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Did Israel’s reaction to BDS drive movement's growth?

Former Ambassador Gideon Meir argues that Israel has engaged itself in a high-profile battle against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, turning it from an insignificant organization into a powerful force.

In recent years, the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has morphed into a new demon that threatens the Jewish state. Once a toothless, marginal group, BDS — which acts to boycott and ostracize Israel — has become one of the most substantial threats to the future of the state. In an attempt to fight the phenomenon, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper held an international conference in Jerusalem March 28. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu devotes space to it in his speeches and activities and the government has appointed a special minister (Home Security, Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Gilad Erdan) to focus on fighting BDS and even allocated about 100 million Israeli shekels ($25 million) for this effort.

Any self-respecting Israeli politician will lecture, write, speak or participate in rallies and gatherings against the BDS threat. Israeli politicians vie to make the most combative statements against BDS. This competition reached an absurd height on the morning when anti-Israel posters appeared in several stations of the London Underground in February. Almost immediately, a ridiculous race began between Netanyahu and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid to be the first to get those posters removed. Lapid reported that he contacted London’s mayor and insisting that they be taken down. (Later, it turned out that he had only sent a text message.) Meanwhile, Netanyahu instructed the Foreign Ministry’s Director-General Dore Gold to take action and demand that the posters come down.

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