Diplomatic cables reveal sharp increase in efforts to boycott Israel
Dozens of cables sent to the Foreign Ministry each month from Israel’s embassies in Europe and the US paint a picture of an escalation by the international BDS movement.
The efforts of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel are increasing and every month the Foreign Ministry receives dozens of reports from its embassies and representations abroad on new attempts to isolate the country.
The Jerusalem Post‘s Hebrew language sister publication Ma’ariv Hashavua has obtained a number of diplomatic cables sent in recent days to the Foreign Ministry describing the growing phenomenon of international isolation both in Europe and the US.
One such cable arrived from Barcelona, where the CUP operates, an extreme left-wing party that supports Catalonian independence and secession from Spain. Members of the party in the Barcelona Municipality, who have been defined by Israeli diplomats as “anarchists,” raised an initiative calling on the city council to make changes to existing agreements with Israel and to consider canceling its sister city designation with Tel Aviv.
A cable sent from the Israeli diplomatic delegation in the Spanish city reads: “The request by CUP’s representatives in the city council to change existing agreements with Israel and to consider canceling existing agreements with Tel Aviv is a concerning request. Even more concerning is the answer by the ruling party that they will check the issue, because other organizations have already turned to them on the same matter. In response to the claim that the agreement with Tel Aviv strengthens the occupation, the deputy mayor answered that this must be given the utmost consideration, without expanding. The Israeli Embassy in Barcelona spoke with the foreign secretary of the ruling party in Catalonia (which is actually in the opposition in Barcelona), and he promised to ensure that all of the members of his party will oppose the initiative.”
The diplomats ended the cable with the conclusion that “the phenomenon of anti-Israeli activity in Spain is bothersome and concerning, but in the past was centered in small cities. When it arrives in Barcelona, and is voiced among elected officials, the subject takes on entirely different proportions.”
The Foreign Ministry turned to Pablo Sanchez, who consults Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau on international issues. A cable which describes the discussion reads: “Sanchez’s response was encouraging. After a philosophical speech on the meaning of boycott, he emphasized that this was not an immediate step, but he admitted that the issue is indeed being considered.”
Another incident occurred in the Belgian city of Liege, where the organizers of an annual dance festival decided last week to turn down an Israeli sponsorship of the event due to boycott threats. The original idea was the Israeli Embassy’s, which offered sponsorship to the festival after the Batsheva Dance troupe was chosen to open the festivities. “At a later stage,” a cable sent from the embassy in Belgium to the Foreign Ministry reads, “they informed us that they did not want to be tied to the embassy, were forgoing our support and returning the money. All of this because of the threat of a boycott. Our discussions and protests to the festival organizers failed.”
The Foreign Ministry received a report from the city of Chicago last week that the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance’s event at a local LGBT conference was canceled. The representatives of the Jerusalem Open House were invited to hold a special Friday evening prayer service and to speak at the conference, but were warned ahead of time of a possible boycott. In a cable sent from the Israeli delegation in the US city, the diplomats described how they had been happy to help with the conference “without being in the forefront, and without Israeli flags in the building, as long as the representatives from the Jerusalem Open House were given a chance to address the audience.”
Surprisingly, days before the conference was set to take place, the organizers announced that they were changing their minds and canceling the Israeli participation in the conference, because it was “dividing the community” and that
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