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Is BDS working?

by Joe Winkler, JTA

June 24, 2013 | 2:24 pm

"Refuse to finance the occupation - Boycott Israel" poster in Sweden. Photo by Jacob Rask

"Refuse to finance the occupation - Boycott Israel" poster in Sweden. Photo by Jacob Rask

In the United States, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel has caused Jewish leaders considerable grief but achieved few tangible results. A handful of college student groups have passed resolutions on the subject, but no far no university has moved to divest itself of Israeli companies. Even in liberal Brooklyn, a move to boycott Israeli supermarket products was turned back.

But columnist Larry Derfner believes things might be changing. At +972 magazine, he has collected evidence showing that pressure is mounting on Israel. He points in part to Thomas Friedman’s June 4th column, in which he wrote that the BDS movement “is creating a powerful surge of international opinion, particularly in Europe and on college campuses, that Israel is a pariah state because of its West Bank occupation.”

Derfner goes on to list numerous other cases in which he sees BDS working, including the recent decision of British physicist Stephen Hawking to skip a conference in Israel. The evidence is largely anecdotal, but taken together it does suggest that those who took comfort in the belief that BDS was symbolically significant but practically irrelevant might need to take a second look.

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