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The Israeli establishment recently described the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement as a strategic threat.
The movement, which calls to ostracize Israel from the international community, operates in the economic, cultural, and academic spheres, and indirectly in the security and political realms. Although researchers, civil society organizations, and Jewish communities abroad have long flagged the movement’s perilous potential, only recently has the topic penetrated Israel’s public discourse.
- In the economic realm, significant attention was given to the statement made by the head of the Global Orange Company that if he could, he would terminate the company’s business activity in Israel.
- In terms of culture, the media widely related to the potential FIFA vote, which could have resulted in Israel’s suspension from the organization; and to the rejection by the Louvre in Paris to confirm a booking placed by an Israeli group (although a subsequent fictitious request to book the same dates by a group from Abu Dhabi was approved).
- In the academic realm, there were multiple reports of student groups working in support of the BDS campaign on hundreds of US campuses, including Princeton, the university of Michigan, and Cornell. In addition, the Israeli media noted the vote by the United Kingdom National Union of Students in favor of boycotting Israel.
In a move that is presumably not disconnected from the extensive coverage of the anti-Israel campaign spearheaded by BDS, PM Netanyahu recently promised the transfer of some 100 million shekels to the fight against the boycott, and appointed a senior government minister to handle BDS-related issues.
In addition, the Knesset plenum held an emergency session on the topic; the deputy foreign minister is reported to be strategizing a comprehensive program to combat international boycott initiatives; a promise was made to create dozens of new positions dealing directly with the issue; and an emergency meeting was called by President Rivlin to discuss the challenges in the academic field.