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
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.