The anti-Israeli BDS (Boycott Disinvestment Sanctions) movement would have us believe that they’re having a major effect on the Israel. Indeed, some of the more excitable BDSers have been insisting that their shoutin’ and flag-wavin’ and motion-proposin’ is costing the Israeli economy nearly 5 billion dollars every year. If that’s true, it should be wiping about 2% off Israeli GDP annually.
Is that happening? Nope – quite the opposite, my dears. The last few weeks have brought forth a swath of good news attesting to the glowing health of the Israeli economy. Firstly, there was the Bank of Israel’s annual report at the end of March outlining how over the last year, the economy grew by a strong and steady 4%. That’s “double the United States’ economic growth in the past year; […] 2.3 times higher than the average growth among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members; and 2.5 times higher than average growth in the Eurozone”. More importantly, it’s not a once-off performance. The Israeli economy has grown more than any other OECD country since 2011.
Unemployment has fallen to historically low levels of 4.3%, far below levels that pertain in most European countries where the percentage of people who are out of work is commonly at double-digit levels. Also, the OECD has recently reported that Israel is investing the highest percentage of its gross domestic product per capita among member nations.
Earlier in March, there was the enormous corporate acquisition of Israeli self-driving car firm, Mobileye by Intel. The takeover was worth US$15.3 billion and was a huge vote of confidence in the Israeli high-tech sector. It wasn’t the only Israeli corporate acquisition recently. There was also the purchase of facial recognition firm RealFace by Apple and the takeover of LightCyber by California-based company, Networks. China’s Midea has snapped up Israeli company Servotronix and US firm Kalytera has acquired Israeli medical cannabis firm Talent. All in the last few weeks.
However, it’s not all about abstract GDP statistics and the dizzyingly large numbers being bandied about in the world of corporate takeovers. More and more people are visiting Israel and the first quarter of 2017 saw record levels of foreign tourists (739,000) holidaying in the country. That’s a 24% increase on the same period in 2016 and is all the more extraordinary when one considers that Easter was late this year, falling in April while in 2016, it fell in March. All in all, the Ministry of Tourism expects that 2017 will be a record year for Israeli tourism.
Israel has recently been signing several deals with southern European states which will allow it to pump natural gas across the eastern Mediterranean to countries such as Cyprus, Greece and Italy. In the long term, Israel could be a crucial energy partner for the European Union which is far too dependent on Russia for its needs, especially since the Russians have a reputation for being very unreliable, using the relationship as one more weapon in its campaign to undermine neighbouring countries.
So, it’s no surprise then that Bloomberg rates the Israeli economy to be the third most stable in the world with only Hong Kong and South Korea ranking as more stable.
Of course, the BDSers will continue to trumpet their successes. Apparently, they managed to get some football player to declare he was boycotting Israel. However, in the grown-up world, this gesture politics counts for nothing in the long run. Most economic experts (such as this one and this one) agree that the BDS campaign is having little or no effect on the Israeli economy. Indeed, even in the cultural and entertainment sphere, the BDSers are clearly flagging with a “veritable airlift of artists […] on its way to Israel”. And if even Haaretz is saying it, you know it must be true.
The title of this article is, of course, meant in a humorous and rhetorical way but Israel’s peers will look enviously at the country’s vital statistics and wonder how and when this much-vaunted BDS effect is supposed to strike. As the above graph shows, Israel has been economically outperforming other wealthy, developed countries every year since this anti-Israeli campaign started. Bear also in mind that Israel is operating in a very hostile part of the world. Unlike most European countries, it doesn’t have wealthy, friendly neighbours with whom it can trade. No – in order to trade, Israel must seek partners that are thousands of kilometres away, and this makes its economic performance all the more remarkable.
This latter point may be changing – ever so slightly. Israel has recently signed gas supply agreements with Egypt, Jordan and indeed, the Palestinian Authority. And there’s the final absurdity: even the Palestinians, never mind other Arab nations are quietly abandoning this pointless campaign. Yet, on campuses across Europe and North America, the anti-Israelis still insist that Israelis must be boycotted.
What is the point, dear BDSers? Answers, please to Irish4Israel