Europe's economic boycott of Israel expanding
Recent months see sharp rise in number of European companies withdrawing investment from Israeli firms for political reasons. 'The damage is huge,' says glass factory owner from Ariel
Published: 08.27.10, 12:51 / Israel Business
The decision by Norway's oil fund to withdraw its investment from Africa-Israel and Danya Cebus citing their involvement in settlement construction is the latest step in an ever expanding list of European private and governmental companies boycotting Israeli firms for political reasons.
Norway oil fund drops 2 Israeli companies / Associated Press
Sovereign wealth fund of $440 billion excludes Danya Cebus Ltd., Africa Israel Investments Ltd. over West Bank construction
Most of the cases pertain to claims of products being manufactured outside the Green Line and therefore in "occupied territory." Some of the cases serve as political protest against Israel's policy towards the Palestinians.
Yet, one point is uncontested: Recent months have seen a climb in the scope of the boycott of Israeli products imposed for political reasons.
"Since the Palestinians declared a boycott of settlement goods, there has been a 40% drop in production," Avi Ben Zvi, owner of the Plastco glass factory in Ariel said. "Export to Europe has ceased in its entirety and traders from the territories have stopped working with us. The damage is huge," he added.
According to Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman, the region's factories have taken a massive hit. "We need to initiate a wide-scale governmental campaign threatening the boycotting countries they will not participate in the political process," he said.
Last March, a large Swedish pension fund decided to boycott Elbit Systems for its part in the construction of the separation fence. The fund declared it had sold its Elbit holdings after its ethics committee recommended pulling out investment from companies involved in a violation of international treaties.
In September, Norway's governmental pension fund made a similiar move and divested from Elbit.
Last May, Germany's Deutsche Bank announced it had sold all its Elbit stocks, apparently after being pressured by anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian organizations.
Two years ago, Swedish giant Assa Abloy, owner of the Israeli company Mul-T-Lock Ltd., issued an apology for the fact that its factory in the Barkan Industrial Park was located outside the Green Line. The company promised to move the plant into "Israeli territory" following pressure from a Swedish-Christian human rights group.
Shraga Brosh, president of the Manufacturers Association, said Tuesday that "from time to time, organizations, mainly Scandinavian, boycott certain Israeli bodies. At the end of the day, these are isolated occurrences which do not affect the whole trade with Israel."
Soda Club was also hit by boycott: The city of Paris was forced to deny the Israeli company's participation in a large-scale fair for the promotion of tap water after receiving threats from pro-Palestinian elements.
On July, it was reported that the French transport firm Veolia, which operated the light rail project in Jerusalem had decided to sell its shares in the project without citing any motives. The decision may well be connected to the fact that several months earlier a French court agreed to discuss a lawsuit against Veolia and its involvement in the rail's construction in east Jerusalem.
Africa-Israel said in response: "Africa and the companies have not been involved in real estate development or residential construction in the West Bank for a long while. Therefore the claims are baseless."
Navit Zomer and Ofer Petersburg contributed to this report