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German company pulls out of Tel Aviv-Jerusalem train project

According to Ynet, German rail company Deutsche Bahn has pulled out of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv due to pressure by the feminist Israeli organisation Coalition of Woman for Peace. The coalition is responsible for the information project Who Profits, which tracks Israeli and international companies which operate in the West Bank. According to the Coalition, the proposed rail line cuts into West Bank over the 1967 green line and this was the main rationale for Deutsche Bahn’s decision.

This is from Ynet:

An official at the German Transportation Ministry expressed concern over the project on March 14, saying it potentially violates the rules of international law.

Deutche Bahn has been in charge of electricity and communications control on the Tel Aviv– Jerusalem line.

According to the report, German Transportation Minister Peter Ramsauer discussed the sensitivity of the matter with Deutche Bahn Director Rüdiger Grube.

The railway company told Der Spiegel that the project was “problematic” politically, and may be in violation of international law. A company’s spokesperson noted that Israeli officials were informed on the matter.

The Israeli Parliament is currently debating legislation which would criminalize Boycott activity such as the Deutsche Bahn campaign by Israeli civilians or organizations. If the legislation passes, a fine as high as 35,000 NIS could be levied against civilians who take part in public BDS campaigns against Israel.

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    1. aristeides

      Looks like BDS has scored another win.

      Reply to Comment
    2. RichardNYC

      Which only begs the question: “what is BDS?” If BDS = “right of return”, or “Zionism = apartheid” then no, its not a win for BDS because the relevant company made its decision based on a territorial idea; the credibility of a West Bank withdrawal should not be confused with the credibility of BDS’s anti-Zionist demands. For the same of withdrawal, do not conflate occupation with Zionism, otherwise you prolong the occupation–>do not tie the moderate position to the politically impossible platform of BDS please! The moderates implore you!

      Reply to Comment
    3. Dannecker

      Note that they havent pulled out of Iran, but out of ziostan, which shows a great deal of the legitimacy of Iran vs ziostan

      Reply to Comment
    4. Borg

      Germany has a lot of experience with trains

      Reply to Comment
    5. Ofer

      Persecution of Israel’s Palestinian citizens – who cares.

      The need to make amends for the present implications of 1948’s ethnic cleansing – who cares.

      Life according to Richard

      Reply to Comment
    6. Ofer

      Dannecker, what projects does DB run in Iran?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Yishai

      Richard, I agree with you that the bill is a disaster, not just for activism, but for free speech b’klal. But how can you then turn and blame the intended victim of the legislation (in this case BDS activism) for a law that is illiberal and a direct threat to an open society? The BDS movement does not equal screaming “fire” in a crowded theater. For the most part, at least in its Israeli incarnation, it represents people who really want Israel to be the ideal country that it can be, and who have come to the conclusion that there is no other way for this to happen than to try and get at the root enablers of the most direct threats to the success of a just and fair Israeli society.
      I may disagree with the BDS approach (and for the record, I do disagree with it) but I would listen to them all day long rather than to ministers and MK’s who would use them as a pretext to curtail free speech, which is exactly what is happening with shocking frequency these days. Let’s be clear: the worldview of those who would propose such legislation is that an open society in Israel is, at best, a negotiable luxury, and at worst the enemy of the authoritarian society that they would like to see Israel become.
      And I don’t care what your politics are, that is something we should ALL be afraid of.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Mitchell Cohen

      Richard, you are speaking to a wall. In the eyes of BDS and their ilk, Israel, specifically as a “Jewish State” (aka Zionism, cough cough), even on land the size of a postage stamp within this neck of the woods, is “occupation”. So, what is the point in anybody who believes Israel has the right to exist in “dialoging” with the likes of them?

      Reply to Comment
    9. Leonid Levin

      Duetsche Bahn pulled out of a project that may be in violation of international law. They don’t want any possible legal troubles or bad publicity. It’s as simple as that.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Sylvia

      It’s for the best both for Israel and the company. No matter where the border is, West Bank Palestinians will continue to come to Israel to work and they are the ones who will be penalized. the settlers have cars and their own preferred transportation. It would have been a waste of money.
      Furthermore, it is worth noting that the “concerns” of the German company were raised on March 14, just 3 days after the Itamar murders. Prudent.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Sorry to weigh in here Sylia but I must clear something up here. You see a connection between Duetsche Band’s refusal to collaborate with open violations of international law and the Itamar murders? Could you explore this thought a little here as I find the idea striking.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Ofer

      Sylvia, 3 days? no kidding. Very symbolic. Almost as symbolic as 5 days, or 57.2 days.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Sylvia

      I’ll correct it. The Itamar murders occured on Friday night March 11. It doesn’t strike anyone as odd that on the FIRST working day following the murders on Monday morning March 14 that company pulls its workers out of the West Bank?
      No, Joseph, I don’t “see a connection between Duetsche Band’s refusal to collaborate with open violations of international law and the Itamar murders”. I see “the refusal to collaborate with open violations of international law” as now the standard excuse.
      I can give examples of companies that withdrew citing that pretext (which they den ied later) to ensure themselves a fat contract in Abu Dhabi for example.
      Not all BDS “victories” are equal, I’ll admit that much.
      As to the motives behind BDS, this is not the appropriate venue to discuss it.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Sylvia, I am happy that you feel so much ownership as to decide what is appropriate and not appropriate for discussion in this venue. Perhaps you would like to monitor comments as well.
      There is nothing odd about their moves. Major companies just as DB are not able to make decisions so quickly and so it is impossible that someone in the DB organization read the news about the Itamar killings, convened a meeting and released information about DB’s plan to stop dealing with Israel as a response to the Itarmar killings.
      This type of thinking is best suited for the pages of the Jerusalem Post, where the world is considered anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic until proven otherwise and Israeli violations of international law do not exist.

      Reply to Comment
    15. max

      Apart from a vocal minority, the discussion within the Zionist society (those that accept the right of the Jewish people to their own home, which they later named Israel) about the direction to take vis-a-vis the Palestinians has to do with the trust each one has towards the intentions and capabilities of the Palestinians, and the means for risk mitigation.
      That’s what governments are responsible for; that’s what bloggers can ignore.
      As far as boycotting is concerned: it’s a political tool like others, and works depending on the respected vulnerability of the sides, which explains why it won’t work on China: the world is not willing to pay for the political step. The same would apply to Russia, where investors care only about the risk, not morals.
      I conquer with Richard: going through BDS documentation, especially the “founding fathers”, I see a strong affinity with groups that are plainly against Israel’s existence; they care little about whether the effect applies to the territories or to Israel. BGU was the last such example. As The Economist contends, the boycott is “flimsy” and ineffective, and “blaming Israel alone for the impasse in the occupied territories will continue to strike many outsiders as unfair”.
      In fact, BDS predates the creation of Israel, and Japanese cars actually started selling in Israel only after ’67… In the ironic words of a German blogger: it’s not surprising that DB, who has crossed so many borders during WW2, is now careful with borders.
      If the goal is indeed not only a quasi monologue between people who anyway believe in the same thing but a discussion aiming to share info and find common ground, then identifying and flagging the elements that divide more than they help is a positive action. BDS (a double edge sword) means that – for example – BGU will lose cooperation with some on one side and funds from the other side, instead of promoting dialogue.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Borg

      Despite the fact that I think Dannecker is a Jew hater, he is correct about Deutsche Bahn doing business in Iran

      Deutsche Bahn AG
      Industry: Transportation Infrastructure Country: Germany website: Deutsche Bahn AG Sources: Deutsche Bahn AG is a leading transportation and logistics company with numerous subsidiaries. It operates transport networks via rail, land, ocean and air, for both passengers and freight. The company has annual revenues of around 30 billion euros, and is one of the largest companies of its kind in the world (Company Website).

      One of Deutsche Bahn AG’s subsidiaries, DB Schenker, is a partner company of Meshkin Co Ltd (Subsidiary Website), a shipping company that operates exclusively out of Iran (Meshkin Website). Meshkin is responsible for a significant portion of Iranian exports shipping, and its website explains that “In the near future we will be witnessing a remarkable jump in petrochemical exports, made available from investments in the gas fields of South Pars” (Meshkin Website).

      Additionally, DB Schenker itself has an Iranian subsidiary, Delta Bar Int’l Transport and Shipping Services (Subsidiary Website). Delta Bar has an annual sales volume of $11 million (Business Monitor, subscription needed).

      Reply to Comment
    17. Ben Israel

      As I recall, the USSR, China and India all established full diplomatic relations with Israel during the period of the Shamir-narrow Right-wing Likud gov’t of 1990-1992. This gov’t was one of the best for building settlements.
      I maintain that most countries of the world, outside of the Muslim bloc, couldn’t care less about the Palestinians and the settlements. It is only Arab oil money pressure that pushes most countries to claim they do care.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Ben Israel

      Does anyone think the German boycott action will prevent the rail line from being built?

      Reply to Comment
    19. max

      @Ben, one of the bloggers on a German site wrote that 1) obviously the rail will be built, Israel will pay a bit more and a French or American company will make the money DB will lose, 2) that s/he finds it incredible that DB does business in Iran and 3) that DB actually wanted to participate in the rest of the project (i.e. excl. these 6 km)
      @Joseph, do you think that DBS is a good policy tool for a Zionist that wants to get external help for his/her political direction?

      Reply to Comment
    20. Koshiro

      The USSR never reestablished relations with Israel after 1967. And of course, the change in the (newly established) Russian, the Chinese and the Indian stance had to do with factors far beyond the inconsequential particulars of internal Israeli politics.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Koshiro

      “obviously the rail will be built, Israel will pay a bit more and a French or American company will make the money DB will lose”
      French? Maybe, although I wouldn’t bet on them being any more willing to get involved in this.
      American? Not bloody likely. As far as high-speed rail technology goes, America lags far behind Germany, France and Japan.

      Reply to Comment
    22. directrob

      Maybe DBI used google maps (which already shows Israel for Nabi Saleh, Beit Surik and Beit Iksa).

      Reply to Comment
    23. max

      1) You’re wrong, the USSR resumed its diplomatic relations with Israel in 1991. Please check before you post
      2) “French? Maybe…” – I suggest you comment back on the German site. I propose you don’t refer there to the TLV-JSLM track as high speed, you may lose your credibility

      Reply to Comment
    24. max

      1) The Madrid Peace Conference took place in Autumn 1991, and the USSR needed to resume the relations in order to participate; the USSR ceased to exit on Dec. 1991
      2) High speed in Europe – where special knowledge is needed – refers to speeds starting at 200 km/h
      You’re right: Wikipedia claims it’ll reach this speed (28 min. for 55 km?)

      Reply to Comment
    25. Koshiro

      “1) The Madrid Peace Conference took place in Autumn 1991, and the USSR needed to resume the relations in order to participate; the USSR ceased to exit on Dec. 1991”
      Is this meant as additional information or as an argument? If the latter, it’s nonsense. Syria was invited, and did they have diplomatic relations with Israel?
      The only ‘Soviet’ ambassador to Israel was accredited after the Soviet Union’s dissolution had already been formalized. I’m not sure if he actually served as a ‘Soviet’ ambassador for a few days, but even if he did, that was a meaningless formality. For all functional purposes, he was Russian ambassador to Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    26. max

      1. Unlike Syria, the USSR wouldn’t have been invited unless it had relations with Israel: quite obvious, wouldn’t you say? Apparently not…
      2. “I’m not sure if he actually served as a ‘Soviet’ ambassador for a few days” Well, Bovin did, for a week, meaning the preparation was done well earlier.
      In short: you went with a mocking comment that was semantically negligible (Russia vs. USSR), and you were wrong.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Koshiro

      “Unlike Syria, the USSR wouldn’t have been invited unless it had relations with Israel”
      The USSR *was* not invited, but I guess if for you the USSR and Russia are functionally the same thing, utterly neglecting the enormous political change in that very era, well…

      Reply to Comment
    28. Dannecker

      Directrob, the citation of Deutsche Bahns involvement in Iran is absolutely correct. You and I both despise the zionist entity, so why are you questioning the thesis that Ahmadinejads Iran is more legitimat than the zionist entity

      Reply to Comment
    29. Giordani

      As a german I’m astonished that Israel is doing business with the Deutsche Bahn, the company that brought millions of jews into the camps and that never paid for it and even never regrets.

      Reply to Comment
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