BDS aims at best target – shareholders’ precious pockets
BDS: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
From Web Arab News Digest
February 24, 2014
Since our posting of 13 December the BDS campaign is “turning mainstream” as the Economist put it on 8 February. Such a campaign is bound to be a war of perceptions, and perceptions are changing but are hard to measure objectively. Supporters of the campaign claim every headline as a victory. Opponents deride BDS as stupid and anti-Semitic (Mike Huckabee in the Jerusalem Post) , but face the problem that action to counter it risks giving it more profile, for example what seems to have been a very minor protest in New Zealand makes headlines in Ha’aretz.
In France some 20 BDS activists have been convicted and fined under the “Lellouche” law against discrimination, described by the head of the legal task force of French Jewish communities as “the most effective legislation on BDS today.” But Ha’aretz comments ‘the official crackdown is sparking a backlash from activists who argue that the Lellouche law is too restrictive of free speech. Before the convictions of Trichine and her associates, a solidarity petition by pro-Palestinian activists failed to garner more than 1,500 signatures. After the convictions, 51 groups — among them several labor unions and political parties with hundreds of thousands of supporters combined — condemned the verdict as “an unbearable attack on freedom of expression.” ’
The article below is published by the Canadian Friends of Sabeel, which is based in Jerusalem and describes itself as an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians. The author is a former Toronto stockbroker and derivatives trader on the Toronto Stock Exchange floor, later the Anglican Vicar of Gaza, and now Chair of Canadian Friends of Sabeel; his prose style is more stockbroker than vicar. He argues that BDS is now having a serious impact on world markets, and supports his argument with an impressive series of links to reports in Bloomberg and elsewhere.
BDS movement scores huge in Superbowl victory over Sodastream
Wall St. takes notice of implications of doing business in illegal Israeli settlements
By Rev. Robert Assaly, Canadian Friends of Sabeel
February 20, 2014
The snowballing BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement targeting illegal Israeli activities which undermine hopes for Palestinian-Israeli peace had their game bumped up into the big leagues overnight last week. One of the world’s premiere global financial data news services, Bloomberg, arguably the CNN of Wall Street, published the headline – a game-changer — “SodaStream Drops Amid Sanctions Over Jewish Settlements.” Also appearing in their Business Week service under a similar banner using the word “Boycott,” it was reissued in several web and print outlets.
The appearance of the article itself assures future big scores for the BDS movement against publically traded companies. Bloomberg reported that Sodastream stock hit a new two-year low due to the worldwide boycott movement targeting the company. Despite being in the crosshairs for manufacturing its product in an illegal Jewish-only settlement built on stolen Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, Sodastream was initially unapologetic. Later, the CEO expressed regret about the plant in the settlement.
This stock plunge came on the first trading day after a Sodastream ad during the Superbowl put a spotlight on the controversy. Actress Scarlett Johansson had just switched teams from being an Oxfam ambassador, which opposes the illegal Israeli settlements, to Sodastream. Her appearance in their primetime Superbowl ad was expected to boost their fortunes. The pre-game controversy on national news and talk shows over the actress’ choice seemed to favour the company. But Bloomberg noted Sodastream investors were spooked by the boycott, voting with their dollars after the ad appeared.
The significance for BDS however lies not in that unproven cause as boycott and its effect, which publications like The Jewish Press took pains to debunk. Rather, it is in that ultimate driver of the free financial markets: investors’ perceptions. Just as fear of labour disruptions can send a stock’s share price tumbling, Bloomberg has reported on and immutably linked the investor awareness of settlement boycotts to stock sell-off.
Moving forward, the BDS movement will now be able to wield their newest non-violent weapon – the threat of appealing to investor perceptions with a boycott — a painful kick in, well, the pocketbook. BDS can now use the Bloomberg reported perception as leverage in boardrooms of transgressing corporations. Business leaders, often themselves shareholders, know that merely the fear of being aboard a potentially targeted ship sends investors to the lifeboats. They will now have to worry that a boycott threat noticed by investors risks a stock price selloff, thereby diminishing value. This in turn compromises both their ability to achieve adequate returns for shareholders and to raise capital .
Irish demonstration outside the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire for the AGM of Irish multinational CRH- which has a 25% stake in Israeli Mashav group, which acts as a holding company for Israel’s sole cement producer, Nesher.
If boycott organizers show up at their door with a warning, corporate magnates may become pro-active in the face of a risk that the BDS campaign poses. Should this tactic become etched into the BDS playbook, it places the consequences of investor fears in a publically traded market beyond the reach of the Israel Lobby. No doubt this induces a chill among pro-settlement Israeli policy makers.
Moving the game to Wall Street thus overnight becomes a significant blow to the Israeli government’s settlement ambitions. In short order it is conceivable that trying to profit from the settlements could drive away investment. Moreover, while the diverse players of the BDS movement have not agreed on the appropriate breadth of the campaign– whether to include institutions inside Israel, or cultural activities, or universities – all concur that Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank with its settlements ought to be targeted.
That BDS “is turning mainstream,” according to The Economist, has been noticed in the Washington corridors of power. For acknowledging this, US Secretary of State John Kerry, the Mideast peace negotiator, earned the derision of Israeli Cabinet Ministers, including being tarred with the “anti-Semite” label. Then, within hours of the Sodastream stock drop, an array of media outlets picked up the Bloomberg angle. The controversy continued to garner media attention ranging from a lengthy piece in a New York Times blog to an article in the leading Israeli English newspaper Haaretz.
Monday morning quarterbacking was widespread beyond The Economist, some from unlikely sources. Former Israeli Speaker of the Knesset Avraham Burg penned the day after the Superbowl, the “BDS movement is gaining momentum and is approaching the turning point … sanctions against Israel will become a fait accompli.” This was followed by Jewish-American political pundit Peter Beinart, in reference to Sodastream, criticizing “the mendacity of the ‘pro-Israel’ establishment” while warning of the “tactical brilliance of BDS.”
Also on Monday in the face of the Sodastream price drop, Canadian Cabinet Minister Jason Kenney, de facto Minister for Israel in the government, tweeted he had bought the company’s product with thanks to “Oxfam for the tip.” This followed an article in the conservative Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, asserting that Scarlett Johansson had “inadvertently become the poster child for the international campaign to boycott Israel. While she rejected the BDS position, her picture will forever evoke the boycott campaign in many people’s minds.”
And now with the ability to evoke the Bloomberg headline in the financial Superbowl that is Wall Street, the BDS campaign against the settlements has arrived in the big leagues.