Comment: Jon Haber

The best context for understanding the disruption of last week’s Jerusalem Quartet concert is the rise and fall of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) “movement” which, despite being at the top of the anti-Israel agenda for nearly a decade, has yet to achieve any real victories.

The Israeli economy and exports have nearly doubled over the last decade when the boycotters were making every effort to bring the country to its knees.

In the UK, attempts to boycott Israeli academics have met regular bouts of failure, and one need only look at investment patterns in Europe (where more European venture capital is invested in Israel than in any single European state) to measure the non-existent success of divestment.

Recently, BDS activists have attempted to fill the credibility gap with fraud (such as a hoax last year claiming that the British investment firm Blackrock had divested from Israel), and recent efforts to disrupt Israel-related events.

Now the shouters have created a fantasy world, where bellowing in a room full of pensioners while four Jews play strings, somehow represents an unparalleled act of courage.

What should be our response? Well, last year, after a group of Canadian boycotters began a protest outside a Toronto liquor shop that stocked Israeli wines, Israel supporters converged on the store, bought out their stock, and proceeded to throw a street party while the boycotters quietly slunk into the night. And thus was born the Buycott Israel movement, which has managed to meet every boycott threat in North America with up to 2000 per cent increases in the purchase of Israeli goods.

If the solution to lies and hate speech is not censorship but the truth spoken loudly, the solution to those who have chosen to use us as props in their own political fantasy is to double, triple and quintuple the number of events that would attract their ire. Let the public judge whether our joyous celebration of Jewish and Israeli achievement is preferable to the loutish behaviour of those who substitute bothering us for any real accomplishments.

Jon Haber is a writer who tracks BDS-related activity at www.divestthis.com

Last updated: 1:21pm, April 8 2010