Israel must change tactics against BDS, says ambassador

Middle East Monitor  /  August 18, 2021

An Israeli ambassador has said that the occupation state must change its tactics against the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Arabi21 has reported. Itzhak Levanon said that Israel and its diplomatic representatives “must work on the ground and act quickly” if their efforts are to succeed.

“Phone calls and periodic meetings are not enough,” he pointed out in an article in Maariv. “The BDS movement was launched 16 years ago, and it talks about boycotting Israel, preventing investment and imposing sanctions, each of which can have a severe impact on its own, not to mention the three of them at the same time.”

Levanon pointed out that he was involved in the first “battles against BDS” at Harvard University in the US. “Thanks to direct action… the BDS efforts failed.”

The Netanyahu government transferred the BDS file from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The latter, said the ambassador, was closed recently by the government led by Naftali Bennett. The issue was referred back to Foreign Affairs but, despite efforts to stop the “anti-Israel movement”, BDS is still active.

“There are daily attempts by the BDS movement to persuade international institutions to support it against Israel… but these activities do not find their way into the media,” Levanon explained. “Israel still has a lot to do.”

He cited the examples of divestment by the largest pension fund in Norway which is boycotting 16 Israeli companies, and the decision by Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling its ice cream products in Israel’s illegal settlements. The latter has, apparently, been “attributed to the poor performance of the Israeli Consul in Boston.” Israel’s consuls and ambassadors around the world “need to act quickly because they are active on the ground” if they pick up “early signs of boycott activities in their regions,” concluded the ambassador.