US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro rebuked the BDS movement and stated clearly that the US government strongly opposes its activities. “The United States of America vigorously opposes efforts to isolate or boycott Israel. We have demonstrated this commitment for decades and continue to devote substantial resources in our government to this fight. We consider it an extension of our longstanding commitment to fight any effort to delegitimize Israel,” he told Ynet and Yediot Ahronoth’s anti-BDS conference.
Ambassador Shapiro claimed that the US is actively undertaking measures to undermine BDS. “We lead what could be called a ‘counter boycott,’ demonstrating through our actions that we seek the opposite of boycotts; we seek to make our economic ties with Israel stronger with each passing year,” he said.
Shapiro also alleged that the BDS movement is not free of anti-Semitism. “We know 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 remarked.
He added that US Vice President Joe Biden has affirmed this very point. “As Vice President Biden stated 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,” he said.
He also claimed that there should be no doubts regarding President Obama’s policy on BDS. Shapiro quoted Obama, who recently said, “I have directed my Administration to strongly oppose boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting the State of Israel. As long as I am President, we will continue to do so.”
Shapiro maintained that US policy is not merely limited to rhetoric. “Our opposition is not rhetorical; we have demonstrated this commitment for decades. In the Commerce Department, for example, we have a dedicated team of ‘boycott busters’, who work to ensure that American companies comply with their legal obligations to report the receipt of boycott requests and to refuse to take actions that would restrict trade with Israel.”
He added that economic cooperation between Israel and the United States has flourished, despite the increasing influence of the BDS movement. “Our Free Trade Agreement, the first America signed with any country, has been an economic driver for more than three decades. This framework has helped spark exponential growth in bilateral trade, from some $8 billion a year when the agreement was signed in 1985 to over $45 billion today,” remarked Shapiro.
However, Shapiro closed his speech arguing that counter-boycott efforts also should include a robust peace process with the Palestinians. “When we have such a tool (a peace process), our hand is strengthened, not with the core advocates of BDS, who have a truly anti-Israel agenda independent of the conflict, but with those who are persuadable, and there are significant numbers of such people. So it is certainly in Israel’s and our interests to find our way back to negotiations with the Palestinians.”