Ireland’s Radical Israel-Boycott Bill Could Have Devastating Consequences—for Ireland

July 12 2018

Yesterday, the upper house of the Irish legislature passed a bill that would forbid doing business with “settlements” anywhere in the world. If it becomes law, Orde Kittrie writes, it will have serious and perhaps disastrous consequences:

While the bill does not mention Israel or Palestine, the Irish senator Frances Black and its other cosponsors have declared that it was designed to prohibit transactions relating to Israeli settlers and settlements in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. Black previously signed a letter calling for a boycott of all Israeli products and services. Even though there are several contentious occupations closer to Europe—including Russia’s occupation of Crimea, Turkey’s occupation of Northern Cyprus, and Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara—the Irish bill is drafted to apply only to Israeli settlements.

The bill, if enacted, would put at risk Ireland’s economic links to the United States, which are vital to Irish prosperity. The U.S. in 2017 accounted for 67 percent of all foreign direct investment in Ireland. Yet this bill could make U.S. companies with divisions or subsidiaries in Ireland, Irish companies with divisions or subsidiaries in the U.S., and their employees who are Irish citizens or resident in Ireland, choose between violating the Irish law and violating the anti-boycott provisions of the U.S. Export Administration regulations. Violations of these U.S. anti-boycott laws are punishable by fines and by imprisonment for up to ten years.

Some 700 U.S. companies currently employ over 155,000 people in Ireland. These companies include Apple, whose Irish operations currently make it Ireland’s largest company. . . . If the Irish bill becomes law, it could create problems for companies like Apple. Many components inside Apple’s iPhones are made in Israel. Apple’s second largest research-and-development office is located in Herzliya, and several key Apple suppliers are located elsewhere in Israel. If an engineer in Apple’s Herzliya office lives in Jerusalem, and telecommutes from home for a day, will Apple be at risk of providing a settlement service in violation of Irish law?

While Ireland considers Jerusalem an Israeli settlement, the U.S. government recognizes it as Israel’s capital. If Apple fires an engineer because it wants to avoid problems with Irish law and he insists on telecommuting from his Jerusalem home, would Apple be violating U.S. law by participating in Ireland’s boycott of Israeli settlements?

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

A University of Michigan Professor Exposes the Full Implications of Academic Boycotts of Israel

Sept. 26 2018

A few weeks ago, Professor John Cheney-Lippold of the University of Michigan told an undergraduate student he would write a letter of recommendation for her to participate in a study-abroad program. But upon examining her application more carefully and realizing that she wished to spend a semester in Israel, he sent her a polite email declining to follow through. His explanation: “many university departments have pledged an academic boycott against Israel in support of Palestinians living in Palestine,” and “for reasons of these politics” he would no longer write the letter. Jonathan Marks comments:

We are routinely told . . . that boycott actions against Israel are “limited to institutions and their official representatives.” But Cheney-Lippold reminds us that the boycott, even if read in this narrow way, obligates professors to refuse to assist their own students when those students seek to participate in study-abroad programs in Israel. Dan Avnon, an Israeli academic, learned years ago that the same goes for Israel faculty members seeking to participate in exchange programs sponsored by Israeli universities. They, too, must be turned away regardless of their position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. . . .

Cheney-Lippold, like other boycott defenders, points to the supposed 2005 “call of Palestinian civil society” to justify his singling out of Israel. “I support,” he says in comments to the [Michigan] student newspaper, “communities who organize themselves and ask for international support to achieve equal rights [and] freedom and to prevent violations of international law.”

Set aside the absurdity of this reasoning (“Why am I not boycotting China on behalf of Tibet? Because China has been much more effective in stifling civil society!”). Focus instead on what Cheney-Lippold could have found out by using Google. The first endorser of the call of “civil society” is the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, which includes Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and other groups that trade not only in violent “resistance” but in violence that directly targets noncombatants.

That’s remained par for the course for the boycott movement. In October 2015, in the midst of the series of stabbings deemed “the knife intifada,” the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel shared a call for an international day of solidarity with the “new generation of Palestinians” who were then “rising up against Israel’s brutal, decades-old system of occupation.” To be sure, they did not directly endorse attacks on civilians, but they did issue their statement of solidarity with “Palestinian popular resistance” one day after four attacks that left three Israelis—all civilians—dead.

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More about: Academia, Academic Boycotts, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Knife intifada