Recently, the largest student association in Canada joined many other student groups in the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Many of the groups are joining this campaign, often without full knowledge of what it would really mean to boycott Israel or about the real situation there.
I have written many articles about the true situation in Israel and about how boycotting will only exacerbate the problems and the conflict. Hence, I will focus on what it would really mean to boycott Israel. However, I will reiterate that boycotting Israel will only lead to the isolation of those wanting to work for positive outcomes in Israel. Already, many of the Israelis who are trying to create better relations between Israelis and Arabs are boycotted around the world. Even if one does not agree with all of Israel’s actions, the BDS movement will actually hinder any efforts for achieving a just and fair solution within Israel, especially a Godly one.
As far as what boycotting will really mean for those who truly desire to pursue a full boycott, one need only look at how much these students would really have to give up. Israel has been one of the top exporters of technological, medical, and environmental innovations. Many of these inventions have become common household items and continue to be exported from Israel to the world. When many of these student groups consider boycotting Israeli products, they often think only of Ahava and Israeli foods. However, a true boycott of Israeli products would end up being much more far-reaching than that.
First of all, many of those in these BDS groups are also advocates of environmental change. However, many of the primary products for environmental change are actually Israeli. The world’s leading company in desalination is the Israeli company IDE technologies. Desalination provides a much greater source of potable water to populations by desalinating salt water. In addition, Israel is one of the primary exporters of solar technologies. Obama even called one Israeli solar power plant “a revolutionary new type of solar power plant.” Furthermore, Israel’s Seambiotic is a biotech company that has developed a system to turn harmful carbon dioxide emissions into fuel and nutraceuticals (food extracts that have medicinal qualities) with the help of sea algae. These are only a few of the environmental technologies that would have to be forfeited for a true boycott of Israeli products.
When it comes to electronics, Israel has developed many of the technologies that we use on a day-to-day basis. It was Israel that created many of the components that would enable the invention of cell phones and also many of the advances that would later be included in smart phones. In addition, it was an Israeli company that created the Java platform for the Amazon Kindle after Amazon contacted Israelis about creating an e-reader. I am fairly certain that many of these students do not want to give up their smart phones or Kindles. Even the concept of computer instant messaging was first created in Israel in 1996 with icq, which was later bought by AOL. Then Israelis went on to create and market the idea of Voice over Internet Phone systems (VOIP) such as Skype that are popularly used by many. Moreover, one of the most widely used technologies created in Israel is the disk-on-key or USB storage device, which makes using data on multiple computers far easier. Nearly every university student carries one of these, as they are considered necessary for the many projects and presentations that a student must accomplish.
Additionally, Israel’s medical technologies and advances are in nearly every Western hospital. The top drug used for multiple sclerosis, Copaxone, was developed at the Weizman Institute and is sold from Israel by Teva Pharmaceuticals. Would these boycotters call for those suffering from multiple sclerosis to forego valuable medicine because of a critique of Israel’s security practices? In addition, Sambucol is one of the top drugs sold to fight against colds and flus and shorten their duration, even shown to be effective against swine and avian flus. This was also developed in and is sold from Israel. The emergency bandage that apparently helped save the lives of Gabrielle Giffords and others at the 2011 Tucson shooting is also Israeli. Even the incredible transition from wheelchair to walking by Artie Abramson in the popular TV show, Glee, was only possible due to an Israeli company that developed the ReWalk Robotic exoskeleton. Moreover, the late actor Christopher Reeves was known for coming to Israel for therapy and treatment of his spinal cord injury and called Israel the center of technologies for paralysis.
In the end, though, it is not the amount that boycotters would lose that truly makes the BDS movement a problem, but rather the lack of truth behind the campaign. Many of the students involved truly do desire justice but they know nothing of the real situation in Israel and only buy into propaganda circulated about the conflict. While Israel’s actions are definitely not perfect, students cannot assume to know the situation in Israel without stepping foot in the country or without speaking to, not only Palestinians, but also to Israelis. Many of these students are joining a growing fad based on many false assumptions. Furthermore, such students are not likely to give up their technologies for their boycott, though they are also not willing to praise Israel’s breakthroughs in saving the environment or in saving lives through medicine. There is a double standard applied to Israel that we can only pray will be revealed for what it is to these students. In the end, it is God who will defend the cause of Israel and judge those seeking to divide her (Joel 3).
**Information obtained from:
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