What is the origin of divest-from-Israel campaigns?

I forgot to mention that this information is focused on campus divestment, although other divestment activities (like church divestment) is mentioned.

FAQ #2: What is the origina of divest-from-Israel campaigns?

Calls to divest from Israel are part of a broader program of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (or BDS) pushed by anti-Israel groups to try to delegitimize the Jewish state. While economic warfare (such as the Arab boycott which began in 1921) has been part of the Arab-Israeli conflict since before Israel became a state, divestment (as part of a broader BDS program) has only gained traction in the last 6-7 years.

The goal of BDS is to “brand” Israel as the new Apartheid South Africa (South Africa also having been the target of economic boycotts and sanction). While this strategy was used sporadically after the fall of Apartheid in the 1990s, it was only after the 2001 Durban I “anti-racism” conference (which degenerated into an orgy of Israel bashing) that various anti-Israel organizations focused on BDS as their strategy of choice.

In the years since Durban, divestment has been attempted on college campuses, at churches, within unions and municipalities. While initially gaining some traction, enthusiasm for divestment waned after years of attempts to get institutions to divest proved unsuccessful.

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2 Responses to What is the origin of divest-from-Israel campaigns?

  1. Anonymous September 15, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

    First, Israel is like South Africa in that they have institutionalized apartheid. Also, BDS is gaining a lot of traction with major institutions. BlackRock, a major US financial firm, divested from Lev Leviev and Africa-Israel, both of whom profited from occupation. Motorola sold the division in its company that made the bomb fuses for the cluster bombs that the Israeli military frequently drops on civilian populations.

  2. Jon September 15, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    You seem to share the BDS belief that simply declaring Israel to be like South Africa makes it so. But insisting something is true (even over and over again) does not create reality (just ask my six year old). I could call Saudi Arabia an Apartheid State, declare Hamas to be fascists or call the the leadership of Iran a Bar Mitzvah Band, but these are simply my opinions, not fact. Similarly, you are entitled to believe whatever you like about Israel (no matter how inaccurate) and it will continue to be just your opinion, nothing more.

    Regarding every example you name, as I've documented here over the last several months, BDS activists have gotten into the habit of finding companies making purely financial decisions regarding Israel-related investments (be they Blackrock, TIAA CREF or Motorola) and declaring that those were political choices, not financial ones. But in each and every case, the people who have allegedly made these political choices have said nothing (or have outright denied) that their investment/divestment decisions were made on poltical (vs. financial) grounds.

    It's unclear whether the numerous examples I've sited are just people like you playing fantasy politics (i.e., acting like the rooster who thinks his crow makes the sun come up every morning) or represent an intentional choice to try to deceive others, but if you want to prove that Blackrock or anyone else has done what you say they have (i.e., sold Israel-Africa or other stocks for the political reasons you site), you need to produce a statement from the investor saying that this is the case. Otherwise, you're just speculating.

    Unless you're ready to let anyone play that game (for example, by accepting my assertion that Blackrock sold it's Israel-Africa shares so it could free up cash to buy Israeli bonds and shares of Caterpillar), then we must rely on the investors themselves for unambiguous statements regarding why they are making investment decisions, not self-serving analysis by people like you.

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