Thursday, 20 February 2014


Boycotting Israel’s Goods? Be Prepared For Some Significant Lifestyle Changes!
February 19, 2014 | Christine Pasciuti
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You may be surprised to learn that many of your favorite products used daily in your home and at your job, are produced and manufactured in, yes, Israel! And the entities behind the brand names happen to do business in an area of the tiny nation—East Jerusalem and the West Bank—where contentious disputes over historical land rights between Israelis and Palestinians have escalated to, well, Biblical proportions.
Arising out of this heated debate is a sweeping contagion of concrete boycotting actions being carried out against the companies who are doing business in this region and who directly or indirectly benefit Israel. When reviewing the vast innovative contributions Israeli companies continue to make in all aspects of research, development and production of goods the world heavily relies on, it becomes quickly evident that these products benefit all of us, and one has to ask if broad scale participation in these boycotts is nothing short of proverbially “cutting off your nose to spite your face”.
Proctor & Gamble, the producer of Pampers, is one of the largest clients of Avgol Nonwoven Industries, a diaper products company that operates a plant in the West Bank Settlement area of Ariel, and represents half of their sales.

Intel, whose processors can be found in 80 percent of the world’s computers, runs plants in Kiryat Gat, a former Palestinian village site, and has reportedly invested $2.7 billion for upgrades at the plant sites, where new chips are being developed to make computers lighter and faster. The company has invested a total of $10 billion in Israel, and in return, has received more than $1 billion in Israeli government grants.
Last month, Motorola, signed a $100 million deal with Israel for encrypted smartphones that will be supplied to Israeli soldiers and security personnel. In addition, the electronics giant is providing surveillance equipment used around Israeli settlements, along its separation barrier, and at the Israel-Gaza border.
Computer and printer maker Hewlett-Packard (HP) provides biometric technology for Israeli ID cards and at Israeli checkpoints, and uses service providers located in Israeli settlements.
Cosmetics (Ahava), lingerie (Victoria’s Secret), hummus (Tribe and Sabra), burgers (McDonalds), automobiles (Volvo), not to mention thousands of other products that contain or use Israeli-developed technology, including iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, Skype, computer firewalls, and Microsoft XP, are being exported all over the planet.

These companies are being systematically targeted by The BDS, a Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement which has been around since 2005, and is adding fuel to the fire with its influence on popular discontent with Israel and the group’s increasing pressure on businesses and governments throughout Europe to take more concrete action.
The movement has some “legs” to it, due to the worsening public opinion of Israel in Europe. According to a 2013 BBC poll, favorability ratings dropped 8 percent in both Spain and Germany, to single digits. And only 14 percent of citizens in the UK expressed a positive view of Israel, despite Britain being the first European country to formally support the establishment of a Jewish state.
The European Union, long known to disagree with Israel’s policies concerning its settlement territories in the West Bank, has recently stepped up its rhetoric and actions by promoting and participating in the BDS-led boycott of goods produced and companies operating in the disputed settlements region of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The seemingly concerted effort has moved beyond mere symbolic gesturing.
Israel has begun to experience the “bite” of these latest efforts to sanction the Holy Land. The EU is Israel's No. 1 trading partner and accounts for almost a third of its total trade. Jordan Valley produce in particular has been a successful export to the European continent, but it is grown and harvested on land that a growing number of European consumers believe Israel illegally confiscated in 1967, taking control of land and water resources that should belong to the Palestinians.
What does the arid Jordan Valley region produce? More than a third of the world's Medjool dates, nearly all of Israel’s grape exports, and an abundance of peppers and herbs.                                                                                                                                                                                                           
David Elhayani, farmer and mayor of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, reports that Jordan Valley farmers lost about 14% of revenue last year—an estimated $29 million—because they had to find new markets for their exports. Russia is one such alternative, but prices there are 20% - 60% lower. Pepper exports to Western Europe have ceased altogether, and consumer pressure is forcing a phasing out this year of grape exports as well.
The rising opposition to Israel, especially over the last six months, by a number of European banks, pension funds, legislators and even engineering firms, has the Jewish nation’s leaders more seriously reexamining a threat they once scoffed at.
On Feb. 9, a special meeting of government ministers was convened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to counter the growing economic boycott with a solid strategy, which included the recommendation by one minister for a $28 billion aggressive media and legal campaign.
Though last year's drop in Jordan Valley exports represented a scant 0.01 percent of total Israeli exports for the year, concern is mounting that the increasing opposition to Israeli policies portends an ever greater displeasure with the actual existence of the tiny nation.

Yitzchak Mayer, who served as Former Israeli Ambassador to Belgium and Switzerland during the 1990s, noted,   "Sanctions are also what we Israelis should fear most – disenchantment of the world with the very idea that Jews are entitled to have a state of their own."
A recent endorsement in a Superbowl ad by Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson of SodaStream, the home soda maker that operates a factory in the West Bank, handed the BDS movement fresh ammo. When asked to stop supporting Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land with her endorsement, Ms. Johansson instead refused calls and publically praised the factory for being a refuge of coexistence that provides jobs to hundreds of Palestinians. An international boycott campaign was quickly launched against the soda maker, and the actress faced enough criticism for her endorsement that she was forced to step down as a global ambassador for the humanitarian agency Oxfam.

Palestinian workers at the factory however, largely sided with the actress. One such young worker in Azzariah, a West Bank town separated from job opportunities in Jerusalem by the concrete Israeli separation wall, told reporters, “Before boycotting, they should think of the workers who are going to suffer.” This man previously earned 20 shekels ($6) per day plucking and cleaning chickens. SodaStream now pays him nearly ten times that amount, and provides transportation, breakfast and lunch.
BDS co-founder and human rights activist Omar Barghouti, responded by suggesting that the SodaStream boycott has “... led to mass education of the public everywhere about the illegality of Israel's settlements, Israel's denial of Palestinian rights, and, crucially, the need to boycott companies producing in settlements as a minimal measure of ending complicity in grave violations of human rights."
Businesses operating in East Jerusalem/West Bank Settlements have faced increasing sanctions from EU lawmakers, let alone from non-governmental organizations opposed to Israeli policies.
Last summer, the EU stated it would no longer provide funds through its Horizon 2020 research and innovation program—EU’s largest—which can allocate up to € 80 billion ($109 billion) over a 7 year period, to businesses operating in the settlement areas.
In January, the largest Dutch pension fund PGGM—worth $200 billion and one of the world’s largest—divested from five of the top Israeli banks, stating that it would be nearly impossible for them to stop providing financing for settlements in the occupied region.

Last September, a Dutch engineering firm cancelled plans to build a sewage treatment plant in East Jerusalem, and a Dutch water company parted ways this past December with Israel’s national water carrier because of its operations in the West Bank.
Then just last month, Germany announced it wouldn’t renew research grants for Israeli entities conducting business beyond the ‘Green Line’, a loosely recognized border that existed prior to Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem and West Bank land during the 1967 war. This was the first move by an individual EU member to set standards for academic research to be applied to private companies.
Israel's 2008-09 war against Hamas-run Gaza ignited demonstrations in Europe and pushed EU lawmakers to deter from a once cooperative relationship with Israel that included economic incentives and the elimination of trade tariffs.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated that Israel will not be swayed by an economic boycott, and noted the expanding trade relations Israel has gained with developing nations such as Mexico and China. Last year, exports to Asia were nearly on par with US-Israel trade.
The gaining momentum in the boycott movement will surely play into simmering frustrations already affecting current peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and is likely to be a thorn in the side of hope for a peaceful resolution. The players are numerous, the stakes are high, and resentments run deep on all sides.
Yet many hold to their faith and wait for the coming Biblical ‘Peace Deal’, believing that the Lord God sees and knows all, and that not a single fragment of frenzied activity in this conflict will put a dent in God’s ultimate miraculous plan for the Holy Land, its people, and for all who hold fast to His Word.


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