Experts

The European boycott paradox

The BDS movement's boycotts claim to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace, but few realize that the movement is actually diverging in two very different directions.

Man holds boycott Israel sign
Photo by: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN HARTMANN
The decision of several European companies to divest from Israeli companies or blacklist Israeli financial institutions has been celebrated by prominent leaders of the BDS Movement – an umbrella organization that strives to isolate Israel thorough boycotts, divestment and sanctions. They have been conducting a media blitz arguing that this new development indicates their increasing global impact. However, the European hard-line shouldn't be seen as the evolution of the “classic” BDS campaign, but, paradoxically, as quite the opposite.

The current wave of European pressure on Israel and the call to boycott products and services linked to the settlements - such as the Dutch PGGM pension fund and Vitens Water Company – represents a genuine loss of trust regarding the commitment of the current Israeli government to build peace. In its majority, these boycotts are perceived by the world as well-intentioned, legitimate, non-violent protests against Israeli policies aimed at "saving" Israel from itself. While it may be argued, as I argue, that this approach offers only a simplistic zero-sum mentality, Israel must acknowledge that boycotting products made in the settlements is advocated largely by supporters of the two-state solution.



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