Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

In addition to my work as a business coach, one of my interests is blogging about life in Israel. This is a country full of contrasts – over eight million citizens living in an area the size of Wales. You can see snow and the lowest place on the globe in the same day. Although surrounded by geopolitical extremes, Israel has achieved a decade of high economic growth. My work brings me in contact with an array of new companies, exciting technologies and dynamic characters. Sitting back with a relaxing cup of strong tea (with milk), you realise just how much there is to appreciate in the Holyland. Large or small operations, private sector or non profit, my clients provide experiences from which others can learn and benefit.

I have written many times about BDS, a global movement that aims to isolate Israel, economically and culturally.

Over the past few days, two well-known advocates of BDS unwittingly demonstrated the true moral force of their campaign. In the first item, Dutchmen Robert-Willem van Norren was spotted waving Palestinian flags and shouting slogans from his wheelchair as is his custom. One technical hitch; van Norren owns a special chair, “the Breeze S3 model of the Kalnoit brand, designed and assembled in Kibbutz Afikim in Israel’s Jordan Valley.”

A few days later, anti-Israel Member of Congress, Rashida Tlaib, was discovered to be utilising Israeli technology to operate her website. In fact, she and a whole load of other Israeli haters are using Wix technology, whose home base is none other than Tel Aviv.

As if to rub salt into a large septic wound, the Jerusalem Post newspaper ran an expose this week. Quoting Gaza’s Economic Ministry, it states that 65% of all items imported into the territory are Israeli made. No boycott there. No boycott anywhere. Just hatred.

And if you were to try to boycott? We know that for decades Intel computers are stuffed with tech emanating from the Holy Land. Manufacturers like Toyota are turning to Israeli tech in the race to develop for the first autonomous vehicle. And in the retail world, some of Decathlon’s and IKEA’s most profitable stores are to be found in Israel.

I suggest people check out the LinkedIn page of the British embassy in Israel. Posts in the past month have featured various forms of collaboration with the banks of Nat West and RBS, the NHS, the Welsh Government, and many more. I could go on, and at considerable length.

BDS supporters have spent much effort in the past few weeks trying to encourage performing artists to boycott Israel as the host of 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. (As one blogger has pointed out, they never complained when the competition was located in places like Turkey, who arguably has the worst record on human rights in Europe).

Speaking on British TV, Netta, the current Eurovision champ, made a very succinct point.

I believe in dialogue, I believe in protest. Boycotting is preventing light being spread but if you boycott light you spread darkness. Boycotts are not the answer!

……unless, of course, you are confined to a wheelchair or need to put up a website in a hurry!


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