The lead article in Sunday’s business section of the San Francisco Chronicle warns HP’s role in Israel could lead to political pressure. Although never mentioning the Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement directly, the Chronicle informs its readers Hewlett-Packard, a local Bay Area company, is the target of “an international campaign” that has “emerged to pressure Israel by persuading investors to dump shares of companies that do business with the government or operate in the disputed territories.”
The article reads like a 101 boycott primer alerting Americans there’s a movement against Israel’s occupation of Palestine similar to the anti-apartheid movement against South Africa.
Unbeknownst to many Americans, the Palo Alto computing giant makes the high-tech identification cards Israel uses to operate checkpoints in the disputed West Bank, territory Israel captured in 1967 but Palestinians claim as their own country.
Until recently, none of this attracted much attention, partly because information technology is kind of boring but also because the United States is a strong ally of Israel…..
Ticking time bomb
Whether you side with Israelis or Palestinians, this much is true: A Silicon Valley titan has parked itself on top of a ticking public relations time bomb.
The divestment movement hasn’t really caught on in the United States, and studies focusing on South Africa during apartheid found little fiscal impact on companies that were the target of similar protests.
Perhaps HP, which generates about 64 percent of annual revenue overseas, thinks the risk is worth it.
The thought of anybody in America dumping stock to protest Israeli policies would have been absurd just a few years ago. That’s what makes the Presbyterian Church’s decision so momentous.
HP would be wise to take note.
(Hat tip Karen Platt)