Diplomacy

U.S. Ambassador: We “Vigorously Oppose” Boycotts of Israel

The United States “vigorously opposes efforts to isolate or boycott Israel,” Ambassador Dan Shapiro told an anti-boycott conference on Monday.

“We have demonstrated this commitment for decades and continue to devote substantial resources in our government to this fight,” he added. “We consider it an extension of our longstanding commitment to fight any effort to delegitimize Israel.

Shapiro, who spoke at the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth’s conference against the anti-Israel boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, observed that “the BDS movement is not disconnected from the pernicious and persistent evil of anti-Semitism, which continues to rear its ugly head and is on the rise in too many parts of the world.” He quoted Vice President Joe Biden’s speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference last week: “When swastikas are painted on synagogues, when Jewish people are targeted in terrorist attacks, when thousands of European Jews immigrate to Israel out of fear when a seemingly organized effort to discredit, delegitimize and isolate Israel persists on the international stage, it’s dangerous, it’s wrong and every time we encounter it, we have an obligation to speak out against it.”

Shapiro also quoted President Barack Obama’s official directive “to strongly oppose boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting the State of Israel.” Shapiro cited the Commerce Department’s dedicated team of “boycott busters,” who ensure that American companies document outside efforts to get them to boycott Israel. He added that the United States challenged Kuwait Airlines for refusing to sell tickets to Israeli passport holders. When the airline refused to change its policy, it was forced to abandon its London-to-New York route.

Shapiro also trumpeted the free trade agreement between the United States and Israel. Trade between the two allies has grown from $8 billion when it was signed in 1985 to $45 billion in 2012 (latest data available).

The ambassador also highlighted the success of Israel’s tech sector, noting that hundreds of America companies have invested in Israeli firms, and have set up R&D centers in Israel “drawn by the vibrancy and innovative spirit of the Israeli workforce, which make them more profitable in Israel, in the United States, and globally.”

After emphasizing America’s commitment to Israel’s security, Shapiro said that a peace process would be a powerful tool in defeating the BDS movement because success in the peace process could convince “those who are persuadable” to reject boycotts of Israel. “Palestinians must also demonstrate – through concrete measures like condemning violence, ending incitement and halting international campaigns against Israel – their continued commitment to a two-state solution,” he added.

At the conclusion of his speech, Shapiro once again reiterated his and the administration’s opposition to the BDS movement.

In closing, let me restate our vigorous opposition to efforts to isolate or boycott Israel; our demonstrated commitment to defeating such efforts; the proven success of our counter boycott strategy; and our pride in what our two nations have achieved in expanding our common prosperity, and the example that sets for others to follow our lead in deepening economic partnerships with Israel. This is the most effective way to defeat the Boycott movement, and we will remain committed to this path.

The speech is embedded below.

[Photo: Ynet ]