Ireland’s Boycott-Israel Bill Violates EU and International Law and Will Damage Trade with the U.S.

Jan. 31 2018

Yesterday the Irish Senate considered a measure that would make it a crime—punishable by up to five years in prison—for citizens or corporations to do business with Israelis in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, or the Golan Heights. (Voting on the bill has been postponed until a later date.) Orde Kittrie writes:

The senator who introduced the bill, Frances Black, previously signed a letter calling for a boycott of all Israeli products and services. While the bill does not mention Israel or Palestine by name, Black and its other sponsors have announced that it was designed to . . . prohibit Irish transactions relating to Israeli settlers and settlements. . . . The bill would punish Irish citizens and residents, as well as companies incorporated in Ireland, that engage in such transactions, regardless of whether the violation occurs in or outside Ireland. . . . .

[The] bill, if enacted, would be inconsistent with EU and international law. For example, the EU has exclusive competence for the common commercial policy, and member states are not permitted to adopt unilateral restrictions on imports into the EU.

The bill is also inconsistent with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the international agreement covering trade in goods. . . . [Furthermore, it] would gravely undermine Ireland’s economic links to the United States, which are vital to Irish prosperity. U.S. investment in 2016 accounted for 67 percent of all foreign direct investment in Ireland. Yet this bill would make U.S. companies with subsidiaries in Ireland, Irish companies with subsidiaries in the U.S., and their employees who are Irish or reside in Ireland choose between violating Irish law or violating the U.S. Export Administration regulations [which forbid participation in such boycotts]. . . . These companies would also be forced by Irish law to run afoul of some or all of the two-dozen U.S. state laws that impose sanctions on companies that boycott Israel.

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More about: BDS, EU, Ireland, Israel & Zionism, U.S. Foreign policy

 

The Proper Jewish Response to the Pittsburgh Massacre

Nov. 21 2018

In the Jewish tradition, it is commonplace to add the words zikhronam li-vrakhah (may their memory be for a blessing) after the names of the departed, but when speaking of those who have been murdered because they were Jews, a different phrase is used: Hashem yikom damam—may God avenge their blood. Meir Soloveichik explains:

The saying reflects the fact that when it comes to mass murderers, Jews do not believe that we must love the sinner while hating the sin; in the face of egregious evil, we will not say the words ascribed to Jesus on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We believe that a man who shoots up a synagogue knows well what he does; that a murderer who sheds the blood of helpless elderly men and women knows exactly what he does; that one who brings death to those engaged in celebrating new life knows precisely what he does. To forgive in this context is to absolve; and it is, for Jews, morally unthinkable.

But the mantra for murdered Jews that is Hashem yikom damam bears a deeper message. It is a reminder to us to see the slaughter of eleven Jews in Pennsylvania not only as one terrible, tragic moment in time, but as part of the story of our people, who from the very beginning have had enemies that sought our destruction. There exists an eerie parallel between Amalek, the tribe of desert marauders that assaulted Israel immediately after the Exodus, and the Pittsburgh murderer. The Amalekites are singled out by the Bible from among the enemies of ancient Israel because in their hatred for the chosen people, they attacked the weak, the stragglers, the helpless, those who posed no threat to them in any way.

Similarly, many among the dead in Pittsburgh were elderly or disabled; the murderer smote “all that were enfeebled,” and he “feared not God.” Amalek, for Jewish tradition, embodies evil incarnate in the world; we are commanded to remember Amalek, and the Almighty’s enmity for it, because, as Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik explained, the biblical appellation refers not only to one tribe but also to our enemies throughout the ages who will follow the original Amalek’s example. To say “May God avenge their blood” is to remind all who hear us that there is a war against Amalek from generation to generation—and we believe that, in this war, God is not neutral.

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More about: Amalek, Anti-Semitism, Judaism, Religion & Holidays