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Israel crosses the tipping point, becomes an economic liability

Over the past three months Israel has seen a surge in European firms adjusting their business ties with the Jewish State. The knee-jerk response of its politicians is telling: the point of no return has been reached.

Boycott Apartheid Israel sign at protest in al Ma'asara (activestills)

Boycott Apartheid Israel sign at protest in al Ma’asara (activestills)

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against Israel is gaining traction. It’s pretty much a fact no one can dispute – those three letters are seen more and more in just about every news item about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But there has also been some speculation about a certain “tipping point” concerning the campaign, and when exactly it will arrive.

That point has been reached over the past three months, based not only the number and weight of businesses imposing various sanctions, but also on Israeli reactions to them.

This Economist piece from February 8th has an excellent summary of some of the latest developments, mainly the decision of Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank, to blacklist Israel’s Bank Hapoalim due to its involvement in the funding of settlement construction; the decision of the Norwegian Ministry of Finance in January to exclude the Israeli firms Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus from its Government Pension Fund Global; and Dutch water company Vitens decision from December, which provides water to 5.4 million people in the Netherlands, to discontinue all joint ventures with Israel’s national water supplier Mekorot, in protest over the Israeli company’s operations in the West Bank.

The Economist also quickly mentions the Sodastream-Scarlett Johansenn affair –  which brought unprecedented scrutiny to the apartheid reality that exists in the West Bank. The Sodastream affair was one of the biggest smacks to the faces against the occupation in recent memory. I personally found my own Facebook feed full of many who were indeed aware of the occupation, but were extremely surprised to find that Israel and its businesses were using the good ol’ colonialist theme of “we’re good for the natives.”

However, Since the Economist piece was published, there have been some more developments – and more importantly, Israeli reaction showing real nervousness. Just this morning, Haaretz reported that boycott pressure has caused two foreign bidders to drop out of a tender to build facilities in the ports of Haifa and Ashdod:

Royal Boskalis Westminster, a Dutch operator of ports that had submitted a proposal under the name Holland Terminal in the prequalification stage last December, dropped out shortly thereafter. More recently, Italy’s Condote de Agua withdrew after passing the prequalification process.

The companies that had initially expressed their interest in the PQ stage last April made their decisions to drop out in recent months as boycott pressure on Israel has grown. The deadline for submitting bids was Monday.

In addition to the companies that withdrew from bidding, a third company – Jan De Nul from Belgium – only agreed to submit its bid after it was permitted to do so through a company registered in Luxembourg called Ludreco, out of fear of jeopardizing its business in the Arab world.

But what has seemed to really agitate Israeli politicians was the decision by Germany’s Deutsche Bank to “flag” Bank Hapoalim as a “morally questionable investment” on Monday. Deutsche decided to include Hapoalim on a list of companies whose conduct is ethically questionable, possibly due to its activity in the settlements.

This time, it was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who lashed out on Facebook:

 

That’s right, the Israeli prime minister stooped so low as to use the Holocaust for political purposes. Wouldn’t be the first time, though.

Here’s what Likud backbencher Ofir Akunis had to say:

 

[Translation] Let’s say someone told you a German bank was boycotting an Israeli bank due to “immoral” investments.

***

A German bank boycotting Jews? Could it be? These things have happened before…

***

In light of history, this bank better reverse its unethical decision!

And Dani Dayan, former head of the settler “Yesha Council” and today an international spokesperson for the settlement movement said on Facebook:

 

[Translation] A few words on ‘Deutsche Bank’ that ruled that investment in a certain Israeli bank is immoral.

In 1933 after Hitler rose to power, Deutsche Bank fired its three Jewish board members.

By November 1938 the bank was involved in stealing 363 businesses from Jews. In the bank they called it ‘Aryanisation’.

Deutsche Bank was the bank of the Gestapo and the bank that funded the construction of the Auschwitz death camp.

These were 60 seconds on Deutsche Bank and morality.

I cannot remember a time when I have seen so many Israeli public figures on both sides of the political map so obsessed with Israel’s standing in the world – most of them shivering with fear of global isolation. Palestinians living under the occupation – and Israeli activists who support their cause – should be well aware that the non-violent tactics they have taken over the past years seem to be working better than any violent uprising.

But let’s be clear: Deutsche Bank, Danske Bank and the others are not joining BDS because they care about Palestinians. They are huge financial entities with only the bottom line on their mind. They fear losing business, as any good capitalist should. With the number and sheer importance of these European firms over the past three months, and seeing as how Europe is Israel’s largest trade partner, combined with knee-jerk Israeli reactions, it is now safe to say that Israel and the occupation have become an economic liability.

Whether this is enough to end Israeli apartheid, we’ll have to wait and see. But what can be said is that 2014 will be remembered as the year BDS reached its tipping point.

Read more:
The boycott isn’t economic warfare, it’s psychological / Larry Derfner
Boycott goes on trial in Israel’s High Court / Dahlia Scheindlin

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Josef

      Pulling out the “H” card when you find your moral avenue is a dead end is pretty hopeless. I shop at Tesco, Marks and Spencer, British Home Stores and Burton etc. because they do not do business with the occupation.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        Josef, what is really “a dead end and pretty hopeless” is your desire to “free, free Palestine, from the river to the sea”! What is really “a dead end and pretty hopeless” is your goal to bring about the demise of the Jewish State Of Israel and replace it with “Palestine”. What is really sadistic are your phantasies about harming the businesses and companies of ordinary Jewish folks and destroying their ability to provide for their families with the goal of forcing an political end that you are not able to achieve through the democratic process. What is really inherently evil are the desires of despicable thugs like you, who masquerade as Human Rights NGOs/activist, to harm Jewish enterprises around the world and watch Jews suffer pain. Heck, you can’t even say the word: “Holocaust”! Jews have seen boycotts before – on European and Muslim/Arab soils! The same forces are at work again. The difference this time is that they have another false excuse i.e. “occupation”, “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing”. Another difference this time is: Jews are no longer defenseless. WE will crush the BDS-movement along with you and the evil in your heart!

        Reply to Comment
        • Kyle

          Take your meds.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Kyle has something to say, but it seems he is not able to verbalize them in a coherent argument and as such is limited to short outbursts of anger. Oh, poor Kylie!

            Reply to Comment
        • kate

          who’s we Ginger? Are the spokesperson for Jews everywhere? The shir-a venom and name calling in your comments here denote fear and perhaps an unbalanced mind

          Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Another thug who can’t contribute anything substantive to the debate has joined the haters! To answer your question, the “WE” are those Jews and non-Jews who would NEVER stand by and watch a State or groups of States or groups of organized individuals and international NGOs masquerading as human rights activist bring about the demise of the Jewish State Of Israel, militarily or otherwise. Whoever engages in such an evil act is a proverbial dead-ender, including the a bunch of Jews in Tel Aviv and elsewhere (such as you, Kate?) who are running around the world calling on (hostile) foreign governments to launch a campaign of economic terror against their own People, while accepting money in return from said governments. Got it?!

            Reply to Comment
          • Kate

            ah more name calling I see same old same old stuff accusations and crazed name calling in other words aspparently you’ve got nothing else as I said same old same old :)

            Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      Netanyahu is such a putz, isn’t he?

      You’d think the “holocaust card” would have been all used up by now, but then you would be underestimating the sheer schmuckitude of Israel’s current leadership. When all else fails – time and time again – they pull out the trusty holocaust card.

      The holocaust, its memory and its lessons has never been as cheapened as has been in recent years. For a man who claims he is driven by the lessons of the holocaust, Netanyahu should be ashamed of himself.

      The problem for Israel is – Netanyahu doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘shame’.

      Reply to Comment
      • Josef

        True that Danny, statements like these reveal much more about the charachters making it than the meaning of the statement itself. It’s a bit like making the same joke over and over and over again and expecting people to laugh every time.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Ginger Eis

      What I find really perplexing is that Jihadis like you, Danny, BOW before dictators like the Kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan and call them : ‘Your Majesty’. But democratically elected leaders of the West that took you and your fellow Jihadis in, granted you political asylum and gave you houses and monthly allowances for your feeding after you fled said dictators in Muslim countries, you have the Chutzpah to call “Putz”, etc. Anyways, boycotts were essential part of the campaign of the economic terror against European Jewry that culminated in the “Endlossüng”, i.e. the industrial murder of more than 6million Jews. When you use boycott as yet another means of economic campaign/terror against Jews in Israel, the Jewry braces itself with the words: ‘here we go again …’ / “The shame” is thus on you, your fellow Jihadis and Western apologists (including few lunatic Jews in Tel Aviv and New York) for repeating what Adolf Hitler did in the past. Shame on you for not realizing the power “boycott” has on the Jewish psyche, or maybe you do realize that, but couldn’t care less (i.e., you want Jews to remember and suffer!).

      Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        You are either a lunatic or a comedian, I can’t tell which. If, on the odd chance you are an actual paid hasbarist, then Israel is truly doomed. Your hasbara is so bad, it’s not even worth replying to.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          No, Danny the Jihadi, Israel is one of the top ten most productive countries in the world. Israel is booming in academics, science and technology, literature, arts, culture and enhancement of Individual Freedoms, while the Muslim nations that seek her demise are still in darkness and engulfed in barbarous civil wars, social quagmire, etc. Yeah, timid Danny, indeed, we do know who is domed, i.e. (a) you and your fellow Jihadis, (b) the (closet) anti-Semites and (c) your apologists in Tel Aviv and European capitals, who – having lost the indigenous citizenry – import social hazards like you en mass into the Free Western world in order to have a voting bloc and remain a player in the political arena. How wonderful would it be if you would just use the freedom granted to you in the West to defend Freedom instead of the Islamic tyranny and oppression you fled from. Anyways, be rest assured that the moment you rear your ugly head up against Israel, we will crush it – timid Danny. Just ask Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Muslim Brotherhood, etc.

          Reply to Comment
    4. Ginger Eis

      Mr. Ami Kaufman, you wrote:

      “Whether this is enough to end Israeli apartheid, we’ll have to wait and see. But what can be said is that 2014 will be remembered as the year BDS reached its tipping point.” Living aside the illogicalities/fallacies inherent your article, your claim of apartheid is patently FALSE and the Rules Of Professionalism and intellectual honesty require you to retract that malicious accusation. If you however find that your accusation is justified, please (a) provide your readers with the (legal) definition of “apartheid”, (b) apply said definition to the situation in Israel and/or Judea and Samaria and (c) demonstrate how Israel practices apartheid. You owe this to your readers. It is one thing, indeed very easy to scream “apartheid” and accuse Israel and the Jews of the worst crimes known to mankind. But it is quite different thing to (be able to) substantiate the accusations. This is a challenge. Are you going to defend yourself or run – like a coward?

      Reply to Comment
      • Johnboy

        Ginger wants to know the legal definition of apartheid.

        Well, heck, it’s found in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court:
        “The crime of apartheid” means inhumane acts of a character similar to those referred to in paragraph 1, committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime;”

        Ginger also wants to know how said definition can be applied to the situation in the occupied territories.

        Hmmmm, you seize the territory, and you impose military law on those that you occupy: June 1967 to…. today.

        Hmmmm, you also start colonizing that occupied territory with your own citizens (i.e. “Israeli colonists”), and those colonists are NOT subject to that same military law; they are privileged to be subject to the much more lenient Israeli civil law (even though, by definition, Israeli civil law can have no jurisdiction outside of Israel, as the West Bank certainly is.

        And the REASON for apply one rule (military rule) to one group and an entirely different rule (Israeli civil law) to the other group is, indisputably, to favour the latter to the detriment of the former.

        Hmmmm, that looks mighty like “the crime of apartheid” to me.

        You disagree, do you?
        How so?

        Reply to Comment
        • Not Ginger

          Taking things out of context is easy, but not intelligent.

          Israel took these territories as a direct result of arab aggression. Jordan was warned not to join the war in 1967, but did so anyways.

          Following that war, israel offered to return the territories in exchange for peace but the arabs infamously rejected with their three NO’s in Khartum.

          You want to close your eyes and pretend history started in 1967? go for it. if you have a honest bone in your body, perhaps you should ask yourself why the PLO was founded 3 years before 1967.

          Reply to Comment
          • Darweesh M.

            then start before 1948

            Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            Idiot: “Israel took these territories as a direct result of arab aggression.”

            No, actually, Israel started the Six Day War.

            Idiot: ” Jordan was warned not to join the war in 1967, but did so anyways.”

            Progress of sorts, I suppose, since The Idiot has just admitted that Jordan didn’t *start* the Six Day War.

            But apparently The Idiot thinks that it is a perfectly legitimate move for the aggressor to warn a country that it is not allowed to come to the aid of an ally that is under attack, under the terms of the treaty of mutual defense that both countries have signed.

            Sorta’ like the USSR attacking Germany, and then warning the other nations of NATO not to “join in”.

            Or, say, the Wehrmacht attacking Poland, but warning France and the UK that they weren’t allowed to join the party.

            Treaties of alliance are just so damn inconvenient, aren’t they?

            They certainly were to the Jordanians, who were obliged BY THEIR TREATY OBLIGATIONS to come to the aid of Egypt following that Israeli king-hit.

            The Idiot: “Following that war, israel offered to return the territories in exchange for peace but the arabs infamously rejected with their three NO’s in Khartum.”

            Except, of course, the Israelis made no such “offer” to the Arab country’s whose territory had been occupied by the IDF.

            Pretty hard to “accept” an offer when that “offer” was never, you know, “offered”…..

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Johnboy

            You are not an idiot. You are just a fucking liar.

            The 1967 war was provoked by the Soviet Union which spread lies about Israel’s intention to attack Syria. As a consequence, Egypt got rid of UN peace keepers from Sinai, lined up it’s troops alongside the armistice lines, closed an international waterway, the straits of Tiran and promised to destroy Israel. Syria did the same thing alongside it’s armistice line with Israel. And they both carried terrorist raids into Israel.

            You know what all that added up to you FW? According to all reputable experts on international law, it added up to casus beli for war. Israel had every right to react to those many provocations.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            You want analogies, you stupid little boy (Johnboy)? Here is a more correct one than your stupid one;

            Jordan’s action in 1967 can be likened to Italy’s in WW2. Both were asked to stay out of the war but both foolishly joined the war on the side of their aggressor allies.

            Stew on that Johnboy …

            Reply to Comment
    5. “Palestinians living under the occupation – and Israeli activists who support their cause – should be well aware that the non-violent tactics they have taken over the past years seem to be working better than any violent uprising.”

      Violence or bombings would completely destroy this. The question which only the West Bank can answer is whether social life as altered therein to discourage such things. The years of protest (perhaps) were partly devoted to that.

      I have no way of knowing if this is a tipping point. But I do think that the failure of Israeli redress of occupation mistakes and policy consequences is fueling these European decisions. But they represent a minority position.

      The present decisions have not been made to eradicate the State of Israel but devolve or alter occupation policy. Since I believe a stable Palestine (as either independent or federated) will need close economic ties to Israel, SodaStream as such is not an affront if its labor policies are as reported on this site; it is rather the generally failure to execute such policies throughout occupation, coupled with the usurping of land and livelihood and failure to administer protection to the occupied which allows the label of colonialism. At the end of this, Palestinians and Israelis must get along.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Ginger Eis

      Mr. Ami Kaufman, you wrote:

      “But let’s be clear: Deutsche Bank, Danske Bank and the others are not joining BDS because they care about Palestinians. (…)“.

      No, Mr. Ami Kaufman, Deutsche Bank has NOTHING to do with boycotts. One might legitimately claim that you on purpose misinform your readers with bad “facts” to promote BDS against Israel. You need to make a retraction/correction to avoid such from happening, OR, if you disagree, provide your readers with a reliable source for the information you relied upon in your article.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Samuel

      Here, watch how a decent South African politician shatters the blood libel against Israel:

      http://youtu.be/v27sNLIEOes

      Actually, the accusation that Israel is an Apartheid state is just a new form of blood libel against the Jewish people which is now made respectable by pretending that telling lies about Israel is not the same as telling lies about Jews.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Ginger Eis

      “I cannot remember a time when I have seen so many Israeli public figures on both sides of the political map so obsessed with Israel’s standing in the world – most of them shivering with fear of global isolation. Palestinians living under the occupation – and Israeli activists who support their cause – (…).”

      During the darkest hours of our forefathers in Europe, a few Jews collaborated with the perpetrators of the worst crime ever to befall mankind: the Holocaust. Right now, a few (Israeli) Jews who are major prime-movers of the BDS-movement against Israel and provide anti-Semites with armor and cover. The very fact that the Israeli Right and Left are worried and UNITED, something that very rarely happens, ought to tell you and your fellow anti-Israel Jews that you guys are doing something very sickening. But I am not holding my breath, knowing that Mordechai Vanunu to date still feels justified in what he did.

      Reply to Comment
      • JG

        Still not found your meds? Poor little Ginger…

        Reply to Comment
        • Samuel

          “Still not found your meds? Poor little Ginger…”

          That’s the best you can do JG? Personal attacks?

          Reply to Comment
    9. bob frisky

      Ginger needs to calm down, perhaps sit with his head between his knees for a little while. He’ll be alright.
      To be honest, I don’t know if this whole BDS story is actually worrying Israel at all. Sure, some individuals in business will be temporarily out of pocket. But let’s not forget, Israel has a huge ‘shadow’ economy, revolving around the traffic in human beings, illicit drugs, human organs and stolen weapons. I doubt that these sectors of Israel’s economy will suffer significantly from the efforts of BDS. So let’s not get too excited about a bank here or an insurance company there….Israel isn’t London or Oslo, you know. They do things differently there.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Tzutzik

      Shut the fuck up you filthy Nazi.

      Yes I mean you Bob Frisky.

      Reply to Comment
    11. bob wisby

      I’m just arguing for more toleration. What’s wrong with that?

      Reply to Comment
    12. Philos

      Guys! Stop feeding the hasbara trolls. There’s nothing we can do about them except BDS them. What that means is to completely ignore them. Comment as if they’re not there and only reply to sane, reasonable and non-racist people. Ignore the hasbaraists and, be’hazrat ha’allah, they’ll go away

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        I have said this to you before and I will say it again: “like we, time and time again, defeated your fathers and forefathers before you on the battlefields, so we will defeat you on the BDS-front!” Time will tell. Just watch us.

        Reply to Comment
    13. bob wisby

      Thank you, Philos. Good to see at least one participant trying to keep our discussion on a civilized footing. What do people think they’ll achieve by cursing and insulting like that? It’s the behavior of adolescents.

      Reply to Comment
        • bob wisby

          Probably correct, Philos. Some characters get a kick out of spewing insulting invective. Usually it’s those with least to contribute.

          Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          “This study claims that trolls are motivated by sadism (and exhibit signs of psychopathy)”

          So lets see who on this site has shown signs of this here;

          Lefties
          ———-
          1. Kyle
          2. Kate
          3. JG
          4. Bob Frisky

          Right Wingers
          ——————
          1. Me

          And That is being generous to you guys. I have seen you Philos exhibiting the characteristtics that you suddenly seem to despise in others.

          Reply to Comment
          • bob wisby

            I protest at being lumped in with supposed ‘Lefties’ on your list. In fact, my own views are probably more in line with yours, Tzutzik. Perhaps even, a little more extreme. And isn’t it a bit strong to impute ‘sadism’ on the good names of Kate, JG and Kyle? After all, this is only a discussion, not a session of krav maga or Russian roulette. There’s no need to be so dramatic. Nobody’s actually hurting anyone, I hope.

            Reply to Comment
    14. Tzutzik

      Live with it Bob.

      Most anti Zionists are lefties nowdays. You are a leftie, Bob.

      Reply to Comment
      • bob wisby

        Then there’s been a misunderstanding here. I’m not anti-Zionist at all.

        My own fault I suppose, for not being clearer.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          “Then there’s been a misunderstanding here. I’m not anti-Zionist at all.”

          Yes, and pigs fly.

          Reply to Comment
    15. directrob

      One would almost forget that this is good article…

      Reply to Comment
      • bob wisby

        Exactly, Directrob. I’d thought the same thing. It’s almost as though Tzutzik doesn’t want to allow the article to permeate our consciousness, and in order to prevent that, he begins with his personal attacks, invective and general trolling behavior. Anything, just as long as we don’t discuss the article, which as you say, is a good one.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          Poor Bob :(

          Reply to Comment
    16. Asher Garber

      As a proud Jew and Zionist, the words I choose to trump my own superiority complex are often based on the German language. Because, yeah, you guys have a point to make and stuff.

      And that’s only the first flaw involved with BDS.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Noah Jordan

      The only reason Israel is boycotted is because you idiots endorse Anti-semitism…Israel is very productive to the world, but you would rather get useless trash rather than take Israeli goods…your loss
      media-driven sheep

      Reply to Comment
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