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June 29, 2016 / 23 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘BDS’

Combating BDS by Legislation: Different Approaches, Same Goal

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently issued an executive order directing state entities to divest all public funds from companies supporting the Boycott Divestment Sanctions campaign (“BDS”) against Israel, and to refrain in the future from doing business with such entities.

In so doing, New York joined several other states that have taken some form of counter-boycott measure against BDS, in addition to more that are currently considering legislation to that effect. While these measures have each targeted the anti-Israel BDS movement, there exist some notable differences in their language and form.

Before examining these legal differences, I should state the obvious: governors and legislatures are morally and politically right to counter-boycott BDS. The so-called BDS movement is part of a broader campaign to delegitimize, demonize and discriminate against the nation state of the Jewish people, and to undermine any reasonable prospect of a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
The claim of BDS advocates that their bigoted boycott is really about promoting international respect for human rights is demonstrably false. If BDS were concerned with human rights, it would target first the worst human rights offenders and those regimes that permit no dissent or access to justice.

But the so-called BDS movement does not target Iran, China, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Cuba or other such offenders (indeed many BDS advocates seek to increase ties with Iran, Cuba, and China despite their horrid record on human rights). Instead BDS targets only one nation: the democratic nation state of Israel, which, despite being subjected to terrorist attacks virtually on a daily basis, has a free press and an independent judiciary. No country faced with comparable threats has had a better record on human rights, of compliance with the rule of law, and of efforts to reduce civilian casualties in armed conflicts.

Israel has also offered to end the occupation – as it did in Gaza – on numerous occasions in exchange for peace based on a two-state solution, but those offers have not been accepted by the Palestinian leadership, or by hardliners like Omar Barghouti, one of the leaders of BDS, who declared “I am completely and categorically against bi-nationalism because it assumes there are two nations with equal moral claims to the land.”
Israel like every country including our own is far from perfect – and I and other supporters of Israel have been critical of its flaws – but it has internal mechanisms for addressing its imperfections. There is no legitimate reason for singling it out for the kind of external discrimination represented by BDS.

One of BDS’s core components – the Academic and Cultural Boycott (“PACBI”) – encourages participants to disassociate from Israeli cultural, artistic and scientific institutions, and to blacklist individuals deemed too supportive of Israel. I recently learned that I too feature on this blacklist when Omar Barghouti refused to debate me in front of the Oxford Union. The PACBI guidelines endorse boycotting individuals who cross the BDS “picket lines” by cooperating with Israeli academic institutions or blacklisted individuals. They also encourage the boycott of all cultural and academic institutions or artists that promote “Brand Israel,” including for example the singer Matisyahu.

Even more egregiously, PACBI calls for the boycott of institutions that promote “normalization projects” which do not sufficiently emphasize the injustice of the occupation, even if those projects aim for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and reconciliation. The BDS movement also implicitly opposes a twostate solution by explicitly endorsing the so-called Palestinian right of return, which would in effect unwind nearly 40 years of negotiations, and destroy Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

In short, governors and state legislatures are right to combat BDS as a matter of public policy – BDS is immoral, discriminatory, and undermines US interests abroad. Thus far, however, states have adopted different models in this effort. Most have adopted laws that make specific reference to Israel. Florida, for example, now requires the State Board of Administration to “identify all companies that are boycotting Israel,” to divest all public funds from those entities, and further prohibits “a state agency or local governmental entity from contracting services” from those companies. Other states have embraced more general provisions. California, for example, is considering legislation that forbids the state from doing business with companies that discriminate on the basis of nationality or national origin. Similarly, Alabama has passed a bill divesting from companies that boycott US allies, or nations enjoy “normal trade” with the United States.

There are merits to both approaches. On the one hand, the obvious target of these laws is the anti-Israel BDS movement. After all, there is no significant boycott movement against another US ally. Including reference to Israel in the text of the bill helps cement the purpose of the legislation, and prevents state resources from being wasted identifying and combating small-scale boycott movements. On the other hand, legislation with non-specific language may have some benefits as well, namely that it more directly reflects the legal principle at the heart of anti-BDS measures – that it is generally wrong to discriminate on the basis of nationality or national origin. Such language also mirrors federal anti-boycott laws, which penalize companies and individuals that participate in boycotts based on race, religion, sex, national origin or nationality.

Regardless, recent claims by the pro-BDS punditry that any anti-BDS regulations are McCarthyite is both misleading, and insulting to the victims of real McCarthyism who were punished for their ideas, speeches and associations, not for their actions in refusing to do business based on national origin. Yes, anti-BDS regulations often results in lists of companies that discriminate against Israel, just as there are lists today of store and building owners who refuse to do business with, for example, African-Americans, LGBTQ, or Muslims. Proof is required that a business engaged in a discriminatory boycott by singling out Israeli entities, or individuals based on their national origin, or political convictions, and there is a process for challenging inclusion on any list. The only McCarthyist blacklist is that which has been complied by BDS enforcers – a list I am proud to be on – of supporters of Israel and of those who seek to “normalize” relations between Israelis and Palestinians.

To be clear: anti-BDS regulations should go no further than the counterboycott of companies that actually engage in discriminatory actions. No one, not even the most rabid BDS-activist, should face legal recriminations for expressing an opinion that is supportive of BDS, or for encouraging others to support BDS. Political speech – even bigoted, misguided political speech – is clearly protected by the constitution. The wording of Governor Cuomo’s executive order in this regard raises some red flags: if regulators target institutions for “promot[ing] others to engage in any [BDS] activity” by means of speech rather than economic pressure, the courts should strike down that provision, while upholding the remainder of the order. Similarly, the bill currently under consideration in the Kansas legislature that would defund academic institutions for funding student associations supportive of BDS impacts speech and association rights of pro-Palestinian students and faculty members. It should be revised to avoid any constitutional challenges.

That said, most anti-BDS measures are clearly directed at discriminatory business activities, and not at speech or advocacy.

So applied, such counter-boycott regulations will promote political, artistic and cultural freedoms by imposing economic sanctions on those BDS bigots who are seeking to suppress such freedoms by discriminating against Israeli, and pro-Israeli advocates, artists, cultural figures and businesses.

 

{Portions of this op-ed were first published in The Daily Beast under the title “New York is Right to Counterboycott Anti-Israel Boycotters.”}

Alan M. Dershowitz

Israel Defending Europe

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Amazing new video from The Hallelu Foundation

Video of the Day

As US Anthropologists Reject BDS Resolution, Israeli Economy Thriving Despite Boycotts

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

On Tuesday, the 10,000-member American Anthropological Association announced the results of a vote on its proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions: the call to boycott failed. After many who are close to the organization had predicted the measure would pass, it lost by 2,423 to 2,384 votes.

The failure of the boycott proposal came as unexpected relief to people like Ted Gup, a professor of journalism at Emerson College, who wrote on the eve of the vote in The Chronicle of Higher Education that it is “misguided, counterproductive, and sure to damage both the association and the Palestinian cause.” He added that “it also puts at risk any network of scholars by inviting similar future reprisals.” Also, he warned that “the boycott will harm the very people it is intended to help and embolden those whose hardline policies the AAA disdains.” But “beyond all this,” Gup, who is Jewish, noted that “the boycott itself is irreparably flawed and discredited by the historical and contemporary context that produced it.”

It also appears that the boycotts have had no influence at all on Israel’s economy, which today is the fastest growing in OEDC, according to a Bloomberg News report citing a steep increase in foreign investments in Israeli assets, which last year hit a record high of $285.12 billion, “a near-tripling from 2005 when the so-called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was started by a group of Palestinians.”

“We don’t have a problem with foreign investment in Israel — on the contrary,” Yoel Naveh, chief economist at Israel’s finance ministry, told Bloomberg.

According to people from the entire spectrum of the market: money managers, economists and government officials, “Israeli assets are an attractive alternative to weak performers elsewhere.” And even though Israel’s economy has slowed down in 2016, it is still growing faster than the economies of the US and Europe and its interest rate is higher.

Interestingly, Bloomberg also reported that the business community rejects the fabricated accusations against Israel perpetrated by the BDS activists, “that investing in Israeli innovation and natural gas violates Palestinian rights, and that Israel’s misdeeds are so exceptional that they justify singling it out for censure.”

Bloomberg quotes data collected by IVC Research Center which suggests that even with an appreciating shekel, Israeli startups have raised $3.76 billion in 2015 from foreign investors, their highest annual figure in ten years. In 2015 Israeli industrial high-tech exports rose 13% from 2014 to $23.7 billion, and in 2016 Israel’s economy is expected to grow 2.8%, compared with the US (1.8%) and the EU (1.8%).

Or, as the Torah put it, back in 1248 BCE: “But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became.” (Exodus 1:12)

Back to the failed BDS vote at the AAA, there’s a point Ted Gup was making in his thoughtful article which suggests the more Israel makes itself known to the world, the less would anti-Semitic NGOs be able to feed off its flesh. “In the summer of 2015, with the support of a Fulbright, I taught at the University of Haifa, in Israel’s third-largest city and one of its most secular and progressive urban centers,” Gup related. “The university boasts a student population that is one-third Arab. It is common to see student-soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces, rifles slung over their shoulders, checking alongside their Arab classmates the same class announcement boards or discussing homework. Nor is it unusual for heated debates about Israeli policy to arise between Jews and Arabs in the classroom — and even more commonly, between Jews and Jews.”

Then he made a most cogent point, coming as it does from a leftwing perspective: “So how does a learned society like the AAA justify punishing the likes of the University of Haifa or see doing so as an effective message to the Israeli government? Many of my colleagues on the Haifa faculty openly criticize that government, as do their students. A wholesale boycott of academic institutions applies the same indiscriminate standard of punishment that the association says it abhors. The AAA would argue that you don’t bulldoze a house or bomb a block in Gaza because of one attacker. How then do you justify cutting off relations with all Israeli academic institutions based not on actions but on geography?”

JNi.Media

NY Gov Signs Anti-Boycott Law then Joins 52nd Israel Parade in Pouring Rain [video]

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

It was dry and cozy at the Harvard Club in Manhattan, where NY Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday announced a new executive order that bans companies supporting a boycott of Israeli products from doing business with NY State agencies. Outside, on Fifth Avenue, the stubborn marching groups of the 52nd annual Celebrate Israel parade were pushing ever forward under the persistent rain.

Gov. Cuomo spoke to an audience that included many Jewish leaders and lawmakers, describing the BDS movement as an “economic attack” on Israel. “We cannot allow that to happen,” the governor said, according to the NY Times. “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you.”

Mr. Cuomo signed the executive order, and then joined the wet masses in the parade.

The BDS usual suspects, such as the movement’s Qatari founder Omar Barghouti, called Cuomo’s move part of Israel’s “legal warfare against BDS,” and complained that Israel was trying to “delegitimize the boycott.” Mostly because the boycott represents an effort to delete, not just delegitimize Israel.

The governor later tweeted: “What a great honor it was to march in the @CelebrateIsrael parade today.”

It may have rained on Sunday in Manhattan literally, but it didn’t rain on Israel’s parade figuratively, as the Broadway Cast of Fiddler on the Roof, the band SOULFARM, – the Paprim Ensemble Dancers of Israel Dance Institute, and the Maccabeats — to name but a few — did their thing down the avenue.

Marching Bands included NYC Police, Cadets, Fusion Core, Saint Brigades Drum & Bugle Corps, Connecticut Hurricanes, Bushwhackers Drum & Bugle Corps, Long Island Sunrisers Drum & Bugle Corps, Upper Schuylkill Marching Band, Raiders Drum & Bugle Corps, Excelsior Drum & Bugle Corps, and Skyliners.

The parade featured floats and vehicles from the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center, American Friends of Magen David Adom, American Technion Society, American Zionist Movement, Ariel University, Avi Chai Foundation, Bank Leumi, Bnei Akiva of the United States and Canada, Carmel, EL AL & Israel Ministry of Tourism, Gift of Life Marrow Registry, Dr. Felix Glaubach & Family, Hazon, Hebron Fund, Hillel Yeshiva, IDB Bank, IDT Corporation, Israel Bonds, State of Israel, Jfiix, Jewish Agency, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Jewish National Fund, Kars 4 Kids, Kids of Courage, Nefesh B’ Nefesh, One Israel Fund, Russian American Jewish Experience, Sephardic Heritage Alliance Inc. & Iranian American Jewish Federation, Stand With Us, and UJA-Federation of NY.

Finally, this is the complete list of the marching groups:

92nd St Y/Jdate
AJC-American Jewish Committee
American Russian Jewish Community Cluster /COJECO
American Veterans of Israel Legacy
AIFL-American Israel Friendship League
ARZA
ASHAR
AZM
Barkai Yeshivah
Ben Porat Yosef
Berman Hebrew Academy – Rockville, MD
Bi-Cultural Day School
B’nai Jeshurun
Bnei Akiva of US and Canada
Boy/Girl Scouts of America
Brandeis School
Camp HASC
Carmel Academy
Center for Jewish Life
Chai Riders
Congregation Or Zarua
Cyprus Federation of America
Eagles Wings Ministries
East Midwood Hebrew Day School
Ezra Academy
Friends of Israel Scouts – Tzofim Tzabar
Friends of the IDF
Friends of Yashar LaChayal /East Brunswick Tri-Synagogue Alliance
Frisch School
Golda Och Academy
H.E.S. Hebrew Educational Society
HAFTR Lower/Middle/High School
HALB Middle School
HALB DRS
HALB SKA
HANC
Hannah Senesh Community Day School
Hazon
Heschel School
Hillel International
Hillel Yeshiva/HS
JAFI – Jewish Agency International Development
JCRC – Long Island
Jewish Educational Center
Jewish Educational Center – Bruriah
Jewish Educational Center – Mesivta,
Jewish Federation Northeastern, PA
Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, NJ
Jewish Federation of North NJ
Jewish Federation Rockland County
Jewish Foundation School
Jewish War Veterans of the USA
Joseph Kushner Academy/Rae Kushner HS
Jscreen
Kinneret Day School
LGBT Cluster
Lone Soldier Center
Lower Merion Cluster
Ma’ayanot Yeshiva HS for Girls
Magen David Yeshiva Celia Esses High School
Magen David Yeshivah  (2015 Winner)
Maimonides Academy – Los Angeles
Manhattan Day School
Manhattan Jewish Experience
Marks Jewish Community House
Marlboro Jewish Center
Monmouth County – Federation from the Heart of NJ
Moriah School
National Conference of Shomrim Societies
Northeast Queens JCC
Northshore Hebrew Academy Middle/High Schools
OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services / Camp Kaylie
OU/Yachad/ NCSY
Progressive Cluster
Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School
Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva  (2015 Winner)
RAJE
Ramaz School Middle/High Schools
Rambam Mesivta – Midreshet Shalhevet
Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey
SAR Academy/High School
SHAI
Shorefront YM-YWHA
Shulamith School for Girls – Cedarhurst
Shulamith School for Girls of Brooklyn
Skaters and Bladers in Memory of JJ Greenberg
Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County
Solomon Schechter School of Long Island
Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan
Solomon Schechter School of Queens
Solomon Schechter School of Westchester
Team Lifeline (Chai Lifeline)
Temple Beth Abraham
Temple Israel of Great Neck
Temple Sholom of West Essex
Torah Academy of Bergen County -TABC
UJ Federation of Greater Toronto
United Congregations for Israel
United Mashadi Jewish Committee of America – UMJCA
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism/USY
Volunteers for Israel
Westchester Day School  (2015 Winner)
Westchester Hebrew High School
Westchester Jewish Council
Yavneh Academy  (2015 Winner)
YB Hillel of Passaic
Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore/Congregation Brothers of Israel
Yeshiva Derech HaTorah
Yeshiva Har Torah
Yeshiva High School 0f Boca Raton
Yeshiva of Central Queens  (2015 Winner)
Yeshiva University
Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle/High School  (2015 Winner)
Yeshivat BitaHon
Yeshivat Noam
Young Judaea/Hadassah
ZOA – Zionist Organziation of America

(Source: Celebrate Israel Parade)

David Israel

Phantom Nation – How Israel Helps BDS [audio]

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Sha’i ben-Tekoa explains how Israel’s public diplomacy encourages the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. He’ll also look at the historical Arab denial of Palestine, the phantom Museum of Palestine, along with the liberal Jewish betrayal of Israel.

Phantom Nation 30May – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

SodaStream CEO Angry, But Not at BDS [video]

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

The CEO of SodaStream Daniel Birnbaum was asked at the anti-BDS conference that was held at the UN building in New York Tuesday, if SodaStream moved from Mishor Adumim, east of Jerusalem, to the Negev because of the intimidation and pressure from the BDS. Well, it turns out The CEO of SodaStream is furious, but not at the BDS movement, which he doesn’t believe has touched his company, but at the Israeli government.

He had 74 Arab employees from the PA who needed entry permits to be able to continue working in the new, huge SodaStream plant, and the Israeli government just wouldn’t issue them. Birnbaum believes Israel has thus lost 74 good will Arab ambassadors.

David Israel

Comprehensive Anti-BDS Campaign Launched at UN

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Over 1500 Anti-BDS activists bridged political, geographic, religious and generational divides to pack the UN General Assembly Hall for an anti-BDS summit hosted on Tuesday by Israel’s Mission to the UN. The event kicked off a larger initiative aimed at consolidating efforts to contend with the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, fittingly entitled “Build Bridges, Not Boycotts”.

The day-long event grew out of a dawning realization that the State of Israel, world Jewish communities, and the numerous groups attempting to mount a response to BDS on their own, must join forces if inroads are to be made against the organization that has been attempting to pressure businesses, artists, and academics to blackball Israel for eleven years.

“YOU are the Iron Dome of the State of Israel,” Danon announced from the podium. “If we stand together, we can do this. One day you will tell your children – I was there when they stopped BDS.”

The call for unity was echoed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a pre-recorded message and reiterated by a roster of keynote and workshop speakers that included Israeli Supreme Court VP Justice Elyakim Rubenstein; World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder; ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow; Son of Hamas author Mosab Hassan Yousef; CEO and vice president of World Jewish Congress Robert Singer and Soda Stream’s Daniel Birnbaum, as well as Frank Luntz; David Suissa; Emily Neilson-Winkler; David Sable; Alan Johnson of Bicom UK; actress Noa Tishby, and founder of Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, Bassam Eid.

“I’m here today to get informed”, said Flo, president of student government at Brooklyn College, “we’ve had some issues on campus”. The 22 year old related the divisive effect that BDS can have on university life, “We have students who get riled up, and students who feel unsafe”.

For many of the students present the highlight – and the hero – of the day was reggae artist Matisyahu. The Jewish American singer had his own run-in with BDS last summer when was abruptly uninvited from Spain’s Sun Splash music festival following his refusal to discuss his views on Israel. After an ensuing uproar where the World Jewish Congress reached out to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, the festival apologized, reinstated Matisyahu, and revealed that BDS strong-arming had been behind the decision to drop him.

When Matisyahu finally took the stage in Spain in front of a decidedly unwelcoming crowd, he belted out the song Jerusalem. The performer, who did an encore of Jerusalem at the UN on Tuesday, has since become a vocal anti-BDS activist.

“When you see someone like Matisyahu, who is so much bigger than you, and he’s standing up for what you believe in, it makes you feel like there’s someone behind you. You’re not alone”, said Rambam Mesifta student Naftali, at the UN for the day with friends from his Lawrence, New York high school.

Although so far the teens have so only encountered anti-Semitism on social media, they say are preparing for the day it will become face-to-face, which they consider all but inevitable. The boys are also fans of their host for the day. “I admire Ambassador Danon because he uses his power to take a stand and make a difference, instead of just having power for the sake of it”, explained Eli, another Rambam Mesifta student. Along with the rest of the participants, each of the friends left with a copy of A Guide for Combating Modern Day Anti-Semitism.

After a moving speech by Justice Rubenstein, who closed his remarks by proclaiming Am Yisroel Chai, several attendees were overheard expressing doubt that the BDS situation would ever improve. 62 year old New Yorker Sol was more optimistic. “Don’t give up, even miracles can happen,” he reminded those nearby.

As if to help Sol make his point, not 10 minutes later in the UN General Assembly – not normally the most embracing environment for Israel – 1500 voices could be heard singing the Israeli national anthem, HaTikva.

Stephanie Granot

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/comprehensive-anti-bds-campaign-launched-at-un/2016/06/01/

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