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Anti-BDS: Boycott and Divestment of Israeli Goods Q&A with Roz Rothstein, CEO
David
David's Star Magazine
September/October 2014

In this month's anti-BDS article with the holiday season upon so many, there will likely be an increased push for boycotting or divestment of Israel for those considering buying presents.  Since 2005 there have been over 50 major boycotts or divestments from Israel by governments, banks, stores and performing artists. Most recently Spain placed an arms embargo on Israel during the July/August 2014 Gaza war.

In light of this, we were fortunate to secure perspective on the holidays and the importance of supporting Israel in a Q&A for this month's anti-BDS spotlight with Roz Rothstein, CEO of Pro-Israel organization StandWithUs (http://www.standwithus.com/). StandWithUs is dedicated to informing the public about Israel and to combating the extremism and anti-Semitism that often distorts the issues.
 

Q. What is your perspective on the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement?  
A. I view BDS as a propaganda movement whose purpose is to instill hostility against the Jewish state and to erode American support for Israel. Their ultimate goal is to get Americans to accept a radical agenda which would lead to the elimination of the Jewish state. BDS activists do this by blaming Israel alone for the lack of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and by eliminating all context for Israel's actions. After spreading lies and misinformation about Israel, they call for punishing it with boycotts, divestment or sanctions.  BDS is the newest form of anti-Semitism. It demonizes Israeli soldiers and the Israeli people, and uses a double standard expecting Israel to live up to standards not expected of any other nation to punish only one country, the only Jewish state the world.  They ignore context, never mentioning Palestinian groups like Hamas, the thousands of rockets Hamas and affiliated terrorist groups have fired at Israeli civilians, the cross-border attack tunnels whose only purpose is to kidnap and murder Israelis, or the incitement to hate and murder Israelis and Jews that pervades official and popular Palestinian media.  They infantalize the Palestinian people, denying they have any responsibility for the ongoing problems.
 
Q. Why do you think people are supporting this movement?
A. The leaders are from the Middle East, and like Hamas, they dont want Israel to exist in the neighborhood. Like Hamas they chant:  "From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free" which is another way of saying that Israel will be gone. They cloak these extremist demands in social justice and human right rhetoric  so that well meaning people  are drawn to the cause and  make the mistake of thinking that they are receiving accurate information about Israel, when they are not.

Q.Are you seeing an increase in support for Israel or an increase in support of boycotting the purchase of Israeli goods?  
A.I'm seeing both.  The boycott movement hurts both Palestinians and Israelis but the boycotters don't care.  They continue to grow their movement.  The backlash however, is that the BDS movement is creating new leaders for Israel who are fed up with the allegations against Israel and want to become engaged in helping tell Israel's side of the story.
 
Q.How has StandWithUs countered these efforts to garner support for Israel?  
A.StandWithUs mobilizes Israel's supporters, educates them about the issues and about Israel's challenges and its accomplishments.  Through programs, missions to Israel, social media, educational videos, fellowships on college campuses and also in high schools, StandWithUs works in cities around the world to make sure that people have the facts they need so that they can participate in the conversation about Israel.
 
Q.What can consumers do to make their support for Israel more known? 
A.Consumers can buy Israeli goods.  More important, they can learn more, so that they can become educators in their own circles.  They can ask us for materials to distribute at their synagogues and churches, to their friends and families.  They can visit Israel and become even greater experts on the issues.  And above all, they should be proud of their support for Israel and be vocal about it.
 
Q.Do you anticipate an increase in BDS activity during the holiday season? 
A.BDS activists are fervently committed to their cause, and often try to pass anti-Israel resolutions when Jewish students aren't present, such as during the Jewish holidays.  Some of them will try to pass resolutions or host rallies during the holidays. We have already seen this.
 
Q.What will you be doing to boost the purchase of Israeli goods during the holiday season? 
A. At various points during the year we do encourage people to purchase Israeli goods. Our major campaign is B.I.G. [Buy Israeli Goods] and we push it during annual anti-Israel boycott periods.  It has been very successful.
 
Q.Why is it important to support Israel? 
A. There is only one Jewish country in the world, and that's Israel.  Half the world's Jewish population lives there.  It is a rare case of historical justice—a people forced from their homeland, persecuted for 1900 years, and yet able to gather together again and reestablish their state. It is a shining light for the world in so many ways, including human rights and technology, medicine and humanitarian aid.  Other countries should ideally want to learn and benefit from Israel's gifts to the world, and to thank Israel profusely for all that it does for humanity.
 
Q.What do you say to the perhaps uneducated or biased masses that are boycotting Israel and directly and indirectly supporting those that may be committing grievous acts against the very people they say they are supporting with the boycott?  
A. BDS hurts Palestinians, Israelis, and hopes for peace. In effect, it supports a radical agenda and excuses or in effect endorses Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that controls Gaza.  Instead of going after the terrorist group that drew Israel into a war in Gaza, the BDS movement and its supporters go after the wrong party.  If the BDS movement really meant well, they would turn their energies against Palestinian terrorist groups that are obstructing a future of coexistence between Israel and the Palestinian people.  But then, that is not the goal of BDS.  Through their actions, the boycott movement makes it very clear that it is not interested in promoting peaceful coexistence that would bring a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.

Read the original interview HERE.
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