The Boycott Industry: Background Information and Analysis on BDS Campaigns
- The BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaign against Israel began with the NGO Forum at the 2001 UN Durban Conference. At that forum, hundreds of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) adopted a strategy of using boycotts and other forms of political warfare to achieve the “complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state.”
- The boycott campaign involves dozens of NGOs and is funded through tens of millions of dollars, euros, krona, and pounds, provided primarily by European governments, including indirectly via highly biased aid frameworks. Since much of this European funding is secret, in violation of democratic norms, not all the details are known.
- A prime example is Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP), an Israeli NGO that is a leader in the international BDS campaign that singles out Israel. CWP runs the “Who Profits” campaign, ostensibly established “in response to the Palestinian Call for boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) on Israel.” “Who Profits” is central to the BDS lobby, identifying targets for anti-Israel divestment and boycotts – including SodaStream, Israeli banks, and the Mekorot water company.
- CWP is funded directly and indirectly by a number of governments. In 2013, CWP received government funds from the Netherlands, Spain, EU, Germany, Canada, and Ireland. CWP’s largest donor in 2013 (based on the partial information that has been published) is Oxfam Novib, the Dutch branch of the Oxfam International network. Oxfam Novib receives tens of millions of euros annually from the Dutch government, much of which is used to fund radical political advocacy NGOs, including anti-Israel groups such as CWP.
- Despite this evidence, Oxfam has claimed that it does not fund BDS-related activities. This denial was made in the context of the organization’s demand that actress Scarlett Johansson, an “Oxfam ambassador,” refuse to participate in an advertising campaign for an Israeli firm (SodaStream). Johansson rejected this demand.
- Many of CWP’s other funders are church-based aid organizations. These groups fund and promote BDS, and often include antisemitic themes and images in their campaigns.
|2013 Donor (partial list)*||Amount (in NIS)|
|Oxfam Novib (Netherlands)||406,300|
|Medico International (Germany)||47,800|
|United Church of Canada||34,418|
- BDS leaders often claim that their goals are limited to opposing the post-1967 war occupation and settlements, but this is highly misleading. In fact, many admit that boycotts are not only “a strategy to end only the 42-year military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” For instance, As’ad Abu Khalil, a central activist in the U.S. wrote, “There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”
- Pro-BDS author Ahmed Moor stated, “Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself…BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.”
- Omar Barghouti said that “The only ethical solution is a (single) democratic, secular and civic state in historic Palestine” (October 2012) and that this entails a “unitary state, where, by definition, Jews will be a minority” (December 2003).
- As acknowledged by BDS ideologues and stated in the declaration of the 2001 Durban NGO Forum, the objective of BDS is the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state – using the strategy of exploiting the rhetoric of human rights and false “apartheid” analogies to demonize and isolate Israel.
* Reported under the Israeli NGO Foreign Government Funding Transparency Law (2011). Many donor governments and frameworks that channel funds to NGOs do not practice democratic transparency. As a result, details of funds to many Palestinian NGOs supported by Europe are unknown.