Israeli Foreign Ministry failing in fight against BDS, report says

Julie Wiener

Anti-Israel students at Columbia University erected a mock

Anti-Israel students at Columbia University erected a mock “apartheid wall” during Israel Apartheid Week, March 3, 2016. (Uriel Heilman)

(JTA) — Israel’s Foreign Ministry is badly mismanaging the fight against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, according to a state comptroller’s report.

In a report released Tuesday, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira criticized the ministry for its lack of strategy and funds, according to the Times of Israel.

In particular, the report blasted the ministry for mishandling communications during the 2014 Gaza war, an operation in which more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed and which spurred an outpouring of anti-Israel activity around the world.

“A lack of cooperation between the Foreign Ministry and the army spokesman, and a lack of speed in getting information to the media, brought about an advocacy failure” during the war, the report said.

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The report also noted that Foreign Ministry efforts to improve Israel’s image in numerous communities worldwide “are lacking in their planning, management and implementation, and are failing to achieve their designated goals.”

One reason for the problem, according to the report, is that the role of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Relations in relation to the Foreign Ministry was poorly defined. In 2013, the strategic affairs ministry was given responsibility for addressing BDS.

“Not only was there no cooperation between the new [ministry] and the Foreign Ministry, but there was an active power struggle between the two over responsibilities and resources,” the report said.

The Foreign Ministry has not had a full-time executive for the past year; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubles as the foreign minister.

The report also recommended an increase in funding for the ministry. Citing statistics from a May meeting of the Knesset subcommittee on foreign affairs and public diplomacy, the Times of Israel reported that only about 8 percent of the Foreign Ministry’s annual budget is used for diplomatic activity, with the rest devoted to security and overhead costs.

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