Surprise! Anti-BDS gift box coming straight to your front door

Young entrepreneurs behind new, fun way to win Israel support

Omri Akunis is tired of hearing about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns against Israel, and the start-up he leads aims to counteract the movement. “In recent years we witness ostracism by movements and countries which result in boycotting products manufactured in Israel,” Akunis said. His solution? A gift box of Israeli products to be delivered right to your door. Akunis co-founded the company iBox, which offers a blue-andwhite, made-in-Israel surprise box to its customers. “It’s a surprise box,” explains Mai Hermann Akunis – another co-founder and Omri’s wife, “you get things that you don’t know but that are something you would need.” In 2014, a trend of “surprise box” or “subscription box” companies began popping up, offering customers an unusual deal: For a subscription fee, they would receive a box each month with surprise contents. A health surprise box, for example, might arrive with different healthy snack foods every few weeks, or a “Barkbox” could surprise with different doggy toys. The customers never know exactly what they’ll get, but are generally promised that its contents will be more valuable than the subscription fee, fit into the appropriate theme, and let them try out new products. For Omri, the iBox seemed a perfect next step. “Our goal is to bring quality and surprising products made in Israel to our customers. In addition to providing support to businesses in Israel, it will also assist in promoting Israeli international relations,” he said. “I wanted to take Israeli products, put them in a box, and simply send them to people who support Israel,” he added. The company will target subscribers in North America, and each month send them a box of Israeli products that touch on five senses: hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting and seeing. In a promotional video a box is shown that includes in it Israeli products such as a bottle of wine and a photo calendar. “The idea kind of rolled around from what started as the BDS and a way to fight it,” said Mai. The company has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, and is hoping to raise $60,000 to kick off their first round of boxes. A subscription will cost $300 for six boxes, to be sent bimonthly over the course of a year. Although BDS has regularly made headlines, thus far it has failed to have any discernible impacts on Israel’s economy. That said, some specific companies have felt its pressure. For example, the Ahava cosmetics company shut down a store in London, purportedly because of relentless BDS protests, and announced plans to move its factory out of the West Bank before the firm’s recent sale to a Chinese company. SodaStream, similarly, moved one of its factories out of the West Bank, though it maintains that the move was unrelated to BDS