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Boycotting Israel is now a crime - really!

category international | eu | news report author Wednesday July 22, 2009 19:47author by Sheilanagig Report this post to the editors

European court: Israel boycotts are unlawful discrimination

This is an obsure but alarming article. I had to read it twice to figure what it was saying: that it is a crime to advocate boycotting Israeli products in France. A man has been fined €1000 for organising a boycott of Israeli products; and the French appeals court and Council of Europe's European Court of Human Rights upheld this.
boycott_israel_palestine_freedom.jpg

Boycotting Israel is now a crime - really!

This is really an obsure but alarming article. I had to read it twice to figure what it was saying: that it is a crime to advocate boycotting Israeli products in France. A man has been fined €1000 for organising a boycott of Israeli products; and the French appeals court and Council of Europe's European Court of Human Rights upheld this.

Since when is advocating a boycott of any country's products, punishible by law in any legal scope of Western civilised countries? I thought that's what civilised nations do - impose a trade embargo when rogue nations refuse to abide by international law. What about the trade embargo on Cuba for decades?

How can it be illegal for a citizen to refuse to buy a product if the producers are acting unethically? How can it be illegal to encourage other like minded citizens to do the same? Have we lost freedom to speak and meet politically also?

Boycott is the ultimate non-violent protest available to people to curb injustices they see but cannot directly change. They simply say, we will not purchase a product that has been made with child labour, in a sweat shop, or manufactured in a ecologically toxic manner, etc. But it is illegal in France to boycott the products of Israel who has committed unspeakable war crimes in Palestine and Gaza (among other places)? What is wrong with this picture?

To starve the beast into cooperation or compliance by doing nothing (except talking with other people) is the only power of passive resistance to tyrannical conditions available to people to influence government or the free market conditions.

I whole heartedly disagree with this ruling and the French people may also. The French don't like being pushed around for too long...they have a long fuse with a big bang at the end of it (see French Revolution). Or more recently, Michelin workers in France lock up management or French workers threaten to blow up factory.

Well if Author Naomi Klein Calls for Boycott of Israel, I am with her. The rest of Europe will probably be next in enjoying the new found powers of the EU of the Lisbon Treaty to homogenise the behaviour of its citizens. (Look out Brits - your government is almost midevil now anyway.)

Kudos to the Czech government for having been the only dissenting voice in the ECHR. Czechs must be made of marvelous stuff.

European court: Israel boycotts
are unlawful discrimination
By HERB KEINON
Source
Israel finally won one last week in an international human rights court.
On Thursday, the Council of Europe's European Court of Human Rights upheld a French ruling that it was illegal and discriminatory to boycott Israeli goods, and that making it illegal to call for a boycott of Israeli goods did not constitute a violation of one's freedom of expression.

The Council of Europe is based in Strasbourg, has some 47 member states and is independent of the European Union. The court is made up of one judge from each member state, and the rulings of the court carry moral weight throughout Europe.

On Thursday the court ruled by a vote of 6-1 that the French court did not violate the freedom of expression of the Communist mayor of the small French town of Seclin, Jean-Claude Fernand Willem, who in October 2002 announced at a town hall meeting that he intended to call on the municipality to boycott Israeli products.

Jews in the region filed a complaint with the public prosecutor, who decided to prosecute Willem for "provoking discrimination on national, racial and religious grounds." Willem was first acquitted by the Lille Criminal Court, but that decision was overturned on appeal in September 2003 and he was fined €1,000.

His appeal to a higher French court was unsuccessful, and as a result he petitioned the European Court of Human rights in March 2005, saying his call for a boycott of Israeli products was part of a legitimate political debate, and that his freedom of expression had been violated.

The court, made up of judges from Denmark, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Macedonia and the Czech Republic ruled that interference with the former mayor's freedom of expression was needed to protect the rights of Israeli producers.

According to a statement issued by the court on Thursday, the court held the view that Willem was not convicted for his political opinions, "but for inciting the commission of a discriminatory, and therefore punishable, act. The Court further noted that, under French law, the applicant was not entitled to take the place of the governmental authorities by declaring an embargo on products from a foreign country, and moreover that the penalty imposed on him had been relatively moderate."

The one dissenting opinion was written by the Czech judge.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor hailed the ruling Sunday, saying it provided important ammunition for those challenging on legal grounds calls frequently heard in Europe for a boycott of Israeli products, as well as calls for a boycott of Israeli academia.

"It is now clear that in every country in Europe there is a precedent for calling boycotts of Israeli goods a violation of the law," Palmor said. "This is an important precedent, one that says very clearly that boycott calls are discriminatory. We hope this will help us push back against all the calls for boycotts of Israeli goods."

Related Link: http://www.fiddleferme.blogspot.com/
author by c.dalepublication date Wed Jul 22, 2009 20:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In the light of the recent EU decision, I wonder if it is also illegal to boycott Israeli goods that purport to be from Jordan? Last week, in a large wholesale store I purchased a carton of dates that were labelled in large red letters, from the Jordan Valley, with the image of a waving palm tree.

I was very happy to buy them until, half way through eating them, I caught sight, in very tiny letters unreadable without glasses, 'Produce of Israel'.

Is such a blatant attempt at disguising the true origin of goods, legitimate or even legal?

author by gpublication date Wed Jul 22, 2009 22:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

hi there?
The Jordan Valley is the eastern part of the West Bank, under direct occupation by the Israeli army, where theft of land, and appartheid system of life is proceeding....

I discovered this in London, where a the Jews for Justice group had organised a talk.

There is a very active support group in Brighton, the Brighton-Tubas support groups, which has fundraised to build a school in Tubas.

By the way where did you buy those dates?

Instead of a General Boycott, many groups are calling for a boycott of produce from the settlements,
The could be more effective as it at the same time serves to highlight the theft of land, and the nature of the occupation.

thanks

author by Corkboipublication date Thu Jul 23, 2009 01:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So will the IPSC.Stop calling for a boycott of Israel.Not only are their protests in Cork a head wreck,but they regularly storm shops protesting within Marks and Spencers.

Evidence in Italy has shown calling for a boycott of Israel has often led to boycotts of Jews:

Groups advocating a boycott have to be held accountable.

Firstly Jews across Europe often rely on Israeli goods to supply their Kosher needs.
If a boycott was successfull European Jews would have their human rights abused.As they would not be able to eat food suitable for them.

Secondly the boycott has led to boycotts of Jewish owned firms rather than just Israeli companies.

Well know the calls for a boycott are illegal.I believe this is a welcome develpment.

Might I also add.The Court is seperate from the EU.Its a Europe Wide group.Members of the court are also not in the EU.So the person posting this comment can blame the Lisbon Treaty,but it is nothing to do with it.

author by LisbonSuckethpublication date Thu Jul 23, 2009 03:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Evidence in Italy has shown calling for a boycott of Israel has often led to boycotts of Jews:"
where is this "evidence"? this statement doesn't hold any water without it.

"Groups advocating a boycott have to be held accountable."
one of the few upsides of the free market is people can buy whatever they like. Surely you are not advocating interfering in the market?? My god, aren't you afraid you will burn in hell for saying such a thing ?

""Firstly Jews across Europe often rely on Israeli goods to supply their Kosher needs.
If a boycott was successfull European Jews would have their human rights abused.As they would not be able to eat food suitable for them."


Well presumably jewish people are the main market for kosher foods so those particular items should be largely immune to anti israel boycotts. A boycott means you don't buy particular products. I presume most jewish folk will be unlikely to take part in such a boycott. Logically that particular market should be largely unaffected

"Secondly the boycott has led to boycotts of Jewish owned firms rather than just Israeli companies."
see previous point about unsubstantiated statements

"Well know the calls for a boycott are illegal.I believe this is a welcome develpment."
see previous statement about the free market

"Might I also add.The Court is seperate from the EU.Its a Europe Wide group.Members of the court are also not in the EU.So the person posting this comment can blame the Lisbon Treaty,but it is nothing to do with it."

the court passes judgement based on eu legislation doesn't it? Lisbon has something to say on whether countries will be able to veto certain bits of future legislation that they currently can.
the commenter was expressing fears that lisbon would contribute to more of the same type of dodgy profit protecting repressive legislation from a faceless possibly corrupt, ( and certainly biased by corporate lobbyists ) unanswerable bureaucracy. Previous corruption scandals which led to scant punishment for the perpetrators and the nasty clause whereby they can pass lots of legislation in the future without need for referenda etc makes me think that he/she has a point

author by Mike Novackpublication date Thu Jul 23, 2009 13:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The concept originated with you in Ireland (the first boycott and origin of the term)

I know nothing about laws in parts of Europe but certainly here distinction is made between a PRIMARY boycott and secondary, tertiary, or even more remote extensions. By your traditions and laws may be allowed but here not and the references to affecting Jews in general are to those extensions.

Telling people not to buy Israeli goods would be a primary boycott.

Telling people not to buy any goods from a business that refuses to join your (primary) boycott would be a secondary boycott. In other words, you can ASK that business to join (out of motives of justice) but not pressure them. That changed the issue to one were whatever you have against the primary target becomes less relevant. Remember -- I am speaking about the traditions and laws HERE, yours may differ.

Even TELLING (trying to convince) somebody could be criminal of they were required by law not to do what you were asking them to (soliciting a crime). Thus here illegal to even ask UPS or FED EX not to handle cargoes to and from HLS as they are "common carriers" required to post rates and then handle the cargoes of all comers at those rates (there is a VERY good reason wy we have such laws -- stopped a serious abuse of the "Robber Baron" period of American business). Pressuring them to do so (to break a law) would be very illegal!

I believe the problem (about "extension to all Jews, etc.) is just when secondary, tertiary, etc. boycotts are considered legitimate. Then of course that sort of extension occurs. Mind I understand what those who advocate for this extended definition are saying -- we aren't against Jews beciase they are Jews -- just because they won't join our boycott against Israel

I'll provide a concrete example taken from the Perth IMC site
**************************************************************************************************
The statement published below was released in December last year by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, which unites 17 Palestinian organisations. It is reprinted from http://electronicintifada.net
The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee calls upon people of conscience all over the world to boycott all the products of the French cosmetics giant, L’Oreal, due to its deep and extensive involvement in business relations with Israel despite the latter's continued occupation and apartheid policies against the indigenous Palestinian people.

L’Oreal brands include L’Oreal Israel (sold in Australia), L’Oreal Paris, Garnier, Maybelline New York, Softsheen Carson, CCB Paris and The Body Shop.
......
****************************************************************************************************

Notice that what is asked for is NOT that people boycott the Israei products sold by all holdings of this "holding company" (a primary boycott) but to boycott the company and all companies in which it has a stake (secondary and tertiary boycotts). BTW -- the law violation referred to in the entire piece had to do with REPORTING requirements. American companies were allowed to comply with the "Arab boycott" but had to report that they were doing so -- not allowed to SECRETLY refrain from any business with companies doing business with Israel. The motivation for trying to keep it secret of course that Jews might not buy from a company doing that and Jews are known for having a LONG memory, do not easily forgive and forget.

author by Capt'n Boycott.publication date Thu Jul 23, 2009 14:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We Irish should be THE experts in Boycotting.

After all,we invented the concept.

See:

http://boycottcity.org/essay/index.php?essay=5

.

author by Mike Novackpublication date Thu Jul 23, 2009 16:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yes indeed you invented the concept AND that included "extension" to whoever connects to whichever side. I was not meaning to imply that your interpretation of what is or is not included in "boycott" was incorrect. Just that it is not universally accepted, nor is that always just in terms of who is on which side in the more general political context.

Thus over here in the States, perhaps just the "animal rights" folks accept the extended version (and then complain that their "speech" rights are being restricted). But otherwise even most political radicals here accept the local definition and feel funny about extensions of "boycott". For example, the famous "grape boycott" campaign in support of the farm workers' union. Picketers outside of super markets carried signs to the effect "wen you shop here don't buy the California grapes" (what was being boycotted) and NOT "don''t shop here because this store refuses to remove California grapes from its shelves" (because they won't join our boycott).

That means that pieces like this article need clarification and the case not presented as "they are making "boycotts" illegal" but instead "they aren't allowing some of the things WE consider part of "boycott" --- AFAIK there is no issue here about PRIMARY boycott campaigns being illegal. And of course feel free to argue that YOUR custom is the one the rest of us should follow as long as you recognize that's the sort of thing people can disagree about without anybody being wrongheaded.

Note that this has little to nothing about "effectiveness". I will grant you that extended boycott is more effective. But so is gunning down anybody who won't join the campaign. The question is whether you see joining or not joining a campaign as essentially a POLITICAL question not necessarily connected to the original cause. Just trying to EXPLAIN the different interpretations more than arguing for the correctness of following one tradition of boycott vs another.

author by geoffpublication date Fri Jul 24, 2009 00:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You see...

people see phosphorus bombs dropped on Gaza, screamingchildren, dead bodies, red cross ambulances, and witness a blockade of Gaza denying medicine and food to those children.

Then we go down to Dunnes and see Made in Israel on a bag of spuds or whatever. I don't know about other people, but personally, after watching those news reports, a bag of spuds with the 'Made in Israel' tag has as much appeal for me as the discarded waste at the back of a sex shop.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Fri Jul 24, 2009 13:53author email sylfredcar at iolfree dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Israel is now removing all reference to the 'nakba' or forcible removal of Palestinian Arabs from their homes at the beginning of the Israeli state, from Palestinian and Israeli Arab schoolbooks. See The Guardian on-line of today's date, July 24th. This is appalling, another attempt to destroy Palestinian culture and even take away their history. So what do our politicians have to say about this?

author by Greg T - IPSC (personal capacity)publication date Fri Jul 24, 2009 14:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks to Dave L for the comments and link (hope you don't mind me reposting this here) ;

The post makes the point that the ruling is actually quite narrow, referring
to a very specific instance of the rules governing French elected officials
acting in an official capacity. It is emphatically *not* a ruling that
outlaws the promotion of boycott. The post makes the further point that it
is essential to ‘seek to undermine the way it is being spun, and emphasise
how very narrow a ruling it is: when next someone attempts to tell you that
your calls for BDS are 'illegal' in Europe (and I'm sure someone will),
explain to them that you're not a French mayor acting in a (semi-)official
capacity.'

So we should be annoyed with the ruling but not spread the idea that boycott
is being illegalized, as frankly, we’d be doing the work of Israeli
propagandists, if we did.

http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/2009/07/some-cor....html

author by Hubris - Down with that sort of thing!publication date Thu Jul 30, 2009 00:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is really an obsure but alarming article. I had to read it twice to figure what it was saying: that it is a crime to advocate boycotting Israeli products in France. A man has been fined €1000 for organising a boycott of Israeli products; and the French appeals court and Council of Europe's European Court of Human Rights upheld this.


As I now notice has already been stated: The above statement is not correct. This case has been widely misreported throughout the media.

The Courts ruling is in fact far more marrow than we have been lead to believe .The man was convicted because he called for a boycott using his position as mayor. This is the reason the Euro court allowed the conviction to stand. In France the only political entity that could make such a call legitemately is the Gov't itself, apparently - though I suspect others have in the past made such calls to boycott other nations (eg: South Africa) and have not been censored, which should give you some indication of the power of the Zionist Lobby in France.

avi15:This is why Israelis (by which we mean Israeli Jews) and Jews around the world feel very very bad once the word boycott is mentioned.

tsk, tsk, such lies and distortions. The economic effect of such a boycott is what concerns them most. The alleged historical reasons are merely an attempt to smear all pro BDS entites as 'anti-Semitic', an age old practise of the ZioRacists

Caption: Former Israeli Minister - "It


author by Ahmad Abouali - personalpublication date Sun Aug 30, 2009 23:24author email 2aabouali at gmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

such ruling had made me disgusted, in disbelief, and angry. this is the kind of (one of thousands) behavior by the European regimes had brought upon us, the Palestinian people, the wrath of the Zionist state's worst crimes, and still going, all due to such mockery to humanity and its rights.

According to Europe; a Palestinian child's life is way less than a kilogram of "Israeli" tomatoes!!

go figures

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