Letter from the CBSI-Lebanon, 30 Nov 2002
Written and read by Kirsten Scheid on behalf of the Campaign to the “What Future for Palestine?” conference, organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, London
It is with warm hearts that we send you our salutations from Lebanon where we are active in the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel. Our particular boycott grew out of spontaneous popular sentiment to become an organized, sustained effort in the spring of this year when the many Arabs sought a way to act on their objection to US-sponsored Israeli supremacism and aggression. Our boycott seeks to raise the issue of Israel’s legitimacy through the most quotidian of acts. We boycott with two goals in sight: to create a barrier against further investments in pro-Israel policies and companies, and to stimulate a civic responsibility among Arabs that will counter the sense of helplessness plaguing so many of us. By emphasizing that each time you buy something, you are acting, we are empowering each other in a way that can take Arabs beyond the immediate goal of protecting Palestinians.
Over the past half-year we have held many demonstrations and awareness campaigns. We have used a variety of methods to involve a wider public in the boycott: from petitions, to balloons, to documented brochures, to meetings with local industrialists, to appearances on television and in street theater. As Lebanon does not import Israeli goods (as far as we know), we have concentrated our boycott on locally present corporations that have made it their policy to support Israel, either through investment in Israeli companies, through establishment of factories or franchises in the Occupied Territories, through foreign distribution of Israeli goods, through exploitation of Palestinian laborers, through donations of profits to Zionist organizations – all these being investments in Israel’s apartheid social structure.
Our boycott works by making a declaration of what we find objectionable in each company’s practices. We classify the companies by their practices, explain the impact of such practices, and offer this information to our audience for them to evaluate. In this way, we both call on fellow boycotters to know exactly what and why they are boycotting, and we offer boycotted corporations a chance to recuperate themselves. I this way, also, we insist upon a rational, if passionate, character for our boycotting.
In our research of pro-Israeli companies we have found that the vast majority did not begin to invest in Israel until after the signing of the Oslo accords when it may have seemed to them that Arabs no longer resented Israel’s existence as an exclusivist structure. For many Arabs, even, it seemed that to be realistic in 1993 one had to accept the apartheidist Israeli state and simply learn to adjust. Yet the past ten years have shown that passive acceptance is not possible, that Israel will not respect even basic human rights let alone the Palestinian refugees’ right to return or national aspirations. In the meantime, the Israeli economy has bloomed, the Israeli per capita income has almost doubled, and many companies have found profit in exploitation of the captive Palestinian community. It is to reverse this so-called “development,” and to demand that global, companies respect the human rights of all potential customers that we adopt the strategy of boycott.
Inspired by the examples of South Africa, the American civil rights movement, and India’s liberation, among hundreds of others, we applaud you and appeal to you: applaud you for having shown us a way forward and appeal to you to coordinate with us. You may not realize that each time we hear of a boycott or divestment event occurring in a non-Arab country we are heartened and emboldened. We realize that this must be a mutual encouragement, that you too, must know that we support your efforts and strive for the same, humanitarian goals. This is why we want to emphasize to you that contrary to many press reports, we insist that our boycott not promote racism or isolationism. (When the press recently discovered that we were not targeting solely American companies but also, European companies supporting Israel, such as Nestle, we were immediately declared not “anti-American” but “anti-western!)
In October we hosted in Beirut a series of workshops about boycotting’s strategies and goals. The workshops were attended by activists from 6 Arab countries. Of the many practical recommendations issued by this conference was one to increase communication and coordination with international non-Arab movements in order to activate the Boycott of Israel’s Supporters globally and to add to it an international perspective. To this end, we invite your contributions to our Arabic-language e-magazine. Also, we hope that we will be able to invite many of you here today to our next set of workshops in Beirut scheduled for the spring.
By Kirsten Scheid
Published in Al-Adab magazine ( in Arabic), v.50, #5-6 (May-June 2002)
Adopted by Lebanese Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel
1. Does This Boycott Have Clear Goals?
The boycott will give voice to the objection of the Arab majority to US-sponsored Israeli supremacism and aggression. It will raise the issue of Israel’s legitimacy through the most quotidian of acts. It will undermine world, and especially American, attachment to the political status quo whereby Palestinians are deprived of their rights.
The boycott will serve as a barrier against further investments in pro-Israel policies and companies. Success against targeted companies will make others think twice before they pour more money into the Israeli budget and thus strengthen Israeli economic, political, and military might.
The boycott will be a major tool for alleviating the sense of helplessness plaguing so many Arabs. A general message is conveyed by the boycott to every participant: You are not helpless. You can act. Each time you buy something, you are acting, so make that act be an action for your and Palestinians’ interests. This is a powerful message that can take Arabs beyond the immediate goal of protecting Palestinians.
The ultimate goal of the boycott is to cut ties of dependency that impose political inaction on Arab governments and economic communities. The boycott will encourage consumption of local alternatives and, thus, local production that is more responsive to our needs and desires as consumers.
2. How Realistic Is It That A Boycott Against Such Big Companies Could Work?
In order for a boycott to have actual political impact, it need not be 100% complete. Corporations don’t wait for their profits to drop to nothing before they consider drastic changes! A 10% drop in overall revenue has a much greater proportionate impact on profit and is enough to keep stock-holders from investing in a company, thereby weakening it substantially. Further, companies measure their growth in relation to that of their competitors. If customers stop buying one product and switch to its competitor that sends an even more devastating message to stock-holders. Investment is attracted by signs of profit growth. So boycotts work by cutting into growth expectations, and to do that each individual participant has equal importance.
Historically, were boycotts not potentially powerful weapons they would not have been outlawed in several countries, foremost of which the US. where 6 laws specifically make it illegal for American companies and governments receiving American aid to participate in the Arab boycott against Israel. (1) These laws, however, do not apply to individuals. Thus, there is a great opportunity to show Israel-sponsoring companies the possibility of an effective boycott, especially in countries such as Lebanon where there is no peace treaty with Israel, and to encourage citizens elsewhere to go against their governments’ inhumane laws and treaties.
Finally, a boycott works on many levels. It lets participants realize their personal responsibility in each small action they take for the state of the world around them. Any boycott can be the first step towards increasing simultaneously knowledge (about how economies, politics, and societies work) and the sense of empowerment. In this sense, boycotts are very effective exercises in citizenship regardless of the eventual economic outcome.
3. Have Any Boycotts Of This Scale Worked Previously?
Yes. Gandhi, the Indian freedom fighter who preached against violence employed a boycott of British goods as a weapon against the British Empire. He showed the British that they were more dependent on their colony then the colonized were on them, and he became one of the first leaders of a country freed from imperialism.
Perhaps the most famous boycott is that imposed over forty years on the racist regime in South-Africa, economically, culturally, politically. That boycott eventually resulted in the mobilization of political factors the world over which finally overthrew the apartheid regime. (2)
The American 1960s civil rights movement started with a boycott by African-Americans of the Alabama busing system. Suddenly the same system that imposed their oppression, forcing them to the back, discovered itself crippled by its dependency on black customers.
4. How Do These Companies Obstruct Palestinian Attainment of Rights?
That depends on the nature of each company’s involvement in Israel. Some actually participate in the illegal occupation of the West Bank by establishing their businesses on settlements: Burger King attempted this in 1999 and has not yet revoked the license from the franchisee. (3) Many American and European distributors, such as Selfridge and Tesco (sold at Spinneys in Lebanon), still buy from settlement enterprises, thus funding their illegal and racist activity. (4) Companies inside the ’48 area, like Delta Galil – the supplier for Champion, Ralph Lauren, and Hugo Boss (5) – not only operate on illegally confiscated Palestinian land but, also, benefit from the occupation by employing Palestinian laborers in dreadful non-unionized conditions. (6) Others use their profits to propagate sympathy for Zionism and to encourage young Jews from America and Canada to volunteer in the IDF; many kosher-licensers such as the Orthodox Union do this. (7) Still others strengthened the Israeli economy at a time when doing business with the country was “more of a contribution than an investment” (8) : Intel, Proctor & Gamble, and Coca-Cola are examples of such commitment. (9) Still others regularly implement programs to help the Israeli community in its discriminating capacity, such as McDonalds, Danone, and L’Oreal. (10) Then there are the companies that recently were lured into Israel by promises of peace-time stability and massive government assistance. They helped raise the Israeli per capita income from $11,000 in 1990 to $17,000 in 2000 and brought the government debt ratio to GDP down by 25%, from 132% to about 100%. (11)
Despite their differences, all targeted companies have invested in a society founded on racist supremacy, on the mass expulsion of inhabitants, and on a perpetual war that tramples the principles of the International Geneva Conventions and some 70 UN Resolutions. All these companies contribute financially to the ability of Israel to pursue its racist policies. Under the slogan of “let’s get on with business,” all contribute to the readiness of the world to overlook Zionism’s historic wrongs. Not one of these companies has to stay there. When American companies began to consider “lowering their profiles in Israel” following the launching of the Intifada in 2000, they were reassured by one Israeli-American business negotiator with the statement, “Why is what’s happening important, as long as people are buying your products?” (12) These companies will remove their economic props for Israel only when people stop buying their products. As one broker said to a recent business conference in Israel, “Nothing lasts forever, but as long as the results exceed the risks, we will invest in Israel.” (13) So in the name of business, let divestment begin.
5. Why Does It Matter If A Foreign Company Has Invested In An Israeli Company, Like Nestle Did?
When a foreign company buys into or buys out an Israeli subsidiary, it literally pumps money into Israeli bank accounts and increases overall the value of Israeli companies on international stock-markets. Stock-holders in the Haifa pharmaceutical Biosense together gained $400 million in stock value when Johnson & Johnson purchased the company. AOL’s purchase of Mirabilis was “an event which spurred Israel’s high-tech frenzy.” (14) And for a manufacturing company, like Nestlé’s subsidiary Osem, attachment to a foreign company also provides important technical assistance, international distribution and advertisement exposure. (15) Investment, unlike aid, tends to result in renewal of equipment, increased industrial capacity, and ultimately more productivity. (16) These international connections and sources of income are particularly important during times of strife.
The exceedingly high Israeli military budget (until the late ’90s over 40% of government expenditure) (17) means little money is left over for other state services. Currently the Israeli government is considering drastic measures such as a 60.5% income tax bracket and a “compulsory war loan” to generate government income. (18) The most desirable way for Israel to increase its budget and not sacrifice much for the cost of war is to attract foreign investment. (19) Investors who may have no ideological interest in Israel take advantage of incredible benefits offered by the Israeli and American governments: for example, 10 years of no taxes, 66% risk-coverage of starting costs, free use of ports.(20) In fact, Israel so much appreciated these foreign purchases that it awarded in 1998 each company that had invested $50 million dollars or more with a Foreign Investors Jubilee Award, directly tying the Zionist state’s survival over fifty years to the economic enterprise of these foreign companies. (21) A report by the Committee for Economic Growth of Israel noted that in 1999 50% of the top Israeli conglomerates were owned by foreign investors, or that over $37.5 billion had been introduced to the Israeli economy by these companies – that’s equivalent to ten years of American foreign aid. (22)
6. Why is it important if a foreign company has opened a Research and Development Center in Israel, like Intel and Microsoft did?
Israel is the second largest site for research and development in the world, following California. It became that way in the 1990s for several reasons, all directly due to American and Israeli state intervention. The first is that American companies that open such centers are directly funded by the United States through the Binational Industrial Research and Development Fund (BIRD-F) which finances up to 50% of new projects. With Israel covering 25%, the investing foreigner only has to put up 25% of the cost of the project. Second, the thousands of highly skilled imported Russian Jews provided an excellent labor pool without education costs. (23) Third, many companies cater directly to defense needs at the same time that they draw on the army’s pool of experience. (24) Fourth, a reflection of Israel’s apartheid, the sector is free of Palestinian employees in this sector, and its offices located far from the traditional flashpoints. (25) This means that R&D has been the sector least affected by the Intifada, and, also, the most invested in by foreign venture capital. (26) 86% of new investments in 2000 came into this highly lucrative sector, and 80% of exports came out of it. (27) Intel alone accounted for 25% of Israel’s industrial export growth in the year 2000. (28) Yet, being so highly dependent on foreign investment, because of the small size of the Israeli market, the R&D sector is very vulnerable to international pressure: it is Israel’s Achilles Heel. (29)
7. Why is giving to a Zionist charity not simply a humanitarian act?
Donations to charities are important economically and politically due to the peculiar nature of the Israeli state structure. Approximately 40% or more of government expenditure goes to military while the local market is small and unable to generate significant tax revenue. (30) Thus, little money is left over for other social services. Charities literally save the state money. By raising funds to purchase medical equipment and build medical centers, “Friends of Yad Sarah,” had by 1991 saved the Israeli economy $220 million per year, earning it the Kaplan Prize from the Israeli government. (31) Indeed, many traditional state services are offered through non-governmental organizations that receive their funding from Zionist charities abroad. For example, the Jewish National Fund which administers 93% of the land of Israel, (32) being non-governmental, can and does require prospective buyers or renters to prove four generations of maternal Jewish descent. With its vast wealth the JNF determines the conditions of life for all people in Israel but only to the benefit of Jewish ones.
8. Isn’t Kosher just a religious issue?
Kosher is a just religious issue, but kosher certification doesn’t stop there. The charge for certifying food as kosher is based on a percentage of the certified product’s profits. Though customers generally don’t notice a price increase, the incredible bulk of products certified and sold world-wide, from yogurt to aluminum foil to deodorant, results in a yearly market of $45 billion dollars. (33) Many of the organizations that provide certification for kosher, such as the Orthodox Union or the Council of Orthodox Rabbis, represent the conservative Jewish community, exactly that community that is, generally, most pro-Zionist. Certification money, in the majority, is spent on the conservative organizations’ favorite charity: Israel. (34) Because every ketchup bottle produced must be certified before sale, and every item sold is counted for calculating the profits, all customers, not just observant Jews and certainly not just pro-Zionists, end up paying this significant contribution to Israel. To stop paying this pro-Israel tax, look for the small kosher symbol of organizations that announce their donations to Israel, such as a “U” or a “COR” in a circle near the product name of bar code. If you see it, chose another product instead.
9. Won’t we have to pay higher prices and get lower quality by boycotting?
Not necessarily. Some local products are cheaper (fresh produce, meat, paper products, canned goods, some textiles) by virtue of not having to pay for shipping or big brand labeling. Some are actually better than imported ones that have additives such as preservatives to enable them to survive the long trip. Also, many products made by megalithic multinational corporations do not fall under rigorous inspection standards for the quality of ingredients, employee treatment, or environmental impact. (35) That is because some of these companies are just too big and too disseminated to fall under the jurisdiction of any enforcing legal authority. (36) Many of the companies that we are calling on you to boycott are also the subject of boycotts by health advocates, human and animal rights activists, and environmental campaigners: Nestlé (for its use of genetically modified food and for its deceptive promotion leading to thousands of infant deaths in Africa), Colgate (for polluting in Mexico and testing on animals), Sara Lee (for poisoned food and sweat-shop labor), and Philip Morris (for everything from health sabotage, to environmental destruction to supporting smuggling and drug rings). (37)
Finally, the quality of products is not the only thing determining one’s quality of life. If the price of quality is at the expense of your rights, independence, and security, it may just not be worth it.
10. Does anyone really believe that Arab countries can cut off their ties to American companies, especially when there are no alternatives?
It is not necessary for Arabs to cut off ties to American companies entirely for the boycott to be effective. Dramatic boycott success of only a select number of products will have the effect of sending a warning to other companies. Moreover, one of the aims of this boycott is to cut ties of dependency to non-local sources of production. That may not be possible at this moment, but what better time to realize the necessity of working towards creating an environment conducive to local production than when everyone can see the direct consequences of Arab dependency on hostile regimes? On the same day the Lebanese Prime Minister signed a $3.5 million contract with Microsoft, the international press reported that Microsoft’s Israeli branch had placed billboard advertisements along the Tel Aviv highway expressing gratitude to the IDF, just after the revelation of the Jenin camp massacre. (38) Couldn’t that money have been better spent creating a local research and development center, rather than force our talented youth to emigrate for good jobs? Do we need more sieges and massacres closer to home before we realize that there is no political independence without economic independence? If it seems impossible to live without Microsoft, consider that in America right now many companies are boycotting the software producer in protest of its bullish marketing strategies. (39) In a recent interview the vice president of Microsoft world-wide sales indicated that the company hopes to increase its sales exponentially in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia, but at the same time has no plans to invest in local development and technology transfer. (40) Either we can become more tied to such companies, or we can demand that they become more concerned with our needs as customers.
11. So the boycott will drive foreign investors away from Arab countries in the name of what – denying Israel a Coca-Cola?
Putting aside numerous questions about the actual benefits multinational corporations bring to the public at large, the main issue to consider is what brought them here in the first place? Economic logic says that an enterprise opens up abroad after it has achieved full possible growth at home. For example, McDonalds cannot open more branches in the US, and Europe is quickly filling up. (41) The developing countries of the Middle East, Africa and Asia are the horizons for Western growth. When customers wage a successful boycott the targeted companies don’t usually pack up and throw away their initial investment; rather, they learn to take the customers’ concerns into account and change accordingly their way of running their business. That is our minimum aim – to make these corporations realize that Palestinians and Arabs are people too, with relevant humanitarian, economic, and political demands. Our maximum aim is not to keep Israelis from drinking Coke but to keep them from denying Palestinians their inalienable, human and national rights.
12. Isn’t the boycott just a public relations exercise that cannot have real damaging effect on Israel?
The Arab boycott against Israel (1946-c.1994) is estimated to have cost the state $44 billion dollars altogether, or each year, in Shimon Peres’ words, “equal to the amount we receive in financial aid from the US.” (42) Of the 500 largest corporations in the world, only seven had openly invested in Israel until the early 1990s. (43) Israelis had to contend with this boycott by devising all sorts of roundabout schemes to procure desired goods, and that raised prices of the market all around. (44) The mere absence of Japanese cars in the Israeli market cost Israeli purchasers up to the mid-1990s about $2,343 extra per car. (45) If Israelis like to see the cuts in cost they have experienced as “peace dividends,” it may be time to remind them that there was never peace for the Palestinians. (46)
To combat the effects of the current economic crisis Israel faces, American Zionist groups are asking that each Jewish household buy “just $10 of goods from Israel.” (47) The truth is, Israel’s economy is fragile. (48) Exports equal 88% of the GDP, and still the government debt ratio is almost 100% of the GDP. (49) This means the economy is vulnerable to external action; it can be hurt badly by a decrease in trade. With such a high debt, even small dips in economic activity can have great effect on Israeli society. The more Israel sinks itself in the economic pit by becoming an international pariah, the more the US will have to spend to prop it up, and at a time when popular support for Israel everywhere is plummeting. (Even in the US, 71% of people polled by Gallup April 3, 2002 said they felt America should be neutral rather than pro-Israeli.) (50) Our boycott doesn’t have to aim to close every company that trades with Israel; it simply has to make the Zionist state an unprofitable pain in the corporate ledger. To do that, revenues, profits and expectations have to be cut by percentage points – and that is definitely something that responsible pro-Palestinian buyers can do.
13. How can a boycott be effective when Israel has already penetrated some Arab markets through joint business ventures, and even Palestinians are dependent on Israeli trade?
Israel has a national market comparable to Switzerland – not a vast economic opportunity for most foreign exporters. (51) The opportunity, rather, is in the potential relationship of Israel to the Arab market. Post-1993 investors in Israel were attracted by the prospect of reaching not 6 million Israelis alone, but, also, 280 million Arabs. (52) Some entrepreneurs have already begun to build this relationship. Thus, while Israeli economy is starting to suffer from loss of exports to Europe where boycott measures have begun, its trade with Morocco and Jordan has actually grown since Sharon’s visit to al-Aqsa. (53) It is precisely these joint ventures that prohibit many Arab leaders from acting decisively in the face of economic Zionism, and there will be more and more such ventures if we do not boycott. When Disney went ahead and made Jerusalem the capitol of Israel, it was Al-Waleed Bin Talal, major share-holder, who asked Arabs not to boycott the company. (54) So, at least for children at the Magic Kingdom, Jerusalem is, in the most visible way, the undisputed capital of the undivided Israel.
Palestinians and select other Arabs themselves may have prospered slightly during some of the years of Oslo through trade with regional neighbors, but their fortunes were always accompanied by greater growth for Israelis. For example, the Free Trade Zones budding in Jordan only give Jordanians good business terms with America if 1) Jordanian labor remains “competitively cheap” (i.e. growth must not be passed on proportionately to Jordanian workers) and 2) Israeli parts are actually included in all goods manufactured there. (55) Recent events have shown that whatever the fruits of growth during occupation, they are extremely vulnerable to Israeli military and political might. (56)
14. Won’t The Boycott Harm The Arab Workers Currently Employed At The Targeted Companies?
This argument is often used against boycotts in general. Yet the fear that corporations will close the factories because they will have no market for their goods is unfounded. Corporations keep their finger very tightly to the pulse of consumer drives. Long before sales dip so low that factories will be closed, the management, if it is at all competent, will be doing market research to find out why their sales are declining.
Corporations always attempt to defend the status quo via public relations and advertising campaigns, but their claims to be concerned with local labor should be taken with a grain of salt. Recalling how this argument was used by businesses fending off the anti-apartheid movement’s call for boycott one South African activist noted, “Overnight the apartheid regime and international business and other interests tried to transform themselves into those who cared most for the victims of apartheid. That was a certain reminder to us that we were doing a good job.” (57)
The claim to be concerned about local jobs should be turned back to megalithic corporations such as McDonalds who import 100% of their food from abroad, pay royalties on its sales to the mother company, and ultimately force local producers out of work. (58) Their same employees could work at in local operations that do not send year-end taxes out of the country.
15. Isn’t it the local franchisees and not the imported brands that will be hurt by this boycott?
Take the example of a local franchise-owner of an American fast-food chain: Yes, franchisees do pay a fee up front (between $500,000 and $1.5 million to open a McDonalds or Burger King), but additionally they continue to pay to buy the foreign supplies (food, napkins, bags, cups etc.) and return a portion of the revenues to the mother company. (59) Franchises are rights to use names under strict legal conditions, not full ownership of a branch, and a franchise can be closed when it under-performs or when it becomes “unruly,” i.e. threatening the company’s policies or image. On the other hand, the franchisee cannot change corporate policy: so the local McDonald’s must continue to send royalties even if he objects to the corporate headquarter’s giving to a Zionist organization like the Jewish National Fund. (60) If these franchises really are 100% locally owned, supplied, and operated, then why the need for the imported name? When a new McDonald’s branch opens every four hours, that’s growth for the McDonald’s Corporation, not for the local consuming communities or investing franchisers elsewhere. A boycott affects the mother company not by making the franchisee pull out but by inhibiting his ability to expand and generate more royalties for the corporation.
16. Wouldn’t it be better to let Arab economy grow through foreign trade and use the wealth generated to provide aid to Palestinians?
How much money can buy a people out of a siege? When Palestinians are under curfew, neither can they use donor money to buy needed supplies, nor can those supplies get to the grocery stores and hospitals. As long as there is a siege, Israel determines what will go in, and as long as Israel overwhelms Palestinians economically and militarily, there is always the chance of a siege, tighter or looser.
Ultimately, let us recall that a prime factor hindering the development of Arab economy has been the presence of the Israeli colonizing state, continually destabilizing the region with its successive land-grabs and expulsions of mass populations, bombing growing regional economies wherever they start, directing vast portions of national budgets to the military, and leading thousands of Arab youth to early death or lives of fighting rather than producing. A boycott cannot hurt our local economies more than Israel does whenever it chooses to impose itself.
No one is asking you to stop donating to Palestinian charities, but while you are at it, do something to prevent US or other international donations from going to Israel.
17. Isn’t Declaring An Economic Boycott An Anti-Democratic Act?
On the contrary, it is the very definition of a democratic act. An economic boycott is a non-violent act, enabling all citizens to express their views through their available means, without imposing these views on others, and without the need for an organization or political identification. It is perfectly suited to situations where people hold an opinion dear but do not have military, political or economic clout to enforce it in the realm of international relations. Through a boycott, any person may use his or her money as wished in preferring one product over another. In fact, to a corporate CEO or a stock-holder whose company knows no national boundaries, voters and citizens may be irrelevant, but there’s nothing like a consumer. Exercising your power as a consumer is your best chance of making an impact on the entities that determine your environment, food, health, and the safety of your community.
18. Shouldn’t the boycott be a government initiative rather than grass-root?
Actually, the main trading partners with the US are legally not in the position to call for an official boycott of Israel: the circa $2 billion that Egypt gets in US aid comes with the condition that the government not “wage economic warfare” against any other state also receiving US aid. (61) Of course, that hasn’t stopped Israel from withholding Palestinian assets and attacking the Palestinian Authority’s economic infrastructure. Ideally our popular pressure will enable our governments to find that margin for movement that the Israelis have established vis-à-vis the American aid provisions! More importantly though, most governments and individual capitalists do not see such a boycott to be in their interests. (62) By calling on the participation of citizen’s committees, women’s groups, trade unions, and other grass-roots organizations, we seek to involve people through the channels most credible and important to them. We seek to instill a strong sense of personal responsibility and agency.
19. Doesn’t The Call For Boycott Express Hatred For Americans and/or Jews?
We are not motivated by hatred. We are not boycotting Americans or Jews, but the products of the companies that fund pro-Zionist politics and enable Israeli colonizing activity. We will insist on not targeting Americans or Jews per se, lest our nascent movement degenerate into a hate-campaign. We believe our cause to be so inarguably just that Americans and Jews, too, will join the boycott and increase our effectiveness. Our non-violent actions challenge the people of the world to stop resorting to the explanation of hatred for international conflict and instead to ask deeper questions about their governments’ pro-Israeli policies.
20. Doesn’t This Boycott Target Companies For The Personal Beliefs Of The People Who Run Them?
When CEOs of economically very powerful companies make public statements insisting on using their company’s financial strength and credibility to support the Israeli economy and international opinion of Israel, we customers must make no bones about our objections. After announcing his support for Israel “as the CEO of Timberland” and his intention to open more Timberland stores in Israel “especially now,” and to mobilize American Jews in “helping Israel’s ailing economy,” Jeffrey Swartz asserted, “The Godfather was wrong when he said this is nothing personal, it’s just business. This is deeply personal.” Swartz and his father own 80% of Timberland’s voting shares. (63) In that spirit, let us remind executives and stockholders such as Swartz that Arabs are people too, “especially now” when facing massacres, siege, and occupation. If CEOs want to use their businesses to promote their Zionist interests, they cannot expect to be supported by anti-Zionist consumers. Only when corporations insist on treating all their clients equally will consumers separate the personal beliefs of the CEOs from the production of their products.
21. How Can I Contribute Effectively To The Success Of The Boycott?
In many ways. First know that every time you spend a single lire, you are being effective, either for or against the boycott.
1) Take the list of targeted companies. When you do your shopping look at the product label to find out its company origin or status as kosher. When in doubt about a product’s origin, ask the store manager, preferably in a loud voice. Reject any product Kosher-certified with a “U” or a “COR.” Reject any product made by a company directly using its profits to support Israel’s racism and aggression. Prefer any other local-made product, even if its price is slightly higher or its quality slightly lower.
2) Write to your local producers telling them of your support and asking that they work to address your production concerns.
3) Make photocopies of your list and distribute them as much as possible.
4) Get neighbors to sign a petition to their local stores to find alternatives to pro-Israel suppliers.
5) Learn how to find out about company connections to Israel by using the Internet, library, and so on.
6) Appeal to your area restaurants to avoid products made by companies supporting Israel in their cooking.
7) Ask your doctor to prescribe medications made by companies that do not support Zionism.
8) Don’t worry that you are only one person: Live your life as though it matters, and it will matter.
(1) Laws were passed in 1959, 1960, 1976, 1977, and 1991 (two) to hinder the efficacy of the Arab boycott which despite all remained highly effective in the opinion of the US government and the Israeli Foreign Ministry (see “1996 National Economic Estimate: The Arab League (Boycott of Israel),” US Trade Reports, April 1, 1996, http://www.ustr.gov/reports/nte/1996/arab.html; “Antiboycott Regulations,” US Dept. of Antiboycott Compliance; Mitchell Bard, “The Arab Boycott,” Jewish Virtual Library, http://www.us-israel.org/jsource; “Fighting the Arab Boycott,” Jewish Virtual Library, op. cit.; Motti Besok, “Last Days of the Boycott,” in Davar, Feb. 1, 1994, at http://www.mfa.gov.il; Shimon Peres, “Remarks before the Knessest Economic Committee on the Arab Boycott,” Israeli Minstry of Foreign Affairs, http://www.mfa.gov.il
(2) Christabel Gurney, “When the Boycott Began to Bite,” African National Congress, http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/aam/aamhist.html; “The Anti-Apartheid Movement: A 40-year Perspective,” Symposium at South Africa House, London, 25-26 June 1999, http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/aam/symposium.html
(3) “Muslims Eye Renewed Burger King Boycott,” Newswire Association, June 14, 2000. Richard Curtiss, “After Illusory ‘Victory’ in First ‘Battle of Burger King,’ Muslims, Arabs Prepare for Second Round,” Washington Report on Middle east Affairs, 7/00, p.6, 44-45.
(4) Amira Hass, “The ‘Made in Israel’ label is not as simple as it seems,” Ha`aretz, Sept. 24, 2000, http://www.fiz.huji.ac.il/~damita/sito_pol/ISR_PAL/Amira_Hass24_9.html
(5) Retailers,” Delta Galil, http://www.deltagalil.com/RetailersStory.htm
(6) B’Tselem, “Human Rights Violations of Palestinians from the Occupied Territories Working in Israel and the Settlements” http://www.btselem.org
(7) See their web-site’s section “International Public Action,” http://www.ou.org/kosher/pr.htm to view how the organization turns its wealth into political power.
(8) “Editorial: Economic Jubilee,” Jerusalem Post, Oct. 15, 1998, http://www.jpost.com/Archive/15.oct.1998/Opinion/Article-0.htm
(9) These companies were among the 78 given the Jubilee Foreign Investor’s Award on Oct. 14, 1998 by Benyamin Netanyahu as economic actors that “through their investments and trade relationships, have done the most to strengthen the Israeli economy.” The original list was available at http://www.jpost.com/com/Finance/jubawrecipients.html but this link is out of service; a copy is available now at Boycott Israel Campaign http://www.inminds.com/boycott-jubilee-awards.html.
(10) “Welcome to McDonalds Israel, First in the Middle East,” McDonalds, http://www.mcdonalds.co.il; Danone Institute Israel, http://www.danone-institute.org.il/danone/WhoEng/Default.asp?Flag=1; Eli Groner, Jerusalem Post, June 15, 1999, http://www.jpost.com/Archive/15.Jun.1999/Business/Article-5.htm
(11) This is still very high: the European Union’s standard, or Maastricht benchmark, is 60%. David Klein (Gov., Bank of Israel), “The Israeli Economy, 1990-2000: Strategy for Change and Recent Developments,” report to the Chamber of Commerce Switzerland-Israel, http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAHOij90
(12) Netty C. Gross, “Salesman for the States,” Jerusalem Report, Sept. 10, 2001, http://www.jrep.com/Business/Article-4.html
(13) Keren Tzuriel-Harari, “Mike Moritz: As long as the Results Exceed the Risks,” Globes Israel, http://www.globes.col.il
(14) LLPSN, “Israel’s New Economy and the Intifada: A note on the boycott campaign,” Rekombinant, April 3, 2002, http://www.rekombinant.org/article.php?sid=1643
(15) Galena Vromen, “Dutch-Israeli investment rises on high-tech tide,” Optin, www.optin.nl/optin/article2.html; Hanan Scher, “The Second Time around,” Jerusalem Report, Nov. 5, 2001, http://www.jrep.com/Business/Article-3.html; Y. Meir, “Israel’s Resiliency Keeps Food Industry Going,” Kosher Today Newspaper, Dec. 2001, http://www.koshertoday.com/kosher%20today%20archives/2001/1201/Israels%20Resiliency%20Keeps%20Food%20Industry%20Going.htm
(16) “The Jubilee Plan for Economic Freedom in Israel,” Institute for Advanced Strategic and Policy Studies, http://www.iasps.org.il/kemp9.htm
(17) Joseph Morgenstern, “The Origins of Israeli High-Tech,” Jewish Virtual Library, www.us-israel.org/jsource/Economy/hitech.html
(18) Saul Singer, “Interesting Times: Operation Economic Suicide,” Jerusalem Post, Apr. 29, 2002, http://www.jpost.com;”Shalom tells nation to tighten its belt,” Ha`aretz, Apr. 25, 2002; http://www.haaretzdaily.com; “Israeli Government Actions & Statements,” Atid, from Ha`aretz, April 8, 2002, http://www.atid-edi.com
(19) Singer, ibid, also Micah D. Halpern, “The Abandonment of Israel,”
Israelinsider, April 11, 2002, http://www.israelinsider.com/views/articles/views_0340.htm
(20) “Government of Israel Investment Incentives,” Israel Export Institute, http://www.export.org.il/IsraelExportInstitute
(21) Benjamin Netanyahu, “Address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Jubilee Economic Conference Jerusalem,” October 13, 1998, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, http://www.mfa.gov.il
(22) Elmer Winter, “How to Make Money in Israel,” Committee for Economic Growth for Israel March Newsletter, (March 8, 1999), http://www.cegi.org; compare with Shirl McArthur, “A Conservative Total for U.S. Aid to Israel: $91 Billion-and Counting,” in Congress Watch, Jan -Feb, 2001, pgs 15-16.
(23) LLPSN, “Israel’s New Economy and the Intifada,” op. cit.
(24) Ibid. Cf. Seth Redniss, “Around-the-Globe: Nasdaq and Israeli Prosperity,” Forbes, Nov. 11, 2000, http://www.forbes.com
(25) Note that this language is used by the sector to advertise itself! See “Industry Continues to Succeed,” Jewish On-Line Observer, Oct. 30, 2000, http://users.actcom.co.il/jeronline/nbuisiness.htm, and Winter, op. cit. Also, “Despite current events, Israeli industry continues to succeed,” Ministry of Trade & Industry, Oct. 30, 2000, http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAHOi4eO. The “Palestinianrein” status is in striking contrast to the sector’s deliberate employment of some Jordanian software programmers, a step towards political and economic integration of the two countries. See Larry Luxner, “Arab-Israeli Peace Could Unlock Enormous Trade Potential,” The Washington Diplomat, http://www.washdiplomat.com/00-08/a2_8_00.htm.
(26) Redniss, “Around-the-Globe,” op. cit.; Sharon Berger, “Survey sees direct VC investment by foreigners rise,” Jerusalem Post, Feb. 19, 2002, http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2002/02/19/Digital/Digital.43718.html
(27) David Rosenberg, “Ahead of the Game,” at http://www.nanyangmba.ntu.edu.sg/bsm/bsm_links/israel/jp/jp-htec2.htm; David Klein, “The Israeli Economy,” op. cit.;
(28) Mary Anne Ostrom, “Israel’s tech ties to valley strained by violence,” Mercury News, Apr. 5, 2002, http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/3009786.htm
(29) Ostrom, ibid. Berger, op. cit.
(30) Joseph Morgenstern, “The Origins of Israeli High-Tech,” Jewish Virtual Library, www.us-israel.org/jsource/Economy/hitech.html
(31) “Yad Sarah, Friends of Activities,” Tzedakah, Inc, http://www.just-tzedakah.org/reports/YadSarah/basicinfo.html
(32) Jewish National Fund, http://www.jnf.org; David aRnow, “Just say “no’ to UJA?” Tikkun, July – August, 1998.
(33) “Kosher Question & Answer,” Orthodox Union, http://www.ou.org/kosherqa/food.htm
(34) See for example the activities listed at the web-sites for the United Jewish Communities, which certifies through the Council of Orthodox Rabbis (COR) at http://www.toronoto.ujcfedweb.org/content_disaply.html?articleID=17533; the Orthodox Union, which certifies with the stamp (OU), http://www.ou.org/kosher/pr.htm and http://www.ou.org/centennial/weare.htm
(35) Hence the many civil groups that have sprung up to monitor the products and activites of multi-nationals. See Multinational Monitor (www.essentialmonitor.org), McSpotlight (www.mcspotlight.org), Global Exchange (www.globalexchange.org), and Corpwatch (www.corpwatch.org) for an introduction to these sites.
(36) Eric Schlosser, Fastfood Nation, London: The Penguin Press, 2001; Michael Massing, “From Protest to Program,” American Prospect, July 2, 2001, http://www.prospect.org/print/V12/12/massing-m.html
(37) On Nestle, see Organic Consumers Action http://www.organicconsumers.org/Organic/ov1n11.cfm and Baby Milk Action http://www.babymilkaction.org; on Colgate-Palmolive see Holley Knaus, “Behind the Lines, Dirty Colgate,” Multinational Monitor, May, 1992, http://multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1992/05/mm0592_03.html and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals www.peta-online.org/liv/c/6.html; on Sara Lee see Sept.-11 shut down the WEF, http://www.s11.org/s11-dynamic.html?http://www.s11.org/iss_sweatshops.html http://cbae.nmsu.edu/~dboje/usas/pages/hanes_sara_lee_champion.htm; on Philip Morris see Jessica Wohl and Brad Dorfman, “USA: Jury Orders Philip Morris to Pay Record $3 Billion,” Reuters, June 7, 2001, http://www.corpwatch.org/news/PND.jsp?articleid=91, and Mark Schapiro, “Big Tobacco,” The Nation, May 6, 2002, http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript_pm.html
(38) Ramsy Short, “Hariri agrees deal with Microsoft for use of latest software,” Daily Star, April 25, 2002, http://www.dailystar.com.lb/business/25%5F04%5F02%5Fa.htm, and Moulouk Y. Ba-Isa, “Microsoft blames Israeli branch for outrageous advertisement,” at Indymedia-Israel, http://www.indymeia.org.il/imc/israel/webcast/25130.htm
(39) “Mr. Softee’s Losing Game of Hardball,” Reuters, May 2, 2002.
(40) Moulouk Y. Ba-Isa, “Microsoft will not be involved in a boycott row,” Arab News, April 30, 2002, http://www.arabnews.com/Article.asp?ID=14829
(41) Eric Schlosser, Fastfood Nation, op. cit and Paul Taylor, “McDonald’s learns the ropes of being an American icon abroad,” Financial Times, April 17 2002, http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3JGQXB50D
(42) Motti Besok, “Last Days of the Boycott,” in Davar, Feb. 1, 1994, p. 9 at Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs, http://www.mfa.gov.il and Shimon Peres, “Excerpts of remarks by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres Before the Knesset Economic Committee on the Arab Boycott,” trans from Hebrew, Jerusalem, Feb 21, 1994, http://www.mfa.gov.il
(43) Besok, ibid.
(45) Chaim Fershtman and Neil Gandal, “The Effect of the Arab Boycott on Israel: The Automobile Market,” in The Rand Journal of Economics v. 29, #1 (Spring 1998), p.193-214.
(46) Rochelle Furstenburg, “Arch Rivals,” Hadassah, Dec. 1997, http://www.hadassah.org/NEWS/archive/1997/DEC97/RIVALS.HTM
(47) Jewish Solidarity Update, “Get Involved,” http://www.jafi.org.il/daily/involve.asp
(48) Bassok, “IMF says,” op. cit.; “Conflict Puts Israel in Recession: Straining Nation’s Social Fabric,” Wall Street journal, May 3, 2002, p.A8-9; Charles Radin,”Israel’s economy staggered by months of unrest,” Boston Globe, May 4, 2002, p.A1
(49) Klein, op. cit.
(50) David W. Moore “Americans Favor Israelis in Current Conflict With Palestinians,” The Gallup Organization, April 4, http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr020404.asp
(51) Estaban Alterman, “Salesman for the States,” Jeruslaem Report, sept. 10, 2001, www.jrep.com/Business/Article-4.html; Luxner, op. cit.
(52) Luxner, ibid.
(53) Reuters, “Israeli exporters complain of European boycott,” Forbes, May 5, 2002, www.forbes.com/business/newswire/2002/05/05/rtr592583.html; Gwen Ackerman, “Hi-tech company sees order frozen due to Defensive Shield,” Jerusalem Post, April 21, 2002, www.jpost.com; David Horovitz, “Europe Buys the Big Lie,” Jerusalem Report, May 20, 2002, http://www.jrep.com/Columnists/Article-0.html;Tal Muscal, “Exports to Arab countries up 8% in 2001,” Jerusalem Post, March 6, 2002, http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2002/03/06/Digital/Digitial.44705.html; “”Survey of Expectations in Industry, October-December 2001, Main Findings,” Ref. 230084, Oct. 16, 2001, Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade, http://www.industry.gov.il. As of Nov. 2002, however, the Moroccan figures no longer hold: trade with Israel was reported by the Israeli Census Bureau to have declined 57%, see Yehezkel Laing, “Exports to Arab countries down 10% to $77.4m.,” Jerusalem Post, Dec. 8, 2002, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/ShowFull%26cid=1039323529768
(54) “Disney Promotes Israeli Occupation,” Friends of Al-Aqsa, http://www.aqsa.org.uk/activities/campaign2.html; “Walt Disney Co is a controlling shareholder in Euro Disney with a 39 percent stake, “Middle East Times, http://www.metimes.com/issue99-38/reg/disney__will.htm.
(55) Ghalia Alul, “Irbid’s new industrial park leaves Jordanians divided,” Jordan Times, Dec. 13, 1997, http://www.jordanembassyus.org/QIZ121398.htm
(56) “Palestinian towns suffered $300-$400 million worth of damage, UNDP says,” Arabic News, May, 9, 2002, http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020509/2002050915.html
(57) Abdul Minty, “The Anti-Apartheid Movement – what kind of history?” in The Anti-Apartheid Movement: A 40-year Perspective, June 25-26, 1999, African National Congress, http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/aam/symposium.html
(58) See an analysis of this process in Schlosser, Fastfood Nation, op.cit and at McSpotlight, http://www.mcspotlight.com. Figures on food imports from Hassan Shaker, manager for McDonalds to Lebanon, April 30, 2002.
(59) Mahmood Kahn, Restaurant Franchising, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1992.
(60) “Corporate Partners: On behalf of a grateful community, Thank you,” Jewish United Fund, http://www.juf.org/cent/partners.asp
(61) This is due to the Douglas-Keeting “Freedom of Seas” amendment passed by the US Congress in 1960.
(62) “$800 billion, the volume of Arab sums abroad,” Feb. 25, 2002, http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020225/200202524.html
(63) Etgar Lefkovits, “Timberland boss: Israeli message is not reaching US,” Jerusalem Post, April 26, 2001, www.jpost.com/Editions/2002/04/26/News.47805.html; “Jeffrey B. Swartz, President & CEO,” Hoovers, http://www.hoovers.com/co/capsule/4/0,2163,12390,00.html