The Boycott Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement is a thinly-veiled campaign aimed at the destruction of the Jewish State. One of its strategies is to delegitimise the State by propagating the myth that Israel’s practices, particularly towards the ‘innocent’ Palestinians, are akin to or worse than those of Apartheid South Africa.
The standard BDS tactic around the world is to pick on low-hanging fruit. Literally. In 2014, BDS South Africa launched a nationwide campaign to boycott Woolworths because the retailer had the temerity to stock coriander, figs, litchis, nectarines, plums and mangoes that originated from Israel. It was a pathetic attempt to mobilise the usual anti-Israel brigade to do nothing. Indeed, most BDS supporters don’t shop at Woolworths. An unexpected spinoff from the campaign is that those recently versed in Woolworths’ delicious range of fruits now have something to aspire to.
There was no talk of throwing away your computer because its Intel chip was designed and manufactured in Israel, or of uninstalling your operating system and pulling out your networking cables because they were developed in Israel. No angry mob calling on you to shun your mobile phone or cellular network because it incorporates Israeli technology. No protestors outside your bank or your hospital, which improve your life because of Israeli innovations. No calls for you to stop taking medication or undergoing revolutionary surgeries that emerged out of Israel. BDS South Africa picked on Woolworths’ fruit because they were a soft and easy target.
Besides the vociferous few who stood noisily outside Woolworths with malevolent placards, and the bullies who stormed Woolworths shops, intimidated customers and staff, and damaged goods, extremely little has been achieved. If we cool the hot air and look at the cold hard numbers, the boycott Woolworths campaign has been a spectacular failure.
According to Business Day, Woolworths sales increased by 55.2% for the first 26 weeks of the 2015 financial year. This period roughly corresponds to that of the BDS campaign. Food sales, including those delicious Israeli figs and nectarines, increased by 14.1% during the period.
And what of the ‘group of businessmen’ who staged a ‘shareholders’ meeting to voice their concerns about Woolworths’ refusal to stop importing Israeli goods? Contrary to headlines like ‘Woolworths shareholders back Israel boycott’ (Times Live, 18 November 2014), these so-called ‘shareholders’ achieved remarkably little. As of the time of writing, Woolworths’ share price is up around 18% for the same period, and is 41.88% higher than the price in January 2014.
The BDS rally for economic boycotts against Israel is the modern mutation of Nazi Germany’s calls for economic boycotts against Jews, and even earlier calls (as noted by Herzl) of ‘Don’t buy from Jews!’ from peoples across Europe. In the Germany of the 1930s, Jews made up less than 1% of the population. Woolworths themselves noted that ‘Less than 0.1 percent of our food is sourced from Israel.’ But then antisemitism and its modern cousin, anti- Zionism, is not a rational ailment.
Let us not heed to the distressing anti-Zionism and antisemitism that is encapsulated by BDS SA, and rather support Israel with all our strength.