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by divest this Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010 at 1:49 PM


Given that the theme of this year’s increasingly fraying “Israel Apartheid Week” is Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), I thought it might be useful to summarize the progress of the BDS movement since it began a decade ago. Because so much of the BDS project is based on words, including competing claims of success and failure, I thought it best to provide a summary based primarily on numbers which (as I recall from my business days) are the only things that tend to get preserved as information travels up or through an organization.

Since these numbers need to be “scored” against some criterion, I’ve decided to abandon my usual critique of the BDS narrative and, in this instance, accept as a given their primary thesis: that economic activity related to Israel translates to political approval or disapproval. Now some people may say this is overly generous in that it allows them to continue to claim that purely economic decisions are actually fueled by partisan considerations. But if we accept (albeit temporarily) their founding principle on a micro level, then they must also be willing to be judged along the same criteria on a macro basis

During the very period when BDS was supposedly on the march, the size of Israel’s economy (as measured by GDP) nearly doubled from $110B to $190B. Now given that the BDS project is based on their activity having economic consequence for the Jewish state, the takeaway from this chart seems to be that such consequence has been an explosion of growth in the Israeli economy.

Now no doubt some divestniks will cry foul and insist that their “movement” is concentrated outside of Israel and is based on getting individuals and organizations to stop buying Israeli goods or investing in Israeli companies (or in companies that in some way benefit Israel). In which case, the numbers that would be more relevant would be Israel exports, not GNP. While this information was harder to obtain based on a US dollar metric, the following table (based approximately on constant 2000 Israeli Sheckls) shows a trend similar to GDP growth:

Israeli exports are growing rapidly and fueling the hot Israeli economy that the boycotters have spent the better part of a decade working tirelessly to bring to its knees. And as far as divestment (i.e., stopping the flow of investment dollars into Israel) goes, as has been recently documented the European venture capital markets currently invest more in Israel than they do in any single European country. In other words, even in Europe (which has been the target of even more aggressive boycott and divestment activities than the US) the BDS formula that translates investment and divestment into political support indicates overwhelming enthusiasm for the Jewish state.