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Background: US Anti-Boycott Law and the Divest-from-Israel campaign
The Arab boycott of Jewish interests started as early as 1921 - 27 years before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. The boycott is still in effect today under the auspices of the Arab League and its Central Boycott Office in Damascus, Syria, and includes not only products produced in Israel, but also companies that do business in or with Israel. The boycott even goes as far as blacklisting ships that have docked in Israeli ports, regardless of the cargo's point of origin or ultimate destination.

In response to the Arab boycott of Israel, Congress passed a law creating the Office of Antiboycott Compliance within the Department of Commerce in 1977. The law prohibits U.S. persons from taking certain actions in support of an unsanctioned foreign boycott against a country that is friendly to the United States. Because Israel is an ally of the United States, and our government does not sanction the Arab boycott of Israel, the law prohibits actions that further or support the Arab League boycott of Israel.

Since the year 2000, a divest-from-Israel campaign has been gaining momentum on college campuses across the United States. Boycott Watch (www.boycottwatch.org), an organization that examines boycotts and reports both sides of the story so consumers can decide for themselves what the truth is and also the parent organization of Divestment Watch, researched the anti-boycott laws and concluded that the law does indeed apply to the divest-from-Israel campaign and has challenged the campaign on its merit.

In November 2003, Boycott Watch sent a letter to the Office of Antiboycott Compliance, furnishing evidence that the divest-from-Israel campaign is a direct function of the Palestinian Authority, which is a member of the Arab League and a signatory to the Arab boycott of Israel. Later, Boycott Watch furnished additional information to the Office of Antiboycott Compliance, about the Palestinian Authority's effort to establish an economic blockade of Israel in Malaysia. This would effectively expand the scope of the boycott and the Palestinian Authority's economic warfare against Israel.

Boycott Watch reports on consumer boycotts and violations of US law pertaining to boycotts, including illegal union and foreign boycotts. As a result of the demand for information with its leading role in the legal challenge to the divest-from-Israel campaign, Boycott Watch created Divestment Watch to concentrate on the divestment issue. Boycott Watch is now advising all colleges and universities that divest-from-Israel campaigns on their campuses may be in violation of the U.S. antiboycott law.

Divestment is a form of boycott - It is the boycott of investment dollars. Divestment Watch is actively reporting on the illegal divestment/boycott campaign including campus programs that promote the illegal activity, lobbying for governmental participation in the illegal boycott, as well as business participation.

By understanding case histories and the applicable laws, individuals become empowered to warn potential participants of the illegal nature of the boycott as well as the tools to prevent such activity.
© 2005 Divestment Watch