Besides the outrageous ASA boycott, another boycott was also mentioned in my earlier post: the boycott by the Dutch water company Vitens against Israel’s Mekorot water company, which has generated a pushback from the Israeli Foreign Ministry:
The Foreign Ministry summoned Dutch Ambassador Casper Veldkamp to protest what it said were “ambiguous” statements by the Dutch Foreign Ministry creating a pro-boycott atmosphere of Israel in the Netherlands, on Wednesday.
The protest came a day after the Dutch water-giant, Vitens, canceled cooperation with Israel’s water corporation Mekorot because of alleged infractions of international law.
Israel protested that unclear language by the Dutch Foreign Ministry about doing business with Israeli firms was feeding a pro-boycott environment in the country.
Israel said vague statements warning of possible legal problems stemming from doing business with Israeli companies working beyond the Green Line – even though there is no legal precedent for that claim – were scaring away companies, who do not want to take any chances.
A spokesperson for the Dutch foreign minister in The Hague said the ministry did not insist on the termination of the Vitens-Mekorot cooperation, and that the decision was taken by Vitens itself.
A similar problem is likely to erupt with Britain. As it too issued written guidelines last week warning businesses that economic activity in the settlements entails “legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognized as a legitimate part of Israel’s territory.”
Meanwhile, Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio that Vitens wrote that it was compelled to break off the cooperation with Mekorot because of heavy political pressure from Dutch Parliamentarians and Amnesty International.
He said the company, which wrote that it was sorry about cutting cooperation with Mekorot, said there was heavy pressure on stock holders from parliament members and anti- Israel organizations.
It is gratifying to note that even some Dutch politicians protested the Vitens boycott: calling it hypocritical:
The ruling VVD and three other parties filed critical queries in parliament this week to Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans asking whether his office advised the government-owned Vitens to divest from Mekorot, as some Dutch media reported. Timmermans told the media on Thursday that his office had no objections to working with Mekorot.
Vitens announced on Tuesday that it had decided to abandon several joint projects with Mekorot because Vitens “attaches great importance to integrity and adheres to international law and regulations” and Mekorot’s activity, which includes providing water to the Palestinian Authority, “cannot be seen separately from the political context.”
The Reformatorisch Dagblad daily quoted a Vitens spokesperson as saying the company wished to “remain neutral.”
But in a statement earlier this month, Vitens said it had agreed to cooperate with the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, a governmental arm of the Hamas government in Gaza. The utility’s donors include the World Bank and European Commission, according to the United Nations.
In an interview for the news agency Novum, Han ten Broeke, a prominent VVD lawmaker, said Wednesday that Vitens’ move was “not a case of discouraging Israeli settlements but the unmasking of a superimposed activism.”
As we are all well aware, European meddling in Israel’s affairs does end there. Their now infamous guidelines on the settlements are one prime example. Another is the connection between Swedish aid and Palestinian media antisemitism:
The first time I started to dig into the Swedish Development Aid Agency Sida’s (government organization under the Swedish Foreign Ministry) Aid to the so called Palestinian Territories and Gaza I was astonned to know that Sweden was funding an exhibition that contained photos of political graffiti glorifying terror against the State of Israel.
Unfortunately there is more to learn about Sweden’s part in the legitimization of terror and incitement against Israel. I recently browsed the Swedish Aid Agency’s public data base. Among all its 176 aid contributions in the West Bank and Gaza for 2013 I found one project that really caught my attention. Not only was it remarkable because of the fact that the amount the Swedish state is giving away for this project is large, 1,06 million USD just for 2013, but also because of what it was aimed for. The aid is dedicated to media development in Birzeit University outside Ramallah. The Birzeit University is very much loved by the anti-Israel leftists. However the university has been criticized for allowing Hamas students to parade in the university area glorifying terrorism against Israel.
Not only do these Palestinian institutions and organizations seem to be important in the media field but out of the many media houses and TV-stations there are in Gaza and PA these participants seem to have big importance to the Swedish peace building in PA and Gaza.
So what is the problem about all these stakeholders interviewed? The fact is that all of them have been involved in either spreading a message of violence, glorification of terrorism or antisemitism to the population in the PA and Gaza. That is not how to build democratic societies nor peace and coexistence.
Read the list of terror organizations funded by the Swedes. Do Swedish citizens realise where their money is going to and do they agree with this?
Another example is presented by Jake Wallis Simons in the Daily Telegraph ((h/t Honest Reporting) who asks “Why are European powers (and Oxfam) funding a Israeli radical group?” (emphases are mine):
In a grimy corner of downtown Jerusalem, tucked away on the top floor of an anonymous-looking block of offices, is the headquarters of an organisation called Breaking the Silence.
This is a group of former Israeli soldiers who have served in the West Bank, and aim to “expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories”.
Essentially, this is another anti-settlement group. But it derives especial power from the fact that it is made up of former members of the Israeli armed forces, who are willing to confess openly to their own wrongdoing and that of their comrades.
I liked all the members personally, and at first found them to be sincere in their beliefs. But when the interviews began, something didn’t feel right.
For one thing, the majority of the testimonies seemed to reflect the roughness of the military rather than any human rights abuse. The indignity of checkpoints; the intrusion of house-to-house searches; the unpleasantness of curfews. All of this stuff is awful, but only a small percentage of it appeared to warrant court martial.
For now, my point is this: I couldn’t shake the feeling that Breaking the Silence was milking it.
It was only a hunch at first. But later, the bias of the organisation became clearer. During a break between interviews, I asked Yehuda Shaul, one of the founders of the organisation, how the group is funded. It was with some surprise that I learned that 45 per cent of it is donated by European countries, including Norway and Spain, and the European Union. Other donors include UNICEF, Christian Aid and Oxfam GB. To me this seemed potentially problematic.
It appeared, therefore, that these former soldiers, some of whom draw salaries from Breaking the Silence, were motivated by financial and political concerns to further a pro-Palestinian agenda. They weren’t merely telling the truth about their experiences. They were under pressure to perform.
Indeed, I later discovered that there have been many allegations in the past that members of the organisation either fabricated or exaggerated their testimonies.
Read the rest of Simons’ article describing how anti-Israel propaganda is filmed under the guise of genuine reporting. He concludes:
Whatever your view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is surely self-evident that it must be based on the truth of the situation, not a biased and partial interpretation of it.
While I don’t agree with Simons’ view of the settlements, he is to be congratulated for his honesty and for his incisiveness in analysing the inherent dishonesty of European funded anti-Israel NGO’s (Non Governmental Associations) – even if the NGO’s themselves are Israeli.
In order to combat the insidiousness of foreign countries acting under cover of their NGOs, several Israeli ministers have proposed an “NGO Law” to heavily tax them:
Ministers approved the controversial NGO bill proposed by Knesset members Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beiteinu) on Sunday. The bill passed a vote of the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs, with the support of ministers from Shaked’s party and from Likud-Beiteinu.
The bill proposes a 45% tax charged on nonprofit foundations and organizations that receive foreign donations and that take part in the following activities:
- Advocating the boycott, divestment, or sanctioning of Israel or its citizens.
- Calling for the trial of IDF soldiers in international courts.
- Denying Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state.
- Inciting to racism.
- Supporting armed struggle against the State of Israel by an enemy state or terror organization.
Habayit Hayehudi welcomed the approval of the bill, saying: “The bill will help defend IDF soldiers from perverse lawsuits funded by foreign actors. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s appeal against the bill is an irresponsible move.”
Tzippi Livni and the Left unsurprisingly opposed the bill:
Minister Livni said during the discussion that being patriotic means not passing anti-democratic legislation: “The State of Israel wants to protect IDF soldiers in international tribunals and the rule of law in Israel affects the decisions of these tribunals.”
The left said the proposal is a witch hunt of those who dare oppose the government. Before the committee’s discussion, Meretz chairwoman, Zahava Gal-On said: “Woe to the administration that supports it.”
On Friday, the Justice Ministry announced that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein opposed the proposal. In the opinion presented to the committee it was noted that Weinstein thinks the bill is unconstitutional and is meant as a means of punishment to foundations, which will thwart donations to them and hurt the public dialogue in Israel.
Dror Eydar in Israel Hayom defends the reasoning behind NGO taxation proposal, although he comes up with a different suggestion:
We’ll start by rebutting the widespread lies: Personal donations have not been outlawed. The new NGO law marks an attempt to stop European nations from meddling at the core of the Israeli dispute. No other nation has so many other countries meddling in its affairs, taking sides in a prolonged conflict.
According to several expert analysts, some 100 million euros flow to NGOs in Israel annually. That money goes to left-wing, pro-Palestinian organizations operating under the guise of “human rights groups,” which effectively means everyone but Jews. Using this money, they tarnish Israel, hammering home the lies of “apartheid,” “war crimes,” and “racist” and “anti-democratic” laws while trying to force our soldiers and elected officials to stand trial. Even Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is against the law, did not go to certain countries fearing she would be sued for “war crimes.”
On the one hand, the new law has been emasculated. Most leftist organizations will continue to get massive European funding. Because the issue is Israeli sovereignty, the law cannot just be supported by factions on the Right. Left-wing, moderate Zionist parties also have an interest in stopping foreign countries from interfering and trying to delegitimize Israel.
More than legislation, we should focus on international activities against European countries, speaking openly against the gall and absurdity inherent in jeopardizing our sovereignty and interfering in the conflict in favor of one side,
When all is said and done, instead of responding through legislation, we should broaden the purview of conservative Zionist organizations. That would be a substantive answer to the organizations trying to rip us apart.
Herzl Sternlicht, also in Israel Hayom, comes up with a similar proposition: don’t tax the NGOs, but name them and shame them:
So, what am I suggesting? We need to do to the Europeans as they do to us — we must label them. Do you remember the labeling of our products? We’ll label their organizational activities. Why shouldn’t the Israeli legislator respond to the Europeans through the mechanism that they know best: bloated, unwieldy bureaucracy?
Every day, my inbox receives several press releases about radical activities — usually from the graduates of the 2011 social protests — either supported or seemingly supported by European governments. They always carry the “humanitarian” banner, dissembling their one, true motive: deracinating the Jewish identity from Israel while contributing legitimacy to Arab intimidation. Why shouldn’t we legally demand from every such organization the most elemental thing? Underneath every press release or report disseminated by these organizations among the various outlets, a passage should read: “This association is funded by such and such an umbrella organization, which is mainly supported by this or that European government.”
If the Europeans want to know where Israel’s products are manufactured, doesn’t the public here have the right to get a full breakdown of these organizations and their funders? I suggest total labeling of the Europeans, EU members and all. The public — whether Right or Left — has the right to know who’s spreading these messages and out of which foreign countries. Taxation, as draconian as it may be, won’t succeed, while proper disclosure will. It will just put things in the right perspective.
I like the ideas in the last two links and they probably have more chance of success than a new law which will either be declawed by Israeli legislators and/or cause Israel yet more trouble on the international diplomatic front.
As a final food for thought, the prolific Dror Eydar asks why is Israel the target of so many boycotts and so much delegitimization? He provides some metaphysical answers:
he return to Zion is the Jewish nation’s return to history, to life as a sovereign people in its ancient homeland. Calls for boycott were made even before the establishment of the state. While these calls came from the extremist factions at the time, they moved toward the center as the years went by, particularly after 1967. That was when we came back to the cradle of our nationhood, to the historical places most closely connected with our identity. Most important, we came back to Jerusalem, which is also linked with the identity of the world’s nations. The fight against Israel — which is a fight against history’s law of the return to Zion — is evidence of how hard it is for Israel’s opponents to deal with the Jews’ return to life after having been in a state of living death for so long. That is why we and our products are marked, why the badge of shame is being placed upon us once again, why we are being isolated and boycotted. This is our adversaries’ way of saying: “You are not one of us.”
Read the whole thing. It is certainly thought-provoking, whether you agree with him or not.