The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a powerful anti-Israel movement that uses economic pressure, allegedly with the goal of forcing Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians, to harm Israel’s financial interests. Some individuals have picked up the gauntlet and are battling BDS on its own economic terms while reaping rewards for their Zionist good will.
One example is Sabra Joines, a native Alabaman whose connection to the holy land was assured at birth when her mother named her for a prickly cactus native to Israel. Sabra was already an adult when she discovered that her name was also the nickname for native Israelis who, like the cactus, are prickly on the outside but as sweet on the inside. She is an enthusiastic supporter of Israel, and created her company, Sabra Style, 6 years ago to fight what she unabashedly calls “the BDS cancer”.
“I’m not the kind of person to talk about the problem. I like to work on bringing out the good points. I want to showcase something wonderful: the creativity of Israeli artisans, which is really something special,” Joines told Breaking Israel News. “Even someone who has never connected with Israel can discover the beauty of these products.”
With a background in marketing and interior design, her goal was to reinforce the perception of Israel as a source of innovation and style. Her company showcases Israeli designers and vendors, making their creations available to some of Israel’s strongest supporters in America’s pro-Israel Bible Belt. She travels to various fairs and trade shows around the country under a beautiful tent, which she decorated like a Mediterranean dreamland. Frequently, she is the only vendor displaying Israeli products.
“I don’t understand this,” Sabra said. “They are amazing products, and some of them are unavailable anywhere else.”
Another individual entering the anti-BDS fray is Clive Varejes, a Jew from Johannesburg South Africa. Varejes is in the beginning stages of setting up a store to sell Israeli products.
“I support Israel one-thousand percent,” explaining his motivations to Breaking Israel News. “BDS in South Africa is fairly strong, running around boycotting stores, one upmarket clothing store in particular. It doesn’t seem to bother the store because every time [BDS supporters] boycott them, their sales go up. As many people as BDS says refuse to buy, ten times more go in specifically to buy there.”
He speculated about the phenomenon in a uniquely South African manner.
“I think that’s because most South Africans are fed up with the BDS guys,” he explained. “South Africans get totally pissed off when you tell them what they can and can’t do.”
Perhaps the most powerful example is the International Christians for Israel (CFI) organization and its import agency, the Israel Products Center (IPC), founded by Karel Van Oordt in 1979, years before BDS was established in 2005. Guided by a 300-year family tradition of praying for Israel, Van Oordt wanted to help return the Jews to Israel in order to bring the Messiah. His mission is carried on by his son, Pieter van Oordt. It is a family business that has grown into a large corporation thanks to its customers’ love of the Holy Land.
Based in the Netherlands, the IPC imports 120,000 bottles of Israeli wine every year, as well as tons of Dead Sea cosmetics and thousands of every-day goods, such as Israeli-made cleaning detergents and Israeli snacks and foods. Its customers, most of them Protestant members of the Christians for Israel movement, are supporting Israel for ideological and religious reasons.
When the European Union instituted a policy of labelling products from Judea, Samaria, and the Golan, the company waived shipment costs in order to stimulate sales.
Van Oordt sent a letter to his customers, saying the policy was prejudicial, focusing on Israel while ignoring numerous other cases of disputed territories. He accused the EU of going against the Bible by denying Israel’s Biblical right to the land and condemned the EU policy for humanitarian reasons, citing the loss of livelihood to the Jewish and Arab residents of what the EU labeled “occupied territories”.
Closer to home, Ayal Kellman has a wealth of experience as Director of Operations for the Israel365 store, whose website reaches thousands of people each day and connects its Zionist message with Biblical verses.
“Everyone needs to connect to the battle against BDS in their own way, wherever they are, and develop their own niche,” Kellman told Breaking Israel News. “Now is the time for people to mobilize to support Israel in an active and practical manner, even if it is just through conversations. There are a lot of BDS organizations out there, and they are gaining momentum.
“In a recent meeting, we discussed a grassroots approach. Individuals can throw Israel parties in their house, serve Middle-Eastern food, set up a themed atmosphere, and market Israeli products that they have discovered online. Similar to old-style Tupperware parties, but with a powerful mission.”
For individuals who would like to vote with their wallets, Buy Israel Goods has an online guide to help consumers find local stores that sell Israeli products. A video on their site featuring the SodaStream company emphasizes the point that BDS harms Jews and Palestinians alike.