|Wednesday, March 1, 2006
|The UAE Port Deal Would
Irreparably Harm Israel
|By Fred Taub,
| We have all heard the Bush
administration telling us not to worry about the deal to allow the Arab
Emirates owned Dubai Ports World Company run major US ports. There is one
important factor people should all be worrying about - how the deal affects
Israel. Let's examine the facts.
administration claims the company managing the ports is not responsible for the
security of the ports and then says the job is the responsibility of the
Department of Homeland Security and the US Coast Guard. The fact is everyone
working at ports has security responsibility just as individuals are
responsible for locking their cars and homes, not the police. The company
managing the ports does, however, have special access to all shipments,
timetables, routes, container content, bills of lading, secured holding areas
and, most worrisome to intelligence analysts, access to information about
secret US shipments around the world including where such items are being
shipped to and from. The information gathered by any port operator, placed in
the wrong hands, can easily be offered to foreign agents without the US knowing
it, thus foreign management can create an intelligence security nightmare for
While the United Arab Emirates is friendly to
the US and allows US Naval ships to dock there, there is more to the UAE story
than just that.
The UAE was formed in 1971 and is a
federation of seven Emirates, including Dubai. The UAE has limited federal
powers, leaving many governmental powers to member emirates, and not all member
Emirates are part of the federation court system which has both civil and
Islamic courts. The Islamic courts rule over all family matters and women do
not have the right to vote anywhere in the UAE. This raises questions about
human rights. Should our ports be operated by a nation that denies women the
right to vote? Will US unions go on immediate strike demanding the right of
women to vote before working for DPW? Considering that women working US docks
are union members, I would expect to hear from Unions on this topic and a
strike would not surprise me.
The UAE is a major drug
transshipment point for Southwest Asian drug producing countries and, being a
major financial center, this makes the UAE ideal for money laundering which is
often associated with the drug trade. The UAE has undefined and open borders
with Saudi Arabia and Oman, thus allowing drugs and other goods, including
weapons, to be moved between those countries without scrutiny. A Middle East
open-borders crisis occurred in 2002 when North Korean Scud missiles were
shipped to Yemen and then vanished. Considering that the UAE has open borders
and would control ports on both ends of a single shipment, we need to be
concerned with UAE control of our ports.
The UAE is a
member of the Arab League and is signatory member of the Arab boycott of
Israel. The Syrian-based Central Office for the Boycott of Israel, a.k.a. the
Central Boycott Office, enforces the pan-Arab boycott of Israel on 3 levels.
CBO-enforced primary boycotts forbid Israeli products into any Arab country,
including Israeli components in finished goods. Arabs were upset, for example,
when they found Israeli batteries in Apple computers and demanded the suppliers
remove all such batteries from future shipments.
Secondary and tertiary boycotts are generally
boycotts of companies which work with companies that have other business with
Israel, regardless if any element of a shipment emanates from Israel. In a
global economy, such boycotts are harder to enforce on a wide scale. These
elements of the Arab boycott of Israel are, however, managed by the CBO which
goes as far as banning any ship that ever docked in any Israeli port from any
future docking at an Arab country port. The official boycott list is tightly
held and is estimated to include more than 200,000 companies. Recent Arab
League meetings have included agreements to strengthen the Arab boycott of
Israel, thus the Arab boycott of Israel is very active.
A recent US Trade Representative report on trade
barriers states that although the UAE no longer enforces the secondary and
tertiary aspects of the boycott, the UAE enforces the primary boycott and
"occasional government contracts continue to contain pro forma provisions
requiring a contractual obligation to 'observe all regulations and instructions
enforced from time to time by the League of Arab States regarding the boycott
of Israel especially those related to blacklisted companies, ships, and
In 1977, the US passed a law creating the
Office of Antiboycott Compliance in the Department of Commerce in order to
prevent any US persons from joining into foreign sanctioned boycotts against
nations friendly to the US, thus preventing individuals from creating de facto
foreign policy. This law primarily applies to the Arab boycott of Israel,
making it illegal to take actions in furtherance of that boycott. The OAC
primarily concerns itself with prosecuting businesses that supply information
about Israeli product content and other business dealings with Israel to
boycotting nations. To get around the secondary aspects of this law, Arab
countries simply require declarations that the goods shipped are 100% US made,
thus Arab importers accomplish their boycott goals by assuring the product
contains no Israeli components. OAC-imposed fines for supplying information
about Israeli product content to boycotting nations can be hundreds of
thousands of dollars, plus denial of future export licenses.
The bill of lading is documentation about every
shipment via truck, train or ship and contains detailed information about the
shipment content, quantities, origin and destination. With this information,
the UAE via Dubai Ports World would be able to examine detailed information
about shipments to and from Israel, a nation the UAE actively boycotts. Even if
such information is guaranteed to remain in the US, digital copies of such data
can be made and emailed globally. The DPW deal would therefore facilitate the
supply of information contained in the bills of lading of commercial products
to be used by the Arab leagues nations to offer alternative products to US
buyers, thus creating a trade barrier for Israeli exporters. In fact, by Dubai
having this information, the Arab world would be able to launch a full-scale
economic war against Israel by using shipping information to enact total
disruption of Israeli exports in the US and around the world.
This is not a cloak and dagger fantasy. The Arab
League and its members have been running several campaigns to ruin Israel
economically on a global scale for years. The first such campaign was the Arab
League boycott which started as early as 1921, twenty-seven years before Israel
was a state, and which is still in full force today. Second, a
divest-from-Israel campaign was enacted to, in the words of its organizers,
make Israel 'economically unbalanced' and to create a 'one state solution'
meaning a Palestinian state without Israel. A third such campaign, which was
enacted while the Palestinian Authority was claiming to negotiate with Israel
in good faith for a Palestinian state, is the PA organized economic blockade of
Israel in Malaysia.
Having DPW-managed ports would
also make shipping military goods to Israel difficult. Tanks, trucks and other
large military hardware do not fit into shipping containers, thus they can not
be hidden, even by the CIA. This is not information the US or Israel wants in
the hands of countries sworn to Israel's destruction.
Since the DPW deal would facilitate the bill of
lading information for all shipments through DPW-managed ports to Israel to be
given to directly to every Arab nation that is sworn to the destruction of
Israel, the DPW deal should ring alarm bells.
terror front, since the UAE is a major drug port and DPW will have access to
secured shipping areas, we may potentially be opening US ports to a new channel
of drug and weapons imports, including terror weapons imports and money
laundering. Yes, the Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security are
responsible for port security, but when the same company runs both the import
and export port for a single shipment, security can more easily be compromised.
For that same reason, we should not allow, for example, Columbian or Mexican
ports operating company having operational access to US ports for shipments to
and from those countries either.
The US Antiboycott
laws are vital to prevent boycotts from being used to create de facto foreign
policy. The DPW deal would cause irreparable harm to Israel's economy. Although
US ships visit many foreign ports, we have to ask ourselves if we want to bring
economic harm and possibly devastating harm to another ally, namely Israel.
Some pundits have argued that DPW can manage the
ports more inexpensively than any US company can, but the price of those
savings is too high. It is time to stand up for America - demand that American
companies run American ports.
Fred Taub is the
President of Boycott Watch (www.boycottwatch.org) which monitors and reports about
consumer boycotts, and Divestment Watch (www.divestmentwatch.com) which exposed the illegal nature
of the divest-from-Israel campaign as well as why it is bad for the US and is