Jerusalem

Bloomberg is reporting signs that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, known as BDS, is “gaining ground.”

The report noted physicist Stephen Hawking recently refused to attend a Jerusalem conference and singer Lauryn Hill canceled a concert scheduled for Tel Aviv.

But Bloomberg also pointed out that foreign investments in Israeli assets “hit a record high last year of $285.1 billion,” up three times from when the BDS activism was started in 2005 by Palestinians who oppose Israel’s existence.

Israel National News pointed out that defenders of Israel have drawn the attention of the United Nations, and the American Center for Law and Justice has developed a strategy to defeat the BDS movement.

INN said an authoritative survey shows BDS “failed miserably in its stated aim of cutting Israel off from the world economically.”

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ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said the “unambiguous goal of the international BDS movement is the elimination of the state of Israel.”

“As such, the movement operates as a coordinated, sophisticated effort to disrupt the economic and financial stability of the state of Israel, including by causing direct harm to the economic interests of persons conducting business in and with the state of Israel.”

He said BDS proponents “claim responsibility for significant damage to Israeli business interests; and they use threats of withdrawal of financial support to coerce companies to cease or refuse to engage in business interests with or in the state of Israel, its nationals, and its residents, as well as with other persons who are Jewish or who do business with persons who are Jewish.”

However, he said his organization’s strategy includes exposing BDS supporters as anti-Israel activists, identifying and quashing manifestations, providing legal protections for Jewish citizens and Israeli interests, and changing the international conversation regarding the “BDS narrative.”

The Bloomberg analysis pointed to the “little discernible impact” from the boycott advocates.

“We don’t have a problem with foreign investment in Israel – on the contrary,” Israel finance ministry economist Yoel Naveh told the publication.

Bloomberg noted Israel’s economy is expected to grow 2.8 percent this year compared with 1.8 percent for the U.S. and the European Union.

“In 2015 its industrial high-tech exports rose 13 percent from a year earlier to $23.7 billion, according to the Israeli Export and International Cooperation Institute. The BlueStar Israel Global Index, a gauge of globally listed Israeli companies, has doubled over the past decade, outperforming the 21 percent gain in the benchmark MSCI ACWI Index of emerging and developed world markets.”

It also said foreign confidence is demonstrated by an appreciating shekel and Israeli startups raised $3.76 billion last year from investors outside of Israel.

Even so, BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti told Bloomberg the program is spreading “much faster than we had anticipated.”

The report pointed to actions in recent months from pension funds in Europe and New Zealand that have banned investment in Israeli interests.

But Naveh said that such actions aren’t a factor, explaining, “We don’t need it.”

Bloomberg said the evidence supports that contention, with non-Israeli holdings increasing in multiple companies.

The report said Barghouti claimed responsibility for an “indirect, palpable psychological impact on the mainstream Israeli psyche about the country becoming more ‘isolated’ from the world.”

But Sekulow said in recent months, his organization has “briefed legislators from more than 30 states about BDS.”

“And we are working with legislators and staff on Capitol Hill and in states including Kansas, New York, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin and more to take anti-BDS laws to the next level.

“ACLJ lawyers have developed new legislation that makes it illegal to engage in coordinated boycott activity against U.S. citizens and businesses to harm or pressure them because they do business with Israel or Jews. And our bill allows those who are injured by such coordinated boycott activities to go to court to pursue [treble] damages against those who cause them harm. We expect to see this approach signed into law in multiple states over the next 12 months.”

He also said BDS is becoming a target in courts, in the media, on campuses and in boardrooms.

“Every case we have taken up so far, we have won,” he said.

Further, his group and others have launched EndBDS.com.

He has a simple message for the U.N.: “We will not give up on the fight to defend Israel from these warrantless attacks across the globe. We are winning.”

See Sekulow’s speech:

INN said, Barghouti himself breaks his own “boycott” plans by studying at Israel’s Tel Aviv University, and “despite high-profile protests and even assaults on small Israeli restaurants and retailers in some countries Israeli businesses are trading more than ever abroad.”

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