The UN Human Rights Council announced last year that it planned to compile a list of Israeli and foreign companies which participated in Israel’s Occupation and did business in Palestinian territories occupied by Israel. Israel has taken to calling this a “blacklist,” while in essence its a list of companies which have blackened their reputations by reaping profits from Israeli conquest of Palestine.
Many Israeli companies have recently received a letter from the Council notifying them that they would be included in the body’s list. As a result, the CEO of Bezeq, one of Israel’s leading telecom providers, posted a defiant response on Facebook in which she denounced the action and defended her company’s service to all Israelis wherever they may live, inside or beyond the Green Line:
“Bezeq vehemently protects all its clients, without discrimination based on religion, race or sex, and it respects their decision to live anywhere in (Israel—ed), be it Ra’anana, east Jerusalem, Ariel, Sakhnin or Ma’ale Adumim. We make an effort and invest a lot of money to have our infrastructure reach every Israeli community and supply every citizen with quality communication services. We also proudly supply services to Israel’s security apparatus. It is our duty as Israel’s communications infrastructure, which we view as a great privilege.
“The way we see it, the Human Rights Resolution 31/36 is a biased attempt to goad us by exerting illegitimate pressure on legally operated commercial companies. We will not cooperate with a move that utterly constitutes anti-Israeli propaganda.”
“In conclusion, we want to say that despite the United Nations Human Rights Council’s attempts to harm Israel by harming Bezeq, we are committed to continuing to focus on our job—to supply quality service to all Israeli citizens, to supply a fair place of work to our employees and to create revenues for all of our creditors and shareholders. It is our job as Israel’s communications infrastructure company.”
The above quotation from Ynet omits this combative attack by Hendler on the Council itself, which could easily have been lifted from the press releases of any Israel Lobby group:
Here is a bit of background about the Human Rights Council: since its founding in 2006 its published 68 resolutions condemning Israel, which constitutes 50% of all resolutions concerning specific countries. Neither North Korea, nor Syria, nor Sudan, nor Yemen got such treatment. In truth, no other country in the world gets such treatment. This anti-Israel stand is so blatant that the Council has lost all relevance to the rest of the world
That last passage may explain why it later disappeared from Bezeq’s Facebook page. Per a directive from the ministry of foreign affairs, she removed it. It’s bizarre that the government would seek to silence such an aggressive defense of Israeli Occupation. This is the sort of red meat media messaging the far-right Israeli government loves.
My only guess is that someone in MFA felt the aggressive attack on the Council might be counter-productive. And that the more Israel and its commercial interests complained about the so-called blacklist the more attention would be drawn to it: the sort of attention which will engage human rights activists around the world with this issue.
Usually, Israel seeks to censor social media it views as incitement (having arrested hundreds of Palestinians for the crime of posting comments critical of Israeli Occupation) against it. I’ve never heard of censorship of content that attacks BDS and defends Israeli Occupation. Wonders never cease.
The overreaction of both Hendler in attacking the Council and the MFA in censoring her defense of her company and Israel is further proof that the BDS movement frightens official Israel profoundly. For example, the Haaretz article linked above does note that while the Council list doesn’t financially impact Israeli companies now, that it could have a significant chilling effect on their international trade prospects. Not a welcome prospect for a nation whose economy depends so highly on exports.