| The Arab boycott of Jewish
interests started as early as 1921, and it is still in effect today under the
auspices of the Arab League and its Central Boycott Office. This boycott
includes boycotting 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.
Congress passed a law creating the Office of Antiboycott Compliance within the
Department of Commerce, in response to the Arab boycott of Israel. 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.
the past two years, a divest-from-Israel campaign has been gaining momentum on
college campuses across the United States. In July 2003, the Zionist
Organiztion of America expressed its concern about the campaign and about an
upcoming national student conference supporting the Arab boycott of Israel. The
ZOA urged the Office of Antiboycott Compliance to investigate these activities
as a possible violation of the antiboycott law.
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. Last week, 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 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.
is a leading consumer watchdog organization and is committed to combating
illegal boycotts of Israel in the United States," said Fred Taub, president of
Boycott Watch. Taub attended a divestment conference at Ohio State University
in 2003, and says that there was no question that organizers were advocating an
illegal boycott of Israel, including divestment and direct boycott of Israeli
goods. "The organizers even went as far as advocating boycotts against U.S.
companies that do business with Israel, and some boycotters are creating a
'safe list' of companies to purchase from that don't do business with Israel.
Asking companies to comply with that list or to furnish information in support
of the list is illegal. The Arab boycott of Israel is being promoted in the
U.S. and we will continue to lead the fight against it."
Susan Tuchman, Director of the ZOA's Center for Law
and Justice, encouraged others to join in this fight and contact the Office of
Antiboycott Compliance to voice their concerns about the nationwide student
divestment campaigns against Israel and urge that they be shut down. "The
campaigns are obviously intended to hurt Israel's economy, but they also
threaten our own country's trade and commerce, and may damage American
companies that do business in or with Israel," according to Tuchman.
The Boycott Watch letters to the Office of
Antiboycott Compliance describing potential violations of the law are available
on line at www.boycottwatch.org. For further information, consultation or to
schedule a lecture, contact Boycott Watch.