What specific policies are you involved with to combat the “lawfare” waged against Israel?
We established an office in the United States that deals with and coordinates all the activities against BDS. We are trying to organize both Jewish forces and Christians who support Israel here in the United States. We also need to bring the truth to the youth here, especially on campus colleges, where it’s necessary to fight on Israel’s behalf.
On a governmental level, the present government has made it a priority to deal with the challenge posed by the BDS. That is first and foremost reflected by the fact that there is a ministry that is fully dedicated to the BDS issue, headed by Minister Gilad Erdan.
Within the legal sphere, one of the top priorities of our own ministry, to which we devoted significant additional resources, is to deal with lawfare and the BDS threat. We also made a policy determination that our focus should not only be to defend Israel against these BDS activities but also to take a proactive approach in pursuing legal measures against BDS activists and initiatives.
On the legal front, we have prevailed in all situations where we fought in courts of law. There was a case in the UK that didn’t involve the Israeli government directly but was pursued by the UK government against BDS activists who tried to block the entrance to an Ahava Cosmetics store. The British government prosecuted them for trespassing and threatening the public order. In a huge defeat for the BDS movement, the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that it is legitimate to sell products that are produced in Israeli settlements.
Another defeat involved BDS activists in France who tried taking a company responsible for building the light railway in Jerusalem to the French courts, alleging that their participation in the project was unlawful and contradictory to international law. The French Supreme Court found that it was completely lawful and fully consistent with international law. In Spain, a Spanish university that excluded Ariel University from participating in a competition was ordered by the Spanish courts to pay compensation to Ariel.
We are also very happy to see that many states in America are taking the moral approach by adopting legislation against BDS. Eleven states have already adopted this legislation. Five other states are considering legislation. This is extremely effective, especially since companies are being pressured by BDS groups in illegitimate and unlawful ways.
The passing of Shimon Peres was mourned around the world. Can you comment on the loss of one of Israel’s foremost pioneers?
Shimon Peres has tremendous merits for building up Israel’s strength and security. In his position as president, he succeeded in uniting people from across the spectrum and helped raise the international stature of Israel among world leaders.
Despite the fact that our political views differed, there is no doubt that he dedicated all his energies on behalf of Israel. His memory should be blessed.
As justice minister, what role do you play in relation to the Israeli Supreme Court, which has long been criticized as legislating left-wing policy from the bench?
My influence as the justice minister vis-a-vis the Supreme Court is only through nominating judges. I head the committee that nominates judges. So far, I have nominated 124 judges in courts nationwide and early next year we are going to nominate four out of the fifteen Supreme Court judges because four are leaving. This is a major influence. And I say all the time that I want to choose conservative judges, not activist judges.
Can you comment on the upcoming American presidential election?
No. I don’t like when other countries interfere in Israeli politics, so I am not going to interfere in American politics. Good luck!