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Lapid urges new approach to combatting BDS

Yesh Atid chairman says Israel must go on the offensive and show that boycott campaign serves interests of jihadist groups

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Yair Lapid on September 7, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yair Lapid on September 7, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid criticized Israeli efforts aimed at countering the campaign to boycott Israel over its policies towards Palestinians, which has been the center of several controversies in recent weeks.

“Israel needs to go on the offensive when it comes to BDS boycotts,” Lapid said Saturday in an address at the UN headquarters in New York.

He said that Israel’s policies for countering BDS efforts were counterproductive because its approach was rooted in Israel defending itself or apologizing. He urged Israeli officials to instead combat the growing trend by saying that the BDS campaign serves the interests of radical Muslim groups.

“[There is] a type of Islam that murders homosexuals, kills children, condones violence towards women and oppresses entire populations from Nigeria to Iraq and Syria. We need to explain to the world that these are the people behind the BDS boycotts of Israel and they should be made to apologize for their actions, not us,” he said.

Known as BDS — boycott, divestment and sanctions — the movement says it aims to exert political and economic pressure on Israel in a bid to repeat the success of the campaign which ended apartheid in South Africa. But critics of the campaign say some of its activists and supporters exhibit anti-Semitic views and that their real goal is to bring an end to the Jewish state.

Last week, Israel narrowly avoided expulsion from FIFA after the Palestinians withdrew a resolution calling on it to ban its Israeli counterpart at the eleventh hour.

On Tuesday, the UK’s National Union of Students formally endorsed BDS, a move that drew sharp criticism from Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum.

On Wednesday, the CEO of mobile communications giant Orange said he would love to pull out of the Israeli market and that the company intended to cut ties with its Israeli subsidiary Partner. The French company confirmed the next day that it was severing its contract with Partner though it claimed the international campaign to boycott Israel had played no part in the decision.

AFP contributed to this report.

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