ARABS BLACKLIST FIRMS - Doing business with Israelgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
October 11, 2001
WIRE: 10/11/2001 3:54 pm ET
Arabs blacklist Western, Asian companies doing business with Israel
The Associated Press
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) Arab officials meeting in Damascus said Thursday they are blacklisting several American, European and Asian companies for doing business with Israel.
But at the end of the first meeting of the Central Office for the Boycott in eight years, officials declined to name their targets, making their declaration of a revival of the boycott as a "peaceful resistance tool" a symbolic one at best.
Ahmed Khazaa, general commissioner of the Damascus-based boycott office, said the four-day gathering sent a "big political message to Israel and to the international community that the boycott is a peaceful resistance tool against aggression on our land and that this resistance will be reactivated and its performance improved."
In Israel, government spokesman Dore Gold condemned the move.
"It would be very unfortunate if Syria rolled back the Middle East to the era before the Madrid peace conference," he told The Associated Press in Israel, referring to the 1991 meeting that launched the Mideast peace process.
The meeting, which began Monday, was attended by 19 out of the Arab League's 22 members. Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania, which have relations with Israel, did not attend. The office had been unable to reach quorum and hold a meeting since 1993 the year Israel and the Palestinians signed their first peace deal.
Khazaa said the office was able to reach quorum this time because of Israel's actions against the Palestinians in the yearlong intefadeh, or uprising, and Israel's refusal to withdraw from Palestinian and Syrian lands seized in the 1967 Mideast war, as well as from the disputed Chebaa Farms on the Lebanese border.
"All this has brought us back to square one," he said. "Today, the Arabs are convinced that Israel is working against peace."
The delegates in Damascus updated their blacklist of companies that deal with Israel, removing some that have adhered to the boycott regulations and adding others that have not complied, according to a statement following the meeting. Khazaa said the companies that are being banned will be notified soon.
Since 1993, there was little to indicate that the boycott office, once the nerve center of economic warfare against Israel, was still pursuing its mission of tracking down foreigners who do business with or support Israel and then banning them from operating in the Arab world.
Support for the ban has waned. Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority lifted the ban altogether after making peace with Israel. In 1991, Kuwait announced it was no longer blacklisting U.S. companies trading with Israel because it needed help rebuilding after the Iraqi occupation.
In 1994, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar followed suit, maintaining only the taboo on direct commerce with Israel.
The boycott office once listed more than 8,500 companies and people, including Coca-Cola, the Ford Motor Co. and Elizabeth Taylor. At the height of the Arab-Israeli confrontation in the 1960s and 1970s, the list changed with such frequency that the bureau's reports on who's on, who's off and who's suspicious resembled monthly stock market reports.
In 1976, Washington banned U.S. companies from complying with the boycott and imposed heavy fines on any American firm caught abiding by it.
-- Anonymous, October 11, 2001