RAMALLAH: Finally, after lying to their teeth that they have "defeated" or "buried" the BDS movement, Israel's far-right government and its lobby groups in the west are now admitting that they have failed to stop the impressive growth of the movement's impact on Israel's regime of oppression.

It is worth noting that the BDS movement for Palestinian rights has for years held that Israel's desperate efforts in fighting it have failed.

But never to be bothered by the verifiable and undisputed facts, most of the mainstream western media, for obvious reasons, have persistently parroted the Israeli propaganda claims, uncritically and without a hint of professional fact checking, let alone attempting to obtain the views of "the other side," as it were.

And Israel's failure cannot possibly be attributed to lack of trying or lack of investing appropriate resources. Indeed, Israel and its lobby groups have spent untold tens of millions of dollars in the past 2 years alone in fighting BDS.

The numbers that we know already indicate how staggering the hidden cost of Israel's war on BDS may be.

Well, AIPAC's budget is some $70 million. A chunk of that goes to fighting BDS, directly and indirectly, including "buying" lawmakers' loyalty to push for anti-BDS legislation in Congress and state legislatures and maintain Israel's impunity. This "buying" of loyalty is admitted even by Thomas Friedman!

The Israeli government has allocated $26M in its 2016 budget to anti-BDS activities. And this is only the money that the Ministry of Strategic Affairs gets directly for fighting BDS.

Other Israeli ministries and departments spend a lot more on fighting the movement and related solidarity work, especially on the "Brand Israel" related activities. This includes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of Tourism.

Also, Israel has admitted mobilizing its intelligence services in fighting BDS, spying on activists, "tarnishing" their reputations, bullying, smearing, cyber -- and other forms of -- sabotage against their internet-based resources, etc.

Israeli intelligence minister Yisrael Katz last year told an anti-BDS conference that the Ministry of Intelligence is “absolutely” part of Israel’s efforts to tackle BDS and that the Israeli intelligence services collaborate with other intelligence services regarding the BDS movement.

Who knows how much all that costs.

This is not to mention the tens of millions of dollars spent by Israel's lobby groups in the US, Europe and elsewhere to fight BDS, including by inviting many celebrities to visit Tel Aviv, funding trips by thousands of younger Jewish-Americans, sending Israeli bands and scientists to international fora to show Israel's "prettier face," etc.

To fight BDS on US campuses alone, a staggering $50m tfund was raised by Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban, et al.

The striking investigative report by Aljazeera, "The Lobby," reveals how Israel's lobby in the UK bribes politicians and MPs and conspires to "take down" those who do not support the extreme policies of the Israel government. And that's the UK ... imagine how the lobby operates in the US!

Regardless, despite its best and most repressive, well-oiled, McCarthyite efforts to suffocate the BDS movement, Israel has miserably failed. And this is now admitted by two important organizations that are part and parcel of Israel's war on BDS.

Western reporters would do well -- to serve the truth and their own professional reputations -- to listen also to what the BDS movement has to say, next time they hear about Israel "crushing BDS" or "winning the war" against it, as is often claimed by this or that Israeli leader or lobby figure.

Finally, in fresh news that further underlines this failure, the US National Football League Seahawk's Michael Bennett has pulled out of a planned propaganda trip to Israel. An appeal by human rights groups and leading figures (of the caliber of Angela Davis, Danny Glover and Alice Walker) had been sent to Bennett urging him to cancel.

Australian-British singer Natalie Imbruglia has become the latest celebrity to cancel her Tel Aviv concert, which was scheduled to take place in two weeks! BDS activists and partners groups had appealed to her to cancel.


I suppose Israel's regime will soon have to settle for D-list names to try to whitewash its crimes and suppress BDS.

(Omar Barghouti is a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and a co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Since last year Israel has taken away his right to travel even as senior Ministers in Tel Aviv speak out against him by name)