Divestment Unmasked (INN-ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS OP-ED) by Fred Taub 02/02/05)
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Proponents will tell you they want to bring peace to the world, but
the leadership looks at it differently. The story involves
government plots to wage a secret war and the private citizens who
are unwittingly carrying out the will of brutal foreign
dictatorships, while the evil leaders sit back and gloat at the
fruits of their labor. No, I´m not referring to the plot of a
paperback spy novel, rather to the divest-from-Israel campaign that
started on college campuses in the United States and is now
extending to businesses and municipalities.
Our story begins in 1945, four years before Israel was born, when
the Arab League formed and officially declared its boycott against
the Jews and the forthcoming Jewish state. Their idea was to isolate
Israel economically, in hopes that such actions would starve out the
Jews, who would have no easily accessible trading partners once the
British left the Palestine region. The Arab League was an outgrowth
of previous unification efforts in the Arab world, which also
included a boycott of Jewish interests in the region as early as
1921. In fact, the boycott and its underlying hatred of Jews was one
of the unifying factors that created the Arab League. A common enemy
among warring factions can be a powerful motivator.
We fast-forward to the Clinton administration era, when the
Palestinian Authority was negotiating the borders of a proposed
Palestinian state. Francis Boyle, a US professor from Indiana, was
working as a consultant to the Palestinian Authority´s negotiating
team and publicly proposed what he termed "a divestment campaign
against Israel". His idea furthered the Arab boycott of Israel by
specifically trying to draw students into creating small campaigns
on their campuses to get their universities to not do business with
Israel. This later included an academic boycott that excludes
Israeli universities, professors and their research. Boyle suggested
that while a single campus campaign would have little effect, having
many US campuses adopt the campaign would increase the impact of the
This was not, however, the first time such a campus campaign had
been attempted by the Palestinians. In the 1980s, the General Union
of Palestinian Students created a campaign to make people
comfortable with the concept of a Palestinian state. The results of
that campaign are being felt today, because the former college
students of the ´80s are now adults with their own families, many of
whom see the creation of a Palestinian state as a good thing.
Enter the year 2000. A new generation is on campus, and the campaign
of a generation ago is no longer needed because the Palestinian
state every Israeli once feared is now being negotiated. The
proponents of a Palestinian state, one would have thought, should be
happy and working toward their new state with the goal of peace.
After all, they now have what they said they wanted. But that is not
what is happened. Suicide bombers and other terrorist attacks are
being carried out against Israelis on a daily basis. The rhetoric
has progressed and so has the terrorism.
While researching these divestment / boycotts campaigns for Boycott
Watch, I came across nearly forgotten legislation - the US
Antiboycott laws of 1979, administrated by the Department of
Commerce and enacted to prevent foreign governments from imposing
their foreign policy on the US. When creating the law, Congress
reiterated that creating foreign policy was their domain and that
they did not want de facto US foreign policy created by individuals.
Yet, that is the goal of the divest-from-Israel campaign. People are
trying to impose the foreign policy of Arab League countries on the
United States; a clear-cut violation of US Antiboycott laws.
I researched the laws further and discovered they were primarily
being enforced on exports, forbidding countries from requesting
declarations that no parts of goods being sent to Arab countries
originated in Israel and the ships used to transport the goods did
not dock in Israel. This law is being circumvented by requesting
positive statements of origin, such as a declaration that the
products are entirely US made, thus still guaranteeing no Israeli
products will enter Arab countries.
The specific goal of the divest-from-Israel campaign is to carry out
and further the Arab boycott of Israel, which has the overall goal
of destroying Israel economically. Non-Arab students and others who
support the effort are told that their participation is for
humanitarian reasons – the fight against oppression of innocent
people by Israeli soldiers - yet they fail to mention that shooting
rifles at the tanks of any army is not healthy. Iraqis who shoot at
US troops seldom live to tell about it either.
Along with divestment, the Palestinian Authority has also been
promoting a complete economic blockade of Israel in Malaysia and a
general boycott of Israeli products in Europe. This economic warfare
campaign is being carried out while the Palestinian Authority is
claiming to negotiate for peace in good faith with Israel for the
creation of a Palestinian state. One can hardly call this back-
handed approach to achieving peace benevolent. Rather, it can best
be summed up as economic terrorism. If Israel does not acquiesce to
the desires of the Arab League, i.e., vanish, then the boycott in
all its forms will continue indefinitely.
The Arab League has not placed any end-goal to their boycott other
than their greater goal of the complete destruction of Israel.
Similarly, the divest-from-Israel campaign is not scheduled to end
with the creation of a proposed Palestinian state, as its non-Arab
proponents are led to believe. Rather, it will continue indefinitely
as part of the Arab boycott of Israel. Like the ´80s campaign to
create an adult population that accepted the notion of a Palestinian
state, the desired results of the divest-from-Israel campaign will
be felt in twenty years, in the next campaign – dismantlement.
Realizing this, I needed to get other groups involved against the
illegal divest-from-Israel campaign. I first contacted the Zionist
Organization of America, because of their ability to work with
Congress on issues vital to Israel and because ZOA National
President, Morton A. Klein, is the kind of person who will not rest
until the job is done. Our efforts resulted in the ZOA getting a
letter signed by 20 members of Congress to the Department of
Commerce requesting an investigation into the matter of the illegal
boycott of Israel.
While the ZOA was working on the Congressional letter, Boycott Watch
and the ZOA each challenged the legality of the divest-from-Israel
campaign to the Department of Commerce. We also sent letters
detailing the legal issues to Duke University, which was about to
sponsor a conference by the Palestinian Solidarity Movement /
International Solidarity Movement in furtherance of the divest-from-
Israel campaign. Together, we initiated the legal challenge to the
Presbyterian Church USA´s divest-from-Israel stance, as well.
The ISM/PSM officially recognizes the validity of "armed struggle"
in its own book Peace Under Fire (page 20). "Armed struggle" is the
term terrorist groups - such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the
Palestinian Authority´s own Fatah and Al-Asqa Martyrs Brigade - use
for terrorism, to justify the murder of innocent men, women and
children. As such, the ISM/PSM is not the benevolent organization it
claims to be. Rather, it is an organization that tries to get non-
Palestinians to participate in furthering its terrorist ideology by
implementing economic terrorism, instead of suicide bomber
terrorism. ISM/PSM supporters are unwittingly supporting terrorists
and their ideology while trying to advance peace in the Middle East.
Despite their good intentions, the non-Arab divestment advocates
have been tricked into violating US Antiboycott laws by people whose
primary goal is the destruction of Israel using the creation of a
Palestinian state as a tool of their hostilities.
In the meantime, Divestment Watch was born to specifically
concentrate on the illegal divest-from-Israel campaign separately
from the monitoring of general boycotts. A primary goal of
Divestment Watch is to coordinate efforts and to challenge the
legality of the divest-from-Israel campaign with Boycott Watch.
Challenging the divest-from-Israel campaign is not just to protect
Israel. The US is a target of the campaign as well. Imposing the
foreign policy of foreign countries on the US demonstrates the
contempt of the Arab League nations for the United States.
Recruiting Americans to press their foreign policy agenda on the US
is reminiscent of Soviet and Nazi attempts to infiltrate the US
Foreign countries should not be allowed to dictate US foreign
policy, nor should we allow foreign countries to advocate in the US
for the destruction of the economy of a fellow democracy. Such
actions are clearly against the best interests of the US. The
success of Israel´s economy has a direct impact on the US economy,
because Israel is a key developer of new technologies, including in
medicine, computers and even space exploration; not to mention that
it is the democracy and free-market-economy example for the Middle-
There is little doubt that, considering how Arab League countries
have exported their manifestations of hate for Israel to the US,
including terrorism, divestment campaigns will eventually be
directed against the US. Clearly, the divest-from-Israel campaign is
not in the best interests of Israel or the United States, and must
be stopped. (IsraelNationalNews © 02/02/05)
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