The European Union’s adoption of “product labeling” guidelines for Israeli settlements followed a long campaign involving numerous actors, including powerful nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Many of these groups are also involved in the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against Israel and play a leading role in the frequent allegations of “war crimes” and “violations of international law” used to single out and demonize the Jewish state.
The strategy of punishing Israel to force policy changes has been pressed for many years by NGOs like Oxfam International, Amnesty International, the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and numerous others operating under the twin banners of humanitarian aid and human rights. Echoing the declaration adopted at the NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban conference against racism, these influential groups work closely with Palestinians and the Islamic block in the UN in an attempt to replicate the boycott strategy used against South African apartheid.
In their view, the product labeling is just the beginning. In October 2012, 22 major NGOs in this network presented the European Union with a document tendentiously titled “Trading Away Peace: How Europe Helps Sustain Illegal Israeli Settlements.” Although called “nongovernmental,” most of these groups receive European government funds.
The report, like most NGO publications, largely erases the history of Palestinian rejectionism with its decades of war and terror against Israelis, and presents the Palestinians as helpless victims. On this basis, their recommendations begin with “correct consumer labeling of all settlement products,” followed by a call to “ban imports of settlement products” and later, actions to “prevent financial transactions to settlements and related activities” – in other words, a boycott of Israeli banks and other core institutions.