Israel’s economy – does the boycott argument make sense?

Appreciate it or not, the Israeli economy is on fire.

  • The OECD has altered upwards 2011 growth predictions to 5.4%, well above the group’s average.
  • Unemployment is close to an all-time low, around 6%, and falling.
  • Marvell is significantly increasing its investment in the country.
  • 2 of the top 6 companies at TechCrunch 2011 were Israeli.
  • Etc, etc, etc

And then along come the party-poopers. No, I am not talking about the pessimists. Fitch has warned that Israel needs to guard against higher debt. The gap between rich and poor is seen by many as too large and growing. (I agree).

People want to boycott Israel because of the Palestinian question. The latest profile story comes from Scotland. It is not just the actions of the Kirk, but “several districts in southwest Scotland will expand their boycott on Israeli products and bar stores from carrying English translations of Israeli books.”

All sounds very politically correct. But like with most spin, once you test it, you realise how feeble and hypocritical it is.

First, is such a ban practical? Obviously, the councils involved cannot disperse their decision by use of computers, because their machines are using an Intel tech developed in the Holy Land. They cannot ask London areas to join in, because this will send water bills through the roof. And they are ironically sending a sign to their national football team not to compete in the next world cup in Brazil, where stadiums are being built with Israeli tech.

A UK blogger pointed out tens of of other Israeli applications widely available in many homes and offices around the globe. Eg:

  • Before accepting any printed material, check that the supplier has not used the Israeli device that might have saved up to 50% of the ink used.
  • At home, do not use Facebook as many in-built and add-on applications are Israeli-developed.
  • Only senior staff may retain mobile phones for emergency situations.  However the use of SMS (Texting) is expressly forbidden as this facility was developed in Israel.
  • Council restaurants and canteens must dispose of cherry tomatoes, which were developed in Israel.  Employees must ensure that no cherry tomatoes are included in sandwiches brought into office premises. 
  • No agricultural products from the following areas must be consumed as they use water irrigation and agricultural technology provided directly from Israel.
      • Most of Africa
      • China
      • India
      • Indonesia (a Muslim country)
      • Nepal
      • Many others – please check

Clearly, the councils of Scotland will have their work cut out to be consistent. But why just Israel?

In terms of democracy, freedom of religion, tolerance of others, dozens of countries do not exactly rate strongly. Can you imagine Scotland banning the import of all plastic goods from China? How about not playing against teams with football players from several African countries? And what about the comments from Obama and Cameron on the oppression by Hamas in Gaza. Oops!

So again, why boycott and why boycott Israel? Will it bring peace to Palestinians AND Israelis? Will it damage Israel’s economy significantly?

A couple of years ago, a theatrical trades union from Eire proposed a similar move. A few weeks later, some of their representatives were taken through a Holocaust museum. One of the first exhibits reveals how the Nazis banned and burnt Jewish books. The message was not lost.

If we return to the Israeli economy, one of the reasons for its strength and stability is the role of Stanley Fischer, governor of the Bank of Israel. He is now considered a potential candidate for the vacant top job at the IMF. So, Fischer were to be chosen, he too would be boycotted because he is…….?

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One Comment on “Israel’s economy – does the boycott argument make sense?”

  1. […] boasted the Finance Minister of Israel, Dr Yuval Steinitz. He has a point, and I have said as much in some of my previous […]

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