Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Co-op's Boycott of Israel: The Email War

The Co-op's Boycott of Israel: The Email War

An update about the Co-op's boycott of Israel.

Recently, a spokesman sent us this mail explaining how and why the Co-op reached their decision (or at least why they're boycotting Israeli goods produced beyond the Green Line). Their language is pretty forceful using all the usual suspects to back up their claims, so we countered with a mail, peppered with little research on these organisations...

This is mainly to provide some resources for those interested in wanting more info when discussing Israel, the 'settlements', and all the usual 'illegal under international law' fetish sentences that are parroted endlessly by the media and the left.

We await news on any change in the Co op's policy towards Israel.

(If you don't want to read all this on screen, just copy and paste the text into a word or notepad file, and print it out from there.)

First their mail to us:

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Tom Foynes (Customer Relations)  
Sent: Monday, 11 June 2012, 8:44
Subject: Co-operative Careline

   Dear Jewish Defence League

  Many thanks for your email of 21/05/2012 relating to our Board’s decision to withdraw trade from suppliers of produce known to be sourcing from the illegal Israeli settlements.

  Further to our initial email, we would like to clarify the basis of our statement that there is a ‘broad international consensus’ that Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories are illegal.

  The status of the settlements in international law is clear. Settlements present a breach of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of an occupying power’s civilian population into an occupied territory. The settlements have been confirmed as illegal by the International Court of Justice, the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention and the United Nations Security Council, as well as successive UK governments and the European Union. Furthermore, the World Bank has noted that the presence of the illegal settlements has a direct and detrimental impact on Palestinian economic development.

  Our Human Rights and Trade Policy brochure is attached as requested. We have sought with this Policy to set out our approach to human rights in a clear, transparent and consistent manner. We would again emphasise that our position does not constitute a boycott of Israeli businesses, and that we remain firmly committed to sourcing produce from Israel .

  I hope this email clarifies our position in this regard.

  Yours sincerely

  Tom Foynes 

Our response:

  Dear Mr. Foynes,

  Thank you for your email of 11th June 2012 regarding the Co Op's position on Israel and its legality over contested territories etc.

  We feel that your statements regarding Israel are indeed common in the international community, but they are not the consensus. The opinions stated were highly distorted and have been reached by ignoring vast swathes of readily available information, in order to prosecute Israel regarding the various issues. Unfortunately, this is quite understandable seeing as the organisations you referenced are thought by many to be beyond reproach. In light of this we feel compelled to answer these grave accusations.
The Famous Image From China's 1989
massacre at Tianamen Sqare
  We were, however, delighted to read of your remarkably moral stance as an organisation. May we ask whether you also plan to refuse to stock Chinese products in light of that country's occupation of Tibet and many and varied gross human rights abuses? Do you plan to refuse trade with Turkey over its refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, its illegal occupation of Cyprus, and the highest number of imprisoned journalists in the world?
The organisations you quoted ignore gross human rights abusers and single out Israel for censure. These organisations are essentially of the same origin; connected to the UN. The UN may operate a democratic system, but most of its member states are not democratic. Many of these regimes seek to place Israel front and centre on the world stage in order to hide their abominable crimes (Syria being just one of them). There are always two sides to a story and we ask you to consider the information provided herein. I hope you find the enclosed informative, we have only enclosed one link per topic, but the first two links contain libraries of information, should you wish to investigate further.

We have addressed the issues in the order mentioned in your email.

Regarding illegality of the settlements

“For over fifty years, in countless United Nations resolutions adopted virtually verbatim year after year on various aspects of the Middle East problem, and specifically on issues regarding the territories, the reference to Israel is almost exclusively couched in terms of “Israel, the occupying Power” and the reference to the territories is termed “the occupied Palestinian territories.” Similarly, reference to Israel’s settlement policy consistently includes the element of illegitimacy or illegality.

These general and all-embracing terms have become the “lingua franca” of the United Nations
– accepted phrases that neither generate nor attract any thought or discussion 
as to their legal,
historical, or political accuracy.”

Page 66 of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs report titled ‘Israel’s Rights as a Nation State in International Diplomacy. A site headed by Dore Gold, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations.
The web page with the report

The report itself (PDF)

The use of the term ‘illegally occupied’ stems from UN Security Council Resolution 242 which was drafted following the 1967 Arab-Israel war.

“Israel’s presence in the West Bank today is not illegal under international law. Israel entered the West Bank lawfully in June 1967 in the exercise of its right of self-defence against Jordanian attack. The occupation in and of itself is not unlawful.

In 1948-49, Israel fought its war of independence against the Arab residents of Mandatory Palestine, and five neighbouring states.

In 1950, Jordan illegally annexed the West Bank, of which it had taken control in the course of the war.  

In June 1967, Jordan launched a massive bombardment of civilian Israeli targets from the West Bank on the first day of the Six Day War and despite appeals from Israel to Jordan to stay out of the war which had started with Egypt.

Resolution 242, which is the centrepiece of relevant international law on this topic, does not require Israeli withdrawal from all West Bank territory. Thus, Israel’s entry into the West Bank was lawful. And its continued presence there is lawful too.  It is for all the parties to the conflict to reach a negotiated peace agreement under which Israel would withdraw.”



Logically, therefore, if Israel’s occupation is not illegal, then Article 49 is non-applicable.

Regarding the Higher Contracting Parties and the common misapplication of Article 49 of the Geneva Conventions

This article provides some background to this ruling which showed that the US, Israel and Australia (all democracies) refused to attend in light of the highly charged, and predictable nature of the outcome. The meeting took place in 2001, and shows that during the 2nd intifada, the Palestinian dictatorship was attempting to use the international community to harass Israel, rather than engage in peace talks; diplomatic channels which provided access to American and European policy-makers.
Yasser Arafat, head of terror organisation the PLO,
with Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the UN
“Unfortunately, this reconvening [of the Higher Contracting Parties] served to legitimize the Palestinian tactic of using the international community, and the U.N. in particular, as a forum for airing grievances against Israel, rather than resolving such matters through bilateral negotiations.
Moreover, the reconvening of High Contracting Parties to discuss these issues dangerously politicized and violated the spirit of the Geneva Convention and its important humanitarian purpose.

At this crucial time, the international community should play a constructive role by encouraging an end to Palestinian violence and terrorism followed by a resumption of negotiations, rather than participating in forums organized solely for the purpose of singling out Israel for criticism.”


Regarding the International Court of Justice

Harvard University human rights expert Alan Dershowitz, advised Israel not to appear before the UN International Court of Justice "charging that the judges took orders from their governments and did not administer justice.”Israel cannot win a case at the ICJ," he said "It is an insult to kangaroos to call the ICJ a kangaroo court".
"I wouldn't appear before it, just like I wouldn't appear before an all-white court in Mississippi."

Currently, China sits as head of this court. If you or the Co Op were to be placed on trial for anything, would you voluntarily accept this court's impartiality knowing that China would have a political interest in the verdict?

However, all of these disputes may yet prove academic as new information has come to light surrounding Israel’s founding legal documents, thanks to Howard Grief, a legal scholar. Here you will find a variety of articles and multimedia on the subject. Should Howard Grief’s thesis be accepted (and there is every sign that it will be) these documents, which precede Res 242, would make that resolution null and void.


Lastly, with regards to the World Bank and Palestinian development being inhibited due to Jewish presence, you cite no references for this and I am at a loss to explain it. This is indeed a puzzling declaration since it flies in the face of the reality on the ground, and the World Bank’s own reports in my possession. There is no correlation between a Jewish presence on Jewish land, and other minority’s inability to prosper. In fact, quite the opposite.

“By the beginning of 1999, according to the World Bank, the West Bank and Gaza had fully recovered from the economic decline of the previous years and their position continued to improve well into the summer of 2000.GDP grew by 1.6 percent during the first half of 2000, and job creation in the territories continued to significantly increase, both in the public and the private sectors. Economic activity was particularly vibrant along the West Bank ‘fault line’ in the Sharon and Lower Galilee, where Israelis continued to frequent Palestinian towns and villages by the thousands for shopping and services, one of the many unspoken dividends of peace.”

Taken from Efraim Karsh’s (professor, King’s College, University of London) “Arafat’s War” p.190

Here is a web page with pictorial evidence of conditions in the so-called Gaza ‘prison camp’. I’m sure that, as an employee of the Co Op, you will envy the stunning look of their market’s fresh produce.


Much like ‘successive British governments’ the EU and others, we fear the Co Op has adopted this posture against Israel for political/economic reasons. The singling out of the world’s only Jewish democracy for defamation (that is defamation, not criticism) over the world’s worst human rights abusers displays a disturbing level of myopia which can only be explained by ulterior motives.

We hope, however, that we are wrong in this instance and that your board will at least consider the additional evidence provided here in your decision making process.

Should you require any more information, we will be only too happy to provide it.



We await their reply...