(photo credit: BDS)
BOSTON – The Anti-Defamation League appears to be entering a new collaborative phase, with the anti-racism group announcing this week a partnership with the Reut Institute, a Tel Aviv-based think tank, to produce a “focused and comprehensive strategy to combat delegitimization of Israel and the BDS movement.”
In a statement on Monday, the ADL expressed concern over the boycott campaign’s efforts to isolate the Jewish state and negate the Jewish right to self-determination. It said that – along with Reut – it would engage in a process of in-depth research on how the movement is organized and run, leading to the public unveiling of a set of strategic and policy recommendations later this year.
“This joint ADL-Reut Initiative will enable us to take a new approach by first studying the entire array of factors driving the growth of international efforts, such as BDS, that seek to undermine Israel’s right to exist,” said ADL National Chair Marvin Nathan. “Working with Reut, we will develop a solid framework of comprehensive action that is informed by research and data.”
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who replaced longtime head Abraham Foxman last year, asserted that while there are supporters of the movement who are not motivated by hatred, BDS efforts are often “vectors for the worst anti-Semitic ideas and imagery” and serve to delegitimize the Jewish right to a state.
Just over a month ago Greenblatt announced an ADL partnership with the European Jewish Congress aimed at lobbying the European Union and national governments to take further steps to counter rising anti-Semitic violence engulfing Europe.
It is also just a week after the Israeli government held a twoday closed conference of Jewish organizations in Jerusalem discussing BDS. While the conference was intended to be kept secret, details began leaking to the media almost immediately, including the participation of groups such as the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the B’nai B’rith World Policy Center.
Among the matters discussed were early detection of boycott threats, concrete steps to deal with threats to companies in or working with Israel, increasing pro-Israel activities online around the world, positive branding for Israel and bringing groups of influential people to visit Israel.
While BDS has had some success in academic circles and against some consumer products, its economic impact has been rather small.
Since the BDS movement was set up in 2005, Israeli exports to Europe, where the movement is strongest, have nearly doubled.
Even trade with South Africa, a BDS stronghold – where Israel is burdened in the theater of public opinion by its ties with the apartheid-era regime – is booming.
However, much of the concern over the movement seems to be centered less around its economic results than its propaganda value, especially on university campuses.
Last week, BDS activists splashed hundreds of posters across the London tube network, accusing Israel of apartheid and war crimes and calling for boycotts of companies doing business with the Jewish state.
The signs in question accused British security company G4S, which works closely with Israeli security services, of assisting with the detention of 500 Palestinian children without trial and asserted that the BBC is “biased in favor of Israel.”
The campaign also castigated British companies supplying military supplies to Israel, stating they contributed to the “massacre” of Palestinians in Gaza and that they “directly profit from Israeli apartheid and contribute to the militarized collective punishment of Palestinians.”
Greenblatt seemed to echo this position on Monday, saying the ADL and Reut Institute’s focus will be “laser-sharp – to expose this movement for what it is – an anti-Semitic campaign and a distraction from the very real issues that need to be addressed to create the conditions for a meaningful and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.”Ilan Evyatar and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.