Hours after Hamas-backed fighters broke out of the fence surrounding Gaza and embarked on a crusade of rape, killing, and kidnapping throughout southern Israel, some American corporate activists began their crusade to legitimize all of it.

Notably among their ranks were advocates of the boycott, divest, and sanctions movement.

“Oppression is the root cause of violence,” wrote the BDS movement in a statement released on Oct. 7, offering praise to the “powerful armed reaction of the oppressed Palestinians in Gaza” and making no mention of the deaths of nearly 1,200 innocent Israelis, or Hamas, the group that made it all happen.

As Israel’s political enemies swept across the battlefield, its corporate enemies in the environmental, social, and governance movement went to the boardroom to make good on their promises. The push for divestment was afoot.

As an analyst at a proxy consulting firm, part of my job is to read corporate proposals at publicly traded companies from Boeing to BlackRock, and sit through hundreds of annual meetings a year. In doing so, I see incredible levels of politically charged rhetoric and partisan solutions, ranging from the absurd (like Starbucks’ oat milk pricing policies) to the truly destructive (like Disney destroying billions of dollars’ worth of brand value to appease woke ESG activists).

But maybe the most disturbing trend I’ve seen concerns Israel—specifically, the push from anti-Israel radicals to not only defund the Israeli military, but also cripple the businesses of innocent Israeli civilians.

This crusade isn’t limited to companies such as Ben & Jerry’s that try to treat their entire business model as a stand-in for their political preferences (although that’s concerning, too, and has created a significant obstacle to the company’s corporate perception).

This time around, Israel’s enemies are taking their demands directly to corporate entities with outsized influence: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Amazon Web Services for starters.

Activist shareholders put these proposals on the corporate ballots disguised in the polite, euphemistic language of social justice (think “human rights”) to hide their true intent. Their asks are far more sinister.

In April, a proposal at Lockheed Martin called for the weapons company to sever its multimillion-dollar contract with Israel, including the sale of F-35 stealth fighters, and claiming that the company would be complicit in “war crimes” for doing business with the Israeli military.

Similarly, activists accused Raytheon of propping up a “system of apartheid” by selling weapons used to defend Israeli civilians. And at Amazon last month, a shareholder proposal claimed that Amazon Web Services was, in fact, the architect of an “apartheid system” of surveillance against Palestinians.

Many of these proposals, far from being merely sponsored by expressly anti-Israeli entities, are being pushed by the representatives of mainstream American Christianity. I’m talking about institutions from the American Baptist Home Mission Society to the Episcopal Church. Both have sponsored proposals aimed at defunding Israel.

The good news is that, since Oct. 7, many of their demands are increasingly falling on deaf ears. A year ago, a proposal at Amazon aimed at curtailing business with Israel garnered 33% support—this year, the “apartheid” proposal drew less than 16%.

American shareholders are realizing that such proposals not only offer horrific “solutions,” but fail to create value for companies.

And yet, I’m still seeing indications that some brands are willing to make deals with anti-Israel entities. On June 11, I attended Tripadvisor’s meeting to inquire about a proposal (sponsored by the Episcopal Church) that would have pressured the company to boycott “Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine territories,” cutting Israeli business owners out of revenue in the name of politics.

I was then told that the proponents withdrew the proposal—but this isn’t cause for celebration. It’s an indication that Tripadvisor made a backroom deal with the proponents to keep the proposal off the ballot.

The battle to stop the politicization of American businesses never stops. It goes on, for many reasons—but American shareholders are waking up to the reality of just how radical ESG activist “solutions” truly are.

None of the anti-Israel proposals I’ve seen offered an angle of benefit to shareholders or made a serious case for how divestment benefits American companies. They’re purely ideological, borrowing their language and talking points from a truly repudiable school of thought that brands Israel an illegitimate state, considers the physical and financial well-being of Jewish civilians an acceptable sacrifice for political point-scoring, and deems any American company willing to do business with Israel complicit in genocide.

The BDS radicalism of yesteryear didn’t die, but thanks to the sanity of American shareholders, it’s slowly fading away.

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