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September 7, 2015 6:27 am

Fight BDS by Buying Israeli Products, Pressing Back on Boycotts

avatar by Alex Margolin

A BDS protest. Photo: Isi Leibler.

A BDS protest. Photo: Isi Leibler.

The key to defeating BDS may come down to making the price of boycotts too high for businesses and cultural centers to bear — forcing them to resist pressure from the BDS movement.

But lately, the price has fallen to nearly nothing.

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East noted that over the past month, “Boycotts or erasures of Israel by commercial entities became more frequent,” and added that “individual companies or individual employees believe it possible to sanction Israel with relative impunity.”

Recent events confirm that assessment. The Cactus chain of supermarkets in Luxembourg, for example, agreed to remove Israeli produce from its shelves. But the reason, according to Ynet, was expedience, not ideology.

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The chain’s management said income from Israeli produce is minimal and is not worth the annoyance to customers caused by protests.

However, the chain announced that it would continue to sell other Israeli products, like SodaStream devices and equipment, which provide more significant profits.

In other words, boycotting Israel costs Cactus less than the loss of profits that result from selling Israeli produce. When that formula is reversed, as with SodaStream devices, the products stay on the shelves.

That’s why it pays to buy Israeli products anywhere, and to do so in a public way. The greater the perceived demand for Israeli goods, the stronger it serves as an effective counter-balance to BDS efforts.

In the cultural sphere, there is great value in supporting Israeli artists and performers, and even American Jews such as Matisyahu, who came under BDS attack at a Spanish reggae festival. The festival initially gave in to BDS pressure, cancelling Matisyahu’s performance. But when the counter-pressure came in the form of articles, statements and massive social media activity, the festival responded to that pressure as well, and re-scheduled the singer.

Focusing on raising the price of boycotts for the boycotters also makes sense, according to the Broken Windows theory, originally applied to cut crime in major cities.

The theory holds that “if a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken.” The reason, according to the theory, is: “One unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares, and so breaking more windows costs nothing.”

Small BDS victories may be inevitable, given the scope of the campaign against Israel. But a general strategy that focuses on making it as hard as possible for the boycotter as often as possible is likely to pay off in the long run.

This article was originally published by HonestReporting.

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