In addition to regular wars of aggression, the Arab world has long used economic pressure to weaken Israel. The oil crisis in the 1970s is a clear example of how countries with good relations with Israel were punished by oil-rich Arab countries led by some of the Middle East’s most repressive despots.
Arab League member states also boycotted non-Israeli companies doing business with Israel. Companies that did business with companies that in turn did business with Israel were also blacklisted. However, several Arab countries have subsequently abandoned this boycott.
Israel has only been marginally affected by these economic boycotts. In 2020, Israel was among the 20 countries in the world with the highest GDP per capita, according to the business magazine Forbes.
The “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) movement was started by Palestinian activists with the stated goal of isolating Israel economically, academically, culturally, and politically. Ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv in May 2019, the BDS movement called on artists and musicians to boycott the music festival because Israel was the host.
The day before the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, the German parliament, the Bundestag, decided to label the BDS movement as an anti-Semitic organization.
“The argumentation patterns and methods used by the BDS movement are anti-Semitic,” the German parliament ruled. The motion noted that BDS campaigns calling for the labelling of Israeli products with “do not buy” labels are reminiscent of the Nazi regime’s boycott of Jewish businesses.
The House of Representatives, the US legislative assembly, also voted at the end of July 2019 with a large majority for a resolution rejecting the boycott movement BDS. The resolution said the BDS movement “undermines the possibility of a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by demanding concessions only to one side and encouraging the Palestinians to forgo negotiations and instead rely on international pressure.”