The Other Response to BDS: Buy More Israeli Products
by Aryeh Powers
The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement has become very popular among more liberal and left-leaning American circles. On college campuses, boycotting Israel needs little justification. The popularity which the BDS movement enjoys in the US is a relatively new phenomenon, considering Americans’ previous sentiments toward Israel. In 1948, at the UN, the United States voted in favor of the creation of the state. Until the Obama administration, all proposed anti-Israel UN resolutions were vetoed by the US. In Israel’s infancy, liberal Americans were supportive of the underdog state. Liberal Americans were sympathetic to the state which was surrounded by strong enemies and was in need of the support of a strong ally in order to defend itself.
After Israel’s victory in 1967 during the 6 day war, the sentiment slowly changed among more liberal Americans. Liberal Americans’ began to see Israel as a strong Middle East superpower. After witnessing Israel’s victory and the humiliating defeat of Israel’s enemies in 1967, liberal sentiments began to sway in favor of the new underdog in the Middle East - the Arab population in Israel who claimed that Israel was an oppressor, an occupier and at fault for unrest in the Middle East. The fact that in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, Israel was either under direct attack by its enemies or was facing an enemy build up on its borders, was of little consequence. Israel’s need to defend itself became a less important issue than the cause for the underdog; the Palestinian cause. Just recently, Jonathan S. Tobi discussed the increasing shift in an earlier National Review article:
“No one who plans to compete in future Democratic primaries can ignore the growing power of their party’s left wing, which has grown increasingly hostile to Israel.”
The BDS movement has capitalized on the shifted sentiment by encouraging Americans and other nationalities to boycott Israel both culturally and financially.
In response to the new anti-Israel flame, fanned by the BDS movement, Israel’s supporters have become more vocal. Republican and Democratic legislators alike have begun passing anti-BDS laws in their jurisdictions. To date, at least 22 have passed anti-BDS legislation.
In addition to legislative action, many who wish to show their support for Israel and challenge the BDS movement have done so by demonstrating at college campuses and participating in debates with BDS sympathizers and supporters. These actions are important because they attack the very legitimacy, rationale and support for the BDS movement. These forms of action are imperative to the pro-Israel voice. Having real-live people spreading a message of support for Israel and Israel's pioneers can at times be the only way to cut through the liberal news headlines and social media clutter that fills the screens of the younger generation’s media devices. This new generation attends universities with "safe spaces" to protect them from debating individuals with differing opinions, which makes this generation ripe for the influence and indoctrination of one-sided and anti-Israel propaganda.
There is another form of pro-Israel advocacy and support that has been gaining the popularity of the international community. This form of advocacy bypasses the BDS movement through the purchase of Israeli products. While creating legislative measures and debating pro-Palestinian factions is essential for those wishing to end a pro-Palestinian agenda, purchasing products from the very targets of the BDS movement undermines the very efforts of BDS and provides immediate financial opportunity to those whom the BDS movement seeks to isolate and harm.
'If they boycott, we will just buy more. If they spread hate, we will spread love.” – Nati Rom, founder of Lev Haolam
One organization has created a channel to connect pro-Israel advocates and supporters with Israeli vendors. Lev Haolam, which translates to "Heart of the World" is a company that offers the opportunity to purchase products from the targets of the BDS movement. Currently, Lev Haolam is the largest purchaser of goods produced in Judea and Samaria (known to some as the West Bank). As Lev Haolam’s founder Nati Rom, a resident of Samaria, says about his company, “If they boycott, we will just buy more. If they spread hate, we will spread love.”
Subscribers who sign up for the Lev Haolam Monthly Package Project receive a package, filled with a variety of products made in Judea and Samaria, delivered to their home or destination of choice, every month. The monthly packages contain natural food products, organic cosmetics, beautiful jewelry, wines and chocolates. Lev Haolam's subscribers come from dozens of countries including Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Singapore, Australia, and the USA.
Chagit Shechter (Judea), of Happy Designs is one of many of Lev Haolam's suppliers. About working with Lev Haolam, Chagit said, "I started working with Lev Haolam a few years ago and we started with making a hundred, maybe 200 items... it helps me economically and I think that things have been growing."
For Jo Zander (Judea), a former resident of New Jersey and chocolatier, Lev Haolam proved to be the opportunity for his chocolate business, Holy Cacao, to reach an American audience. "The part that's been really great for us is that people in America have become aware of our chocolate. I always ask them, how is it that you even know about our chocolates and they say, we get it in the gift basket from Lev Haolam."
In discussing her appreciation for Lev Haolam’s subscribers, Shimrit Foychtvanger (Judea) said “I know that this is not just a sale. I feel a special happiness since there is a connection that is created between Lev Haolam partners and us. I feel that there is an appreciation and a backing; that there are people that appreciate what we are doing.”
Lev Haolam was established by Nati Rom in the community Shvut Rachel, Samaria, which is located near the city of Shiloh. Lev Haolam continues fighting the BDS movement through the Monthly Package Project and through pro-Israel rallies organized across the globe. Nati frequently travels to locations throughout the world, where pro-Israel activists have sought his voice on fighting the boycott and to hear about what life is really like in Judea and Samaria
Lev Haolam was created in 2012. Since its inception, Lev Haolam has established a large international following and continues to attract new subscribers to its Monthly Package Project. You can learn more about Lev Haolam at their website, www.levhaolam.com. You can also reach a Lev Haolam representative by sending them an email, at email@example.com or by calling their Jerusalem number 02-645-5424 (office hours are 10am-6pm Sunday-Thursday, Israel time).
Aryeh Powers currently works as the Marketing Manager for Lev Haolam. He made Aliyah at the end of 2014 and lives in Jerusalem. In his spare time, Aryeh likes to study words of Torah, hike and explore all of Israel's hidden and revealed natural treasures - the more outdoors the better.