The Jewish Report Editorial

World finally wakes up to the fight against BDS

  • JNF - Tu B'shvat
World Jewish leaders seem to be in the midst of intense preparation for battle. This enemy they are gearing up to fight - the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement - although not new, is suddenly being taken a lot more seriously.
by VANESSA VALKIN | Jun 10, 2015

This past weekend in Las Vegas, US casino mogul Sheldon Adelson hosted a clandestine gathering of major Jewish philanthropists and American Jewish organisations to plot and plan co-ordinated efforts to counter BDS and other anti-Israel activities on college campuses.

And then on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened his weekly Cabinet session with the announcement that Israel was establishing both an offensive and defensive campaign against efforts to boycott and delegitimise Israel.

Later that day, he announced that the Israeli government was allotting 100 million shekels to the Strategic Affairs and Information Ministry under Gilad Erdan to fight BDS.

“Against the efforts to harm Israel with threats, false accusations and boycotts, we must stand - right and left - as one, to deflect the pressures, uncover the lies, and attack the attackers,” he said defiantly.

Israel said it is also launching an initiative through its embassies in Europe to try to prevent a European Union directive that could negatively impact sales of Israeli products there by labelling goods that originate in the West Bank settlements, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

So, this then begs the question why the sudden call to arms against BDS? Until now, the virulent criticism that has been levelled at Israel has mostly fallen on deaf ears in the Israeli government even if it had caught the attention of certain Diaspora Jewish leaders. 

The answer must surely be certain recent events that have caught the Israeli government’s attention. Firstly, Israel has been facing the threat of expulsion from the world soccer governing body, Fifa.

Then last week, Orange telecom chief executive Stefane Richard said in Cairo that he would terminate his contract with its Israeli subsidiary, Partner Communications, “tomorrow” if he could.

And yet another blow was the announcement by the UK’s National Union of Students that it was joining the international BDS movement and its condemnation of “Israeli military presence in the West Bank and Gaza”.

And of course, a conference called specifically to counter BDS activities by Sheldon Adelson, a big supporter of the Israeli prime minister, would definitely have been taken seriously by Netanyahu and been a motivation for his timing for Israel’s focused efforts against BDS.


According to Peter Beinart, a well-known Jewish political commentator in the US, the news of Adelson’s conference for Jewish groups aimed at countering BDS is evidence that “pro-Israel” activism in the United States has entered a new era.

Because Iran’s new leader, Hassan Rohani, has made Iran appear less menacing and in Barack Obama, Netanyahu has found a partner eager to end the long-standing US-Iranian cold war, Iran is much less worthwhile cause for American Jewry, says Beinart. As a result, pro-Israel activism has had to find another outlet, argues Beinart, and the perfect new war to wage is one against BDS.

And so too for Palestinian activists, BDS is the perfect fight because Palestinians have given up on the idea that Israel can deliver them a state anytime soon and Mahmoud Abbas has failed to end the occupation, or stand for election. For them, Beinart says, BDS offers a route to bypass their divided, corrupt political leaders and take the struggle against Israel into their own hands.

At the conference this weekend, Adelson said the main focus of his efforts would be college campuses where the BDS movement was making a lot of “headway”. He and fellow philanthropists are planning to fund Jewish groups who could organise effective activities on campus to counter BDS.

Some reports said that famous Kosher Sex author and Rabbi, Shmuely Boteach, would likely lead these efforts to create “Campus Maccabees” to fight BDS in a co-ordinated way. And it is likely that we in South Africa (and many other countries) will start to see the efforts of these American and Israeli funds on our own doorstep.

Interestingly, we in South Africa have been fighting BDS for much longer than our fellow Americans and Israelis and our community’s efforts have been fairly effective.

The South African Union of Jewish Students’ Israel Awareness Week to counter Israel Apartheid Week; the relationships the Zionist Federation continues to build with other faith groups; our community’s efforts to win friends in government and the Israeli embassy’s attempts to build bridges and highlight Israel’s positive contributions to science, technology, medicine and more - are all important initiatives.

They certainly offer significant lessons for other Diaspora communities and even Israel itself, who are only now starting their own battles against the BDS movement. 


1 Comment

  1. 1 nat cheiman 10 Jun
    Thank goodness BDS and its members including Homer Desai are intellectually deficient beings. Many of them would not survive if breathing wasn't a reflex action.
    And Dumbo Dlamini, is on a tour of universities to preach his Hitlerite hatred. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, his dean of law may be plotting some really good results for this moron . The capacity of SA to put up with twits like these is becoming less and less. Soon, they will all have nothing to do.
    The cartoon network may be a home for these "toon"like characters


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