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Op-Ed: 'Raus Mit Uns' is Back

The distance from BDS to book-banning is short. It has already been traversed.
Published: Sunday, August 12, 2012 9:31 AM


The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel was launched seven years ago. Since then, the global anti-Israel campaign has become stronger, successful and gone mainstream, notching notable victories.

Fifty prior years of Arab boycott had cost the Jewish State a whopping $45 billion in lost trade and investment. A similar boycott war has been waged in the West.

Abigail Disney, a descendant of one of the Disney Company founders, just renounced her share of the family's profits in the Israeli cosmetics company Ahava, saying it is engaged in the "exploitation of occupied natural resources".

Agrexco, Israel’s former largest exporter of agricultural produce, entered liquidation at the end of 2011, following a campaign of boycott, demonstrations, lobbying of supermarkets and governments and legal actions all over Europe.

The largest Co-operative in Europe, the Co-Operative Group in the UK, recently introduced a policy to end trade with companies that source products from Israel’s communities in Judea and Samaria.

A violent campaign against Ahava also forced the company to close its flagship London store and retailers in the UK; Norway and Canada to announce the boycotts.

Artists and writers are refusing to perform in Israel following pressure from the BDS movement including Elvis Costello, Gil Scott Heron, Carlos Santana, the Pixies, while many cultural figures now speak publicly of their support for BDS. The latest is Alice Walker, the author of “The Color Purple" who just refused to authorize a Hebrew translation of her prize-winning book, saying that “Israel is guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people, both inside Israel and also in the Occupied Territories".

A BDS conference recently took place at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution in the heart of Philadelphia, where some academics taught US students how to demonize Israel “in every classroom".

There are hundreds of Western universities which host the annual Israeli Apartheid Week, dubbed “anti-Semitic hatefest” by the brave Canadian author Howard Rotberg.

The French multinational Veolia has been targeted since November 2008 due its provision of infrastructure services to "settlements", including the Jerusalem Light Rail.

A Spanish chain of toy stores removed Rummikub, a best-selling game manufactured by Israeli company KodKod.

In London there are coffee shops that have hung a sign reading, "No Israeli products are sold here."

Norway’s oil fund withdrew its investment from Africa-Israel and Danya Cebus citing involvement in “settlement construction”.

The Swedish co-op terminated all purchases of Soda carbonation devices.

Dutch pension fund Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn, which has investments totaling 97 billion euros, has divested from almost all the Israeli companies in its portfolio (banks, telecommunication firms, construction companies and Elbit Systems). A large Swedish pension fund also divested from Elbit over the latter’s role in building Israel’s security fence.

British supermarket giant Tesco added a special extension to their customer service phone line to provide information to callers wishing to boycott Israeli products.

The Ethical Council of four Swedish buffer pension funds urged Motorola “to pull out of the Israeli-occupied territories in the West Bank” or face divestment.

Norway’s governmental pension and Germany’s Deutsche Bank divested from Elbit.

Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine,” led by the British Richard Rogers, has called for a boycott of architects, planners and companies involved in building the security fence, which stopped the suicide bombers. Eyal Weizman, an Israeli architect living in London, calls it a “war crime.”

Seven-time Oscar nominee Mike Leigh and two-time Oscar winner Emma Thompson are among three dozen actors and directors who recently signed a letter calling for the boycott of Israel's national theater Habima.

Elsewhere, more than 150 American artists, including actresses Julianne Moore, Vanessa Redgrave and Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon, signed a letter in support of the boycott of Ariel’s cultural center in Samaria.

Several prominent actors and filmmakers, including Danny Glover and Jane Fonda, boycotted the Toronto International Film Festival to protest the screenings of Israeli films to mark the Tel Aviv centennial (another "settlement" for them.)

A film festival in Scotland returned funding to the Israeli Embassy after succumbing to pressure from anti-Israel celebrities who threatened to picket the event.

The food manufacturing UK and Dutch-owned multinational Unilever withdraw from Ariel, Israel’s largest town in Samaria. Unilever, which makes household staples such as the Sunsilk shampoo and Vaseline, sold its 51% stake in the settlements factories.

Barkan is in Ariel and is now fully integrated with the Gush Dan economy. Several companies, such as the Swedish firm Assa Abloy and the partly Dutch owned Barkan Wine Cellars, have pulled out of Ariel. Other companies are trying to relocate within the boundaries of the invisible Green Line.

The Dutch government, to name one in Europe, grants millions of euros to organizations such as Kerk in Aktie and the Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation, which support a “general boycott” of Israeli products as per the policy of the Protestant Church of the Netherlands.

The worldwide United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church in the US have both called on their members to boycott produce from Israeli settlements. In the UK, the Methodist Church recently called on the British government to ban trade in products from Israeli settlements.

Recently the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the US, which has 2.3 million members, voted to boycott Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd. and Hadiklaim Israel Date Growers Co-operative Ltd. because they claim the companies are based beyond the Green Line.

The provincial council of West Dunbartonshire, near Glasgow, where the trade union has already pursued a policy of boycotting Israel, banned Israeli books from its libraries. I recently called the Council to know which books have been removed or cancelled from their libraries. They never answered my question.

For the first time a European region has been officially cleansed of the presence of Israeli books. Anyone familiar with the history of books under the Holocaust can easily understand how abominable this Scottish decision is.

It's time for European intellectuals to stand for truth because the worst of all anti-Jewish persecutions, that of Hitler, almost marked the end of European history. Now, it may happen again.

The Nazi appeal "Raus mit uns" (out with us) is back. They now call it BDS.