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June 8, 2015 2:50 pm

Former Israeli Ambassador Says BDS is Motivated by Antisemitism and Fueled by Ignorance

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

Israel boycotters. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Israel boycotters. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Antisemitism is the motor of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel and ignorance is largely responsible for keeping it running, an Israeli diplomat argued in a piece for an Israeli think tank on Sunday.

The best way to fight it, therefore, is through a proactive campaign of providing historical facts, figures and the reality on the ground, wrote former ambassador Freddy Eytan for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

“Of course it is legitimate to criticize the policies of a government, but the BDS movement goes far beyond legitimate criticism, and in essence calls for the dismantling of the Jewish state,” wrote Eytan, referring to the Israel boycott movement by its common acronym. “How to fight against antisemitism when incitement to hatred of Israel and Jews is rapidly spread by globalization and social media?”

Eytan went on to describe how the divestment movement dates back to the Arab boycott of Israel, which began with the Jewish state’s founding in 1948 and continues more or less to this day.

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Eytan’s main concern is whether what has been a mostly marginal BDS movement, which he says began in 2005, is fast undergoing a processes of international legitimacy.

In other words, as the CEO of a French mobile giant comes under fire for remarks perceived as signalling support for a boycott of business with Israel, and as American billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban, normally on opposite sides of the U.S. political playing field, convoke an emergency meeting to discuss ways to combat BDS, is the movement fast on its way to affecting how global policy makers perceive their relationship with Israel amid the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.

Eytan called for a proactive approach that involves combating BDS with “historical facts, figures, and irrefutable evidence on the ground,” especially in a world where “hypocrisy, prejudice, and ignorance often prevail.”

He says pro-Israel activists must work tooth and nail to fight the “false propaganda” espoused by the movement.

His comments underline increasing concern in Israel over BDS, which spiked with Orange CEO Stephan Richard’s comment about ending business ties with the company’s Israeli partner, though Richard has since argued his comments were misinterpreted.

French President Francois Hollande on Sunday evening told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he opposed efforts to boycott Israel and expressed a desire to maintain economic ties.

On Sunday, Israel’s Yesh Atid Party Chairman Yair Lapid, the former finance minister, declared that the BDS campaign was orchestrated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called BDS “antisemitism in a new guise.”

President of the World Jewish Congress, Ron Lauder, declared on Sunday at the Jerusalem Post conference in New York that “the BDS movement is a very smart media campaign directed against Israel.”

“Its not directed against the settlement issue as it claims. It seeks to destroy the state, its economy and its very legitimacy. BDS offers no answers. They want a one-state solution and that one state is not a Jewish state,” said Lauder.

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