As boycott pressure grows, Israeli business leaders plan to confront Netanyahu

Former ambassador Gillerman

Former ambassador Gillerman

The circle is closing on Netanyahu. And the pressure is coming from the business establishment, which fears boycott.

Haaretz: “Settlements prompt European investors to review ties with Israeli banks”:

Three major European pension funds are reviewing their holdings in Israeli banks due to concerns they finance West Bank settlements, the Financial Times reported Sunday.

According to the report, ABP, a Dutch pension fund considered the world’s third largest, Nordea Investment Management, a Scandinavian firm, and DNB Asset Management, a Norwegian company, want more information about the Israeli banks’ involvement in Israeli settlements.

Ynet says boycott is biting in the Israeli establishment:

A hundred of Israel’s leading businessmen and businesswomen will fly to Davos next week, armed with a poignant message for the prime minister: Maintaining a growing and stable economy requires Israel to make peace with Palestinians, the sooner the better.

Leaders and businesspeople ranging from Strauss Group Chairwoman Ofra Strauss to Google Israel CEO Meir Bren and former UN ambassador Dan Gillerman will descend on the Davos Economic Forum to urge Israelis and Palestinians leaders to reach a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

An a-political group of Palestinians and Israelis, which includes names such as Palestinian energy mogul Munib Masri, tech mogul Yossi Vardi, Amdocs founder Maurice Kahan, Bezeq CEO Avi Gabai, industrialist Gad Propper, Israeli low-cost supermarket magnate Rami Levy and former ambassador to the US Prof. Itamar Rabinovich, have signed on an initiative called Breaking the Impasse (BTI)….

According to daily Calcalist, a week ago, some members of the group met Netanyahu in his office in preparation of the Davos meet. During the meeting, they warned him of the looming threat posed by boycotts.

Smadar Barber Tsadik, CEO of the First International Bank of Israel, said at the meeting that “the largest investment fund in Holland has already announced that it will not invest in Israel anymore because of its treatment of the Palestinians – and that’s a problem.”

 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 39 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. a blah chick says:

    I recall reading, years ago, that it was lobbying from the business community that helped to end the military government over Israeli Palestinians back in the sixties. At the time the Israeli economy was hurting and the business people needed cheap Arab labor to help them out of it.

    This is the most effective way to deal with any government, hit ‘em in the pocket book. When rich folk start complaining governments start listening.

    • seafoid says:

      Squeeze them in the nuts, where it really hurts.
      Their economy.

      Israelis like their consumer comforts. And they need the goys after all.
      This notion that “it’s not what the goys say it’s what the Jews do” is deluded.

      But what can they get Netanyahu to do ? It’s way too late for cosmetic stuff.
      BOHICA.

    • ritzl says:

      @a blah chick- Great comment. Especially the last sentence. Too true.

      And Israel’s attitude toward/treatment of African refugees, and racism in general, is undoubtedly noticed in the countries that currently supply its needs for apolitical cheap labor.

      Even if one agrees with the notion that cheap labor is the be-all-end-all of biz success (not me), Israeli political scorched-earth policies must surely be closing that door in the minds of people that might see that as a personal net gain.

      They’re isolating themselves.

      • seafoid says:

        It’s a bit late for the rich to butt in, frankly.

        Where were they in 1967? In 68, when the bots went to Hebron? In 69 when Gilo was built? In 77 when the Likud took over ?

        • ritzl says:

          In my view, seafoid, fwiw, the difference is in 20+ years (at least) of exhausting all the “cheap labor” options to satisfy the possibility of merging, or assuaging/managing the merging of, Israeli biz-politics goals.

          It is clear, now, finally, that there’s a divorce between, in the if-you-accept-it-as-fact cheap labor sense, and Israeli biz success. I believe that Israeli biz still thinks that way, as it’s their decades-long Euro-style, convenient (in terms of Euro “amoral”; as marc b. nailed it) analysis, “why go to China when you can do it within the OECD,” biz model entre into Euro markets.

          The rich “butting in,” now/even at this late date, is about what was formerly manageable as a promotable positive (with ignorable negatives) has now become a complete and insurmountable negative.

          Israel has a very high gini (income inequality) index so merging of biz and political influence in Israel is a given and that a blah chick‘s insight is both a new (as you point out) circumstance, and highly current and relevant (as she points out).

          It’s a salvage operation at this point.

          • seafoid says:

            Ritzl
            One of the key insights from the financial crisis is that no financial asset has a no matter what intrinsic value. Prices are completely dependent on future circumstances and sentiment. The oligarchs made a lot of money from YESHA and as the land belonged to.nobody they didn’t need to pay for it so it was really super. The Shoah excuse gave them cover to reduce litigation reserves to zero. The system they run.is more complex and byzantine than Lehman was and it’s not supposed to be.looked at in depth by anyone. If the markets get a sniff of weakness they will want assurances that liability is quantifiable and.limited and will not happen again. Never again. They didn’t build this into the model.

  2. pabelmont says:

    “the largest investment fund in Holland has already announced that it will not invest in Israel anymore because of its treatment of the Palestinians – and that’s a problem.”

    This is BIG! It is EU talking and what it is saying is, “Boycott Israel”. And the reason for the boycott is NOT the settlements, or even the occupation, but (broadly) the “treatment of the Palestinians”.

    One doesn’t know the length and breadth of people’s feelings and determination, but the language is right.

    And there is no announcement (yet, or here) of what Israel must do to regain the investment possibilities of “the largest investment fund in Holland”. Grant PRoR? Doesn’t say so, but the exiles of 1948 are an important part of “the Palestinians”.

    If I were Abbas, I’d be encouraged to stay the course — to refuse to give in to some meaningless “compromise” from Israel of its ever-outsized demands.

    • seafoid says:

      “This is BIG!”

      This is serious shit. Time for some black superhero music
      link to youtube.com

      No sign of Jewman

    • Sycamores says:

      hi pabelmont,
      all the media to day said the settlements is the reason why Euproean investors are considering boycotting israeli banks.

      Haaretz: “Settlements prompt European investors to review ties with Israeli banks”:

      Fiancial times: Pressure on Israeli banks from investors intensifies

      “ABP, the world’s third-largest pension fund, and two major European investors are reviewing their holdings in Israeli banks over concerns that the banks finance illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian-occupied territories.” link to ft.com

      i’m surprise the Fiancial times use the words ‘illegal Israeli settlements’.

      Ynet: Israel’s captains of industry fear boycott

      “Smadar Barber Tsadik, CEO of the First International Bank of Israel, said at the meeting that “the largest investment fund in Holland has already announced that it will not invest in Israel anymore because of its treatment of the Palestinians – and that’s a problem.”

      i believe when ynet mention the ‘treatment of the Palestinians’ in this paragraph they actually meant the illegal settlements.

      and/or

      even if it wasn’t meant that way it wasn’t the EU that mention the ‘treatment of the Palestinians’ but it was Smadar Barber Tsadik, CEO of the First International Bank of Israel.

      i might be a bit finicky here but i thought it worth clarifying.

      • piotr says:

        “Treatment of Palestinians” is definitely not just “settlements”. Recall that the Dutch tried to facilitate the export from Gaza in agreement with the government of Israel, and got spitted on their face. And you must add European aid projects in West Bank that are hindered, sabotaged and even dismantled by Israel. And water issues. And checkpoints. And sabotage of Palestinian enterprises. The list is long.

        I do not know the press in Scandinavia and Holland, but I read Polish press online. It is quite parochial and the interest in Israel and Palestine is small. Once IDF filled with dirt several wells and cisterns that were build and restored with the help of a Polish charity. That made big news, and Foreign ministry demanded explanations from Israeli ambassador, and declared them to be unsatisfactory and promised to do something later. You offend enough governments and few months later you get something like a guideline not to fund organizations that are active in settlements.

        Then Israeli right wing gets into conniptions and further offenses are made to restore the national pride. Potentially, this is a spiral of doom that may lead to actual sanctions by EU. This process was slowed down in the past by a combination of more slick foreign policy by Israel and American pressure. This is why insulting American government by Israeli ministers is so stupid: it gives green light to Europeans who are fed up with Israeli arrogance.

        I am stressing arrogance, because this is what hurts Israel most in relationship with EU countries. And this is where the business community comes. As Israeli patriots claim so often, Israeli economy is doing fine and it could survive a little spat with EU. But even a little spat causes some small losses, and from business point of view, those losses are infuriating by being utterly stupid. Most ominously, Israel cannot survive an escalation of a conflict with EU.

        • Sycamores says:

          hi piotr

          “Treatment of Palestinians” is definitely not just “settlements”. you are absoluely right i’m not denying that at all.

          i was referring to Smadar Barber Tsadik use of the words “Treatment of Palestinians” in relation to why European investors have or planning to boycott israeli banks. the European investors are claiming it is the illegal settlements.

          was that the Dutchisrael spat over the security scanners which would have allow the flow of imports and exports between Gaza and the West Bank. israel refusal of the scanner was a disgrace. the whole reason for the scanner was twofold, security for the israelis and a boost to the economy of both Gaza and the West Bank. i hope now there is no excuse for Europe to see that israel is practicing collective punishment of the Gazans in world largest open air prison.

          the arrogance of the israelis is not making them any friends.

  3. HarryLaw says:

    In another report,” An ABP spokesperson said the fund might exclude the stocks “as a last resort” if the banks fail to act. Nordea, meanwhile, is expected to meet the Israeli banks in March and take a decision on a possible withdrawal of investment at a meeting in May.”
    It is difficult to see how the Israeli banks can do anything about this, because the economy of the West Bank [now Palestine] is so interlinked with the Israeli economy in fact according to a New Israeli report: Israeli Banks are principal beneficiaries of the illegal settlements. link to pulsemedia.org Most Israeli Banks also have branches in occupied territory, get out of that.

  4. Tzombo says:

    Yeah, I think the situation right now is that EU companies could get in trouble if they do not differentiate between Israel and the settlements and Israeli companies can get in trouble for doing just that because Israeli law forbids it. So no other way to go for EU companies and I expect a lot of them to get out this year. Plus there is a lot of social pressure on ABP to get out. People don’t like it when their pension funds invest in anything controversial, including weapons, environmentally damaging things or exploitation. Another good thing to come out of the PGGM thing is people realize what is done with their pension funds and write them to voice their opinion. The snowball is starting to roll in the Netherlands.

  5. RE: “As boycott pressure grows, Israeli business leaders plan to confront Netanyahu

    MY COMMENT: Good luck with that!* (Sarcasm intended.)

    * FROM JOEL KOVEL, 1-20-13:

    [EXCERPT] . . . As with everyone I know of in official political culture, [Thomas] Friedman [probably like your typical "Israeli business leader" - J.L.D.] assumes that Israel is a rational actor on the international stage who will obey the calculus of reward and punishment that regulates the conduct of normal states.
    The presumption is that if you tell it the truth, and even pull back US support, it will get the message, reflect, and change its ways. But Israel is not a normal state, except superficially. It will make adjustments, pulling back here, co-operating there, making nice when necessary, crafting its message using a powerful propaganda apparatus employing the most up-to-date social science. But this is simply tactical and no more predicts or explains the behavior of the Zionist state than an individual sociopath can be explained by the fact that he obeys traffic signals while driving to the scene of his crime. . .

    SOURCE – link to mondoweiss.net

  6. Amsterdam says:

    There is a petition called ‘ABP Stop Funding Apartheid!’ online. The text starts like this:

    ‘We, the undersigned – researchers, teachers, professors, workers in [Dutch] educational institutions, and symphatizers – express our grave concern about recent news concerning ABP, our pension fund provider.
    ABP owns over € 37 million in stocks in Israeli banks and companies that are complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and its illegal settlement activities. University employees as well as employees at all levels of public education contribute annually to ABP. This means that ABP invests our money in Israel’s illegal settlement activities — discriminatory laws towards the Palestinian community in Israel, the permanent isolation of Gaza, and the construction of an illegal apartheid wall.’

    link to petities24.com

  7. Blownaway says:

    Kerry’s Israel centric peace plan will fail. They key will be how the Palestinians present themselves to the world post failure. They have to articulate the unfairness of the Kerry plan. People instinctively are repulsed by the inherent unfairness of it. Then they have one final chance to launch a comprehensive boycott and divestment campaign or surrender and launch an equality movement. Unfortunately i don’t think the feckless Palestinian leadership is capable

    • seafoid says:

      “Unfortunately i don’t think the feckless Palestinian leadership is capable”

      Depends on what outside cavalry will do. The economic angle of BDS has the potential to bring the endgame on really fast.
      Bullying is the same at all ages. The bots tried Stockholm syndroming the PA but they are in touch with the outside world . .
      Ordinary goys in Europe are sick and tired of Zionism and moaning about Never again while persecuting decent Palestinians.
      Bring it on .

      Let’s see how good the nukes are against money.

  8. Kathleen says:

    Yes indeed the pressure often works

    • seafoid says:

      link to goodreads.com

      “Human beings suffer,
      They torture one another,
      They get hurt and get hard.
      No poem or play or song
      Can fully right a wrong
      Inflicted and endured.

      The innocent in gaols
      Beat on their bars together.
      A hunger-striker’s father
      Stands in the graveyard dumb.
      The police widow in veils
      Faints at the funeral home.

      History says, don’t hope
      On this side of the grave.
      But then, once in a lifetime
      The longed-for tidal wave
      Of justice can rise up,
      And hope and history rhyme.

      So hope for a great sea-change
      On the far side of revenge.
      Believe that further shore
      Is reachable from here.
      Believe in miracle
      And cures and healing wells.

      Call miracle self-healing:
      The utter, self-revealing
      Double-take of feeling.
      If there’s fire on the mountain
      Or lightning and storm
      And a god speaks from the sky

      That means someone is hearing
      The outcry and the birth-cry
      Of new life at its term.”
      ― Seamus Heaney

  9. seafoid says:

    I think it is really sad for Judaism that it had to come to this.
    And there will be zero accountability. Just watch.

  10. seafoid says:

    Treasure and nukes and DC connections aren’t always enough to secure the spoils

  11. OlegR says:

    /The circle is closing on Netanyahu. And the pressure is coming from the business establishment, which fears boycott./

    Mmmmm no. It’s Haaretz and Ynet owners yet again use their newspapers to
    express their “love” for Netanyahu.
    Which is hardly a surprise for any Israeli.

  12. kalithea says:

    A pandering neanderthal equating the boycott with anti-Semitism.:

    link to youtube.com

    Of course, he’s pandering for the Jewish vote. If all injustice would be wiped from the planet; the injustice caused by Zionism would still exist because fools in seats of power would continue to condemn the oppressed and praise the oppressor to hold on to POWER. That’s how the monumental deception that is Zionism silences the truth and subjugates the occupied in perpetuity. Power and money are what keep Palestinians locked in a prison of perpetual injustice. The level of corruption that sustains this injustice is so staggering and extensive that the challenge to defeat it is mission impossible and all efforts to do so are dwarfed and squashed by this reality especially in a world where money and power are gods. On its own, the historical reference used to justify the injustice created by Zionism is a formidable obstacle but when coupled with money and power it becomes impenetrable.

    Everyone should quit deluding themselves, Israel is NOT South Africa, because South African Apartheid was never sustained by so much influence, power and money. And because of the Civil Rights Movement, the majority of Americans sympathized with the plight of black South Africans. Such sympathy is unfortunately not afforded to Palestinians by most Americans and especially since Muslims have become persona non grata in the Western world since 9/11. So to make matters worse, most Americans could care less about the Palestinians. Therefore, Israeli Apartheid is much more challenging, much worse and much more corrupt.

    Reality check: the Palestinians are screwed mostly because their oppressors happen to be Jewish (i.e. the Jewish state together with the majority of Jews in the diaspora contributing to the Jewish State and protecting Zionism in some form). That’s the insumountable WALL keeping Palestinians locked in and it’s almost a joke or a pipe dream to think that they’ll ever achieve rights and freedom on their land under these circumstances. The solution lies ONLY with Jews and I have no hope whatsoever in that regard despite the minority who would like to see justice for Palestinians. That enlightened, well-intentioned Jewish minority has proven itself powerless for one reason and another.

    Therefore, anything short of divine intervention (i.e. an act of God) will fall short. That’s how impossible the Palestininians have it. Had the occupiers been anyone else; I’d say, there’s hope, but they had the bum luck of being occupied by the so-called Chosen. In a world ruled by religion/myth, power and money as opposed to faith and compassion that means everything. Look how long it took gays to get rights! All I can say is…I’m glad I’m not in the Palestinians’ shoes. I’m glad I’m not a poor, oppressed refugee living for decades in a ghetto camp whose future and children’s future is dependent on the mercy of Jewish state and the Jewish diaspora.

    All’s I can say is: God help them.

    • puppies says:

      Very perceptive. I fully agree –I suppose a lot of us do. With one detail to be added: such an “act of God” has been occurring (with a certain irregularity though) throughout time until now. Like WWI, WWII, the fall of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately for the millions of people caught in them.

  13. amigo says:

    “BDS is morally wrong.
    Calling for the destruction of Israel for the so-called rights of the Palestinians is not morally right. You can’t demand rights of one people by destroying another.
    And this is, by and large, the fundamental aspiration of the BDS movement, i.e., the termination of the Zionist regime, and as a consequence, of the Jewish presence in so called Palestine.”Jjj

    The above is the response from a commenter on the BDS story at your link Annie.

    When you are dealing with this level of pure pigheadedness , what is there to say.You just cannot deprogram these feckless idiots.

    Oleg fit,s seamlessly into this psyche.

    • piotr says:

      “You can’t demand rights of one people by destroying another.”

      Frankly, I am always confused with English as far as “shan’t”, “can’t”, “mustn’t” and so on. Is this sentence expressing impossibility or a violation of rules or customs? In any case, what is the status of Jewish rights in Israel/Palestine in the light of that statement?

      In any case, if it is OK to expel 700 thousands of folks who lived in their villages for generation, that it can be also OK to expel 600 thousands of folks who recently got freebies without a proper title search.

      • puppies says:

        @piotr – it’s doubtful if that phrase is in English anyway, so don’t bother with the inscrutable exact meaning. I’d translate the whole as “How dare you ask me to give up any rights just because I denied yours? At any rate, if you denounce Zionism you are out to murder us.” So you guessed right, it’s the same old, tired bullshit.

  14. piotr says:

    Israeli banks are enforcers of apartheid. Financing of settlements is one thing. Several years ago, Israeli banks refused to accept cash from Palestinian banks in West bank, which lead to those banks accumulating a pile of Israeli coins and notes and a small financial crisis. That ended with an American protest. (It is one of examples of Israeli mentality, doing stuff like that really requires a different way of thinking than in the rest of OECD.)

    There was also a story about an apartment complex in West Jerusalem going bankrupt and a Palestinian businessman buying it. After loud protest of Israeli public, patriotic banks financed a Jewish group to make a higher bid. Thus the calamity of Palestinians renting in West Jerusalem was averted. My extrapolation is that the housing separation of Israeli and Jerusalem Jews and Arabs is enforced in part by financing and the lack of it as controlled by banks.

    This shows a way for Israeli bank to improve the treatment of Palestinians on their own by financing Palestinian enterprises and housing, pretty much like American banks do with minorities to show that they are not “redlining” anymore. Given the mentality of the bank officers, this is not particularly likely, and would they nevertheless try, I imagine a furious counteraction by the government.

    This whole situation seems like two tectonic plates moving toward a collision.

  15. shachalnur says:

    Or it’s all more smoke and mirrors.

    Rami Levi already backpaddled,he said he’s not part of this and supports Nethanyahu.

  16. ToivoS says:

    This reminds me of some observations by Uri Avnery. He has often compared Israel to French-Algeria. One of the big differences is that there has been no Charles de Gaulle figure in Israel. The reason Uri gave was interesting — namely, the French business community had soured on the war in Algeria. The main reason was that it was draining financial resources in France and made it very difficult for French businesses to compete with a resurgent German economy. It was the French business community that strongly backed pulling out of Algeria.

    Comparing Israel to French Algeria is not a pleasant comparison for many who hope for a binational state in Israel where Jews and Palestinians live in peaceful harmony. Once that Zionist dam breaks, no one can predict what will happen afterwards.