What is the Power of Economic Pressure on Israel?

729barcode-FBhoriz-ShareLink-398x208Although the BDS movement has little to show for its efforts against Israel other than damage to Israel’s image, the potential for large-scale boycotts of Israeli businesses from Europe hangs over Israel like a dark cloud.

That potential motivated the government to discuss the issue in February, and it has pushed members of the Israeli business sector to form a pressure group called Breaking the Impasse (BTI) calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sign a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

The online magazine, Slate, covered a recent public relations campaign from BTI as an expression of concern on the part of Israeli business leaders about boycotts:

Yarom Ariav, the executive chairman of Lavi Capital and former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Finance, told me, “The boycott issue is a threat because Israel is an open economy. We don’t have a big internal market [as] was the case in South Africa. … Our exports are about 40 percent of the GDP.”

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At the same time, the article quoted a former Likud member Uriel Lynn, who currently serves as the president of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce:

BTI was “behaving very irresponsibly.” Israel, he insisted, is “not going to in any way bend for economic reasons.”

Judging by the panicked response from at least a portion of Israel’s business sector, the threat of boycotts may be more powerful than the boycotts themselves.

But the behavior of the government in the latest round of peace talks suggests that Lynn is correct in saying that Israel will not bend for economic reasons. Even the strongly pro-business Netanyahu never appeared to waver from Israel’s core demands.

In any case, with dark clouds looming, it’s never a bad time to send the business sector a message of solidarity by making an effort to buy Israeli products and promote the companies that are coming under the biggest threats.

(Note: the graphic above is EAN, used mostly outside the US.)

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