Home Perspectives Opinions From Yoni’s Desk: The Palestinian blacklist petard

From Yoni’s Desk: The Palestinian blacklist petard

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SodaStream products SCREENSHOT
SodaStream products (SCREENSHOT)

As the fallout from the “deal of the century” continued last week, the Palestinian Authority circulated a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) condemning the Trump plan for peace in the Middle East. But according to multiple sources, it was quietly withdrawn after it became apparent that international backing was not entirely forthcoming. Tunisia, one of the resolution’s sponsors, had to recall its UN ambassador over his bungling of the file. (Here’s a question without an answer: how would Canada, which is seeking a seat on the Security Council, have voted?)

If it weren’t odd enough to see a pro-Palestinian resolution not get passed at the UNSC, the day after the news leaked, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met in New York City with, of all people, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. “I’m fully ready to resume negotiations where we left it with you, Mr. Olmert,” Abbas said, seemingly forgetting he turned Olmert down in 2008. If it somehow wasn’t already apparent to the pair, that ship has long sailed.

But all was not for naught for the Palestinians at the UN last week, after the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights presented a blacklist of companies operating in “occupied Palestinian territory.” The list of 112 businesses – 94 of them Israeli, along with major multinationals like General Mills, AirBnB, Expedia and Motorola – came along with the lamest of caveats: “While the settlements as such are regarded as illegal under international law, this report does not provide a legal characterization of the activities in question, or of business enterprises’ involvement in them.” Right, it just singles them out for no reason whatsoever. At least Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh came right out and said it: “We will pursue companies listed in the report legally through international legal institutions and in courts … for taking part in human rights violations in Palestine.”

Would it surprise you that the very next day it was reported that the blacklist had been produced with assistance from groups tied to terror organizations? According to Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, among the organizations that contributed to compiling the list is one whose accountant is not only a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), but is himself accused of detonating a bomb that killed a 17-year-old in the West Bank just last year. Another NGO involved is reportedly headed by a former senior PFLP member. Yes, these are the people blacklisting Israel. Irony doesn’t even begin to describe it.

For Israeli companies and global corporations, though, it may be serious business. And the repercussions could very well be felt by those the blacklist purports to defend – after all, we’ve been through this before. In 2014, following a massive public BDS campaign against it, and with its stock falling, Israeli company SodaStream shuttered its West Bank factory. “It showed that we, as activists, as consumers, do have the power to urge other consumers … to really pressure companies to not be complicit in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights,” said the head of one pro-Palestinian group in the United States.

READ: FROM YONI’S DESK: BERNIE AND THE 11 PER CENT

Lost in all the talk of denied rights, however, was the fact that the West Bank plant employed somewhere in the area of 600 Palestinians. Most of those could not come to work for SodaStream at its new home in the Negev. “All the people who wanted to close (the factory) are mistaken,” one Palestinian employee said at the time. “They didn’t take into consideration the families.”

SodaStream’s stock has since skyrocketed. In the end, the only people who were affected by that example of blacklisting were Palestinian.

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