The Confused Legal Reasoning behind the UN’s Effort to Publish a Checklist for Boycotters of Israel

Dec. 12 2018

In 2016, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) formally instructed the high commissioner for human rights, who oversees the council’s attendant bureaucracy, to compile a database of businesses that have “directly and indirectly enabled, facilitated, and profited from the construction and growth of the settlements”—by which are meant Jewish communities in the West Bank. The list, which has not yet been made public, includes some 206 businesses, most of which are based in Israel. In a detailed report, the Kohelet Policy Forum explains why this project is nothing but an attempt to aid those who wish to boycott Israel:

The clear goal of the UNHRC . . . is to create negative reputational consequences for the listed companies, and ultimately to trigger sanctions against targeted companies through subsequent action by the Security Council or national governments. [Moreover], the current “research” program is focused only on companies with links to Israel, and particularly areas of the West Bank under the Oslo Accords under full Israeli civil administration.

But . . . business activity in what the UN regards as occupied territories is a worldwide phenomenon. Every situation of prolonged belligerent occupation in the world involves widespread “settlement” activity—a non-technical term to refer generally to the migration of civilians from the occupying power into the territory. In all of these occupations, business enterprises, including third-country firms, play a major economic role. Many of these settlement enterprises have resulted in the large-scale ethnic cleansing or displacement of the occupied population or subjected it to widespread and massive human-rights violations that have been amply documented, [but these cases are not subjects of UNHRC’s concern]. . . .

The UNHRC’s database will focus on “business activities and related issues that raise particular human-rights violations concerns,” [a scope so broad as to include] any kind of activity under Israeli auspices—from providing “construction equipment,” to “banking and financial operations,” to the “use of natural resources,” all in the vague context of “maintain[ing]” settlements. To be clear, no physical link to Jewish civilian communities is required for inclusion in the list, . . . a standard vague enough to sweep in much of Israeli industry. This definition is legally baseless. . . .

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories free

Register Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in now

Read more at Kohelet Policy Forum

More about: BDS, International Law, Israel & Zionism, UNHRC, United Nations, West Bank

 

The Evidence of BDS Anti-Semitism Speaks for Itself

Oct. 18 2019

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently released a lengthy report titled Behind the Mask, documenting the varieties of naked anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery employed by the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state (BDS). Drawn largely but not exclusively from Internet sources, its examples range from a tweet by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (the “world would be soooo much better without jews man”), to an enormous inflated pig bearing a star of David and floating behind the stage as the rock musician Roger Waters performs, to accusations by an influential anti-Israel blogger that Israel is poisoning Palestinian wells. Cary Nelson sums up the report’s conclusions and their implications, all of which give the lie to the disingenuous claim that critics of BDS are trying to brand “legitimate criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitic.

Sign up to read more

You've read all your free articles for this month

Register

Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Roger Waters, Social media