Thursday 29 May 2014

This is why BDS is all noise and no bite.

The Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick, was recently in Israel. No great news, but what he was here for demonstrates, in a micro manner, why BDS is fighting a losing battle.
One of the reasons he came was to lay the cornerstone for a future water treatment facility in the Israeli town of Raanana. It will be built by the Massachusetts-based Israeli firm, Desalitech, in conjunction with the Israeli Water Authority.
Patrick said, “Israel represents one of the strongest water technology sectors in the world, and we want to learn from you.”

That message encapsulated why BDS has no chance of inflicting serious economic damage on Israel. Their anti-Israel campaigns, at the end of the day, imperils the quality of life of everyone in the developed and underdeveloped world that benefit from Israeli innovation and technology. Their actions, should they success, would be a hindrance to progress in our modern world.  The need for knowledge and sharing Israeli ingenuity drives the Israeli economy, and everyone wants a share of that pie.

As Patrick said, in a press conference, “Much of the recent growth and organization in the Massachusetts water-tech sector is the direct result of our trade mission to Israel in 2011.”  That is why I bumped into a Japanese delegation while visiting the Israeli Chamber of Commerce recently. This is a common, almost daily, revolving door experience for Israel.

Two hundred Israel companies have raised over $693 million in venture capital funds in the past three years in Massachusetts alone. Most of that state’s economic growth, which is two and a half times the US average, comes from the innovations sector such as biotech, life sciences, clean tech, digital technologies, which are parts of Israel’s strength.

EMC is an American multinational company based in Massachusetts that provides cloud computing and IT storage on a global scale. It’s senior vice president, Joel Schwartz, said that “EMC as a company would not exist without our ties to Israel.” He divulged that Israeli technology helped EMC to grow from a $50 million in 1990 to a $9 billion a decade later.

Another Israeli success in Massachusetts was XtremIO. This start-up bought two years ago by EMC for $400 million despite having no revenues is poised to bring in a quarter billion dollars this fiscal year.
Massachusetts is a microcosm of what is going on globally for an Israel that has everything in place to launch massive future trade ties with Asian giants, China, India, and Japan.  That is why, when placed in the real perspective of trade relationships and results based on Israeli ingenuity and innovation,  which is in high demand globally, BDS activists are a noisy bunch whose efforts do not amount to more than a minor pin prick on Israel’s economic skin.

BDS attempts to damage Israel economically. One such method is an attempt to persuade commercial companies from doing business with Israel. In an effort to delegitimize Israel as a human rights abuser they try to impose “corporate social responsibility”  on companies working over the Green Line, by mounting boycott campaigns against them. Their claim is based on blaming these companies of aiding in the “occupation” of the Palestinians. However, even if their claim of “occupation” can be proven to be correct, it is the duty of any occupying power to maintain and improve the condition of the population of the occupied territories under international law. Therefore, in the case of Israel, there is a healthy case to be made by companies like SodaStream  and Ahava, that employ hundreds of Palestinians, that they are indeed helping to improve the living conditions, and quality of life, of people living within the “occupied” territories.
BDS is hyper active in attempting to foil tenders to mass transport company Veolia that helped build the Jerusalem light rail system. They use the excuse that their rail line travels into the eastern part of Jerusalem, which they consider to be “occupied territory.” Israel is not an occupying power.  This accusation is a misinterpretation of the Geneva Convention, as proven by several notable jurists. But even if it were, in international law, an occupying power is committed to provide access, roads, and transport to the people living under occupation, and Veolia’s transport system is a perfect example of human rights being served and international law honored. Not only did they provide work to hundreds of Palestinians, they constructed an efficient, modern, mode of transport for them to travel from their homes into Jerusalem and beyond. In Jerusalem, Veolia proved to the world that it indeed has a corporate social responsibility, despite the bleating efforts of BDS.

Barry Shaw is the special consultant on delegitimization issues to the Strategic Dialogue Center, Netanya Academic College.  He is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’ Also available on Amazon and AuthorHouse.

Thursday 22 May 2014

A day in the life of European Anti-Semitism.

May 22, 2014.

I opened my morning edition of the Jerusalem Post and this is what I read as I ate my breakfast in sunny Netanya.

Following the great success of Maccabi Tel Aviv in beating Real Madrid and lifting the European Basketball Championship trophy 18,000 anti-semitic tweets were posted on Twitter by angry Spanish fans.
Some of the tweets included, "Now I understand Hitler and his hate for the Jews," "They should all be killed in an oven."
It made no difference to the thousands of racist basketball fans that a number of Tel Aviv players were not Jewish, the Israeli side epitomised their anti-Semitism.

Spain is known to be one of the most anti-Semitic countries in Europe and it expressed itself when their favourite team, the really excellent Real Madrid, were defeated by the Israeli side. However, I turned the page of my paper and was met by an article which asked in Greece in the most anti-Semitic country in Europe? The piece detailed an Anti-Defamation League poll that found that 69% of Greeks hold anti-Semitic views putting it on a par with Saudi Arabia and making it more anti-Semitic than Iran (56%). The popularity if the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party is an expression of this Jew hatred in Greece, this despite the fact that official and trade relations between Greece and Israel have improved recently.

Then my eyes landed on a headline that told of the expectation of the German NPD party, described as "racist, anti-Semitic and revisionist," to gain seats in the European parliament in this week's elections.

Just the day before, the director of research for Studies of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, Haim Fireberg, said that Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism and now here were these headlines jumping off the page of my morning newspaper at me.

When people say that Jews do not have the right to self-determination in their own state, that is anti-Semitism. When they say if Israelis say that their country is the Jewish State this is racism, they are simply and clearly expressing their own biased racism against the Jews. They are saying that Jews are not worthy or deserving of having a state of their own. The tweet expressions following the victory of an Israeli team over Real Madrid is ample evidence of this phenomenon.

All this, and the annihilation threats that Israelis hear coming from Iranian and the Palestinian leaderships, leaves us with the feeling we are living under the cloud of a potential new Holocaust.

Barry Shaw is the special consultant on delegitimization issues to The Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College.
He is also the author of the best selling book 'Israel Reclaiming the Narrative' available at

Friday 2 May 2014

Nations with religion-based characteristics, and Israel.

Nations with religion-based characteristics, and Israel,  by Barry Shaw.

There is wide support, and some passionate objections, to Israel identifying itself as the Jewish state. Some, in the Arab world, call this racist. States created on a religious basis are not necessarily racist.
Those criticizing Israel for calling itself the Jewish state overlook its obvious history, its founding principles, its enshrinement as such in internationally mandates and resolutions, as well as the national will of the vast majority of its people.

The Mandate that called for the establishment of the National Home of the Jewish People also called for it to ensure the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities, and Israel has done that in an exemplary manner. This fact denies any false claim that it is, or will be, an apartheid, racist, state.

Just look at the character of other nations. Let’s look beyond those fifty seven members of a group that calls itself the Organization of Islamic  Cooperation, and the four nations that call themselves Islamic republics, without any criticism. Let’s look beyond a Palestinian entity that finds great insult in being asked to recognize the Jewish state, but wishes to be Judenrein and operate under the Islamic Sharia code of law. 
Let’s look to Europe, a Europe that seems to be devoted to the John Lennon imaginative creed of a world without borders, country, and no religion too, and replaced it with, well, nothing really – just a vacuum.

European nations, who have jettisoned their founding principles, lost their national identity to a modern-day free-for-all, and find themselves with increasing domestic turbulence. It’s still too early to judge the outcome of this experiment in replacement liberal secularism, but the signs are not good. It has led to valueless societies where national pride and patriotism seems confined to cheering, or complaining about, their national football team.

Yet, despite this, most European nations still cling to founding values that led to their creation and development. Almost all are based on religious, mainly Christian, Catholic, Lutheran characteristics that can be seen today. Here are a few examples;

UNITED KINGDOM has an assortment of Christian crosses on their flag. They mention “God” in their national anthem. Which god do they mean? Presumably, the Christian god. The Church of England and the Church of Scotland are their national churches. Monarchs appoint officials of the Church of England. The government supports the Church of England. 26 Anglican bishops have been given seats in the House of Lords. There is a historic ban on a Catholic becoming a monarch. Britain has four Christian-based national holidays.  But Britain isn’t a racist state.

GREECE has a cross on its flag. Its official religion is the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ. The national church is supported by the state. The president must be a member of this church. Witnesses in Greek courts must swear on the Bible or declare affiliation to another religion. God is mentioned in their national anthem, and they observe ten Christian-based national holidays. Greek is not a racist county.

MALTA has a cross on its flag, and god in its national anthem. Their official religion is Roman Catholic. Religious teaching is compulsory in schools. They have seven Catholic-based national holidays. Malta is not considered a racist state.

NORWAY has a cross on its flag, and god in its anthem. The Lutheran Church of Norway is its national church, according to its Constitution. Article 2 states “our values will remain our Christian and humanist heritage.” The king must be a Lutheran. They observe nine Christian-based national holidays.  Norway is not called a racist state.

SWITZERLAND has a cross on its flag, and god in its anthem. Cantons collect taxes for the Protestant and Catholic churches. They have 17 Christian-based holidays. Switzerland has a ban on minarets and ritual slaughter of animals for meat. Yet, Switzerland is not a racist state.

FINLAND. Guess what? It has a cross on its flag. The Lutheran and Finnish Orthodox Churches are declared their national churches. Taxes are levied to support these churches. Finland has ten Christian-based national holidays. But Finland is not a racist state.

SWEDEN has a Christian cross on its flag, and god in its anthem. There are twelve Christian-based holidays in a Sweden that is not considered a racist state based on religion.

NETHERLANDS has “Jesus,  “Lord,” “God,” and “Gospel” mentioned in their national anthem.  They have twelve Christian-based national holidays, but are not considered a religiously racist nation.

DENMARK has a cross on its flag.  Danish Constitution states that the monarch must be a member of the Lutheran Church, which is the official state religion. Its faith is taught in schools. The Swedish Lutheran Church controls the birth and death registrations. This is the only church that receives government subsidies. There are ten Christian-based national holidays, but Denmark is not a racist state.

ICELAND’s flag has a Christian cross. “God” and “Lord, we bow to thee” appear in their national anthem. Iceland’s Constitution declares that the Evangelical Lutheran Church is the national church and as such is protected and supported by the state. Schools must teach Christianity.  Religious-based national holidays include Palm Sunday, Whit Sunday, Whit Monday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, and Christmas.

SPAIN has 14 Christian-based and one Muslim-based national holidays. Its federal laws allow for a percentage of income to go to the Catholic Church. No other religion has this privilege.

CYPRUS is an interesting case study. It originally had a cross on its flag. This flag was changed to one that portrays the island with olive branches to symbolize peace between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. When their original Constitution broke down over disputes with Turkish Cypriots it introduced a new Constitution that respects both Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Article 18 guarantees freedom of religion. It has nine Christian-based public holidays. Article 62:2 declares that its House of Representatives shall have 70% Greek and only 30% Turkish Cypriots. According to the Constitution a Turkish Cypriot can never be elected as President of Cyprus. Yet, Cyprus is not considered a racist country.

PORTUGAL. The Catholic Church is entitled to receive special status including tax-exemption and the ability to receive taxes. Portugal has five Catholic-based public holidays.

With all the trappings of religious dominance, none can be called racist nations or condemned for holding to their religiously-based national characteristics.
So it is troubling that Israel is exclusively criticized, and worse, for declaring itself to be what it is - the Jewish State. 

Jews live in many of these other countries, tolerating the character while enjoying the freedom granted to them to express their own civil and religious rights. Why can't Israel, the only liberal democracy in the region, be trusted to uphold those guiding principles, principles that are part of its international legitimacy and enshrined in its declaration of Independence?
That level of responsibility can be entrusted to Israel to protect its non-Jewish citizens.
It is normal to have a religion-based character to a state. That privilege should be bestowed and respected in the Jewish State of Israel.

Barry Shaw is the special consultant on delegitimization issues to The Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College. He is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’