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Israel at 70: The So-Called 'BDS' Movement (Part 2)

Israel at 70: The So-Called 'BDS' Movement (Part 2)
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Thursday, 11 October 2018 10:55 AM Current | Bio | Archive

There is nothing new about the attempts to boycott Israel. It should be noted that there is no new boycott.

The only boycott is the pre-statehood Arab boycott of 1945, imposed by the Arab League. We all know how that ended for the Arabs. Israel was forced to develop a knowledge-based economy and successfully carved new markets in Europe, North America, and East Asia turning the country into a globally recognized economic success story. Israel’s GDP per capita is dramatically higher than most of our neighbors and is higher than most EU countries. Those who urged the suffocation of Israel’s economy were left far behind.

There is nothing new about the “systematic assault on the very legitimacy” of Israel.

As a country born out of adversity, Israel’s detractors always questioned its legitimacy. Israel’s capital or boundaries are not internationally recognized. In fact, legally, Israel is in a state of war with its neighbors, militarily, and diplomatically. Israel’s detractors were far more effective in the mid-70’s (UN resolution equating Zionism with racism) and the early 80’s following Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.

Their assault then was significantly more intense than today. We just did not call it BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions). From its very inception, the Zionist enterprise faced opposition and the efforts to de-legitimize Israel’s existence by our political adversaries never ceased.

In fact, Zionism is more popular today than it has been in the past.

Historically, Zionism was not enthusiastically embraced by all Jews. Even post-statehood, most American Jews did not actively support Zionism. Israel was perceived as a needy sibling, stricken by a seemingly insurmountable set of problems. Members of Jewish diaspora saw their role to provide the fragile new country with charitable aid. Indeed, during its early years, this was the only aid Israel received.

Today, thanks to organizations such as Birthright, JNF, iTrek and others, there is a profound change in the positioning of Israel in the eyes of young Jews worldwide. For the first time in decades young Jews see Israel as a place of opportunity.

The so-called “BDS movement” is largely an online phenomenon that links a network of powerless fringe groups. Sadly, it’s the chronic misdiagnosis of Israel that elevated these fringe groups to the top of the agenda. Israel’s enemies can always count on the Israelis themselves to amplify their message.

Several years ago, Israeli diplomats in North America were instructed to assess the significance of the so-called “Apartheid Week” on campus.

The organizers claimed that 80 campuses joined the effort. Israel’s diplomats were asked to report how many people attended, the scope of media coverage and the impact the event had on local political leadership. The reports came in and were essentially similar: all events were very poorly attended, attendees were overwhelmingly already identified as anti-Israel, media coverage was minimal, and no impact on local political leadership was detected. There was only one exception, only one place where “Apartheid Week” was widely reported in the media and had tremendous influence on decision-makers: The State of Israel.

This article is Part 2 of a series. To read Part 1 — Click Here Now.

Ambassador Ido Aharoni serves as a global distinguished professor at New York University’s School of International Relations in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Ambassador Aharoni is a 25-year veteran of Israel’s Foreign service, a public diplomacy specialist, founder of the Brand Israel program and a well-known nation branding practitioner. He is the founder of Emerson Rigby Ltd., an Israel-based consultancy firm specializing in non-product branding and positioning. Ambassador Aharoni, who served as Israel's longest serving consul-general in New York and the tristate area for six years, oversaw the operations of Israel’s largest diplomatic mission worldwide. Ambassador Aharoni joined Israel’s Foreign Service in the summer of 1991 and held two other overseas positions in Los Angeles (1994-1998) and in New York (2001-2005). He is a graduate of Tel Aviv University (Film, TV, Sociology and Social Anthropology) and Emerson College (Master’s in Mass Communications and Media Studies). At the Hebrew University in Jerusalem he attended the special Foreign Service program in Government and Diplomacy. To reach more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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There is nothing new about the attempts to boycott Israel. It should be noted that there is no new boycott.
israel, bds movement
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2018-55-11
Thursday, 11 October 2018 10:55 AM
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