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Frequently Asked Questions
  Q   What is a Boycott?  
  A   A boycott is 'an agreement not to do business with'. Thus, one cannot boycott alone. Two people must agree in order for a boycott to exist.  
  Q   What is divestment?  
  A   Divestment is an agreement between two or more people to withdraw investment in a particular asset (such as selling stocks in a company or bonds in a state or national government), normally in protest of that institution's political, social or environmental activities. Divestment is a form of boycott in which investments are specifically targeted.  
  Q   What is Boycott Watch?  
  A   Boycott Watch is a non-profit organization that looks at boycott calls, asks both sides their story and posts it at www.boycottwatch.org so people can decide for themselves what the truth is.  
  Q   What is Divestment Watch?  
  A   DivestmentWatch was created by the developers of BoycottWatch, a consumer advocacy site that is designed to provide citizens with accurate information regarding boycott activities around the country and across the globe. Because the boycott is such a powerful weapon, it is important that people know all of the facts before making a decision to declare or take part in a boycott. BoycottWatch, committed to sorting out accurate vs. inaccurate information regarding various boycotts, helps individuals make decisions regarding boycotts with a full understanding of the facts.

DivestmentWatch was created to highlight issues regarding a particularly unfair and egregious politico-economic campaign: the call for institutions to divest from the State of Israel.
  Q   How did Boycott Watch get started?  
  A   Boycott Watch was started after a large number of false boycott calls were sent via email and finding a definitive source of the truth was not available. Boycott Watch was formed to fill the void by creating a non-partisan fair reporting source dedicated to boycott information.

   Today, Boycott Watch has stopped numerous false boycott calls and is the most prominent source of debunking false boycotts and giving consumers both sides of the story in one place.
  Q   Why have you created a Web site to cover just one divestment / boycott activity?  
  A   Unlike other boycott activities, boycott and divestment campaigns targeting the state of Israel have been around for over seven decades and are part of a multi-pronged attack on one state with the goal of isolating it economically and politically. As such, it is different than other boycott activities in being part of a multi-pronged militant strategy (that also involves terrorism and open warfare), acting as the economic and propaganda arm of hostilities directed towards a democracy and ally of the United States.

BoycottWatch makes no judgment about the morality of boycotts per se. Rather, we are dedicated to ensuring that boycotts are used responsibly and are based on accurate information. However, we do make an exception in passing judgment on boycotts that may be illegal (such as the Divest-from-Israel campaign) or ones that target the United States.

It should also be noted that irresponsible use of the boycott weapon as a weapon of war taints legitimate boycott activities, allowing the object of boycotts to point out unfair, illegal activity such as the Divest-from-Israel movement as proof that boycott activities targeted at them are equally irresponsible or illegal. In order to maintain the integrity of the boycott tool, activities such as divestment from Israel need to be battled in every community.
  Q   If I choose to stop investing in a company, am I engaging in divestment activity?  
  A   Divestment, like a boycott is an agreement between people, so technically one cannot engage in either activity alone. Your personal decisions on how to invest, whether motivated by politics or purely by economics, are your own choices and do not constitute "
The divestment projects covered by DivestmentWatch are highly organized efforts by national and international groups to target the state of Israel for divestment activity. As such, they are of a different scale than other boycott-related activities and certainly of a different type than "social investing" of various sorts.
  Q   Are Divest-from-Israel campaigns legal?  
  A   20 congressmen have asked the Department of Commerce if Divestment falls under 1977 legislation forbidding US companies and other institutions from taking part in boycott activities directed against Israel. Over the last twenty-five years, companies have been fined millions of dollars for refusing to do business with the Jewish state in order to accommodate the Arab boycott which engages in so-called secondary boycott activity (refusing to do business with companies doing business with Israel) or tertiary boycotts (refusing to do business with suppliers to companies doing business with Israel in order to put pressure on those working in Israel to comply with the secondary boycott).

The Department of Commerce is investigating the deliberately murky world of anti-Israel boycott and divestment activities to determine where "grassroots activity" ends and organized illegal activity begins. See here for more information on the legal issues surrounding divestiture.
  Q   Are Divest-from-Israel campaigns anti-Semitic?  
  A   DivestmentWatch does not claim to be able to look into the hearts of those involved with Divest-from-Israel campaigns, although we also do not turn our eyes away from clear-cut anti-Semitic activity from many countries most vociferous about punishing Israel economically (such as the hate education that is part of many school curricula of the Middle East).

Certainly, many Divest-from-Israel activists are eager to claim that any legitimate criticism of their activities and tactics represent unfair accusations of anti-Semitism. Given how exposing these activities and tactics is often enough to stop a divestment push in its tracks, DivestmentWatch focuses on objective criteria for evaluating this movement, although we do include a discussion of anti-Semitism here if you are interested.
  Q   Have Divest-from-Israel campaigns been successful?  
  A   Thankfully, not yet. Outside of the Presbyterian Church, which passed a divestment resolution in 2004 (the fallout of which has caused other churches to hesitate taking similar measures - see here) divestment has failed in every university where it has been tried. And the movement's major foray into municipalities, in the city of Somerville Massachusetts, was a particularly notably failure for anti-Israel campaigners.

In general, these movements have only been successful when they can restrict the agenda to only talk about Israeli human rights abuses, completely divorced from the context of a four-year militant assault against the Jewish state that has left thousands dead and wounded. Once the Middle East dispute is put into context and once divestment activists are exposed as being just the latest form of anti-Israel activism on campuses and elsewhere, informed, civic-minded leaders and citizens have rejected them again and again.
  Q   How can I battle a Divest-from-Israel campaign in my community?  
  A   As noted above, Divest-from-Israel campaigns can only be successful if they manage to find decision makers who are willing to take stands on human rights issues, but who do not know enough about the Middle East conflict to see that they are being recruited to take sides in that propaganda arm of that conflict, rather than make a simple human-rights statement.

It is everyone's responsibility (yours and ours) to see that information gets out to those that need it most to make sure that leaders and citizens will not fall prey to a movement committed to using any tactic, including censoring any information that gets the way of their one-sided attacks on Israel, to further their agenda.

This site is committed to you, activists dedicated to ensuring that Divest-from-Israel campaigns meet with defeat wherever they are tried. Only by convincing those opposed to the destruction of the Jewish state that their propaganda campaign is as ineffective as war and terrorism will peace at last be achieved in the Middle East.
  Q   Is Boycott Watch or Divestment Watch politically aligned to any party?  
  A   Boycott Watch and Divestment Watch are in no way politically aligned, nor do we take stances on issues. If you read our reports, you will discover that Boycott Watch verifies boycott calls and Divestment Watch stands in support of US laws. The only time we take a side is if something is blatantly anti-American or is in violation of US laws, which is why we created Divestment Watch.  
  Q   Does Divestment Watch give legal advice?  
  A   No. We publish information regarding boycotts and do not give legal advice. We are not attorneys nor do we claim to be.  
  Q   Are you really just a pro-Israel advocacy site?  
  A   No. We are standing up for US laws - we are a pro-USA site. Antiboycott laws are designed to keep foreign countries from imposing their foreign policy on the US and we feel strongly that upholding such laws is in the best interests of the United States.  
  Q   Can you advise me where to purchase non-boycotted products?  
  A   Divestment Watch cannot and will not recommend any place to purchase any items related to any boycott or divestment campaign. Our role is to stand up for US laws.  
  Q   If you do not recommend places to purchase, how can you place ads on your site?  
  A   Ads placed on out site are from an agency and are done so we can pay our bills, including web hosting. We have to pay the bills too.  
© 2005 Divestment Watch