image Photo: ARISE, Reuters

Christian Businesses Unite Against BDS

Nearly 600 Christian businesspeople from 40 nations around the world just wrapped up a solidarity summit in the Holy Land sponsored by ‘The Alliance to Reinforce Israel’s Security’ (ARISE), in partnership with the International Christian Chambers of Commerce (ICCC), the Israel Export Institute and the Israeli Federation of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce.

ARISE founder, attorney Calev Myers, told TV7 that his organization “exists with the over-arching goal of tackling the challenges facing the nation of Israel in the most strategic way possible,” and has long been devoted to combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to isolate the Jewish State economically and diplomatically.

“The effectivity of legal and legislative battles against BDS is very limited,” Myers said, emphasizing the “the best way to fight BDS is to create more business for Israel. More pipelines of business from Israel to the nations. And we are trying to be as strategic as possible to confront that challenge.”

This month’s ARISE event is just the latest of a series of successful summits aimed at generating hundreds of millions of dollars-worth of business collaborations between Israelis and abroad. The pro-Israel delegations view Israel as a viable overseas investment opportunity and hope to establish business relationships for the future exchange of goods and technologies. Groups to send significant missions to the 2019 conference ranged from ICCC members of Cincinnati, Ohio’s “OCEAN” network to 100 alumni of the evangelical business alliance at India’s Karunya Institute of Technology and Science.

International businesspeople and entrepreneurs held at least 350 face-to-face meetings with their Israeli counterparts, as part of the “ARISE Business Matchmaking” conference. This year’s theme of “Innovation for Good” focused on Israeli initiatives to overcome current challenges to human health, education, transportation, the economy and quality of life. A ‘shark-tank’ competition was also featured, involving the allotment of five minutes for local companies to introduce their products; after which the entry deemed most promising by the audience was awarded a $10,000 grant by ARISE.

Other events included talks with representatives of the ‘Made in JLM’ nonprofit organization, which works toward bolstering Jerusalem in its bid to not only serve as Israel’s capital geographically, but also in hi tech and startup enterprises.

Myers condemned the recent decision by the European Court to label all food products manufactured in the Biblical territories of Judea and Samaria (also known as the West Bank), consistent with BDS objectives. Calling the ruling “disconnected from reality and the real needs of the Palestinians,” he pointed out that Israeli manufacturing companies employ tens of thousands of Palestinians, who are paid salaries five times higher than what they would otherwise receive for doing the same work in the Palestinian Authority.

“The only people who lose when these factories are closed down in the West Bank,” he explained, “are the Palestinians.”

He then posited that the EC decision to label Jewish products will “backfire.” Rather than harm these business interests, he vowed that “our group of Bible-believing, Evangelical Christians and the Nations will now be looking for products labelled as being created in Judea and Samaria, to purposely purchase them.” Myers has previously said that he believes the Israeli factories serve as “an exemplary example of fruitful coexistence.”

Other highlights of the summit included tours of the ancient land with full day archeological excursions to Biblical sites, as well as locations in modern-day Israel such as the Supreme Court, Knesset and more. Participants also paid tribute to victims of the Holocaust at the Yad Vashem Memorial and visited the Friends of Zion Museum.

Testimonials from those who attended were exceptionally positive. One European commented, “We saw many opportunities for future business collaboration come out of our matchmaking sessions, so yes, it was a good day!” Another from The Netherlands said, “I knew about Israeli technology and Israeli innovation, but after listening to the presentations today I can honestly say I hadn’t heard the half of it.”

A South African businessperson said the summit gave him an “opportunity to bless Israel – and when I bless Israel, I get blessed.”

When asked to what he attributes his unwavering support for Israel and motivates his work for ARISE, Myers told TV7 that his great-great grandfather, Abraham Myers, owned a small store in Darmstadt, Germany, which was the first city in which the Third Reich implemented a boycott of Jewish businesses. “It is unacceptable that less than a century later, this phenomenon has raised its ugly head once again,” he said, “especially in light of the fabulous innovation that Israeli businesses create for humanity.”

“Not on my watch,” affirmed Calev Myers, while vowing that “ARISE will relegate BDS to nothing more than an impotent attempt to revive a colossal historic catastrophe.”

— By Erin Viner