Editor's Note: This column was co-authored by Jed Babbin.
It’s not unusual for left-wing billionaire activist George Soros to be opposed or even protested by conservatives. But when Soros is attacked by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, it’s nothing other than political fratricide. The goal of the BDS movement is to stop investment in Israel and keep countries from importing products from Israel.
There is more than a little irony in the announcement last Wednesday that the BDS Movement is supposedly boycotting Soros and his network of funds and foundations because of his investment in SodaStream and Teva Pharmaceuticals, Israeli companies that have production facilities in the West Bank. It should have been expected because one of reasons for the BDS Movement is purportedly to place so much political pressure on Israel that it abandons its presence in the West Bank.
As you’d expect from the BDS Movement, it has called for a boycott of Soros in a long train of freighted words that condemns Israel at every turn. You’d have to expect that because, the BDS Movement, as we detail in our new book “The BDS War Against Israel” is dedicated to demonizing Israel and condemning it to the pariah status now shared among nations such as North Korea and Iran.
The movement is conducting an ideological war against Israel, accusing it being a racist and apartheid state, of having used “ethnic cleansing” to expel Palestinians from what is now Israel, and committing a long list of crimes under international law. In our book, we demonstrate how all these charges are lies, stated with the sole purpose of damaging Israel.
The BDS Movement’s condemnation of Soros blasts the Israeli companies and their supposed consistent violations of human rights and international law. (SodaStream employs about 500 Palestinians in its facility, along with Jews, Ethiopians and Russians all of whom earn the same pay and benefits. But, given Soros’s “Open Society Foundation” and other funds’ histories of supporting the movement with generous funding, the condemnation comes to a rather soft landing.
In its call to “boycott” Soros and his Open Society Foundation, the BDS Movement calls on Soros to divest himself of his investments in SodaStream and Teva Pharmaceuticals. But when it calls on all the Palestinian, Arab and international NGOs to urge Soros to divest himself of those investments and to “… refrain from applying for funds from these foundations if he fails to do so,” it does so with a wink and a nod.
It requires a suspension of disbelief to think that the BDS supporters among the global NGO community will choose to abandon Soros’s support. As the indispensable people at NGO Monitor showed in their 2013 report on the Soros network’s support for the BDS Movement, the network has been very generous to the NGOs that are highly active in propelling the BDS Movement. For example, according to the NGO Monitor report, the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights receives funding from Soros’s Open Society Institute. Its primary reason for existence is apparently to accuse Israel of war crimes. (Its chairman, Kamal al-Sharafi, is a former member of the PFLP terrorist organization, according to the report). Human Rights Watch – which has a record of anti-Israel action dating back at least to 2001 -- received a donation in 2010 of $100 million made through the Foundation to Promote Open Society.
Soros is also funding BDS-related activities in the United States. Ahmed Moor, a pro-BDS author and “Soros fellow,” wrote “Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself.” Moor is a fellow of the Paul and Daisy Soros Foundation and received their two-year grant for studies at the Kennedy School of Government.
How likely is it that people such as Moor and groups such as Human Rights Watch would give up Soros’s funding? Not at all.
Soros and his network of funds and foundations are only a part of the BDS Movement’s support. They receive funding from several European governments directly and indirectly (including from Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Norway) and from a massive global network of NGOs, including some of the biggest international charities. They share an anti-Israeli ideology. Within their community, it’s a culture, not a conspiracy.
The NGOs exist in a cultural bubble. Speaking from inside the bubble, Leonello Gabrici, a senior European Union official of the European Union External Action Service, said, “We are not working on boycotting Israel but rather on preparing an unprecedented package of EU-added value for peace."
Gabrici’s attitude is typical of the European attitude toward the BDS Movement. Those inside the bubble cannot imagine anything they do to punish Israel as anything other than “EU-added value for peace.” Through the European Instrument for Human Rights and Democracy (EIHRD), according to NGO Monitor, the EU donated more money — about €11 million from 2007-2010 alone – to support the Palestinians’ political agenda.
Israel has borne more than six decades of war and terrorism aimed at its destruction. The BDS Movement is the ideological continuation of those wars, and just as great a danger to Israel as any previous conflict. Its lies cannot be tolerated: they must be defeated.
Babbin is a former deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration and along with Herb London is the co-author of “The BDS War Against Israel: The Orwellian Campaign to Destroy Israel Through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement”