Yediot reports on damage to settlement industry caused by targeted boycott
Daniel Bettini, Navit Zumer and Ofer Petersburg, Yediot, August 25 2010 [Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]
The decision made on Monday by the Norwegian oil fund to divest from Africa Israel and Danya Cebus on the grounds that they are involved in illegal construction in the territories, is only the latest in a long series of decisions by governmental and private companies in Europe to boycott Israeli companies for political reasons.
In most cases, the argument is that the products were manufactured over the Green Line, and are therefore in the “occupied territories.” At times, this refers to a political protest against Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, for example, in response to the flotilla events. One thing is not in question: In recent months, there has been an escalation in the boycott of Israeli brands for political reasons.
“Since the Palestinians announced a boycott on products from the territories, I have had a 40% drop in production in recent months,” said yesterday Avi Ben-Zvi, owner of Plastco, a glass plant in Ariel, “exports to Europe have completely stopped, and traders in the territories have stopped working with us. The damage is huge.”
Ariel Mayor Ron Nahman said that this was causing great damage to the factories in the area: “Large-scale governmental action should be taken in order to go to the boycotting countries and threaten that they will not be partners to the peace process.”
Norway’s decision from Monday was preceded in March 2010 by the decision of a large Swedish pension fund to boycott Elbit Systems, an Israeli company, due to its part in building the separation fence. The fund announced that it had sold its holdings in Elbit following a recommendation of the fund’s ethics committee not to invest in shares of companies that are involved in violating international conventions.
Elbit also suffered from a boycott beforehand: the Government Pension Fund of Norway announced last September that it would stop investing in Elbit due to its part in building the fence. At the end of last May, the Deutsche Bank announced that it had sold all of its shares in Elbit, apparently after heavy pressure that was applied to the bank’s management by representatives of anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian organizations.
Two years ago, the Swedish giant Assa Abloy, owner of the Israeli Multi-Lock, apologized for operating its factory in the Barkan Industrial Zone, Beyond the Green Line. The company promised to move the factory “into Israel” following pressure from a Swedish human rights organization.
Chairman of the Manufacturers Association of Israel Shraga Brosh said yesterday that “from time to time, various bodies, mainly Scandinavian, boycott one company or another from Israel. In the end, these are pinpointed events that do not affect trade with Israel as a whole.”
Soda Club has also been hit by the boycott: After receiving threats by pro-Palestinian groups, the Paris Municipality was forced to deny that the Israeli company was participating in a large fair promoting the us of tap water.
In July 2009 it became known that the French transport company Veolia, operator of the the Jerusalem light rail, decided to sell its hares in the project. Veolia did not cite the reason for the sale, but a hint may be found in the agreement of a French court a few months earlier to hear a petition against Veolia for building parts of the line inside East Jerusalem, in order to connect Jewish neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city with the west.
Africa Israel stated: “Africa Israel and its subsidiaries have not been involved for quite some time in real estate development or residential construction in the West Bank. Therefore, the allegations are groundless.”