Europeans Pushing to Boycott Israel over Annexation Should Think Twice

(Foreign Policy) Richard Goldberg - Some European governments are reportedly pushing the EU for a tough response against Israel, including economic sanctions, if it extends Israeli law in parts of the West Bank. European governments should reject these ideas - not just because they're wrong, but also because they carry significant risks for European companies and economies. Israel is a democratic ally that enjoys strong relations with Europe, including in trade and tourism. It aligns with Europe in the post-World War II international order more than any other Middle Eastern country. That some European governments would threaten sanctions against Israel while refusing to impose sanctions on Iran and Hizbullah is disappointing. 3/5 of the 50 U.S. states have already adopted laws prohibiting boycotts of Israel. The potential financial impact of divestment by U.S. states on European businesses and economies is substantial. A review of public investment funds in U.S. states with divestment laws revealed holdings of international equities amounting to $170 billion, much of it in European companies. Major European companies such as Denmark's Danske Bank and the Dutch pension fund PGGM were blacklisted by the state of Illinois as Israel boycotters. Airbnb decided in 2018 to boycott listings in Israeli towns in the West Bank, but reversed its decision after Illinois, Texas, and Florida took steps to blacklist Airbnb from future investment. Airbnb was also forced to settle multiple lawsuits in the U.S. alleging that the company was engaging in discriminatory practices, given that it did not apply its policy to all disputed territories. The U.S. has federal laws, too, that were adopted in response to the Arab League's boycott of Israel to deter state-sponsored boycotts of Israel. Sanctions on Israel should be off the table. The writer, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was the U.S. National Security Council's Director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction from 2019 to 2020.

2020-06-11 00:00:00

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