The Centrality of NGOs In Promoting Anti-Israel Boycotts And Sanctions

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Steinberg, Gerald M. “The Centrality of NGOs in Promoting Anti-Israel Boycotts and Sanctions.” Jewish Political Studies Review 21 (Spring 2009).


“NGOs (non-governmental organizations) focusing on human rights are powerful actors in international politics in general, and in the Arab-Israeli conflict in particular. The NGO community has advanced anti-Israel agendas in the UN, including in the 2001 Durban conference, which adopted the strategy of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). NGO reports, press releases, and political lobbying campaigns constitute an important source of “soft power,” and they have a powerful influence in the UN, the media, and academia. This NGO-led political war against Israel uses the weapons derived from the rhetoric of human rights and international law and is conducted via the UN, the media, churches, and university campuses. Examples include promoting the Jenin “massacre” and “war crimes” claims (April 2002), the campaign against the separation barrier (“apartheid wall”), the academic boycott efforts, church-based divestment activities, and efforts to falsely label Israel’s response to thousands of rocket attacks from Gaza as “collective punishment” and “war crimes.” Funding for many of these NGOs is provided by the European Commission and many member governments, as well as Norway, Switzerland, and private organizations, such as the Ford Foundation and the New Israel Fund.”

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