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Israeli Government OKs $72 Million Anti-BDS Project

(JTA) — Israel’s government has approved a plan setting aside $72 million to fighting the campaign to boycott it.

The plan, which would entail the largest monetary investment yet by Israel specifically toward combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, was announced last week to the cabinet ministers and approved as an executive order after none of them objected, the Ynet news site reported Friday.

It calls for setting up a not-for-profit organization whose board will be made up of government officials and donors from abroad, the report said. The board will over see the first major “civil-society infrastructure servicing the State of Israel and the pro-Israel community in the fight against the de-legitimization of Israel,” the notice sent to the ministers read.

The $75 million budget will come partly from the Israeli government and partly from Jewish donors and communities abroad, the report said. It did not say when the new organization would become operational or even established formally.

But the initial funding to the tune of $36 million will come from the budget of the Ministry of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Minister of Information under Gilad Erdan. At least 10 Jewish philanthropists have pledge to at least match that sum, with some promising to give $2 and $3 to any dollar put in by the Israeli government beyond the initial funding, according to the report.

The organization envisaged by its creators would operate on a regular basis to counter pressure applied to artists, performers and commercial enterprises not to engage with Israel. But it would shift into high gear at sensitive periods such as fighting, waves of terrorist attacks and anti-Israel votes at international forums, the announcement stated.

The new organization’s avenues for action would include public campaigns, lobbying, arranging for solidarity visits to Israel by opinion shapers, establishing new and social media presence and interacting with pro-Israel organization worldwide for coordinated action with a focus on Europe.

While such activities today formally fall under the purview of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, privatizing it would allow for quicker and more flexible action unconstrained by government bureaucracy and legal limitations on third party services, that require tenders when carried out by the government, the announcement explained. But the new organization will be subject to review by the state.

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