Boycotts of Israel are a systematic practice of avoiding economic, political and cultural ties with the State of Israel, with individual Israelis or with Israeli-based companies or organizations. Boycott campaigns are used by those who oppose Israel’s existence, or oppose Israel’s policies or actions over the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict, in order to not show support for Israel in general, or the Israeli economy or military in particular.
Boycotts have been enacted or proposed around the world. These boycotts comprise economic measures such as divestment; a consumer boycotts of Israeli products or businesses that operate in Israel; and academic boycotts of Israeli universities. Some advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign use the 1980s movement against South African apartheid as a model. This is due to the fact that boycotters consider Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and its Arab minority as similar to the system of Apartheid in South Africa.
In Mandatory Palestine (1920–1948), anti-Zionist boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses were a tool employed by Arab leadership in an attempt to damage the Jewish population of Palestine economically, especially during periods of communal strife between Jews and Arabs. The most severe attempt to boycott Jewish businesses was undertaken by the Arab Higher Committee, headed by Haj Amin al-Husayni in 1936, beginning the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine.
An official organized boycott was adopted by the Arab League in December 1945, before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and was continued and intensified after. The Arab League boycott of Israel is an effort by Arab League member states to isolate Israel economically to prevent Arab states and discourage non-Arabs from providing support to Israel and adding to Israel’s economic and military strength.
Originally, the Arab boycott had a moderate negative impact on Israel’s economy and development. Inevitably the economies of participating Arab nations also suffered as the result of a deterioration in the foreign direct investment climate in the Arab world, and reduction in the volume of trade. Whether or not the Arab nations in question were aware of the potential risks to their own economies is still unknown. There is still debate as to whether they, in unison, viewed the economic sanctions as a necessary sacrifice to slow the development of the newly declared Israeli state, on land previously belonging to and under the control of Arab nations.
Egypt (1979), the Palestinian Authority (1993), and Jordan (1994) signed peace treaties or agreements that ended their participation in the boycott of Israel. Mauritania, which never applied the boycott, established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1999. Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia do not enforce the boycott.
In 1994, following the Oslo Peace Accords, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) states, ended their participation in the Arab boycott against Israel, and stated that total elimination of the boycott is a necessary step for peace and economic development in the region. In present days, the Arab boycott is rarely applied. The move prompted a surge of investment in Israel, and resulted in the initiation of joint cooperation projects between Israel and Arab countries.
In 2005, on the one year anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the legality of Israeli West Bank barrier, Palestinian NGOs and labor unions issued a call for boycott, divestment and sanctions targeted at Israel with the stated goals that:
These non-violent punitive measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:
According to a survey by Geocartography Knowledge, 85% of Palestinian residents in the West Bank are interested in cooperation with Israel. The PLO, its branches, Palestinian businesses and universities cooperate with Israel daily. According to the head of the Federation of Trade Unions of Palestine, Shaher Saad, in 2011 the number of Palestinians employed in Israeli settlements increased significantly to around 31,000 due to the high rate of unemployment and poverty, and that about 70,000 worked in Israel proper. Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al-Quds University, opposed a boycott of Israeli universities in 2014; other Palestinian academics also told the New York Times they oppose cutting ties to Israeli universities, however opinions of academics were split, with at least some of those who favour BDS noting they were unsure if BDS will have any effect.
The Foreign Office has confirmed that Britain’s initiative against Israeli exports originating in the West Bank is merely the opening shot in a wider campaign it is waging against the settlements. […] The FO [foreign office] reiterated its view that “the settlements are illegal…. Practical steps … include ensuring that goods from the settlements do not enter the UK without paying the proper duties and ensuring that goods are properly labelled.”
Sources near the talks say the United Kingdom is accusing some Israeli companies of fraud: Their labeling indicates that they manufacture in Israel, but their plants are in the territories.
Based on experience, there are concerns in Israel that the discussion on exports from the territories will affect all Israeli exports to Europe. Roughly that happened four years ago, after Israel rejected European demands to specifically label products produced outside the pre-1967 war borders.
Tzipi Livni protested: It appears to be the fruits of long efforts by a strong pro-Palestinian lobby that now spur the British into action. Nevertheless, the British insist that at British consumers want to know the source of the products that they purchase. […] But the biggest fear in Israel is that the issue will spill beyond manufacturers in the territories, affecting all local exporters and all exports to the EU – as was the case the last time that the issue boiled to the surface.
In 2006, two of Britain’s lecturers’ unions, the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education and the Association of University Teachers, voted to support an academic boycott against Israel. The AUT ban was overturned by members at an Emergency General Meeting a few weeks later, while the NATFHE boycott expired when a merger with AUT to form the University and College Union came into effect. In May 2007, the UCU congress passed Motion 30, which called on the members to circulate information and consider a boycott request by Palestinian trade unions.
In 2009, Spanish organizers of an international solar power design competition excluded a team from the Israeli Ariel University Center. The stated reason was that the Ariel university is located in the West Bank, a Spanish official was quoted saying, “Spain acted in line with European Union policy of opposing Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.”
On that year, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology rejected the academic boycott of Israel, stating that being able to cooperate with Israeli academics, and hearing their views on the conflict, is critical for studying of the causes of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and how it can be resolved.
In 2007, nearly 300 university presidents across the United States signed a join statement denouncing the boycott movement. Following Operation Cast Lead in 2010, a group of 15 American university professors launched a campaign calling for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. In 2010 the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) announced it had collected 500 endorsements from US academics for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. The endorsements were seen as a sign of changing US attitudes toward Israel in the wake of an Israeli raid on a humanitarian aid flotilla in the Mediterranean.
In 2011 the University of Johannesburg decided to suspend ties with Israeli Ben-Gurion University, citing the University’s support for the Israeli military. The decision was seen to affect projects in biotechnology and water purification. However, two days later, Ihron Rensburg, vice chancellor and principal of the university issued a statement saying that “UJ is not part of an academic boycott of Israel…It has never been UJ’s intention to sever all ties with BGU, although it may have been the intention of some UJ staff members.”
University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann said in January 2012 that the university “has clearly stated on numerous occasions that it does not support sanctions or boycotts against Israel”. She said that the school was not a sponsor of a BDS conference taking place on campus in February 2012.
In 2013 the Teachers Union of Ireland passed a motion calling for an academic boycott of Israel. Jim Roche, who presented the motion, said “I am very pleased that this motion was passed with such support by TUI members (…) there is no question that Israel is implementing apartheid policies against the Palestinians.”
In May 2013, in what was seen as a major development, Stephen Hawking joined the academic boycott of Israel by reversing his decision to participate in the Jerusalem-based Israeli Presidential Conference hosted by Israeli president Shimon Peres. Hawking approved a published statement from the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine that described his decision as independent, “based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there”. Reactions to Hawking’s boycott were mixed, some praised his boycott as a “peaceful protest” while others condemned his decision and accused him of anti-semitism.
On 4 December 2013, the American Studies Association (ASA) endorsed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions in a resolution that stated “there is no effective or substantive academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation, and Israeli institutions of higher learning are a party to Israeli state policies that violate human rights and negatively impact the working conditions of Palestinian scholars and students.” The election attracted the largest number of voters in the association history with 66.05% for, 30.5% against and 3.43% abstaining. Over 92 universities rejected the boycott and some of them withdrew their membership in the ASA in protest of the boycott decision.
In October 2014, 500 Middle East studies scholars and librarians issued a call for an academic boycott of Israel. According to the signatories, “world governments and mainstream media do not hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. We, however, as a community of scholars engaged with the Middle East, have a moral responsibility to do so.”
In October 2014, 500 anthropologists endorsed an academic boycott of Israeli institutions seen as complicit in violations of Palestinians’ rights. The signatories of the statement said, “as a community of scholars who study problems of power, oppression, and cultural hegemony, we have a moral responsibility to speak out and demand accountability from Israel and our own governments.”
In January 2016, 168 Italian academics and researchers published a call to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Israel’s Institute of Technology, Technion, was singled out as a boycott target. “The Institute carries out research in a wide range of technologies and weapons used to oppress and attack Palestinians”, said the call.
In 2014, Spain froze arms and military technology exports to Israel over the Gaza war. The embargo stopped sales of defense and dual-use materiel from Spain to Israel.
In 2014, in connection with the Gaza war, British government ministers said no new arms export licenses would be granted for sales to Israel until a formal peace is agreed. In case hostilities are to flare up, exports under existing licenses would reportedly be discontinued.
In August 2001 a 50-strong delegation from the World Council of Churches produced a report calling for a boycott of goods produced by Jewish settlers. The report called on the executive of the WCC to “affirm the legitimacy of Palestinian resistance to injustice and foreign occupation”.
In February 2004 following a six-month inquiry a select committee presented a report to the British parliament calling for the suspension of the European Union’s preferential trade agreement with Israel “until it (Israel) lifts the movement restrictions which it has placed on Palestinian trade”. Between 2002 and 2004 the EU exported £30.1 billion worth of goods to Israel while the value of goods imported was £21.1 billion
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called on the international community to treat Israel as it treated apartheid South Africa and supports the divestment campaign against Israel.
Swedish archbishop K. G. Hammar, ambassador Carl Tham and a list of 71 others have supported a boycott of products from the occupied areas.
A joint open letter by 322 UK academics was published in The Guardian 16 January 2009. The letter called on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to oblige Israel to stop its “military aggression and colonial occupation” of the Palestinian land and its “criminal use of force”, suggesting to start with a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions.
In 2008, former Beatles singer Paul McCartney decided to perform in Israel for the country’s 60th anniversary despite a death threat from militant Islamic activist Omar Bakri Muhammad, who said, “If he values his life Mr McCartney must not come to Israel. He will not be safe there. The sacrifice operatives will be waiting for him.” Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, described the threat as “deplorable”. McCartney said “I do what I think and I have many friends who support Israel.”
In 2008 British Member of Parliament Sir Gerald Kaufman claimed, “It is time for our government to make clear to the Israeli government that its conduct and policies are unacceptable and to impose a total arms ban on Israel.”
Norman Finkelstein, writing in 2006, said he supports a “US academic boycott of Israel” and an “economic boycott of Israel”
In February 2012, Finkelstein “launched a blistering attack” of the BDS movement during an interview, saying it was a “hypocritical, dishonest cult” that tries to cleverly pose as human rights activists while in reality their goal is to destroy Israel. . In addition, he said: “I’m getting a little bit exasperated with what I think is a whole lot of nonsense. I’m not going to tolerate silliness, childishness and a lot of leftist posturing. I loathe the disingenuousness. We will never hear the solidarity movement [back a] two-state solution.” Furthermore, Finkelstein stated that the BDS movement has had very few successes, and that just like a cult, the leaders pretend that they are hugely successful when in reality the general public rejects their extreme views. He does mention though that he supports the idea of a non-violent BDS movement.
In an e-mail dated 15 December 2012, Noam Chomsky defended the tactics as non-anti-Semitic. Although Chomsky believes that any tactic, however legitimate, can be misused, he also remarked that they can also be used quite properly and effectively against state crimes, and in this case of BDS, they regularly have been. In May 2013, Chomsky, along with other professors such as Professor Malcolm Levitt, advised Professor Stephen Hawking to boycott an Israeli conference.
In November 2012 a group of 51 people, including Nobel peace laureates, prominent artists and activists published a letter calling for a military embargo on Israel. The letter accused several countries of providing assistance to Israel that facilitated Israel’s 2012 military operation in the Gaza Strip. Nobel peace laureates Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel were among the group signing the letter.
The Anti-Defamation League, whose mission is to stop the defamation of Jews, has claimed that singling out Israel is “outrageous and biased” as well as “deplorable and offensive”. and heads of several major U.S. Jewish organizations have referred to them as “lop-sided” and “unbalanced”.
Boycott calls have also been called “profoundly unjust” and relying on a “false” analogy with the previous apartheid regime of South Africa. One critical statement has alleged that the boycotters apply “different standards” to Israel than other countries, that the boycott is “counterproductive and retrograde” yet has no comparability to Nazi boycotts of Jewish shops in the 1930s.
According to a ruling by the French appellate court of Colmar, publicly calling for a boycott of Israeli products constitutes discrimination and as such is illegal under French law. Yet the Court of Cassation, the highest criminal court of appeal in France, has separately confirmed the legality of calling for a boycott or Israeli goods.
The Economist contends that the boycott is “flimsy” and ineffective, that “blaming Israel alone for the impasse in the occupied territories will continue to strike many outsiders as unfair,” and points out that the Palestinian leadership does not support the boycott.
In an op-ed published in The Jerusalem Post in November 2010, Gerald Steinberg and Jason Edelstein contend that while “the need to refute their [BDS organizations] allegations is clear, students and community groups must also adopt a proactive strategy to undermine the credibility and influence of these groups. This strategy will marginalize many of the BDS movement’s central actors, and expose the lie that BDS is a grassroots protest against Israeli policy. Exposing their abuses and funding sources, and forcing their campaign leaders and participants to respond to us will change the dynamic in this battle.” In an effort to combat BDS, in March 2011, NGO Monitor produced “the BDS Sewer System” intended to provide detailed information about boycott campaigns against Israel.
After the post-punk group PiL went to Tel Aviv to headline the Heineken Music Conference 2010 Festival in August 2010, British musician John Lydon responded to criticism by saying: “If Elvis-fucking-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he’s suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians, then good on him. But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have a problem with how they’re treated.”
Martin Raffel, who oversees the Israel Action Network, argued in March 2011 that Israel’s supporters can respectfully debate artists who choose to boycott the West Bank town of Ariel
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, but “not recognizing Israel as a Jewish democratic state is a completely different story”.
In October 2010, the Cape Town Opera (CTO) declined an appeal by Desmond Tutu to cancel a tour of Israel. The CTO stated that the company was “reluctant to adopt the essentially political position of disengagement from cultural ties with Israel or with Palestine, and that they had been in negotiations for four years and would respect the contract.
Gene Simmons, lead singer of Kiss, said that artists who avoid Israel—such as Elvis Costello, the Pixies and Roger Waters—would be better served directing their anger at Arab dictators. “The countries they should be boycotting are the same countries that the populations are rebelling,” he said.
Other artists who have voiced opposition to the campaign include writers Umberto Eco and film makers Joel and Ethan Coen. Many musicians such as Elton John, Leonard Cohen, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Metallica, Editors, Placebo, LCD Soundsystem, MGMT, Justin Bieber, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Ziggy Marley, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mark Ronson, Depeche Mode, Gilberto Gil, Daniela Mercury, Rolling Stones, Alicia Keys, Tom Jones, Eric Burdon, Bon Jovi and Ziggy Marley have chosen to perform in Israel in recent years. Novelist Ian McEwan, upon being awarded the Jerusalem Prize, was urged to turn it down, but said that “If I only went to countries that I approve of, I probably would never get out of bed…. It’s not great if everyone stops talking.”
The Irish Dance production Riverdance performed in Israel in 2011, despite requests that it boycott Israel. The group stated that “Riverdance supports the policy of the Irish Government and indeed the policy of every other EU state that cultural interaction is preferable to isolation.”
Reverend Jim Barr, president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, while supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, disagreed with the protest action at Israeli-owned Max Brenner chocolate stores in Australia, saying, “that stuff just discredits the whole movement.”
In 2010, Noam Chomsky was interviewed regarding the boycott movement against Israel. He said that while he supported correctly targeted boycott calls, he called inaccurately targeted boycott calls hypocritical. According to Chomsky, boycotting Israeli settlements or arms sales made sense but calling for a boycott of anything Israeli, or demanding for the Right of Return, would be hypocritical and play into the hands of hardliners in the United States and Israel. In July 2014, Noam Chomsky warns that the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign could end up harming the Palestinian cause since the demand for a “right of return” for Palestinian refugees has failed to muster significant international support. He also said “if we boycott Tel Aviv University because Israel violates human rights at home, then why not boycott Harvard because of far greater violations by the United States?”.
In October 2011, Izzat Abdulhadi, head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia said that he is against the “full-scale” BDS campaign, and in particular expressed his anger over the occasionally violent protests at the Max Brenner stores in Australia, saying, “BDS is a non-violent process and I don’t think it’s the right of anybody to use BDS as a violent action or to prevent people from buying from any place.”
Madonna’s The MDNA Tour began in May 2012 in Tel Aviv, Israel. She said that the concert in Tel Aviv was a “peace concert” which electric shaver, and offered about 600 tickets to the show to various Israeli and Palestinian groups, but this offer was rejected by Anarchists Against the Wall and the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity group. One activist said “no one is talking about dismantling the privileged regime or of ending the occupation. They talk of peace as a philosophical thing, without connecting to things happening on the ground and that concert is going in that direction.” The offer was accepted by the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum. Madonna’s performance was criticised by a group called “Boycott from Within” as “a blatant attempt at whitewashing Israeli crimes” and Omar Barghouti said that “by performing in Israel, Madonna has consciously and shamefully lent her name to fig-leafing Israel’s occupation and apartheid and showed her obliviousness to human rights.”
Ed Husain, writing in the New York Times, says that the boycott of Israel should end, since it is hurting the Palestinians more than helping them. Husain believes that the “voice of the Palestinian imams who want to see an end to the boycott needs to be amplified”, as well as those “religious leaders” in Egypt and in Saudi Arabia who “advocate peace”.
In January 2014, Scarlett Johansson started to promote SodaStream, an Israeli company operating in Ma’ale Adumim, a West Bank settlement, which sparked criticism from Oxfam. In response, Johansson severed ties with Oxfam after eight years, saying she supports trade and “social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine” and she has “a fundamental difference of opinion with Oxfam in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement”. SodaStream plant employs both Palestinians and Israelis and the company says it is a model of peaceful cooperation.
In October 2015, J youth football uniforms wholesale.K. Rowling was one of the 150 people from the British arts world who signed a letter against the call for a boycott of Israel that was made in February. The signatories of the letter said “cultural boycotts singling out Israel are divisive and discriminatory, and will not further peace. Open dialogue and interaction promote greater understanding and mutual acceptance, and it is through such understanding and acceptance that movement can be made towards a resolution of the conflict.” Some of the signatories were closely aligned with Israel, for example via the Conservative Friends of Israel and Labour friends of Israel.
In the United States, the Export Administration Act discourages tenderizer for steak, and in some circumstances, prohibits U.S. companies and individuals from furthering or supporting the boycott of Israel. The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is responsible for penalties are imposed for each “knowing” violation with fines of up to $50,000 or five times the value of the exports involved, whichever is greater, and imprisonment of up to five years.
During the mid-1970s the United States adopted two laws that seek to counteract the participation of U.S. citizens in other nation’s economic boycotts or embargoes. These “antiboycott” laws are the 1977 amendments to the Export Administration Act (EAA) and the Ribicoff Amendment to the Tax Reform Act of 1976 (TRA). While these laws share a common purpose, there are distinctions in their administration.
The antiboycott laws were adopted to encourage, and in specified cases, require U.S. firms to refuse to participate in foreign boycotts that the United States does not sanction. They have the effect of preventing U.S. firms from being used to implement foreign policies of other nations which run counter to U.S. policy.
The Arab League boycott of Israel is the principal foreign economic boycott that U.S. companies must be concerned with today. The antiboycott laws, however, apply to all boycotts imposed by foreign countries that are unsanctioned by the United States.
The antiboycott provisions of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) apply to the activities of U.S. persons in the interstate or foreign commerce of the United States. The term “U.S. person” includes all individuals, corporations and unincorporated associations resident in the United States, including the permanent domestic affiliates of foreign concerns. U.S. persons also include U.S. citizens abroad (except when they reside abroad and are employed by non-U.S. persons) and the controlled in fact affiliates of domestic concerns. The test for “controlled in fact” is the ability to establish the general policies or to control the day-to-day operations of the foreign affiliate.
The scope of the EAR, as defined by Section 8 of the EAA, is limited to actions taken with intent to comply with, further, or support an unsanctioned foreign boycott.
Conduct that may be penalized under the TRA and/or prohibited under the EAR includes:
Implementing letters of credit containing prohibited boycott terms or conditions.
The TRA does not “prohibit” conduct, but denies tax benefits (“penalizes”) for certain types of boycott-related agreements.
The EAR requires U.S. persons to report quarterly requests they have received to take certain actions to comply with, further, or support an unsanctioned foreign boycott.
The TRA requires taxpayers to report “operations” in, with, or related to a boycotting country or its nationals and requests received to participate in or cooperate with an international boycott. The Treasury Department publishes a quarterly list of “boycotting countries.”
The Export Administration Act (EAA) specifies penalties for violations of the Antiboycott Regulations as well as export control violations. These can include:
The penalties imposed for each “knowing” violation can be a fine of up to $50,000, or five times the value of the exports involved, whichever is greater, and imprisonment of up to five years. During periods when the EAR are continued in effect by an Executive Order, issued pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the criminal penalties for each “willful” violation can be a fine of up to $50,000 and imprisonment for up to ten years.
For each violation of the EAR, any or all of the following may be imposed:
Boycott agreements under the TRA involve the denial of all or part of the foreign tax benefits discussed above.
When the EAA is in lapse, penalties for violation of the Antiboycott Regulations are governed by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The IEEPA Enhancement Act provides for penalties of up to the greater of $250,000 per violation, or twice the value of the transaction for administrative violations of Antiboycott Regulations, and up to $1 million and 20 years imprisonment per violation for criminal anti-boycott violations.
On 11 July 2011, the Israeli Knesset passed a law that makes the call for a boycott on Israel or Israeli settlements a civil wrong. 47 members of the Knesset voted in favour and 38 against. The law primarily allows targets of announced boycotts to persons and organisations that promote them, without having to first prove they were harmed by the boycott. The law also allows the Israeli government to deny contracts and withdraw financial support to those who promote boycotts. The law does not create any criminal offences or criminal sanctions.
The law was heavily criticized in Israel by both left-wing and Arab political parties. Israeli leftist and human rights organizations also criticized the law, and launched a public campaign against it. Prior to the law’s approval, four Israeli human rights groups sent letters to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, demanding a halt in the approval process of the law. After the law was passed, the far-left Gush Shalom movement petitioned the Supreme Court, claiming that the law violated basic democratic principles. The Supreme Court has given the Israeli government 60 days to respond.
Thirty-four law professors signed a petition against the law to be forwarded to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein.
During an address to the Knesset, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected criticism over his failure to attend the boycott law vote, and stressed that he had in fact approved the bill. He also criticized Kadima party members who initially supported the bill and later opposed its final version, accusing them of folding to pressure.
Though Israeli chocolate company Max Brenner is targeted by some Australian Palestinian activists, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said, “I don’t think in 21st-century Australia there is a place for the attempted boycott of a Jewish business.”
Senior figures in the Australian Labor Party linked action against the Australian Greens at a state conference, where the Greens were denied automatic preferences, to the Greens’ previous support for the BDS movement. Former New South Wales treasurer and Australian Labor Party general secretary Eric Roozendaal and fellow Legislative Councillor Walt Secord, stated, “The Greens will carry forever the stain of their support for the BDS campaign and their attempts to delegitimise Israel and the Jewish community—and this is one of the reasons why we must stand strong against the Greens.”
In April 2013, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that the “campaign does not serve the cause of peace and diplomacy for agreement on a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine”, and added that Australia has always had firm opposition to the BDS movement. Representing the Coalition prior to the 2013 federal election, Liberal Party deputy leader Julie Bishop reaffirmed Gillard’s stance by promising to cut off federal grants for individuals and institutions who support the BDS campaign. On 29 May 2013, Jewish Australian academics Andrew Benjamin, Michele Grossman and David Goodman condemned the Coalition’s election promise as “an anti-democratic gesture par excellence”.
On 22 May 2012, the Cour de Cassation (one of the French final appeals courts) ruled that publicly calling for a boycott of Israeli products constitutes incitement and discrimination based on nationality. The verdict by the Cour de Cassation was the final verdict in a lengthy legal battle, which consisted of a series of convictions, acquittals, and appeals. French lawyer Michael Ghnassia wrote that the ban on publicly calling for a boycott of Israeli products does not violate freedom of speech because such boycotts affect all Israelis, and is therefore “based on a racial, religious or national criterion and rather than representing a simple opinion, is a discriminatory action”.
A UK court dismissed in 2013 claims that the University and College Union was institutionally anti-Semitic due to motions it had passed in favour of a boycott of Israel. The judgement, by an employment tribunal, was strongly critical of the claims, referring to them as “an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means” and displaying a “worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression”.