“We have many achievements against BDS but I think it is still a threat that could develop with time into a significant threat,” Israeli minister Gilad Erdan said.
The government minister responsible for combating international boycott efforts against Israel, Gilad Erdan, said Thursday he sees no difference between targeting Judea and Samaria and boycotting the country as a whole, noting that all boycotts against Israel are illegitimate.
“A boycott is a boycott. If you want Jews not to live there [Judea and Samaria] because you think that is preventing peace and you think it belongs to someone else, then in a democratic country you have the tool,” Erdan said told The Associated Press. “Go convince people and go get a majority in the public that shares your positions.”
The boycott movement, also called the BDS movement, advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel in what supporters say is a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian cause. It has urged businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel and includes thousands of volunteers around the world.
Israel says the campaign masks a deeper aim of destroying the entire country.
Erdan’s office has spearheaded Israeli efforts to combat the movement. He claimed most of its leading activists are driven by anti-Semitism to ultimately destroy Israel and cloak their campaign under a false premise of peace and human rights advocacy. Israel’s measures have included blocking the entrance of activists into Israel and encouraging its allies worldwide, especially in the US, to promote anti-BDS legislation.
“My policy is to move from defense to offense … to expose the true face of the boycott activists. They have kidnapped the human rights vocabulary,” Erdan said. “They try to portray themselves as either human rights protectors or peace activists and the truth is they are neither.”
Erdan, a senior member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, said that the government was still formally committed to the prospect of a Palestinian state alongside Israel and that it “does not want to rule the Palestinians.” But in practice, he said, that is not currently relevant and instead Israel is devoted to combatting the lies spread against it.
Many Victories, The Battle Goes On
BDS has minor accomplishments, but Israel has seen a spike in economic partnerships and diplomatic ties and it has become a top destination for international sporting and cultural events — with few performers heeding the call for a boycott.
Erdan noted that 23 US states have passed anti-BDS laws and Congress is drafting a federal law as well. Courts in Spain and France have ruled against them, he noted, among a series of other setbacks. Even so, he said it was too early to call the battle over.
“We have many achievements against the BDS but I think it is still a threat that could develop with time into a significant threat,” he said. “It is still alive and breathing. We have put it on the defensive in the past two years but … they will change tactics and we will have to adjust again.”
Erdan, who also serves as Israel’s minister of internal security, said he saw a link between his two portfolios in that de-legitimization efforts against Israel could result in attacks against its citizens.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff
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