By imposing a boycott, Americans and Europeans hope to have found a weapon to bend Vladimir Putin. A gamble far from won, judging by the example of Israel. Not a week goes by without a call to boycott the Jewish state being launched. But this country does not really suffer from it, which does not prevent the government and the media from sometimes overplaying the danger.
Some of the most recent examples: the student council of the Melbourne faculty and the student newspaper of the prestigious American university of Harvard have in recent days proclaimed their support for the campaign organized by BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions). These two pieces of information, which only concern a small group of activists, had an immediate echo in the media. BDS has indeed become the pet peeve of the Israeli authorities. This coalition brings together 171 Palestinian organizations supported by various viscerally anti-Zionist foreign movements. The movement also finds support in France, to which Marianne has already devoted several articles. Its objective is to relegate Israel to the status of a pariah state whose isolation is supposed to lead to an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Officials hope to emulate the example of the international boycott, which helped bring down the apartheid regime in South Africa.
AXA and Alstom targeted
The offensive is carried out on several fronts. Foreign companies active in Israel, foreign artists who agree to perform there, university exchanges are in the crosshairs. Recent targets include, for example, AXA, the French insurance group accused of having had interests in an Israeli arms company in the past and in several Israeli banks with branches in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Veolia and Alstom have also been the target of denunciations because of their participation in light rail projects in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Orange has renounced a license agreement with an Israeli telephone operator. These companies, however, categorically denied having yielded to the slightest call for a boycott of Israel, which is, moreover, prohibited by law in France. This did not prevent BDS activists from declaring victory loud and clear.
Some countries participate in the boycott. Kuwait has banned the broadcast of the film Murder on the Nile under the pretext of the presence of Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress who had the unfortunate idea of performing her compulsory military service. But the wall of boycott erected by a good part of the Arab countries for decades is collapsing thanks to new diplomatic relations with Gulf countries and Israel’s honeymoon with Morocco or Sudan.
Almost zero economic impact
On the other hand, companies that give in to pressure expose themselves to serious problems. Airbnb has therefore reversed its decision to no longer offer accommodation in West Bank settlements due to an outcry in the United States. On the other hand, the American ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s, which has decided to no longer sell its products in the West Bank, has maintained its decision despite pressure from several American states.
The whole question is in fact whether the boycott or the threat it poses is effective. On a strictly economic level, a committee of the Israeli Parliament estimated that its impact has become almost nil. However, this observation did not prevent the authorities from making it a hobbyhorse. The government has thus established a battle plan dubbed “Concert” endowed with 60 million dollars over five years to organize a counter-offensive on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, as well as in the media while financing the holding of conferences around the world.
To justify such activism, deemed disproportionate and above all ineffective by some of the commentators, Isaac Herzog, the Israeli president, went so far as to assimilate the calls for a boycott “ to a new form of terrorism “. Other leaders denounce a form of anti-Semitism that advances masked. In short, the feeling remains raw, even though the calls to isolate Israel have a minimal impact.