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Israeli govt and its supporters admit the fight to defeat BDS has failed

on 39 Comments

Your enemy’s grudging admission of failure is almost as sweet as your own success.

Finally, after lying through their teeth that they have “defeated” or “buried” the BDS movement, Israel’s far-right government and its lobby groups in the west are now admitting that they have failed to stop the impressive growth of the movement’s impact on Israel’s regime of oppression.

From the Forward:

In a new report circulating privately in Jewish policy circles this month, two leading pro-Israel groups charge that Jewish communal efforts against the BDS movement have largely failed.

The report, issued by the Anti-Defamation League and the Israel-based Reut Institute, claims that Jewish groups’s investments in fighting what they call “the assault on Israel’s legitimacy” has grown twentyfold since 2010, but that “results remain elusive.”

It is worth noting that the BDS movement for Palestinian rights has for years held that Israel’s desperate efforts in fighting it have failed. But never to be bothered by the verifiable and undisputed facts, most of the mainstream western media, for obvious reasons, have persistently parroted the Israeli propaganda claims, uncritically and without a hint of professional fact checking, let alone attempting to obtain the views of “the other side,” as it were.

And Israel’s failure cannot possibly be attributed to lack of trying or lack of investing appropriate resources. Indeed, Israel and its lobby groups have spent untold tens of millions of dollars in the past 2 years alone in fighting BDS.

The numbers that we know already indicate how staggering the hidden cost of Israel’s war on BDS may be.

Well, AIPAC’s budget is some $70 million. A chunk of that goes to fighting BDS, directly and indirectly, including “buying” lawmakers’ loyalty to push for anti-BDS legislation in Congress and state legislatures and maintain Israel’s impunity. This “buying” of loyalty is admitted even by Thomas Friedman!

The Israeli government has allocated $26M in its 2016 budget to anti-BDS activities. And this is only the money that the Ministry of Strategic Affairs gets directly for fighting BDS.

Other Israeli ministries and departments spend a lot more on fighting the movement and related solidarity work, especially on the “Brand Israel” related activities. This includes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of Tourism.

Also, Israel has admitted mobilizing its intelligence services in fighting BDS, spying on activists, “tarnishing” their reputations, bullying, smearing, cyber — and other forms of — sabotage against their internet-based resources, etc.

Israeli intelligence minister Yisrael Katz last year told an anti-BDS conference that the Ministry of Intelligence is “absolutely” part of Israel’s efforts to tackle BDS and that the Israeli intelligence services collaborate with other intelligence services regarding the BDS movement.

Who knows how much all that costs.

This is not to mention the tens of millions of dollars spent by Israel’s lobby groups in the US, Europe and elsewhere to fight BDS, including by inviting many celebrities to visit Tel Aviv, funding trips by thousands of younger Jewish-Americans, sending Israeli bands and scientists to international fora to show Israel’s “prettier face,” etc.

To fight BDS on US campuses alone, a staggering $50m fund was raised by Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban, et al.

The striking investigative report by Aljazeera, “The Lobby,” reveals how Israel’s lobby in the UK bribes politicians and MPs and conspires to “take down” those who do not support the extreme policies of the Israel government. And that’s the UK … imagine how the lobby operates in the US!

Regardless, despite its best and most repressive, well-oiled, McCarthyite efforts to suffocate the BDS movement, Israel has miserably failed. And this is now admitted by two important organizations that are part and parcel of Israel’s war on BDS.

Western reporters would do well — to serve the truth and their own professional reputations — to listen also to what the BDS movement has to say, next time they hear about Israel “crushing BDS” or “winning the war” against it, as is often claimed by this or that Israeli leader or lobby figure.

Finally, in fresh news that further underlines this failure, the US National Football League Seattle Seahawk’s Michael Bennett has pulled out of a planned propaganda trip to Israel. An appeal by human rights groups and leading figures (of the caliber of Angela Davis, Danny Glover and Alice Walker) had been sent to Bennett urging him to cancel.

Australian-British singer Natalie Imbruglia has become the latest celebrity to cancel her Tel Aviv concert, which was scheduled to take place in two weeks! BDS activists and partners groups had appealed to her to cancel.

I suppose Israel’s regime will soon have to settle for D-list names to try to whitewash its crimes and suppress BDS . . .

Omar Barghouti

Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights defender and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. He is a co-recipient of the 2017 Gandhi Peace Award.

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39 Responses

  1. amigo on February 13, 2017, 11:04 am

    “I suppose Israel’s regime will soon have to settle for D-list names to try to whitewash its crimes and suppress BDS .”

    Well, as Israel is a D-list nation , it is appropriate .

    The only A-list Israel is part of , is the list of most hated nations on the planet.Right up there with North Korea.

    • Citizen on February 13, 2017, 6:35 pm

      Many Galluup world-wide polls have repeatedly showed that the US & Israel R regarded as the #1 dynamic duo of terrorist states most feared; problem is the US main media never forms the US public of this, but instead demonizes Iran, & to lesser extent Putin, so that the US pubic is alone in being mislead yet does not know it. I can hear Goering chuckling in his grave.

      • pabelmont on February 14, 2017, 12:50 pm

        Yes, yes! The government-connected media (or, rather, both (til now) subservient to the oligarchic neo-con, neo-liberal, corporatist governments of both parties
        (Oh how lovely it is to rant!); but see this, a rant with details:

      • Keith on February 14, 2017, 4:23 pm

        CITIZEN- “…so that the US pubic is alone in being mislead yet does not know it.”

        The primary reason that the US public does not know is that they don’t want to know. Most of the 99% are faithful followers who go along to get along. They don’t seek relevant truthful information to form rational opinions. Rather, they watch the MSM (or relevant social media) to ascertain what the elites expect them to believe and how to behave so that they can fit in. For most, security lies in group loyalty.

      • echinococcus on February 14, 2017, 4:34 pm

        Thank you, Keith. Precise and to the point summary.

  2. just on February 13, 2017, 12:32 pm

    Thanks very much for this article, Omar. May BDS continue to flourish and prevail!

    “Why is CNN spreading fake news about BDS?

    … Defamation

    Last Sunday, CNN host Fareed Zakaria interviewed French pundit and ardent Israel apologist Bernard-Henri Lévy about the rise in anti-Semitism.

    Zakaria allowed Lévy to casually link Nazism to the Palestinian BDS movement without a challenge.

    “I want to say to the sincere followers [of] this BDS campaign … I’m not sure they know it, [but] this is an anti-Semitic campaign,” Lévy claimed. The interview can be seen in the video posted above.

    “This campaign takes its root [from] a long time ago, 60 years ago, in the fringes of the dying Nazism,” he added without offering a shred of evidence.

    Lévy went on to assert that the first time that boycott “was recommended against Israel” was by “Nazis escaping Germany, taking shelter in Iraq or in Syria, and building this campaign of BDS.”

    These assertions against today’s global BDS movement are complete fantasy.

    The BDS campaign was founded by Palestinian civil society which, in 2005, launched an international call, rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to hold Israel accountable for its violations of Palestinian rights.

    It is inspired by the global campaign that helped end apartheid in South Africa, and boycott is a time-honored tactic that has been deemed constitutionally protected speech by the US Supreme Court in a landmark case stemming from the civil rights movement.

    The origins of – and reasons for – the BDS campaign are no secret, nor do they have a connection to any vestiges of a European Nazi-era anti-Semitic conspiracy.

    Linking Palestinians to Nazis is a gross and defamatory distortion of history. It is a tactic that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used in 2015 when he exonerated Hitler of conceiving of the extermination of the Jews in order to try to pin the blame on Palestinians. …

    Lévy, who recently labeled anti-Zionism a “cosmetic” for anti-Semitism, used his platform on CNN to disparage the growing BDS movement in France and on “the west coast of America.”

    When Zakaria asked how Lévy would respond to someone who wants to challenge Israel’s policies against Palestinians, Lévy clumsily asserted that Israel is a thriving “democracy” but lashed out against anyone who would “demonize, delegitimize or stigmatize” Israel as “a Jewish state.”

    It is no surprise that Israel advocates like Lévy would find an open pulpit for his anti-BDS views on CNN.

    Like Zakaria himself, the cable network has been unwilling to challenge anti-BDS claims or to offer a platform to anyone who could.

    Lévy has hurled similar smears at BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti and against The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah.

    Barghouti has sharply refuted them in writing, but neither he nor Abunimah, nor any other prominent supporter has been invited on to a CNN panel to talk about BDS.

    A search of the Lexis-Nexis news database returned no examples of a proponent of the boycott movement appearing on a live CNN interview, while those opposed to it, including Israel-aligned US politicians and Israeli officials, have been featured at least seven times since February 2014 to condemn BDS and its activists without a debate. …”

    • Atlantaiconoclast on February 13, 2017, 6:13 pm

      How is it that supremacists like Levy demand a Jewish state, but would recoil in horror at the idea of a White state? Yes, there are many de facto White states, but if immigration trends continue, they won’t remain de facto White states, so why do the Jews get a state, but no nation is allowed to shape its immigration policy to remain majority White? The hypocrisy is quite galling.

    • Citizen on February 13, 2017, 6:40 pm

      I saw the interview; Zakaria did no follow up to Levy’s blatant lies. Zakaria sucks. He’s lost any credibility he had.

    • Marnie on February 15, 2017, 1:05 am

      I never cease to be amazed at the zionist automatic linkage of BDS to nazism. I get the same feeling listening to Nikki Haley discussing russia and their evil occupation of crimea and avoid like the plague the occupation of palestine, which I guess in her mind and others isn’t the same, isn’t evil because the occupied in palestine are white folks? Someone very close to me always used to say ‘The Most High favors the oppressed’ so I remember that when I read about the zionists and zionist congress/evangelical christian, etc., have failed to squash BDS – you can’t keep a good thing down – go BDS! Viva Palestina!

      • Marnie on February 15, 2017, 9:41 am

        Error – which I guess in her mind and others isn’t the same, isn’t evil because the occupied in palestine are white folks?

        It should have read – which I guess in her mind and others isn’t the same, isn’t evil because the occupied in palestine aren’t white folks?

  3. irishmoses on February 13, 2017, 2:49 pm

    Here’s a bit of a breakthrough. Rashid Khalidi was interviewed by Fareed Zakaria on his Sunday GPS program, yesterday, and allowed to rebut Levy’s claims (see at 4:00 on video): It was a bit of an afterthought as the segment was previewed as a discussion about the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem (first 4 minutes of segment).

    Khalidi was very articulate and convincing (on both topics). Why doesn’t he have a major presence in the MSM as an expert on the I-P issue? He certainly has the credentials.

    Zakaria sheepishly claimed that CNN was balanced on the issue but used “sequential balance” as opposed to “simultaneous balance.” He also said he received a great number of angry emails from viewers concerning Levy’s claim that BDS is antisemitic.

    A chink in the armor? We’ll see what happens next.

    Incidentally, it was very difficult to find the segment on line although the Levy segment was highlighted on google searches of the GPS program.

    • Citizen on February 13, 2017, 6:41 pm

      Zakaria sheepishly claimed that CNN was balanced on the issue but used “sequential balance” as opposed to “simultaneous balance.” LOL

      • Marnie on February 15, 2017, 1:06 am

        that sounds a lot like ‘alternative facts’ to me.

    • oldgeezer on February 13, 2017, 10:42 pm

      He has the credentials. That is why. You answered your own question.

  4. Peterwein on February 13, 2017, 4:53 pm

    So under this successful BDS campaign Israel’s current account balance (the surplus of exports over imports) has increased from $6.8 billion in 2006 to $13.6 billion in 2015. Much better than the region see .
    I’d hate to see what would have happened if BDS had failed!

    • Citizen on February 13, 2017, 6:48 pm

      US Exports to Israel totaled $18 billion; Imports from Israel totaled $27 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with Israel was $9 billion in 2012

    • Citizen on February 13, 2017, 6:52 pm

      US Exports to Israel totaled $18 billion; Imports from Israel totaled $27 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with Israel was $9 billion in 2012
      Results of US/Israel FTA:

    • johneill on February 13, 2017, 9:20 pm

      it’s almost like they don’t need any american ‘aid’ at all

      • inbound39 on February 14, 2017, 11:48 am

        Israel doesn’t need American Aid…..they have successfully infiltrated the American Government and control it now. They are bleeding its resources and power. America today due to Israeli control is a shadow of its former self.

  5. Atlantaiconoclast on February 13, 2017, 6:16 pm

    This is good news but forgive me for being skeptical. Where is the evidence for the growth in BDS? Can someone please provide financial numbers? Is Israel truly taking a hit? I am the only person I know in my social circle (and I know a lot of progressives) who boycotts Israeli products. So I find it hard to believe that Israeli opponents of BDS are quaking in their shoes. But I would love to be proven wrong.

    • MHughes976 on February 14, 2017, 6:41 pm

      I share some of your scepticism, Atlanta, though the Forward article does indeed talk of .failure’. That does indeed seem to be good news but I think we should temper our joy because one source is the Reut Institute, regarded by the Forward journalist as hardline, which speaks of failure so far as a reason for more ruthless hostility against ‘instigators’. They talk of failure in order to sell their recipe for success. But it is interesting to see the hesitation between tooth and claw hostility to the ‘instigators’ and a sort of embarrassed openness to the moderate critics, who are treated as if they have a point. But how can they have any kind of point if they are but dupes of the instigating anti-Semites?

      • Sibiriak on February 15, 2017, 1:21 am


        Very insightful. Thanks.

  6. wondering jew on February 13, 2017, 11:43 pm

    The idiom is “lying through one’s teeth”, not “lying to one’s teeth”.

  7. Kay24 on February 14, 2017, 4:21 am

    Obviously BDS has worked, it has cost the occupier billions of dollars (4.7 according to a MDW article), and when one looks at the vicious attacks on BDS groups, the organized zionist student bodies trying to influence colleges, idiotic hasbara comments, and shameless American leaders trying hard to make BDS an anti-semitic movement, it is clear they are afraid and trying hard to intimidate, and threaten, those brave enough to work for these BDS movements. It is time these good groups pushed harder, and hit the zionists where it hurts most.

  8. Kay24 on February 14, 2017, 5:40 am

    What Herr Tramp and all other leaders should be doing.

    “German Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to cancel a joint summit with Israel’s government, scheduled for May 10 in Jerusalem. The official reason her office gave the Prime Minister’s Office for the cancelation in the planned visit by Merkel and top officials was the German elections in September. But German and Israeli sources say there was another reason, albeit not the main one – her dissatisfaction at the Israel’s new law to expropriate private Palestinian lands, enacted in Knesset last week.” Haaretz

  9. diasp0ra on February 14, 2017, 6:19 am

    Thank you for the article Mr. Barghouti,

    It’s good to see BDS still being a thorn in Israel’s side. I imagine this will only multiply due to current Israeli policy being even more arrogant and expansionist. I am confident that BDS still has not peaked and will continue to snowball.

    I feel like when discussing BDS most of the discussion centers around economic losses and trying to calculate how much BDS has cost Israel exactly. I don’t believe this is the right approach. BDS can’t put a meaningful dent in the Israeli economy, at least not yet. But the losses of Israel are not merely monetary.

    We also speak of an academic and cultural boycott. This means professors representing Israel get less invites, the Israeli Orchestra finding it harder to book a place etc. The disappointment of an Israeli fan being told that their favorite artist is not coming to Israel because of its policies has a much larger effect than the potential economic loss from the situation. It could even drive them to investigate. BDS agitates, it provokes, it raises awareness and attention. These cannot be measured in dollars or shekels.

    These aspects continue to be underappreciated, imho.

  10. Maghlawatan on February 14, 2017, 8:48 am

    Apparently Natalie Imbruglia was torn

    Not even the sight of Netanyahu lying naked on the floor could change her final decision. Poor Old Israel’s illusions still haven’t changed into something real.

  11. Boo on February 14, 2017, 10:20 am

    Following this admission, we can hope that the spigot that primes US politicians to introduce anti-BDS legislation will go dry.

    But how long will it be before the last bribes campaign contributions come dripping out of the end of the pipeline?

    We’ll have to shake it hard until the last golden drops fly off and we can zip up this unseemly anti-free-speech campaign for good.

  12. inbound39 on February 14, 2017, 11:55 am

    If BDS is not working then Netanyahu is spending large sums of money setting up Lawfare organisations and other anti BDS organisations for nothing. He would not be making such moves if it was having no effect. Look at the Pro Israeli Congress people like Rubio pushing Anti BDS Bills……how much was Rubio paid to do that?

  13. Jane Porter on February 14, 2017, 3:46 pm

    You just have to watch BH Levy, just let him talk, then you see how stupid he is, and thinking he was branded once The new philosopher, in France His stock in trade has been anti-communist/Afghnistan, anti-muslim/Lybya and so on, and even worse, very much listened to
    by several french presidents. and now since a few years fighting “anti-israel and “anti-semitism.
    French gov should not let this guy of the country, He really pours shame on France
    So zakaria is right to let him tell his bullshit. But inviting such morons to his program means
    that he is mediocre journals and of course it does make the channel he works for a stupid
    one. but Levy is from a billionaire family who made the money in selling african wood,so he may also have paid to be on CNN

  14. Maghlawatan on February 15, 2017, 6:34 am

    Trump spokesperson says Tramp not interested in 2SS. Apartheid will be tremendous, believe me. This is what Jewish money does. It debases Judaism.

  15. aloeste on February 15, 2017, 12:11 pm

    BDS will continue, anti-BDS will continue, and facts on the ground will continue…. let’s face it , 20 yrs from now our kids will be here , arguing the same , while facts on the ground continue to multiply….

    • Mooser on February 15, 2017, 12:41 pm

      ,” 20 yrs from now our kids will be here , arguing the same , while facts on the ground continue to multiply….”

      Could you put that in terms of actual numbers “aloeste”?

      How many Zionists will “multiply” in Israel to give you the number you need? Gonna double the Jewish population in Palestine to around a 100 million?

      Would you like to look at the trends in Jewish population and identification and make a prediction based on that?

    • eljay on February 15, 2017, 12:47 pm

      || aloeste: … let’s face it , 20 yrs from now our kids will be here , arguing the same , while facts on the ground continue to multiply…. ||

      20 years? Haven’t you heard? The “Jewish State” will last a thousand years!

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