13 thoughts on “Iran Sanctions, BDS and the Decline of the Lobby – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. @ Richard
    Concerning the absence of an Iranian reaction to Foreign Minister Zarif’s statement in Munich, Haaretz had another article the next day: “Iranian foreign minister in hot water over Israel remarks. FM Mohammad Javad Zarif not authorized to voice an opinion on the ‘Zionist regime’ parlementarioan reportedly says. Iran’s lawmakers intend to question the country’s foreign minister (…..)”

    Concerning the European attitude to BDS: the European countries do not act likewise. Scandinavia, Ireland and France are different worlds: in France, people are still being taken to court for promoting BDS, the importer of SodaStream just won a case against Association France-Palestine Solidarité (a French organization promoting the respect of the UN resolutions). Though boycott is not illegal per se, it seems that “the present context” and “historical events” (translation: France’s collaboration with Nazi Germany …..) make the boycott of Israeli products a discriminatory act (cf. the Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira answering a question at a Parisian university recently).

    1. Boycott is a legitimate tool, the denigrating method used was against French law. France is unique in undermining free speech. The European Union is required to label products correctly coming from OPT and act when Israeli companies cheat on labeling products “Made in Israel.” EU Court ruling – here.

      French court rules boycott group cease denigrating campaign against SodaStream

      The reasoning behind the court’s decision is that, though a boycott is a legitimate tool, the way it is implemented must be done in a fair and appropriate manner that doesn’t manipulate the company’s own ads. For example, AFPS put out adds that read: “blood bubbles” or “Free the bubbles, Palestinians can wait.”
      The group was ordered to pay 6,500 euro [$8,500].

      This French ruling is more troublesome – French Court Fines Members of BDS Group Calling for Supermarket Boycott. The ruling is based on the strict anti-discrimination laws, including one passed by the French parliament in 2003 known as the Lellouche Law. Bio Pierre Lellouche

      Palestinian Boycott Committee condemns repression of French BDS activists

      1. “Boycott is a legitimate tool, the denigrating method used was against French law””
        Yeah, that’s what they came up with in this particular ruling concerning SodaStream.
        The law considers boycott to be a legitimate tool but the former Minister of Interior Michèle Alliot-Marie alias MAM (the one who wanted to send troops to help Tunisian dictator Ben Ali only a few days before he was overthrown) published a memorandum specifically for the Israeli case, called “la circulaire MAM”, it’s still around though many legal authorities have protested, and the present Minister of Justice has promised to abogate it.
        If you understand French, here’s the Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira explaining why calling for boycott of Israeli products are ‘illegal’ though legal by law. She explicitely speaks about the law sanctioning anti-semitism. If you don’t understand it, don’t worry, nobody understands it, only that the Zionist lobby has more and more influence in this country (the actual Minister of Interior is as he said on a Jewish radio ‘eternally linked to the Jewish community and to Israel’ because his new wife is Jewish…..)
        http://www.europalestine.com/spip.php?article8994 (video embedded)

  2. Lovely! Guess which Israeli company fought on appeal the German court ruling on imports from OPT. The Court of Justice of the European Union made a ruling which had to be enforced by all EU countries and is the basis for the present European “Boycott” of fraudulent labeling of goods “Made in Israel.” Thank you SodaStream!

    Court of Justice of the European Union
    PRESS RELEASE CJE-10-14 [en]
    Luxembourg, 25 February 2010
    Judgment in Case C-386/08
    Brita GmbH v Hauptzollamt Hamburg-Hafen Soda-Club Ltd.

    Products originating in the West Bank do not qualify for preferential customs treatment under the EC-Israel Agreement

    Brita is a German company which imports drink-makers for sparkling water, as well as accessories and syrups, all of which are produced by an Israeli supplier, Soda-Club Ltd., at a manufacturing site at Mishor Adumin in the West Bank, to the east of Jerusalem.

    Brita sought to import goods supplied by Soda-Club into Germany. It informed the German customs authorities that the goods originated in Israel and, on that basis, it hoped to be granted the preferential treatment provided for under the EC-Israel Agreement. Suspecting that the products originated in the occupied territories, the German authorities asked the Israeli customs authorities to confirm that the products had not been manufactured in those territories.

    Although the Israeli authorities confirmed that the goods in question originated in an area that is under their responsibility, they did not reply to the question whether the goods had been manufactured in the occupied territories. For that reason, the German authorities refused in the end to grant Brita the preferential treatment, on the ground that it could not be established conclusively that the imported goods fell within the scope of the EC-Israel Agreement.

    Brita contested that decision before the courts and the Finanzgericht Hamburg (Finance Court, Hamburg) asked the Court of Justice whether the preferential treatment provided for under the EC-Israel Agreement may be granted in respect of goods which have been manufactured in the occupied Palestinian territories and which the Israeli authorities have confirmed as being of Israeli origin.

    In today’s judgment, the Court holds that each of the two association agreements has its own territorial scope: the EC-Israel Agreement applies to the territory of the State of Israel, whereas the EC-PLO Agreement applies to the territory of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

    The Court points out that, under general international law, an obligation cannot be imposed upon a third party – such as the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – without its consent. As a consequence, the EC-Israel Agreement may not be interpreted in such a way as to compel the Palestinian Authorities to waive their right to exercise the competence conferred upon them by virtue of the EC-PLO Agreement and, in particular, to refrain from exercising the right to issue customs documents providing proof of origin for goods manufactured in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

    In those circumstances, the Court holds that products originating in the West Bank do not fall within the territorial scope of the EC-Israel Agreement and do not therefore qualify for preferential treatment under that agreement. It follows that the German customs authorities could refuse to grant, in respect of the goods at issue, preferential treatment as provided for in that agreement, on the ground that those goods originated in the West Bank.

  3. “It’s simply an incredible show to watch.”

    yes it is! This story has me sitting on the edge of my seat. Another AIPAC loss in this line-up would be the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Obama’s Sec. of Defence — maybe that’s in the category of “over-reach” rather than loss, but no matter, it is all good. At the end of the day maybe we’ll have peace in the Middle East and AIPAC registered as a foreign lobby.

    thanks for this piece, Richard. It was a pleasure to read. You might be interested in Ben Caspit’s reporting on al-Monitor:

    “Kerry Lets Europe Play the Boycott Card”
    summary: The United States and Europe are playing good cop-bad cop in the negotiations with Israel.

    Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/02/john-kerry-avigdor-liberman-european-boycott.html#ixzz2t1dbqNCB

  4. I’m not making any attempt to troll, but can anyone explain to me the concept of “half-Jewish”?

    I thought the criteria was pretty straightforward: either your mother is Jewish, in which case you are also Jewish, or she isn’t, in which case you aren’t Jewish.

    Or, put another way: I thought that “half-Jewish” was akin to “half-pregnant”

    Apparently not….

    1. I meant genetically half-Jewish (she has a Danish, non-Jewish father), not halachically. Halachically, she is Jewish. Though her mother doesn’t sound like a person who has any Jewish commitments or involvement. So it’s possible Johansson doesn’t practice or consider herself Jewish.

      1. I read somewhere in an interview that Scarlett Johansson ‘felt Jewish’. It was related to Woody Allen I remember, something about her feeling a connection to him by being Jewish (and New Yorker too if my memory is correct).
        I’m really disappointed by her; I used to like her though I’m not into film stars but she seemed ‘different’. Her grand-dad was a well-known intellectual in Denmark that used to be on tv, a historian of arts who later became involved in TV-producing.

        1. Hmm, doesn’t that raise some interesting issues i.e. if someone who has a Jewish mother says only that she “felt Jewish” then it must be equally possible for her to say that, well, heck, today I don’t “feel Jewish” at all.

          Or, put another way: while she can’t change her genetics she certainly is acting as if she thinks her “Jewishness” is something she can turn on (and off, presumably) like a light-switch.

          Richard, what would the Rabbinical courts make of that notion?

          Is someone who is Born Of Jewish Mother forever labelled by such courts as “a Jew”, and if they claim that “No! No, I’m not!” would the Rabbinical court simply continue to insist that “sorry, you are”.

          1. @ THis is a serious question: It’s also a complicated question. In Jewish law, you can’t renounce your Jewishness. Even if you convert to another religion, you’re still Jewish, at least as far as Jewish law is concerned.

            But in this day & age Jewish law doesn’t hold much sway except inside communities where it is operative, so you can pretty much go your own way. If you don’t want to be Jewish no one is going to force you to be.

  5. Richard, you might want to take a look at the latest article at the NYTimes by Jodi Rudoren.

    She’s normally a stenographer for the Israeli PM’s Press Office, but the article
    “In West Bank Settlements, Israeli Jobs Are Double-Edged Sword”
    seems quite well balanced.

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