There was a time in Europe when Jews were made to wear yellow stars to indicate that they were indeed Jewish. It was not intended as a badge of honor, but rather a way to identify Jews for discrimination, scorn and ultimately, Hitler’s final solution. Perhaps that is why the European Union’s November 11th decision to label products that comes from the regions in Israel after the Six Day War is being scorned in almost all sectors of Israel, left to right. Labeling items for discriminatory reasons, once again, not of honor, but of a warning, so that others can choose to exclude them, is another nail in a coffin being built by the proponents of the Boycott Divest Sanctions (BDS) movement. Among the very few in the Jewish community who support this endeavor is a radical American Jewish organization, who raise $30 Million annually, The New Israel Fund.
NIF openly supports a boycott of the settlements, and Eastern Jerusalem and has no issues with boycotting the areas that the EU now wants to stamp with the yellow star – “made in settlements” – and still wants its supporters to believe it is not against the Jewish state.
The European Union is one of Israel’s top trading partners. The products from the Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights and even the areas in East Jerusalem will now require special labels to notify purchasers that they come from what they decided is disputed or occupied areas. Although it represents a small percentage of Israel’s $13 billion in annual exports to the EU’s 28 countries, it has far reaching repercussions. There is a historic precedent to suggest that this labeling will reach into all of Israel. A next step will certainly be to target businesses that might have even remote ties to the areas the EU and the NIF designated as problematic.
Across Israel, from the left to the right, there is unanimity in this opposition. Isaac Herzog from the dovish Zionist Union party said that this was a “dangerous and detrimental” move that will damage peace efforts. Herzog even compared the move to the UN’s decision to equate Zionism with racism in 1975. He quoted his father, Chaim Herzog’s statement while an Ambassador at the United Nations then, “This decision is based on hatred, falsehood and ignorance, devoid of any moral value. For us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper, and we must treat it as such.”
Former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said, “Every time that Europe labels Jews, it’s a sign that anti-Semitism, insanity and hypocrisy has taken over and that they are leading the entire free world to a catastrophe.”
Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid, said that the EU’s move will “strengthen terror against Israel.” He proclaimed, “This move, proposed by the BDS movement, may ultimately lead to a total economic boycott of the State of Israel. This is a decision that will only harden Palestinian positions and pushes off the chance for a political solution.” Lapid Tweeted, that this hits Israel as “Jews are being stabbed on the streets.”
The New Israel Fund helped make this EU decision a reality.
Naomi Chazan, who was NIF president from 2008-2012, and is still a senior NIF board member who serves on the Public Council of Social Television, the NIF’s leading media organization, explained her position on the boycott , saying, “Because of the ambiguity, in practical terms, boycotting Israel is only going to get the majority of Israelis riled in the wrong direction. It is not an effective move, politically… That is not true of targeted measures against settlements and against businesses and economic activities that relate to the Occupation… I think that is the right direction to go. I think it’s very, very important.”