The efforts to delegitimize and stigmatize Israel, alone amongst the nations, never cease. Considering the number of failures and the meagre successes the boycotters have achieved you would think they would have learned a lesson by now. You would be wrong.
Following are a selection of the latest boycott failures – otherwise known in geek-speak as #BDSFails – suffered by the unfortunate bigots.
The first item gave me a bit of a jolt: A German-Israeli consortium is to build a network of train lines in northern Israel:
The tender covers infrastructure work on the Jezreel Valley rail line between Haifa and Beit Shean (68 kilometers, or 42 miles, with five train stations) and the Acre-Carmiel line (22 kilometers, or 14 miles, with two train stations and the line to be electrified and double-tracked).
A new rail line in the center of the country connecting Kfar Saba with Herzliya (18 kilometers, or 11 miles) is also being constructed.
With the Germans involved we can be sure the trains will run on time.
On the minus side, it gives me a mild case of the creeps to think of Germans building rail lines in Israel. My grandparents would be rolling in their graves. On the other hand, they might be having a good laugh.
This news also ties in with the rather unexpected good news that despite all the disagreements between the sides, especially concerning the status of Judea & Samaria (aka the West Bank), Israel-EU ties are growing:
Almost every day comes news of another European financial institution, cultural or educational organization that has signed-on to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement aimed at isolating the state of Israel from the international community.
Most recently, it was the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) which passed a resolution calling for the suspension of its Israeli counterpart – the Israeli Association of United Architects – from the worldwide umbrella organization.
It was the latest example of growing tensions between Israel and Europe, which otherwise enjoy close economic and security ties. Yet, despite the friction, three European heads of state – Francois Hollande of France, Angela Merkel of Germany, and David Cameron of the UK – have visited Israel in the past few months.
Despite tensions between Israel and the EU, there are growing economic ties. Dan Catarivas, the director of Foreign Trade and International Relations for the Manufacturers Association of Israel, told a conference on Europe and Israel that the volume of trade between Israel and the EU is more than $41 billion a year.
He said that 31 percent of Israel’s exports go to the EU, and 34 percent of the country’s imports come from the EU.
“Europe is and will be our major partner in the years to come,” he told the conference, which was sponsored by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. “Emerging markets like China and India are nice, but Europe is our bread and butter. We need to cherish and develop the relationship.”
Israel and Europe already have a free trade agreement, and the EU has offered even more benefits if Israel and the Palestinians reach a peace agreement.
Several speakers at the conference said that the BDS movement has not spread widely and, although noisy, will not damage the close relations between Israel and Europe.
“I don’t think the boycott movement has been a success story and I think that Europe and Israel will remain strong and good partners,” Michael Mertes, the director of the Israel office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation told The Media Line.
He said there has long been a paradox in relations between Israel and Europe.
“On one side these relations are very very good,” he said. “There is no country outside Europe with which EU has such a strong relationship. At the same time there is an impression of permanent crisis. This does not reflect reality.”
The academic front is one of the most active in BDS activity. The latest anti-Israel boycott measure was proposed by the University of Michigan, as reported by Prof. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection:
the proponents of the resolution took over the offices of the student government, and refused to leave until the divestment resolution was brought up for a vote.
And the student government caved in too, its president issuing a lengthy statement, including numerous apologies, including this one:
You can read the whole sorry mess if you want to be depressed.
We, on the other hand, are delighted to report that the vote failed spectacularly. 🙂
Well done to all the right-thinking students and the pro-Israel activists who helped defeat this bigoted resolution.
Moving back to this end of the world, there are constant rumours that Israeli-Turkish ties appear to be on the mend, and at least 10 firms are bidding for the rights to export via the Israel-Turkey natural gas pipeline:
At least 10 companies, including two Turkish energy firms, have presented offers in the tender for the exporting of natural gas from Israel’s Leviathan gas field to Turkey through a pipeline, an Israeli daily reported.
Bidders include Turkey’s Zorlu Group, which already holds an indirect stake in an Israeli power plant, and a joint bid by Turcas Petrol and German electricity utility RWE, according to Israeli daily Globes.
The daily cited unnamed sources as saying the bids for the natural gas ranged between 7 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year and 10 bcm, “amounts that could generate $22-31 billion revenue, assuming a 15-year gas supply contract at $6 per million British Thermal Units [mmBTU], the price of natural gas in Israel’s domestic market.”
I’m not sure how Israel-Turkish relations can be restored under the hateful Erdogan, but maybe profits will win over prophets. Stranger things have been known to happen. Just look at the German train story above!
In related news, Egypt is turning to Israel to address its shortage of natural gas – caused by corruption, conflict and mismanagement:
According to Hafez El Salmawy, managing director of the Egyptian Electric Regulatory Agency, Egypt will lack at least 20% of the natural gas it needs to properly power its electricity plants this summer. As energy usage spikes in the heat, these outages will become longer and more frequent.
The new president, widely expected to be popular army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, will take office as the worst months kick in. His toughest challenge will be dealing with disgruntled citizens as they struggle through blackouts and fuel shortages; these same problems contributed to the downfall of President Mohammed Morsi, the very man Sisi overthrew last July.
In desperation, the state-owned Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) is turning to Israel, a former export destination of Egyptian gas. Egypt lost an estimated $10 billion selling underpriced natural gas to Israel, Jordan and Spain between 2005 and 2011, according to a new report by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. The sales to Israel alone cost the country over $1 billion, estimated Mika Minio-Paluello, an energy researcher and one of the report’s authors.
Corrupt businessmen, including convicted Egyptian tycoon Hussein Salem, colluded with the state under ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak to bypass normal bidding processes and secure the lucrative contracts.
But just two years after Egypt canceled the unpopular 20-year export deal, the Egyptian government is looking to buy Israel’s newly discovered natural gas for at least four times the price. A drilling consortium led by Israeli company Delek Group Ltd. and Texas-based Noble Energy are currently in talks with companies in Egypt after signing a historic gas deal with Jordan that will provide it with 1.8 billion cubic meters (63.6 billion cubic feet) a year for 15 years.
But the Egyptian deal could be four times that, with as much as 8 billion cubic meters (282.5 billion cubic feet) a year piped to Egypt, both Egyptian and Israeli sources told Al-Monitor. The deal makes sense as the direction gas travels in the existing pipeline can be reversed, one official at Delek Group Ltd. said.
Staying in the same region, the Israeli, Greek and US Navies are conducting their annual joint Mediterranean drill:
Israeli, Greek and US military personnel are slated to meet in Crete Tuesday to kick off Noble Dina 2014, a two-week, trilateral exercise in the Mediterranean Sea.
This year’s annual multimission drill, the fourth conducted by the three nations, will involve hundreds of military personnel deployed on advanced surface ships, air assets and submarines, Navy sources here said.
In addition to search and rescue, sea maneuvering, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and coordinated command-and- control missions, which have been practiced in previous years, Noble Dina 2014 will feature undersea divers and other specialists deployed for joint port protection.
The Israel Navy’s Snapir Unit, a relatively new and highly specialized force trained for persistent surface and underwater port security, will support the newest element of the drill scheduled for later this week at a Cretan port.
“This is something new that reflects common, critically important operational requirements,” said Rear Adm. Yaron Levi, chief of staff of the Israel Navy.
Noble Dina, sources here said, is the result of routine cooperation among the three navies and many months of focused planning.
Unfortunately Israel is still excluded from the other regional naval exercise, “Reliant Mermaid” due to Turkish objections. It will be interesting to see what develops if and when those rumoured Israel-Turkey ties will be restored.
UPDATE: cba in the comments below reminds me that I forgot to mention the upcoming visit of the Rolling Stones. My apologies to the band and its fans. 🙂
After months – even years – of speculation, Israelis can finally get some satisfaction. The Rolling Stones are officially booked to perform on June 4 at Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv.
Nobody was more satisfied than promoter Shuki Weiss, who announced the long-coveted show Tuesday morning in Tel Aviv.
“This is a historic and very meaningful visit. In these days when we hear calls for boycotts from around the world, it’s not taken for granted that a band of this magnitude will come to Israel,” said Weiss.
The announcement came days after the suicide of vocalist Mick Jagger’s partner, fashion designer L’Wren Scott, which forced the cancellation of seven Australian and New Zealand shows on the band’s “14 on Fire” tour.
Despite the tragedy, the Stones have retained plans to continue the tour in Europe during May and June. The Tel Aviv show marks the tour’s seventh confirmed date, including festival appearances at Holland’s Pinkpop Festival on June 7 and Belgium’s TW Classic Festival on June 28.
The Rolling Stones confirmed Tuesday that they will perform in Tel Aviv on June 4 as part of their “14 On Fire” world tour.
“It’s the first time in 35 years that I have no words to describe the enormity of this event,” said producer Shuki Weiss, who has been trying to get the band to Israel for much of his career.[…]The Stones’ Tel Aviv show will undoubtedly be one of the most talked-about in Israel’s history, rivaling high-profile visits in recent years by Paul McCartney and Madonna.
The Stones show is the topper on an unprecedented summer of big-name acts coming to Israel, including Neil Young, Justin Timberlake, the Pixies, Soundgarden and The Prodigy.
This is indeed fantastic news for Israeli music fans and for Israel’s tourist industry.
Not everyone is delighted however. Jono Rose at Israellycool cheekily called for a bit more BDS because he’s finding it hard to keep shelling out hundreds of shekels to take his children to all these pop concerts. 🙂
I am sure the BDS-ers will do their utmost to oblige. And I am sure there will be more #BDSFails to report in the near future.