The International Boycott of Israeli Goods

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The boycott aims to force Israel from 'occupied territories'. But such terms are without legal foundation. And extreme elements in the campaign ultimately aim to abolish the State of Israel!

Boycott Summary

Types of Boycott

Boycotts are social protests with the general aim of changing Israeli government policy.

A major and serious boycott for Israel is the economic boycott. One form is divestment (the opposite of investment), where investors refrain from investing in Israeli companies or in companies that trade with Israel. For example, in the future major European banks will bar their institutions from providing loans to Israeli companies that manufacture, build or conduct commerce in 'occupied' territories. This could include a bar on providing funding for mortgages in these territories.

Perhaps the best known boycott is the consumer boycott of Israeli products or businesses that operate in Israel. Other forms of boycott are the academic boycott of Israeli universities and scholars (including granting of scholarships and research funding) and the boycott of Israeli cultural institutions or Israeli sport venues.

Major Boycotting Organizations

  • The Arab League comprises 22 Middle Eastern and African countries, including Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. It has maintained an official boycott of Israeli companies and Israeli-made goods since the founding of Israel in 1948, although it is claimed that the boycott has not had serious effect on the Israeli economy.
  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) has called on member churches to support an international boycott of Israeli settlement produce and services. It requests member churches to inform themselves about settlement products imported into their countries and for churches to practice morally responsible investment in order to influence businesses linked to the Israeli occupation and its 'illegal' settlements.
  • The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has been called upon to take action against Israeli and international businesses that are profiting from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
  • The European Union (EU) now prohibits EU institutions from cooperating, transferring funds, or giving scholarships or research grants to Israeli bodies in the West Bank, E. Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. In effect, the guidelines forbid the funding or dealing with entities in territories located beyond the 1949 Armistice Line. The EU also says that any new agreements between Israel and the EU should include a provision stating that Jewish communities in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are not part of Israel, and hence not covered by the agreement. Israeli settlement products are also to be labeled.
  • The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a global campaign against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. By 'international law', it means Israel's 'occupation' of the 'Palestinian' West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. By 'Palestinian rights' it refers to the land 'ethnically cleansed' of its 'Palestinian owners' and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.

But it is also claimed that the BDS campaign has a much wider objective; namely, the elimination of the Jewish State (calling it an inherently illegitimate, criminal entity like apartheid South Africa):

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Want to support Israel? See Christians United for Israel
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The Boycott is Illogical - and Your Loss!

Israeli fruit

Israeli fruit. Image: bigfoto

Since we live in an interconnected world it is virtually impossible to avoid using Israeli products. Take fresh agricultural produce for example. In 2010, Israel's fresh agricultural exports totalled $1.33 billion, and some 87% was exported to Europe [UN Commodity Trade Statistics]. Fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in Israel and on its settlements in the West Bank can be seen on sale at all the major supermarkets and greengrocers. The UK is the top market for Israeli citrus fruit, followed by Scandinavia, Russia, Germany and France. In UK supermarkets you will find avocado, sweet potato, tomatoes, galia melon, peppers, chilli, figs, strawberries, grapes, mango, plums, pomegranate, lychees and nectarines - all from Israel and its 'illegal' settlements! Is it logical to boycott Israeli fresh produce when we eat so much of it? And, despite increasing difficulties for Israeli exporters, will the boycott be totally effective? According to prophecy it won't:

"Israel will blossom and sprout, and they will fill the whole world with fruit." (Isa 27.6)

OK. So you should shop around for non-Israeli fresh produce (shopping may take a little longer). But what about your hi-tech world? Does your laptop have an Intel chip inside, or use a firewall, the Google search engine or Microsoft Office? If so, then you are using Israeli designs and innovations (likewise for your cell phone). In 2013 UK cosmologist Prof Stephen Hawking withdrew from a high-profile Israeli Presidential Conference in support of an academic boycott of the country. But to be consistent and fully boycott Israel his whole computer based communication system must be changed since it runs on Intel microchips designed in Israel!

Water for agricultural purposes is at a premium throughout the world - including Israel. But Israeli agricultural research has developed new technologies to enable farmers to use brackish (salty) water for irrigation. Since brackish water is abundant in most desert areas of the world, these Israeli techniques have wide international applications - providing they are not boycotted!

And what happens when you get sick? Are you going to boycott Israel's excellent medical work in areas of breast cancer, leukaemia, heart monitors, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease ... the list goes on and on. For more see the video:

Finally, but by no means least, do you realise that your boycott (which is a form of hatred towards Israel) puts you on the wrong side of the God of Israel? Remember, God says to Israel:

"I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse" (Gen 12.3)

The Boycott has no Legal Foundation

Today Israel is under international pressure (spearheaded by the UN) to withdraw from 'illegal' territories gained in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. As a start, the UN requests that Israel refrain from further settlement in such territories. The argument, quite understandably, centres on humanitarian grounds and the suffering of Palestinian Arabs. But the legality of the UN position needs to examined. In June 2011, Dr. Jaques Gauthier, an international human rights lawyer from Toronto addressed the European Parliament in Brussels on the legal issues regarding Jerusalem and Israel. Referring to the 1922 British Mandate for Palestine and to Article 80 of the UN Charter he said:

"For anyone who is interested in justice, these are issues which we have to study carefully ... the rights vested in the Jewish people stand on very solid legal ground and are valid to this day."

So let's take a quick look at the legal issues:

A Little History

(for a detailed look at the historical and legal case for Israel see Israel's Borders)

Historically, although Muslims dominated Palestine at the start of the 20th century, there was no distinctive 'Palestinian people'. Historian Richard Hartmann claims that the inhabitants didn't share a common Arab identity but were an ethnic mix. So naturally the League of Nations 1922 British Mandate for Palestine (to establish a Jewish State) didn't recognise the existence of a 'Palestinian people'. Whilst Article 2 of the Mandate safeguarded the civil and religious rights of all inhabitants of Palestine irrespective of race or religion, it did not identify a Palestinian people.

In 1946 the League of Nations was dissolved and its assets and duties transferred to the UN. So the 1922 British Mandate Trust for Palestine was transferred to the UN (article 80 of the UN Charter). This Mandate included Gaza and today's West Bank (up to the Jordan) and so at this time these areas were legally mandated as part of the Jewish homeland and Jews could settle anywhere between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. Legally, at this time these areas had never formally been allocated and were strictly unallocated Palestine Mandate territory. So there was no concept of 'occupation of illegally owned land'.

Shortly after the Jews proclaimed an Independent State of Israel in May 1948, five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq) invaded Israel (the 1948-49 war). At the end of the war, Egypt held Gaza and Jordan held the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and east Jerusalem. Jewish communities in the West Bank that had existed prior to the Arab invasion were demolished, as was the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. From 1948-67, the city was divided between Israel and Jordan.

Here is the crucial point conveniently forgotten by the boycott campaign: it is the taking by war of mandated territory (territory mandated to the State of Israel) and subsequent occupation and annexation between 1949 and 1967 by Arab countries. So the Arab countries annexed the West Bank and E. Jerusalem only by war, and in 1967 Israel simply took back the Mandated Land!

Rather than admit this historical fact, the world insists that the 1967 war 'culminated in the occupation of E. Jerusalem and the West Bank' by Israel. The world believes a lie.

UN Resolution 242

The 1967 UN Resolution 242 called for the "Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict". It did not demand that "Israel pull back to the 1967 lines". Probably in recognition of the historical facts, Lord Caradon, the British Ambassador who drafted the resolution said:

"It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions prior to June 1967 (i.e. to the 1948 Armistice Lines) because those positions were undesirable and artificial."

Similarly, Arthur Goldberg, a drafter of Resolution 242 repeatedly stated that:

"... the armistice lines of 1948 were intended to be temporary ... this, or course, was particularly true of Jerusalem. At no time ... did I refer to East Jerusalem as occupied territory."

This view is supported by Prof. Judge Schwebel (former President of the UN ICJ) who states:

"The armistice agreements of 1949 expressly preserved the territorial claims of all parties and did not purport to establish definitive boundaries between them."

Given these UN statements regarding the pre-1967 war boundaries (the 'Green Line'), calls of 'occupation of Palestinian land' and 'illegal Israeli territories' are without legal foundation. The boundaries were 'artificial' and 'temporary', but this and the 1922 Mandate for Israel seems to have been conveniently forgotten by the international boycott community.

Israel's West Bank Security Wall

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the UN's highest legal body, and both the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council look to the ICJ for legal advice. It is comprised of 15 international judges. The 2004 ICJ Advisory Opinion dealt with the legal implications of building a wall on the West Bank and the court declared the wall illegal. To counter this ruling, Israel maintains it only built the wall and fence to defend its citizens from Palestinian attacks and suicide bombings that had taken nearly 1,000 Israeli lives. Israel maintains that no court or international organization has the authority to determine how Israel protects its citizens.

The 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention

Some use the 4th Geneva Convention to argue the Palestinian case for the West Bank. Article 49(6) states: "The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into territories it occupies." Hence the call to stop settlements in the West Bank. But the historical fact remains that no Arab nation or 'Palestinian People' ever legally owned the West Bank - they simply annexed it by war. So it follows that Israel never legally 'occupied' it! The right of Jews to settle in the West Bank is still protected by Article 80 of the UN Charter.

The Proposed 2-State Solution

Historically there have been several attempts at a 2-state solution. The Peel and Woodhead commissions of 1937 and 1938 recommended partitioning Palestine into a small Jewish state and a large Arab state, but this was rejected by the Arab leadership. Then in 1947 the UN General Assembly adopted a partition plan (UN Resolution GA 181) that partitioned Palestine equally into an Arab state and a Jewish state. The Jews accepted the UN resolution but again the Arabs rejected it.

In 2012 UN General Assembly resolution 67/19 upgraded Palestine to 'non-member observer state' status in the UN (like the Pope). In effect, this officially recognised a Palestinian State. But, legally, it is internationally recognised that the UN General Assembly can only recommend the establishment of a Palestinian State (as Resolution 181 recommended the establishment of the Jewish State in 1947). It is up to States themselves to assert state-like-control over their territory and affairs. But the 1988 Algiers declaration of Palestinian Statehood proved ineffective because the PA and the PLO could not meet the criteria for control. Can the Palestinian State control the various Arab factions (Fatah, Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Aqsa Martyrs, Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda)? Incidently, BDS rejects the 2-State solution (see first video)!


The international boycott community has been lied to regarding 'occupied land' and 'illegal settlements'. Such terms are not legally justified and organisations like the UN, EU, banks and BDS have fallen into the well-known trap:

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it ... the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie ..." [Joseph Goebbels]

Indeed, the real truth about Israel's borders has been removed from the media. As the Bible says;

"Truth has stumbled in the street ... yes, truth is lacking ..." (Isa 59.14,15)

Bible quotations are from the New American Standard Bible