Israeli government gives green light to £53m anti-BDS project

Israeli government gives green light to £53m anti-BDS project

Funds set aside to help the fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel

Boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) supporters
Boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) supporters

Israel’s government has approved a plan setting aside £53m ($72m) to fighting the campaign to boycott Israel.

The plan would entail the largest monetary investment yet by Israel specifically toward combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. It was announced last week to the cabinet ministers and approved as an executive order after none of them objected, the Ynet news site reported Friday.

It calls for setting up a not-for-profit organisation whose board will be made up of government officials and donors from abroad, the report said. The board will oversee the first major “civil-society infrastructure servicing the State of Israel and the pro-Israel community in the fight against the de-legitimisation of Israel,” the notice sent to the ministers read.

The £55m ($75 m) budget will come partly from the Israeli government and partly from Jewish donors and communities abroad, the report said. It did not say when the new organisation would become operational or even established formally.

But the initial funding to the tune of £26m ($36m) will come from the budget of the ministry that includes Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information. At least 10 Jewish philanthropists have pledge to at least match that sum, with some promising to give £1.5 ($2) and £2.20 ($3) to any dollar put in by the Israeli government beyond the initial funding, according to the report.

The organisation envisaged by its creators would operate on a regular basis to counter pressure applied to artists, performers and commercial enterprises who seek to engage with Israel. But it would shift into high gear at sensitive periods such as fighting waves of terrorist attacks and anti-Israel votes at international forums.

The new organisation’s avenues for action would include public campaigns, lobbying, arranging for solidarity visits to Israel by opinion shapers, establishing new and social media presence and interacting with pro-Israel organisation worldwide for coordinated action with a focus on Europe.

While such activities today formally fall under the purview of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spinning off the nonprofit would allow for quicker and more flexible action unconstrained by government bureaucracy and legal limitations on third party services. But the new organisation will be subject to review by the state.

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