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Israelis need Massachusetts a lot more than Massachusetts needs Israel

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Earlier today we posted about a stealth anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions bill in the Massachusetts legislature. Jeff Klein was among those who testified against the legislation, on economic grounds. Here is his testimony. –Ed.

I want to address the claim made by proponents of this bill that Massachusetts-Israel business ties are vital to our economy. They claim that failure to penalize what are called anti-Israel activities puts this sector at risk. Of course, even if this were true, it would still be little enough cause to abandon our traditions of free speech and civic engagement.

But in fact it is not true.

Israel advocates base their argument on a highly dubious report – “The Massachusetts-Israel Economic Impact Study” — commissioned and paid for by Israeli and pro-Israel organizations. The report employs questionable methodology to identify “Israeli” businesses in Massachusetts and skewed data to exaggerate the role of Israel in the economy of our Commonwealth. By the criteria used in this report, Wang Laboratories is a “Chinese” business and Tesla Motors is “South African”.

A more objective assessment of Israel’s economic role in our economy is to be found by examining trade data. In 2016, Israel did not even make the top 25 countries as a destination for Massachusetts exports, well behind Brazil, Spain, Sweden, and Thailand – countries our legislature does not take much interest in. Israel accounts for a little over 1% of total foreign imports to Massachusetts, a vanishingly small portion of our $500 billion GSP. In fact, our state runs an annual trade deficit with Israel — not counting our tax share of the more than $3 billion in annual US military aid to that country (about $100 million yearly).

The truth is that Israelis come to Massachusetts for educational and business opportunities, just like other foreign nationals. Israeli companies are here to seek US capital and access to US markets — not because we give their country love, but because there are career prospects and profits to be found here. The idea that Israeli companies would leave if we don’t pass anti-BDS legislation is frankly absurd. Israel needs Massachusetts much more than Massachusetts needs Israel.

Let’s face it, all the hype about Massachusetts business and technology ties with Israel are more about politics than economics. We achieve nothing material by exchanging our principles of free speech for the illusion of economic gain from ties with Israel.

A patriot will never sell his freedom at any price. A sucker – what they call a “fraier” in Israel — sells it cheap.

Jeff Klein

Jeff Klein, is a retired local union president, a long-time Palestine solidarity activist and a board member of Mass Peace Action. He has a blog:

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7 Responses

  1. Keith on July 21, 2017, 5:56 pm

    “Israel advocates base their argument on a highly dubious report – “The Massachusetts-Israel Economic Impact Study” — commissioned and paid for by Israeli and pro-Israel organizations.”

    This is what money power can do. Hire an army of “experts” to concoct a bogus reality to justify an elite desired outcome. Fortunately, Jeff Klein was there to introduce an element of reality to the discussion. But how often can we hope for even one person to stand against an army of biased “experts?” And the legislators themselves are probably looking for a reason to give their significant campaign contributors what they want.

  2. JosephA on July 21, 2017, 9:19 pm

    Jeff, thank you for shedding some light on this topic. It is much appreciated.

  3. Vera Gottlieb on July 22, 2017, 9:57 am

    Au revoir, israel! Shalom!

  4. Theo on July 22, 2017, 11:27 am

    I still call Boston home, although I spent the greatest part of my life in Europe, and was always proud that MA was a liberal state! We produced the Kennedys, etc.
    Lately it worries me that zionists took over the legistlatur and right wing groups dictate the policies of the state.

  5. Marnie on July 23, 2017, 2:04 am

    There isn’t a single state in the u.s. or anywhere else for that matter that needs israel and funny that, there’s a lot of israelis who don’t need israel either and chose to live anywhere but. The u.s. needs israel like it needs bubonic plague. israel does nothing for the u.s., zip, nada, shumdavar, except for one thing, it has helped to make the u.s. part of that exclusive club that is largely despised by the rest of the world. Those traitors in washington attempting to make it illegal to boycott israel and its blood-soaked products should GTFO.What kind of dirt do the zionists have on these ass clowns anyway?

    • JWalters on July 23, 2017, 7:44 pm

      Money and dirt – the ancient tactics. For new readers, “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”.

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