* Netanyahu calls boycott advocates anti-Semites
* Says the world craves Israeli technology
By Jeffrey Heller
JERUSALEM, Feb 17 Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu voiced confidence on Monday that world demand for
Israeli high technology will enable his country to outflank
pro-Palestinian groups advocating its economic boycott.
"I think it's important that the boycotters must be exposed
for what they are - they're classical anti-Semites in modern
garb. And I think we have to fight them," Netanyahu said in a
speech to a conference of U.S. Jewish leaders.
He was referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
(BDS) movement, sponsored by pro-Palestinian intellectuals and
bloggers, which campaigns for a blanket boycott of all Israeli
goods and questions Israel's legitimacy.
But Netanyahu, citing in particular Israel's cybersecurity
industry, said the heads of international high-tech companies he
has met "all want the same three things: Israeli technology,
Israeli technology and Israeli technology".
"The capacity to innovate is a great treasure of profound
economic value in today's world," he said. "And that is
something that is bigger than all these boycotters could
On its website, the BDS movement accuses Israel of denying
Palestinians "their fundamental rights of freedom, equality and
self-determination through ethnic cleansing, colonisation,
racial discrimination and military occupation".
In a speech at the same conference earlier in the day,
Finance Minister Yair Lapid reiterated his concern that Israel
would be blamed if current U.S.-brokered peace talks with the
Palestinians failed and could face European economic sanctions
as a result.
At a Munich security forum two weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of
State John Kerry touched a nerve in Israel by pointing to "an
increasing de-legitimisation" campaign building up against it
internationally and "talk of boycotts" if the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not end.
Israeli chief peace negotiator Tzipi Livni has described the
talks, which began in July, as "the wall stopping a wave" of
economic boycotts. And she has cautioned that Israel could face
the sort of isolation imposed on South Africa during years of
Companies in Israel's largest economic partner, the European
Union, have already started to signal their concern.
A large Dutch pension fund, PGGM, said last month it was
divesting from five Israeli banks because of their business
dealings with settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,
territory that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
The boycott issue also grabbed headlines several weeks ago
in a public rift between Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson
and the charity Oxfam over her endorsement of an Israeli firm
operating in a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West
Johansson quit her role as an ambassador for Oxfam, shortly
before the airing during the Super Bowl of an advert in which
she fronts for the Israeli soda maker SodaStream.
Jewish settlements are deemed illegal under international
law, a position that Israel disputes.
(Editing by Tom Heneghan)