Zionist Organization of America president Morton A. Klein released the following statement:
Prominent New York physician Abe Pollack recently sat down with ZOA and described his inspiring personal battle against BDS (anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions). Basically, at every opportunity, Dr. Pollack supports companies that are based in or doing business in Israel, and those companies’ services and products. He especially focuses on supporting the BDS movement’s main targets. BDS groups harass and hold hundreds of demonstrations against companies that do business in Israel, maligning those companies and Israel, demanding that those companies leave Israel, and that major investment funds divest from those companies. Dr. Pollack noted that the BDS movement knows that if these companies leave Israel, it could cause tens of thousands of Israeli professionals and other workers to lose their jobs, wreaking tremendous economic damage on the Jewish State.
For instance, the BDS movement targeted British security company G4S with countless demonstrations and billboards, falsely accusing G4S of complicity in holding “500 Palestinian children” in Israeli prisons without trial, amid rampant sexual abuse, and torture. Sadly, G4S – which employed 8,000 Israelis – announced three months ago that it was selling its business interests in Israel. G4S claimed that the move is purely business–related, but it would not be surprising if the vicious BDS campaign against G4S played a role in G4S’s concerning decision.
After years of demonstrations and divestments by major former investors (including Norwegian and New Zealand pension funds and preeminent asset management firm Blackrock UK – which was reportedly pressured to divest by Norwegian banks), another major BDS target, Africa Israel Investments announced in 2014 that it would discontinue building over the “green line” (the indefensible 1949 Armistice lines; the Armistice Agreements specifically stated have no legal significance). (See Business Powerhouse Africa Israel: No Building Beyond Green Line, by Ofer Petersburg, YNet News, Oct. 27, 2014.) Africa Israel’s subsidiary Danya Cebus will no longer even build in clearly Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem such as Har Homa and Gilo.
Sadly, today, Brussels Airlines announced that it will stop serving Israeli halva produced by the Israeli company Achva. Brussels Airline apparently promptly caved in to a complaint from a “Palestine Solidarity Movement activist.” As its excuse for caving in to BDS, the airline falsely asserted that the products are made on “illegally occupied land.” See Brussels Airlines Caves Into BDS, Set To Stop Serving Israeli Halva, YNet News, Apr. 24, 2016). (As ZOA has repeatedly explained, Jewish cities, businesses and homes in Judea/Samaria, a/k/a the West Bank, are legal. See, e.g., Major Israeli Legal Commission Report: Jewish Communities in Judea/Samaria Are Legal and English Translation of the Legal Arguments in the Levy Report.)
ZOA notes that the economic impact and threat posed by the BDS movement is a subject of debate. In June, Bloomberg reported that overall foreign investments flowing into Israel have steeply increased since the BDS movement began, that foreign investments in Israeli assets hit a record high of $285.12 last year, and that investments in nine publicly-traded companies with business interests over the green line have also risen. (See Boycott Israel Movement May Be Failing, by Sangwon Yoon, Bloomberg, June 2, 2016.)
However, Bloomberg also quoted chief economist at S.M. Tel Aviv Investments Shlomo Maoz’s concerns that the cultural boycott could lead to an economic problem in five to seven years.
Moreover, a document from the anti-Zionist George Soros-funded Open Society Foundation (OSF) leaked last week (a March 2014 “Portfolio Review” of OSF’s “Palestine/Israel International Advocacy Portfolio”) reveals that Soros/OSF intensively targets, investigates and seeks to harm Israeli businesses and international businesses that operate in Israel, and states that “impact [is] already showing; in 2013 Israeli farmers in the Jordan Valley of the West Bank lost 14% of their revenues, with further declines expected in 2014.”
ZOA believes that while the debate continues as to the BDS movement’s present and future potential economic impact and threat, the best course is to do everything possible to counteract BDS. ZOA is involved in numerous anti-BDS legislative, legal, campus and other initiatives. (See, e.g., here and here and here and here.)
Here are some of Dr. Pollack’s personal methods of combatting the scourge of economic BDS:
- Dr. Pollack noted that the BDS movements’ other major corporate targets (aside from G4S – which is already leaving Israel) include the following companies: Motorola Solutions, Inc. (communications, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois); Hewlett-Packard Company, or HP (computer hardware and software, headquartered in Palo Alto, California); Caterpillar Inc. (construction equipment, headquartered in Peoria, Illinois), Veolia (French transportation company), Elbit Systems Ltd. (defense electronics, based in Israel); SodaStream (ecological soda products company based in Israel); and Northrup Grumman (U.S. aviation company based in Virginia). Dr. Pollak spoke about how it is critical for pro-Israel community to support these companies, and that tens of thousands of Israeli jobs are at stake. Dr. Pollack buys stock in, and products of these companies whenever possible.
- For instance, for a recent family Bar Mitzvah, Dr. Pollack made and placed Israeli-based SodaStream flavored bubbly waters on every table, instead of using typical bottled sodas. He asked his synagogue to do the same at kiddishes, other bar and bat mitzvahs, and other events.
- Dr. Pollack went out of his way to purchase a Motorola Solutions cell phone, instead of purchasing his cell company’s typical offerings. He praised the phone’s quality.
- Dr. Pollack takes transportation owned by Veolia whenever possible, such as the “New York City Airporter” buses to local airports (owned by Golden Touch Transportation, Inc., a subsidiary of Veolia).
- Dr. Pollack only buys HP computers for his office and personal use.
- Dr. Pollack buys stock of the companies targeted by the BDS movement. [NOTE: ZOA does not give stock purchasing advice. This should not be considered to be stock purchasing advice. ]
- Dr. Pollak praises and buys monthly boxes of products from Judea/Samaria through the Buy Israel project of the “Lev HaOlam” organization. The BDS movement attempts to starve out small Jewish family farms, wineries, businesses and artisans in Judea/Samaria, the Golan, and Jewish communities expelled from Gaza, who are now struggling to survive. For instance the pro-BDS group “Partners for a Progressive Israel,” despicably told its readers that for Passover, they should boycott “West Bank” (Judea/Samaria) wines! And the Soros/OSF documents leaked last week indicate that Soros/OSF-funded anti-Israel groups have been intensively targeting and harming Jewish famers and small businesses in Judea/Samaria. It is thus especially important that we support the products of the struggling small Jewish businesses in these areas.
A man named Nati Rom started Lev Haolam (translated: “heart of the world”), to buy the products of these small Jewish family farms, wineries, businesses and artisans, and to package them into monthly boxes and ship the boxes to subscribers around the world. It’s the “buy Israel” version of “Harry and David” monthly fruit boxes. Lev Haolam and Nati Rom make no profit on the boxes. Dr. Pollak said that the Lev Haolam monthly boxes ($99 per month) are always a treat to receive. Some of us at ZOA have already subscribed to the monthly Lev HaOlam boxes, and are enjoying them.
- Dr. Pollack buys Israel bonds, and encourages others to do so.
- “Buy Israel” can also be part of every trip to the local grocery store. The BDS movement targets Israeli agricultural products (such as Mejdool dates, Jaffa oranges, Eden Springs water, Sabra humus, Achva halva and tahini). We can buy and make sure to support these and other Israeli products.
ZOA applauds Dr. Pollack for his dedicated personal efforts to counteract BDS, and hopes that many of us will emulate his example.