On 2 July, 2014 the Jerusalem Post noted that Portugal joins a “growing list of EU states advising against doing business beyond the ‘Green Line,'” which is a euphemism for the cease-fire line of 1967 and is not the actual territorial border of Israel (which has not changed since it was claimed and recognized in 1948). Portugal joins Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy in cautioning its nationals against doing business with Israeli businesses located within Palestine. BDS is growing and Israel is unable to stop it.
BDS refers to the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement – a call from Palestinian civil society as a means to put pressure on Israel – the kind of pressure to which Israel will respond – to actually comply with international law.
All Israel’s Jewish settlements outside its territorial borders of 1948 are illegal. It typically confiscates Palestinian land in which there are resources it wants (fertile soil, water, oil or gas) and declares it a “closed military zone,” a loophole within the Oslo Accords that Israel exploits to the fullest. After that declaration, any Palestinian families or businesses are evicted by giving them demolition notices. Sometimes this is fought within the Israeli court system which is obviously biased on behalf of Jews and against Palestinians. The majority of cases are against the Palestinians and the Jews gleefully -but illegally– destroy homes and businesses, rendering families homeless. In the case of demolitions, the Jewish colonists move in with their trailers and create an ‘outpost’ that becomes -with the blessing and cooperation of the Israeli government- plugged into the Israeli water and power grids and is later ‘legalised’ (the government declares it a ‘town’ and that it is legal, which has no effect under international law).
In cases in which no demolitions are necessary, Jews move their trailers and begin the process of taking, by force, Palestinian lands and farmlands, diverting water sources and/or poisoning Palestinian farms and livestock (also see here), whilst intimidating or threatening (and in many cases, outright violence including setting Palestinian homes on fire) the land owners and villagers.
In 2014 alone the BDS movement has scored some surprising and meaningful results, although not explicitly a part of the BDS movement. The EU governments that have strongly cautioned their nationals against doing business with the Jewish squatters as it will have serious legal and financial implications. Jewish colonists in the Jordan Valley of Palestine (in the ‘West Bank’) have incurred significant financial losses from decisions not to import produce grown by Jewish settler colonists in occupied Palestine into EU countries, such as the UK and Italy. EU law requires truthful labelling of the country of origin of all products, and several EU countries and companies within those countries (Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, UK, Denmark) and others (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia-here; South Africa –pdf) have been sticklers for the application of its law for products grown or produced in occupied Palestinians by illegal Jewish settler colonists, much to their chagrin.
Banks have chosen to divest pension funds (Sweden’s Nordea Bank, Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global, and Danske Bank-here, PGGM, PKA Ltd., Luxembourg’s state pension fund FDC as well as Sweden’s AP1, AP2, AP3 and AP4) leading to rather large financial losses for Israel. Churches (Presbyterian USA, Methodist USA, the Church of England, World Council of Churches, United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church that chose “positive investment” rather than divestment due to overwhelming Jewish pressure, US Mennonite Church, British Quakers which chose full boycott) have chosen to do the same as well as divesting from companies that profit from Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine, as they have realised that it is directly contrary to Christian principles to support oppression and inhumane violence. Others have chosen to boycott: United Church of Canada,
As much as Israel attempts to portray the effect of BDS-specific and other divestment activities as trifling and inconsequential, it is very worried indeed. So worried is it, that it had a secret meeting in London to discuss ways to counter the growing and increasingly-damaging trend of conscience and financial responsibility of these actors. It is very worried, so much so that it has an entire propaganda campaign to discredit BDS.
Portugal joined six other European countries on Wednesday in warning its citizens against doing business beyond the Green Line, with another 10 European countries expected to issue similar recommendations by the end of the week.
The advisory, which appeared on Portugal’s Foreign Ministry website, employed similar language used by Spain and Italy last week in warning their nationals against doing business and investing in the West bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
The concern in Jerusalem is less about any substantive economic damage that will come from these moves, since European investments in the settlements are limited, but rather that it will create an atmosphere that will enable spillage across the Green Line and affect business inside the pre-1967 lines.
Israeli government ministers, notably the Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni and Minister of Finance Yair Lapid, have cautioned the state about the increasing trend and potential spillover from spreading from those Jewish businesses on occupied Palestinian territory to those inside Israel itself. They are correct as the entanglement between businesses within and without Israel are so strong that it is really impossible to separate them. Banks inside Israel give loans to and process payments of Jewish businesses squatting within Palestine. Suppliers of materials from Jewish businesses squatting in Palestine provide them to Jewish businesses within Israel.
This is the bed Israel has made for itself, and no amount of crying, whining, wheedling or crying, “anti-Semitism” will change it.
The products that Israel exports to the EU provide a significant amount of Israeli GDP (Gross Domestic Product), and so limiting exports to the EU states, and requiring the correct labelling thereof, will surely pinch the pocket of Israel. Israeli Jews like to console themselves that the EU doesn’t matter, that they can choose to boycott all EU-made goods and “hurt” Europe in revenge, but they delude themselves. Europe is Israel’s largest trading partner with one-third of Israel’s total exports, $20.8 billion going to Europe and more than half of Israel’s imports. $35.3 billion coming from there. And the government of Israel knows it.