Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nobody likes the proposed EU boycott of Israel

The European Union (EU) has begun once again to agitate for hostile economic action against Israel (“EU countries push for labeling of Israeli settlement goods”, AlJazeera America, April 16, 2015) . Apparently, EU Foreign Ministers think it’s time to put the screws to Israel. They want to see a boycott against some of Israel’s exports.

Naturally enough, Israel doesn’t like that. Israeli officials have called this attempt a de facto boycott of Israel itself—not a partial boycott (Jonathan Cook, “Europe’s feeble efforts to “punish” Israel”, Redress Information and analysis, April 25, 2015). At least some Israelis see this proposal as tantamount to economic war against the Jewish state (ibid).

The US doesn’t like it, either (Jessica Schulberg, “Congress Votes Against European Boycotts of Israeli Settlements”, Huffington Post, April 23, 2015). Almost as soon as reports of the boycott request hit the newswires, members of the US Congress voted to amend a pending free-trade agreement between the US-EU. They voted to make the pending free-trade pact conditional upon EU countries abstaining from the BDS movement entirely (ibid).

Anti-Israel advocates don’t like it (Jonathan Cook, ibid). They see it as, essentially, too little, too late (ibid). They see it as similar to trying to “punish a wayward child by docking his pocket money while at the same time letting him buy up the toy store” (ibid).

But the biggest negative reaction to this proposal comes from, of all people, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement itself. True, BDS advocates love the idea of another boycott against Israel. For them, the more boycotts against Israel, the better--but not this boycott.

They see this specific EU boycott request as dangerous. They hate it. It’s caused them to become apoplectic (William Jacobson, “Congress ramps up attack on anti-Israel boycott movement”, Freedom’s Floodgates, no date). They’re horrified by it.

Why? It seems that, for the first time in a long time, a major BDS attempt has triggered a tsunami against BDS. Instead of prompting a domino-like effect of additional boycotts from others, this EU request-for-action has had the opposite effect: it threatens to cause the sky to fall on BDS, not Israel (William Jacobson, “Anti-Boycott Bill called “devastating weapon” by anti-Israel activists”, Legal Insurrection, April 25, 2015). At least, this is how BDS people see it (ibid).

The BDS Movement is (at least, right now) frightened by that US amendment. They see it a potentially “devastating weapon” against it because the amendment would, BDS-ers believe, force European businesses to make a choice. They could either participate in an extraordinarily lucrative free-trade opportunity with the US—or retain the right to boycott Israel; they won’t get both (Legal Insurrection, above).

Everyone in the BDS movement knows which choice Europe’s businesses will make. The money to be made from this trade agreement is simply too great to ignore. Europe will turn against BDS.

Since the EU is Israel’s top trading partner, any boycott against Israel would be a major success. It could pave the way to put a serious dent in Israel’s economic engine. But a US-generated move against a major boycott proposal paves a very different path: it lays the ground-work to immunize Israel completely from all future BDS efforts in Europe.

With a single US amendment, the EU boycott door could slam shut against BDS. That’s why BDS advocates see this amendment as a ‘devastating’ weapon.

Will this BDS fear prove correct? Could this amendment really shut down BDS in Europe? It’s too early to tell. We don’t yet know, for example, what form, if any, such an amendment will take; and we don’t know if a trade bill with such an amendment would be voted into law.

Nevertheless, if you believe in Israel, the BDS fear of failure is certainly suggestive. That fear could suggest that the wheel of Fortune for the enemies of Israel may finally be turning against them.

It may even suggest that the G-d of Israel is ready to show how, on the international stage--the biggest of all stages--He will protect His beloved Israel.

Is that what all this means? Stay tuned.

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