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Divestment Unmasked - The truth behind the divest-from-Israel campaign
Proponents will tell you they want to bring peace to the world, but the leadership looks at it differently. The story involves government plots to wage a secret war and the private citizens who are unwittingly carrying out the will of brutal foreign dictatorships while the evil leaders sit back and gloat at the fruits of their labor. No, I'm not referring to the plot of a paperback spy novel, rather the divest-from-Israel campaign that started on college campuses in the US and is now extending to businesses and municipalities.

Our story begins in 1945, four years before Israel was born, when the Arab League formed and officially declared its boycott against the Jews and the forthcoming Jewish state. Their idea was to isolate Israel economically in hopes that such actions would starve out the Jews since they would have no easily accessible trading partners once the British leave the Palestine Region which was until recently governed by the fallen Turkish Ottoman Empire. The Arab League was an outgrowth of previous unification efforts in the Arab world that also included a boycott of Jewish interests in the region as early as 1921. In fact, the boycott and its underlying hatred of Jews was one of the unifying factors that created the Arab League - A common enemy among warring factions can be a powerful motivator.

We fast-forward to the Clinton administration era, when the Palestinian Authority was negotiating the borders of a proposed Palestinian state. Francis Boyle, a US professor from Indiana, was working as a consultant to the Palestinian Authority's negotiating team and publicly proposed what he termed 'a divestment campaign against Israel'. His idea furthered the Arab boycott of Israel by specifically trying to draw students into creating small campaigns on their campuses to get their universities to not do business with Israel. This later included an academic boycott that excludes Israeli universities, professors and their research. Boyle suggested that while a single campus campaign would have little effect, having many US campuses adopt the campaign would increase the impact of the overall campaign.

This was not, however, the first time a campus campaign such as this has been attempted by the Palestinians. In the 1980's, the General Union of Palestinian Students created a campaign to make people comfortable with the concept of a Palestinian state. The results of that campaign are being felt today because the former college students of the 80's are now adults with their own families, many of whom see the creation of a Palestinian state as a good thing.

Enter the year 2000. A new generation is on campus, and the campaign of a generation ago is no longer needed because the Palestinian state every Israeli once feared is now being negotiated. The proponents of a Palestinian state, one would have thought, should be happy and working toward their new state with the goal of peace. After all, they now have what they said they wanted. But that is not what is happened. Suicide bombers and other terrorist attacks are being carried out against Israelis on a daily basis. The rhetoric has progressed and so has the terrorism with the advent of suicide bombings.

While researching these divestment / boycotts campaigns for Boycott Watch (www.BoycottWatch.org), I came across a nearly forgotten law - the US Antiboycott laws of 1979 that are administrated by the Department of Commerce which were enacted to prevent foreign governments from imposing their foreign policy on the US. When creating the law, Congress reiterated that creating foreign policy was their domain, and that they did not want de facto US foreign policy created by individuals, yet that is the goal of the divest-from-Israel campaign - People are trying to impose the foreign policy of Arab League countries on the United States - A clear-cut violation of US Antiboycott laws if not the spirit of the law.

I researched the law further and discovered it was primarily being enforced on exports, forbidding countries from requesting declarations that no parts of goods being sent to Arab countries originated in Israel and the ships used to transport the goods did not dock in Israel. This law is being circumvented by requesting positive statements of origin, such as a declaration that the products are entirely US made, thus still guaranteeing no Israeli products will enter Arab countries.

The specific goal of the divest-from-Israel campaign is to carry out and further the Arab boycott of Israel, which has the overall goal of destroying Israel economically. Non-Arab Students and others who support the effort are told that their participation is for humanitarian reasons - the fight against oppression of innocent people by Israeli soldiers, yet they fail to mention that shooting rifles at the tanks of any army is not healthy. Iraqis who shoot at US troops seldom live to tell about it either.

Along with divestment, the Palestinian Authority has also been promoting a complete economic blockade of Israel in Malaysia and a general boycott of Israeli products in Europe. This economic warfare campaign is being carried out while the Palestinian Authority is claiming to negotiate for peace in good faith with Israel for the creation of a Palestinian state, yet one can hardly call this back-handed approach to achieving peace benevolent. Rather, it can best be summed up as economic terrorism - If Israel does not acquiesce to the desires of the Arab League, i.e. vanish, the boycott in all its forms will continue indefinitely.

The Arab League has not placed any end-goal to their boycott other than their greater goal of the complete destruction of Israel. Similarly, the divest-from-Israel campaign is not scheduled to end with the creation of a proposed Palestinian state as its non-Arab proponents are led to believe. Rather, it will continue indefinitely as part of the Arab boycott of Israel. Like the 80's campaign to create an adult population that accepted the notion of a Palestinian state, the desired results of the divest-from-Israel campaign in twenty years is their next campaign - dismantlement.

Realizing this, I needed to get other groups involved and in the campaign against the illegal divest-from-Israel campaign. I first contacted the Zionist Organization of America (www.zoa.org) because of their ability to work with Congress on issues vital to Israel and because ZOA National President, Morton A. Klein is the kind of person who will not rest until the job is done. Our efforts resulted in the ZOA getting a letter signed by 20 members of Congress to the Department of Commerce requesting an investigation in the matter.

While the ZOA was working on the Congressional letter, Boycott Watch and the ZOA each challenged the legality of the divest-from-Israel campaign to the Department of Commerce and sent letters detailing the legal issues to Duke University, which was about to sponsor a conference by the Palestinian Solidarity Movement / International Solidarity Movement in furtherance of the divest-from-Israel campaign. Together, we also initiated the legal challenge to the Presbyterian Church USA's divest-from-Israel stance.

The ISM/PSM officially recognizes the validity of 'armed struggle' in its own book 'Peace Under Fire' (page 20). 'Armed struggle' is what terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority's own Fatah and Al-Asqa Martyrs Brigade terrorist groups call terrorism to justify the murder of innocent men, women and children. As such, the ISM/PSM is not the benevolent organization they claim to be. Rather, it is an organization that tries to get non-Palestinians to participate in their terrorist ideology by implementing economic terrorism instead of suicide bomber terrorism. ISM/PSM supporters are unwittingly supporting terrorists and their ideology while trying to advance peace in the Middle East. Despite their good intentions, the non-Arab divestment advocates have been tricked into violating US Antiboycott laws by people whose primary goal is the destruction of Israel using the creation of a Palestinian state as a tool of their hostilities.

In the mean time, Divestment Watch (www.DivestmentWatch.org) was born to specifically concentrate on the illegal divest-from-Israel campaign separately from the monitoring general boycotts. A primary goal of Divestment Watch is to coordinate efforts and to challenge the legality of the divest-from-Israel campaign that I created with Boycott Watch (www.BoycottWatch.org).

Challenging the divest-from-Israel campaign is not just to protect Israel. The US is a target of the campaign as well. Imposing the foreign policy of foreign countries on the US demonstrates contempt by the Arab League nations to the United States. Recruiting Americans to press their foreign policy agenda on the US is reminiscent of Soviet and Nazi attempts to infiltrate the US government.

Foreign countries should not be allowed to dictate US foreign policy, nor should we allow foreign countries to advocate the destruction of the economy of a fellow democracy in the US. Such actions are clearly against the best interests of the US. The success of Israel's economy has a direct impact on the US economy because Israel is a key developer of new technologies, including in medicine, computers and even space exploration; not to mention that it is the democracy and free-market economy example for the Middle-East.

There is little doubt that considering how Arab League countries have exported their manifestations of hate of Israel to the US, including terrorism, that divestment campaigns will eventually be directed toward the US in the future. Clearly, the divest-from-Israel campaign is not in the best interests of Israel or the United States, and must be stopped.

Fred Taub

Divestment Watch
© 2005 Divestment Watch