Archive for the ‘BDS’ Category


Recently, the European Union implemented a procedure for enforcing existing regulations requiring the labeling of some goods produced in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Israel has vociferously objected to any labeling of products from its settlements, and this has prompted concern in Congress, including a bi-partisan letter written by Senators Cruz and Gillibrand protesting the requirement.

The Obama administration has made it clear that it does not object to the EU’s decision. “We do not believe that labeling the origin of products is equivalent to a boycott,” State DepartmentIsraeli settlement winespokesman Mark Toner said in response to a question. “And as you know, we do not consider settlements to be part of Israel. We do not view labeling the origin of products as being from the settlements as a boycott of Israel.” Read more at Facts on the Ground, FMEP’s blog. 

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The city of Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital, modified its position today on a boycott of Israel, deciding instead only to boycott products from the Occupied Territories.

Reykjavík

Reykjavík

That is a much more politically sensible decision and a smart one for Reykjavík. The initial boycott was going to complicate Iceland’s foreign policy, as it is not the national policy to boycott all of Israel. Indeed, Iceland has no specific policy about how to respond to the occupation, nor does it have one regarding economic actions against Israel.

The outcome, however, does have an unfortunate side effect: it will be perceived as a tacit acknowledgment that a boycott of Israel over the occupation is, indeed, an act of antisemitism. The hysterical reaction of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, and the entirely inappropriate call by the Simon Wiesenthal Center (an institution which shames Wiesenthal’s name on a daily basis with their consistent practice of labelling any and all criticism of Israel as antisemitism) for Jews not to go to Reykjavík, will now appear to have been effective. (more…)

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The Icelandic capital city of Reykjavik has declared a boycott of all Israeli goods. The measure is clearly symbolic, as the

Björk Vilhelmsdóttir, the Reykjavik official who brought the boycott motion

Björk Vilhelmsdóttir, the Reykjavik official who brought the boycott motion

city itself can’t do enough trade with Israel, or any other country, for such an action to have any impact. The responses to the action, however, are worth examining.

A retiring official, Björk Vilhelmsdóttir, of the Social Democratic Alliance, a center-left party, brought the motion for the boycott. The motion compels the city to boycott all Israeli products “as long as the occupation of Palestinian territories continues.” The memo that explains the reasoning behind what it terms a “symbolic” decision states that the city condemns “the Israeli policy of apartheid” in the Occupied Territories.  (more…)

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In the latest in a series of Issue Briefs at the FMEP web site, we look at the BDS movement. We examine how it is distinct from other economic actions aimed at the Israeli occupation, the ways it has been used as a mask for very troubling attempts at policy shifts and the misguided responses to it. Check out the Issue Brief at the FMEP web site.

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Matt Duss

Yesterday, FMEP’s President, and my friend and colleague, Matt Duss testified before the National Security subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. I helped Matt draft his written remarks, so I thought my readers might be interested in seeing the written testimony Matt submitted in advance of the hearing.

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When President Barack Obama signed the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill last week, a precedent was set. The bill included a provision that “…requires the U.S. Trade Representative to discourage European Union 640px-Beitar_Ilitcountries from boycotting ‘Israel or persons doing business in Israel or Israeli-controlled territories’ during free-trade negotiations between the U.S. and the EU.”

In effect, this amendment treated Israeli settlements, for the first time in American history, as being part of Israel and therefore deserving the same protection. It was a small step; there is no enforcement mechanism in the bill.from boycotting ‘Israel or persons doing business in Israel or Israeli-controlled territories’ during free-trade negotiations between the U.S. and the EU.”

However, it cracked the dam and opened the potential for a flood. This small amendment was a first step in reversing long-standing American opposition to the settlements, and its support for the two-state solution. Read more at Talking Points Memo

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Yair Lapid, Israel’s former Finance Minister, told a hawkish “pro-Israel” gathering in New York that the leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement (BDS) are anti-Semites and their followers are “bleeding heart, so-called intellectuals.” Lapid went on to say that European citizens and American students “…are cheering for the people and values that brought 9/11 to this country. You are supporting people that kill gays and suppress women.”

Mutual Demonization

Lapid is far from alone in elevating the movement to a threat on par with Israeli descriptions of Iran. Whether it was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu placing a high-ranking Likud Member of the Knesset in charge of battling BDS or grandstanding on the issue by prominent members of Congress, the “threat” of BDS has never seemed greater. Read more at the FMEP blog

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