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Thursday, September 01, 2011

BDS working?

A deeply disturbing article from prominent pro-Israel Italian writer Giulio Miotti, which claims that BDS is making inroads into Israeli exports.
The first symbol of the anti-Israel economic campaign, Caterpillar, was far removed from the Western public consciousness. Yet Israeli roses were a better Jewish scapegoat, as flowers are a pillar of Israel’s economy (in the 1980s Israel became the world’s number two flower exporter. Agrexco was boycotted because it’s partially owned by the Israeli government and because the company has some farms in the Jordan Valley and in Tekoa, a settlement at the gates of the Judean desert.

Last year, Norway’s oil fund withdrew its investment from Africa-Israel and Danya Cebus citing their involvement in “settlement construction.” Just recently, the Swedish Coop has decided to terminate all purchases of Soda Stream carbonation devices. Meanwhile, the Methodist Church had passed an “anti-Israel” motion demanding a boycott of goods from “illegal” settlements. Quakers in Britain have also agreed to boycott Israeli products.

Elsewhere, major Dutch pension fund Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn, which has investments totaling 97 billion euros, has divested from almost all the Israeli companies in its portfolio (banks, telecommunication companies, construction companies and Elbit Systems.) A large Swedish pension fund also divested from Elbit over the latter’s role in building Israel’s West Bank security fence. Meanwhile, the Ethical Council of four Swedish buffer pension funds urged Motorola “to pull out of the Israeli-occupied territories in the West Bank” or face divestment.

On the cultural front, a film festival in Scotland returned funding to the Israeli Embassy after succumbing to boycott activists who threatened to picket the event. Elsewhere, some major Indian artists have announced the boycott of a show scheduled at the Tel Aviv State Museum in the spring of 2012. Dozens of music stars also endorsed the boycott this past year (Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron, Roger Waters).
Agrexco has filed for bankruptcy (which may have as much to do with the loss of cheap Arab labor, tighter restrictions on importing foreign workers and the loss of the Gaza growing facilities as it has to do with BDS), but as to the other examples he cites, and there are many more beyond what I've given you, I don't see them having that serious an effect on our economy.

What is key here though is that the boycotters do not differentiate between products made in 'settlements' and products made within the 1949 armistice lines. Anyone who tells you that there is a significant boycott of 'settlement products only' (other than specific facilities and institutions like the Barkan industrial zone - whose boycott has cost a lot of 'Palestinians' their jobs - and Ariel University) is lying.

But I liked this part at the end.
When Italian stores last year announced the banning of Agrexco, the company’s director, Shimon Alchasov, rhetorically asked me: “Should I mark the products with a yellow star of David?” The late, great historian Raul Hilberg explained that the economic strangling of the Jews in business, education and employment was the first step in the Holocaust. Now the same “Raus mit Uns” (out with us) boycott is bleeding the State of Israel.
Maybe we should label with a yellow star products being sent to countries that have a significant BDS movement. Especially to Europe, which continues to try to pretend that only Germany was guilty of the Holocaust.

Read the whole thing.


Miotti apparently got a bunch of facts wrong (Hat Tip: Omri Ceren via Twitter).
Agrexco, Israel’s leading flower company, is going through financial problems not because of significant losses in exports, but due to a major drop in the domestic market (along with a host of general financial issues). Similarly 2009-2010 “divestment” from the Africa-Israel Corporation was not due to politics but to the company’s near hopeless debt situation, trigged by the 2008-2009 crash in the real estate industry. In both these cases, BDS activists have made claims that the financial problems these companies face were based on their boycott and divestment advocacy, but (as chronicled here and elsewhere), these claims were exposed as fraudulent time and time again.

The article also mentions Caterpillar Tractor without once mentioning that anti-Israel divestment targeting Caterpillar at universities, churches and the like have been going on for close to a decade without one share of Caterpillar stock ever being sold by one of these institutions for political reasons. And Caterpillar itself has all but told the BDSers to piss off after years of harassment at annual shareholder meetings.

As we move onto boycotts, the Park Slope Food Co-op is not going to approve a boycott of Israel products “soon,” for the simple fact that a decision on this matter is not even on their agenda. A group of local BDSers is pressuring the Co-op to put a boycott to a member ballot (which wouldn’t necessarily be binding), and even this so-far-unsuccessful campaign has been met with stiff resistance by members trying to avoid having the Middle East conflict dragged into their community.

The University of Johannesburg recently reversed its decision to break ties with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University. Hudson Bay has made it clear that it did not pull Ahava products off the shelf at the urging of BDSers. DePaul University rejected (not approved) a boycott of Sabra hummus, and on and on and on. (I’m assuming the Ynet piece is an editorial vs. a regular news story, but even so how hard can it be to use this new Internet thingy to double check so many easily debunked claims?)
Sorry for raising alarms. I wasn't aware of most of this and trusted Miotti, who is a reputable Italian journalist who is strongly pro-Israel. Hmmm.

Read the whole thing.

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At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

he is wrong, and he is basing his article on assumptions not based on economics or reality...all he did was feed into the bdsers fantasies that their small victories have been huge wins

agrexco didnt file bankruptcy because of bds...i would suggest it has much more to do with the fact that the company is still partially owned by an inept israeli government...that bds had anything to do with the bankruptcy, is right out of barghoutti's fantasy land

but here...read this


now im not sure what miotti meant to do by writing the article...but if its to get everyone panicked....then he is insane

nothing to see here...move along

and barghoutti is still attending tau partially on the israeli tax payers dime...he is a fraud

At 12:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I havn't the time to debunk this whole thing, but Omri Ceren himself has his facts wrong, if he is the one who wrote that.

the London based, Lev Leviev's Africa/Israel WAS affected by the BDS movement, whilst he is right about his US property holdings, that is only part of the picture,

Looks like half truths were debunked by half truths, and still only half the picture emerges, not the full story

more later...


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