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Israeli minister met Mossad chief to plan 'struggle' against BDS: Report

Meeting shows concern at the very top of Israel's leadership over the pro-Palestine Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement
Demonstrator from Code Pink, a women-led anti-war activist group in the US, raising a poster (AP)

Israel’s minister of strategic affairs, Gilad Erdan, met with Mossad’s chief spy to cooperate in the “struggle” against the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Erdan's 2018 datebooks obtained by an Israeli NGO under a freedom of information request reveal that the minister met with Mossad head Yossi Cohen to talk about the “struggle against the boycott”, a movement against Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands.

Erdan’s office told Haaretz that the meeting was just a “review”, and that it is “proud” of meetings with security agency officials.

The minister's datebooks show that he also met with several officials from foreign security agencies and Jewish organisations, including the Israeli National Security Council, as well as members of the American Jewish Committee and US Congress.

The 2018 meeting between Erdan and Cohen was dedicated to setting up “public benefit cooperation”, known as the Concert, which received 128 million Shekels ($36m) from the Israeli government. It also raised another 128 million shekels from "philanthropic sources or pro-Israel organisations", Haaretz said.

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The Concert's aim and strategy are to secretly and covertly launch “mass awareness activities as part of the struggle against the campaign to delegitimise Israel globally”, according to Harretz.

The BDS movement aims to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories, end discrimination against Palestinian citizens of the state and ensure the right of return for refugees displaced from their homes since the creation of Israel in 1948.

Proponents of the movement have rejected claims that BDS demonises Israel, saying the non-violent tactic is modelled on the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s.

Middle East Eye has approached the BDS movement for comment.

In May, calls for boycotting Israel intensified as Tel Aviv hosted the Eurovision Song Contest days after Israel bombarded the Gaza Strip, killing at least 25 including two pregnant women and a 14-month-old girl.

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Iceland's 2019 entry to Eurovision, punk band Hatari, held up a banner with the word "Palestine" and Palestinian flag colours on it while their vote was announced. 

Pop star Madonna performed at the competition despite calls for her not to attend. However, backing dancers during her performance displayed Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs, causing outrage among Israeli officials.

“This element of the performance was not part of the rehearsals which had been cleared,” said competition organisers. “The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event, and Madonna had been made aware of this.”

Thousands of tickets to the contest's live shows remained unsold before the event took place amid boycott calls.