Supporting the Legacy of US - Israel Relations in the Wake of BDS Movement
In an effort to counteract the anti-Israel Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement in the United States and abroad, Paul M. Kaplan, vice-president of the America-Israel Friendship League (AIFL), plans to lead a delegation this spring of senior leaders of the American business and financial-services sector on a mission to Israel.
Scheduled to take place after Passover, the six-day mission will include CEOs and other officers involved in banking, investment firms, and businesses. Non-sectarian and politically non-partisan, AIFL delegations encompass Americans of all creeds and ethnicities.
Delegation participants on the planned financial-services mission will have the opportunity to meet and network with their Israeli counterparts, giving the trip a combination of educational, business and pleasure components.
"While the BDS movement seems to have lost most of its steam, bringing business leaders to experience Israel first-hand for themselves is a way of inoculating participants and those they influence against adopting tactics and policies that are destructive not only for Israel, but also for the United States," said Mr. Kaplan, a partner in the Manhattan-based law firm of Alston and Bird.
An adamant opponent of the BDS movement, Mr. Kaplan, who has practiced law for more than 25 years with major firms and corporations in the US and Europe and has been an adjunct professor of law at Fordham Law School since 2006, said he views it as a throwback to the early 1930s tactics of the Nazis in Germany.
"Inciting antisemitic boycotts was a trademark of the Nazis. I believe increasing business connections between Americans and Israelis is a positive effort that helps the economy in both countries while working against the potential damage caused by BDS anti-Israel activists," he said.
Mr. Kaplan is far from a novice at leading this sort of delegation to Israel. In recent years, he led two similar missions along with the late, fervently pro-Israel Republican Congressman, Housing Secretary, and vice-presidential candidate, Jack Kemp, who was also a member of the AIFL Board.
"He was a wonderful leader on behalf of the US-Israel relationship and an all-around great guy," said Mr. Kaplan.
Mr. Kaplan expects to attract a similarly well-known, pro-Israel political leader to accompany the mission this spring.
He sees the planned mission to Israel, which, for most, if not all of the expected 10-12 participants, will be a first visit to the Jewish state, as akin to a "businessman's version of Birthright," the program that provides free, first-time trips to Israel for young adults ages 18-26.
While there may be some subsidies for the mission in Israel, for the most part, participants will be expected to pay their own way.
Business-sector leaders who are interested in participating in the delegation should contact Mr. Kaplan at 212-210-9510 or Dr. Alex Grobman, AIFL executive director, at 212-213-8630 ext 230.
"Although I can't guarantee it, I can say that, almost by definition, the trip will generate business activity between the American participants and the Israelis they will meet," said Mr. Kaplan.