The FT knows Israel faces boycott threat

The Financial Times covers the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel and finds a long road ahead. The fact that a leading newspaper even acknowledges the risk Israel faces due to its behaviour, including its recent strong editorial implicitly accepting a one-state solution as the only likely way forward, is progress:

Yet, despite Israel’s proven resilience, the strategy of targeting the country’s economic welfare in order to raise political pressure on the country is again gaining momentum. Pro-Palestinian campaigners say the so-called “boycott, divestment and sanctions” movement has gathered support above all because of Israel’s January invasion of the Gaza Strip, which left about 1,400 Palestinians dead and sparked condemnation of Israel round the world.

“People are looking for ways to show their disapproval,” says Betty Hunter, general secretary of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK.

Her group is in talks with British supermarket chains Tesco and J Sainsbury to persuade them to stop selling products from Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. But she concedes that the movement has few concrete results to show for its efforts so far.

That perception is shared on the Israeli side, where economists and business leaders say they have yet to register an impact on exports, growth and investment. Even Israel’s fruit growers and exporters, by far the most visible target for consumers outside the country, say they have not noticed any drop in demand for political reasons.

“In my experience, this is a marginal phenomenon at best,” says Ilan Eshel, the chief executive of the Israeli Fruit Growers’ Association. “It is simply a question of supply and demand: if avocados and mangos are missing in Europe, they take our avocados and mangos.”

Activists such as Ms Hunter stress that applying economic pressure to Israel was never expected to yield results in the short term. “Our model is [the campaign against apartheid-era] South Africa. But people forget that the boycott campaign didn’t happen overnight. It took time.”