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BDS movement is manipulative, antisemitic and anti-peace says top Israeli minister

This posting has these items:
1) The Telegraph: Israeli minister: settlements boycott campaign shows shades of anti-Semitism, conveys the sense that Mr. Kuperwasser fails to convince his questioners;
2) The Media Line: BDS Movement Not Illegal, Says Senior Israeli Official, a patchwork of quotes including the Israeli official who points out that EU demands for labelling are not the same as calls for boycott;
3) NY Times: West Bank Boycott: A Political Act or Prejudice?, Jodi Rudoren attempts an even-handed overview of the BDS movement which includes the argument that this attack on Israel is an attack on all Jews;
4) Notes and links on Yosef Kuperwasser’s track record of uncovering moves to destroy Israel;


Jerusalem press conference, 2012: strategic affairs minister Yosef Kuperwasser takes the podium to explain Palestinian efforts to destroy Israel. Photo by Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel

Israeli minister: settlements boycott campaign shows shades of anti-Semitism

Close aide to Benjamin Netanyahu says pushing for sanctions won’t alter Israel’s behaviour and accused BDS movement of “delegitimising” Israel

By Alex Spillius, Diplomatic Correspondent, The Telegraph
February 14, 2014

The growing clamour in Europe for economic measures against Israel is “counter-productive” and will “get in the way of peace”, a senior Israeli minister says today.

Demonstrating its concern that Israel may be blamed if peace talks with the Palestinians fail, Yosef Kuperwasser, the director general of Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs, said Europe was being “misled” by campaign groups in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

He said such groups “used the ignorance of the world” to encourage economic action against Israel and in particular Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. He said BDS groups showed shades of anti-Semitism in their attempts to “delegitimise Israel”.

“There are organisations pretending to be concerned about human rights but they are involved with a campaign to delegitimise Israel. We have to be careful here because we no how dangerous anti-Semitism it can be,” he said.

Mr Kuperwasser said the efforts of the BDS activists, some of which are funded by the EU, would not have the desired effect of forcing Israel into the hoped-for compromise.

“It’s a misapprehension. Israel won’t change but the Palestinians think maybe they don’t have to make peace,” he told the Daily Telegraph during a visit to London. “Therefore the campaign is getting in the way of peace.

“They think can get what they want without making effort for peace. They feel they don’t have to make an effort so they don’t make an effort.”

“There are organisations pretending to be concerned about human rights but they are involved with a campaign to delegitimise Israel. We have to be careful here because we no how dangerous anti-Semitism it can be,” he said.

The settlements issue gained unprecedented global attention recently when the Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson quit as an ambassador for Oxfam, because it was incompatible with her paid work promoting SodaStream, an Israeli firm with a major production plant in the occupied West Bank.

It has driven a wedge between Israel and traditional allies such as Britain. William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, has said that time is fast running out for the so-called two-state solution that would create a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The Government has repeatedly emphasised that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. It has routinely called on Mr Netanyahu’s government to cease construction of new homes in settlements, believing such activity hampers the chances of a peace deal after 20 years of frustration and failure.

It has also discouraged British companies from involvement with Israeli firms that are involved in the settlements, believing that such trade and investment is obstructing Mr Kerry’s strenuous diplomacy.

It also supported a new European Union requirement that all produce made in Israeli settlements should be labelled as such, and not as “made in Israel”, in case consumers objected to goods from the occupied territory.

Firmer action has been taken in Holland, where a major pension fund has said it will divest its albeit small holdings from five Israeli banks because of their dealings with Jewish settlements.

There is concern among Israeli officials that calls for bolder sanctions could emerge and that the United States, as well as the EU, is weakening in its support of Israel.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, provoked an outcry recently when he warned that Israel could face a boycott if current peace talks with the Palestinians fail to produce an agreement.

Mr Kuperwasser, a former brigadier general in military intelligence appointed by Mr Netanyahu in 2009, was at pains to present the view that settlements are not the make or break issue in the current talks, which have until April to reach a “framework agreement”.

He said the Palestinians had accepted that some settlements would remain in the so-called two-state solution.

“This is up for discussion. We have withdrawn settlements before in Gaza and Sinai. The problem is the Palestinians are not changing. We are not sure we have a real partner for peace.”

The greatest technical obstacles to a deal, he said, was the refusal of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to recognise Israel as the sovereign state of the Jewish people, and to accept that an Israeli-led security force should stay in the Jordan Valley to guarantee Israel’s security.

In the circumstances, the best hope was for the talks to carry on after the April deadline had passed, he added.
Palestinians however believe the BDS movement could affect Israel’s attitude to their benefit. Ghassan Al-Khatib, a professor at Bir Zeit University and a former Palestinian government spokesman, told the Media Line website:

It’s picking up because all of the other peaceful options and non-peaceful options are not working.

BDS is creating a constructive debate inside Israel for the first time.

The US and Europe, Israel’s best friends, have been urging Israel to reconsider its settlement policy and stop construction. Now Israel seems to be paying a price for not listening to this advice.



BDS Movement Not Illegal, Says Senior Israeli Official

Growing concern in Israel over BDS

By Linda Gradstein, The Media Line
February 03, 2014

After several years, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) seems to be gaining strength. From a Norwegian sovereign wealth fund to a Danish bank, to Oxfam, to musician Roger Waters, each day brings news calls to boycott Israel as a response to its continued construction in areas that Israel acquired in 1967.

In Europe, promoting BDS can be illegal. This week, Soda Stream, which has recently signed actress Scarlett Johansson as its promoter, won a case in a French court against a French organization seeking a boycott. The court ruled that “the origin of the product” does not justify the call to boycott. Soda Stream is produced in a factory in Mishor Adumim, with some 500 Palestinian workers, as well as Israelis, in a post-67 area. Johansson came under intense pressure to drop the Soda Stream gig, but instead resigned as an ambassador for Oxfam, an organization that fights poverty around the world.

“The issue is very complicated,” a senior Israeli foreign ministry official told The Media Line. “The suit by Soda Stream would not even be accepted in a US court. What they did is totally forbidden under French law and totally acceptable under American law.”

The official claims that any pro-boycott actions are being labeled as BDS, which may be giving the movement more credit than it deserves. For example, several European supermarket chains have been calling for all produce from post-1967 areas to be labeled as such, but it is not a call to boycott these products.

In fact, Israel last month became the first non-European member of CERN, the Center of European Nuclear Research, and only the second country not from the European Union.

Yet there is a growing sense of uneasiness in Israel that BDS will spread. The Israeli cabinet is expected to discuss the issue for the first time next week. Media reports said that Israel was considering hiring a PR company to burnish its image.

“Israel is getting nervous far too late,” Gerald Steinberg, the head of NGO Monitor, an Israeli organization that fights BDS. “There was a tendency to say that we have to keep a low profile and that it will all go away. But I think Israel consistently underestimated the resources behind this.”


Professor Ghassan Al-Khatib: Israel is paying the price for not listening to its friends on settlements. Photo from Euronews.

Palestinians say they see the success of the BDS movement as proof that non-violence can achieve their goals.

“I think it’s successful and it has a future here,” Ghassan Al-Khatib, a professor at Bir Zeit University and a former Palestinian government spokesman told The Media Line. “It’s picking up because all of the other peaceful options and non-peaceful options are not working. If there will be progress in peace talks that will allow [Palestinians] to achieve basic rights it will weaken BDS.”

Steinberg says the BDS movement grew out of the Durban forum in 2001 which called to brand Israel as an “apartheid state.”

“The emphasis is on the complete international isolation of Israel,” Steinberg said. “It is not talking about Israel’s borders in 1967, but in 1948. BDS is a form of political warfare against the state of Israel. ”

In fact, most BDS activists support the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their former homes in Israel, a demand that Israel has consistently rejected saying that Israel would lose its character as a Jewish state. The right of return is in fact one of the issues currently under discussion. Israeli press reports say the “framework” that US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to offer will not include a “right of return” although it will include a call for a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem.

So far, BDS has not had major financial repercussions for Israel, but if it spreads it could begin to hurt. Finance Minister Yair Lapid told a security conference last week that Israel is dependent on exports, with 33 percent of its foreign trade conducted with Europe.

“Even a partial European boycott would be felt by every Israeli and the cost of living would go up,” Lapid said.

He warned that exports could drop by $5.7 billion dollars.

Last month at Davos, a group of 100 Israeli leading industrialists called on Netanyahu to make peace with the Palestinians to avoid the growing boycott of Israel. Palestinians say they see this call as one of the successes of the BDS movement.

“BDS is creating a constructive debate inside Israel for the first time,” Khatib said. “The US and Europe, Israel’s best friends, have been urging Israel to reconsider its settlement policy and stop construction. Now Israel seems to be paying a price for not listening to this advice.”

Khatib says he expects to see the BDS movement spread to more companies and will begin to take more of an economic toll.



L, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “The politically correct way to be anti-Semitic is not to say, ‘I hate the Jews,’ but to say, ‘I hate Israel.”’


West Bank Boycott: A Political Act or Prejudice?

By Jodi Rudoren, NY Times
February 11, 2014

JERUSALEM — Many, many words have been uttered recently about the mounting boycott movement targeting Israeli products made in West Bank settlements, and, in some cases, all Israeli businesses and institutions. One worth closer examination is “immoral,” which is what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called the boycott earlier this month.

Boycotts have an admirable history as a nonviolent political tool. British Christians in the 18th century refused to buy sugar produced by slaves. Black people walked rather than sit in the back of buses in the American South. Divestment helped topple apartheid.

But for many Israelis, the boycott that comes to mind is the Nazi-led one of Jewish-owned businesses that spread in the 1930s from Germany across Europe and beyond. Avoiding a coffee shop because you don’t like the way the boss treats his employees is voting with your wallet; doing so because the boss is Jewish — or black or female or gay — is discrimination.

Mr. Netanyahu is not opposed to all boycotts — on the contrary, he is a prime leader in the push for economic sanctions, the diplomatic equivalent, to pressure Iran regarding its nuclear program. Underlying the accusation of immorality, which the prime minister is not alone in making, may be a belief that the movement is motivated by anti-Semitism, that the ultimate target is not Israeli policy, but Israel’s right to exist.

“Seventy years ago, you went after, ‘Kill the Jews’ — here you say, ‘Kill the Jewish state,”’ said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “That somehow is kosher. The politically correct way to be anti-Semitic is not to say, ‘I hate the Jews,’ but to say, ‘I hate Israel.”’

Mr. Hoenlein, and Mark Regev, Mr. Netanyahu’s spokesman, said Israel is unfairly singled out, while human rights violations elsewhere in the world — and other states’ occupation of land claimed by other ethnic groups — are ignored.

“It’s of dubious morality to hold the Jewish state to a standard to which you hold no one else,” Mr. Regev said. “Are you boycotting any other place of disputed sovereignty on the planet, or are you picking and choosing your moral outrage?” He added that some people “are being very selective with their indignation, and it fits into certain cultural prejudices.”

Omar Barghouti, who helped found the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in 2005, said activists had every right to pick their causes and where to focus their energy.

“He can say anything he wishes, but immoral? Resistance to his immoral policies can never be immoral,” Mr. Barghouti said of Mr. Netanyahu. “The litmus test is are you boycotting a group of people based on their identity, or are you boycotting something — an act, a company, a business — that you disagree with.

“We have three reasons,” Mr. Barghouti said, citing the movement’s goals of ending the occupation; ensuring equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and promoting the right of return for Palestinian refugees. “End the three reasons and we won’t boycott.”

Many Israeli leaders do not buy this. A peace deal, they say, would provide only temporary reprieve from the isolation campaign, particularly by those who believe there should be a single, binational state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

That is part of why Mr. Netanyahu and others insist that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state must be included in any agreement with the Palestinians.

As for the growing boycott, some Israelis think the proper — even moral — response is to fight fire with fire. With European supermarkets labeling Israeli goods made in the West Bank and European pension funds divesting of banks that do business in settlements, Dani Dayan, a leader of the settlers’ council, suggested that El Al, the Israeli airline, buy from Boeing instead of Airbus.

“It shouldn’t be a one-sided movement,” Mr. Dayan said. “Until now Israel has adopted a meteorological approach, like with the weather — we talk a lot about it, but do nothing to change it. But boycotts are not rain. We can challenge them.”

Notes and links
‘Israel’s Efforts to Counter 
the Assault on its Legitimacy’ by Brigadier General (Res) Yosef Kuperwasser at the WJC Governing Board, Jerusalem, 1 September 2010, video of Brigadier General (Res) Yosef Kuperwasser’s address on the threats facing Israel including the dominance of the Palestinian narrative, Israel’s loss of the moral high ground, and an assertion that the assault on Israel is an assault on all Jewish people.

Finding That Class Materials Don’t Vilify Jews Sparks Fury

Kuperwasser, director general of the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, “went ballistic” when he heard the findings of the [Wexler et al] study, Jewish Forward,  February 2013.

Israel claims Palestinian leadership demonizes Jews, justifies violence, denies Israel’s right to exist

from Times of Israel, August 2012

“The incitement done by the Palestinian Authority is in my mind the main obstacle to peace,” the ministry’s director-general, Yossi Kuperwasser, told The Times of Israel. “As the long as the psychological infrastructure of the Palestinian people is based on denying Israel’s right to exist in any form — let alone as the nation-state of the Jewish people — it is difficult to see how peace can be made between these two peoples.” He said the psychological infrastructure adopted by the Palestinian leadership was “not developing any culture of peace, continues to call for violence and justifies violence, and dehumanizes and demonizes the Jews.”

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