Boycott fears dismissed as trade hits record high


The impact of boycotts against Israel has been overstated by activists opposing them, Britain’s ambassador in Tel Aviv believes.

As bilateral trade between the UK and Israel hit a record high, Matthew Gould said: “Collectively, opponents of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement end up amplifying its voice.

“I worry that we make the voice of BDS bigger than it ought to be, out of all proportion to the impact it is

“The truth is, the economic relationship between Britain and Israel has never been better. Investment flows in both directions are fantastic. The British government is opposed to boycotts — we’re clear about that.”

The latest figures from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics — covering the first 10 months of 2014 — show bilateral trade at a record £3.16 billion, with exports from Israel to the UK up 14 per cent on the same period last year.

Israeli imports from Britain rose 13 per cent.

Previous figures, for the period January to August, showed trade worth £2.5 billion.

Speaking to the JC at his Tel Aviv residence, Mr Gould said: “The idea that there is some sort of effective boycott going on isn’t borne out by the facts. Ditto on the academic side.”

Mr Gould, who become ambassador in 2010 and will step down next year, said that during his time in the post he had overseen the establishment of the UK-Israel Tech Hub — the first of its kind geared to building bilateral trade ties.

He said: “It’s been the relentless focus of my attention — it’s borne huge fruit. There’s a long list of British companies now in partnership with Israeli technology, and we can point to a number of partnerships which have happened because of the Hub. That’s given me a lot of satisfaction.”

He defended British companies which choose not to publicise their relationships with Israeli counterparts for fear of a BDS backlash. Mr Gould said: “The most important thing is British companies come to Israel. Companies have to make their own decisions. It’s obviously great when a company not only comes, but is also willing to talk about it because it sends a message in Israel and the UK.”

Nathan Tsror, economic attaché at the Israeli embassy in London, said the latest trade figures showed it had been “another record year for the economic relationship between Israel and the UK”.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive