You couldn’t make it app: BDS activists rely on Israeli technology

Jack Prescott

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Ivan Pardo is the designer behind the app Buycott, the stated aim of which is to bring transparency to the consumer marketplace by allowing users to identify the companies behind the products they are buying. The app works by scanning a product’s barcode and giving a list of the companies and interested parties involved in its production.

So far the socially conscious app has been used for a host of personal crusades, some as rarefied as boycotting the sponsors of American Football team Washington Redskins until they agree to change their name to something less offensive.

Downloads were chugging along nicely for the first year or so, but Pardo has announced a huge spike in sales over the past few weeks. This boost is apparently driven by the public outcry over the actions of Israel and the increased support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement this has generated.

BDS activists primarily seek to punish the hamfisted wrongdoings of the Israeli government and military by boycotting all of the nation’s produce in a correspondingly hamfisted manner. Yet, the irony of the Buycott app being used as a tool to avoid Israeli products has apparently been lost on most of these newly minted activists thus far.

In 2012, Apple acquired Israeli tech firm Anobit Technologies for nearly $500million. Anobit had been producing flash memory for all of Apple’s products for years before the buyout and, as such, most Apple technology in use today uses this Israeli-sourced hardware. Nor is Anobit alone in the Israeli tech market. In fact, the nation of Israel is a second Silicon Valley in many respects. It was the birthplace of the memory stick in 1998 and has more start-ups per capita than anywhere else in the world. Tech giants Intel and Microsoft have responded to such innovations by building large research-and-development facilities there, apparently tainting their products in the process.

What this means, then, is that many Buycott users are going into supermarkets and scanning their hummus for Israeli connections using a piece of hardware with direct links to Israel. But it goes beyond this: Israeli tech is so pervasive that almost every time a BDS member writes a sanctimonious blog, rattles off a canting email, or sends a self-congratulatory text, they are using technology forged in the country they so vociferously denounce. If the BDS activists wish to ameliorate this stunning hypocrisy may I suggest that they have a whip round and gather up all of their Israeli-linked tech – I’m sure there are a few kids in Gaza who wouldn’t mind an iPad.

Jack Prescott is a spiked intern.

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Topics Politics