero India exhibition currently underway in Bangalore, covers the production, assembly and support of mini UAVs in India, and calls for the IAI to transfer technology and production capabilities to DTL that will enable the production of local mini UAV systems for Indian end-users.
The locally made UAVs will be part of the Indian government’s “Make in India” initiative, IAI said in a statement, adding that it plans to transfer a big part of its UAV activity to India in the near future. The Make in India initiative was launched by the Indian government in 2014 to encourage multinational and national companies to manufacture their products in India.
The statement said the accord can be “a solid foothold” for a much broader collaboration between the parties in the field of UAVs in India.
Israeli airline security is about to be enhanced, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, the decision to upgrade training for guards and increase other preventive measures on El Al, Arkia and IsraAir planes was taken by the Shin Bet security agency, which declined to comment on the grounds that it does not publicize such information.
This is not the first time that security improvements have been made on Israeli planes, Walla said. Among the technological advancements that have earned the Jewish state the reputation of being a world leader in the field of flight safety and airport security, are systems for intercepting surface-to-air missiles and bullet-proof double doors between cockpits and cabins.
For this reason, airline officials told Walla, Israel has frequently been asked to assist other countries in this realm, particularly since 9/11. Shin Bet agents and representatives of the Israel Airports Authority and El Al have had many working meetings on the topic with foreign counterparts, even observing and critiquing security drills. Indeed, a former El Al security chief told Walla, “Ben Gurion International Airport has become a model for emulation.”
Like any true ’90s kid, I was a big-time fan of the Power Rangers TV show (I had a Pink Ranger/Kimberly Hart costume and all). And while her role was fun and empowering, I didn’t realize how much deeper my connection to the show was: Power Rangers was a fairly Jewy series.
To begin with, the franchise’s production company, Saban Entertainment, was helmed by Israeli-Americans (Haim Saban and Shuki Levy). With the new Power Rangers film coming out next month (directed by South African Dean Israelite), I did some research to uncover additional connections between the chosen teen superheroes and the chosen people.
The springboard for my investigation begins with the below clip from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, the original TV series―well, not so original, given that Saban reused some existing footage from the Japanese show Super Sentai―that’s being rebooted with the upcoming movie. In a scene from the episode “The Wedding: Part III,” the Rangers’ nemeses Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa dance to “Hava Nagila” at their extraterrestrial wedding reception.
Israel’s GDP growth estimate for 2016 as a whole was raised to 4% by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Israel’s GDP grew by an annualized 6.2% in Israel in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to a Central Bureau of Statistics estimate published today. The figure is the highest quarterly growth rate since the second quarter of 2013.
According to this estimate, the economy grew 5% in the second half of 2016, following 3.2% growth in the first half of the year. Growth for 2016 as a whole was raised to 4% from the previous estimate of 3.8%, and per capita growth was 1.9%. The fourth quarter growth estimate is subject to revision.
In an analysis of GDP elements, business product jumped 5.9% in the fourth quarter, while exports of goods and services were up 4.5% and investments in fixed assets climbed by a whopping 10.2%. Spending on private consumption rose by a relatively moderate 2.9%.
Several senators have introduced a bill seeking to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to Army Master Sgt. Rodrick “Roddie” Edmonds for his heroic actions in German prisoner-of-war campStalag IXA — actions that saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish-American soldiers.
The bill to recognize Edmonds, which was introduced by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), notes how Edmonds, as a senior noncommissioned officer responsible for the 1,275 US Army soldiers at the camp, orchestrated an incredible show of unity when he refused a German order to identify the Jews among them.
Edmonds stood together with the whole group, a moved that called a German officer to shout, “They cannot all be Jews!” Edmonds replied, “We are all Jews here.”
“The courage and foresight Master Sergeant Edmonds showed that day to save the lives of approximately 200 Jewish-American soldiers is truly remarkable,” Corker said in a statement. “Even when faced with death himself, Master Sgt. Edmonds and the men under his command stood united to protect their fellow soldiers. His moral fortitude and humility serve as an example for us all, and I am pleased to join my colleagues to honor his life in this way.”
Senator Cardin said, “When I learned of Master Sgt. Edmonds’ valiant actions that saved Jewish-American prisoners of war in Germany, I was reminded of the Talmud’s teaching that ‘whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.’ At a dark time in humanity’s history, Master Sergeant Edmonds was a bright light and did what his heart told him was the right thing to do.”
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.