Guardian

White Collar BDS


CiF Watch readers need no introduction to anti-Zionist Avi Shlaim, Professor of International Relations at Oxford University, but may be less familiar with his co-author of the May 7th CiF article, Simon Mohun. The latter is a Professor of Political Economics at Queen Mary University of London and appears to have a penchant for Marxism and signing letters denouncing Israel to British newspapers.

Shlaim and Mohun’s claim that “It is vital therefore that the OECD makes Israeli accession conditional on tangible improvements in its human rights record and a commitment to embark on a credible peace process” is in fact nothing more than a ‘new economist’ argument, employing precisely the same tactics as Shlaim and his fellow ‘new historians’ : the distortion and selective presentation of facts to suit a specific political agenda, gift-wrapped in seemingly respectable academic packaging.

In the statement quoted above, the authors deliberately ignore the fact that Israel has embarked upon several peace processes in the past – Oslo, the Roadmap and others – each of which crumbled due to ill-considered choices made by the Palestinian leadership at the time. They both ignore the fact that for any credible peace process to get off the ground Palestinian infighting must come to an end, and seek to put the onus for the previous and current lack of progress on the diplomatic front exclusively upon Israel, thereby absolving the Palestinians of any responsibility whatsoever for their past, present or future as well as sweeping the glaring Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel’s existence under the carpet.

Shlaim and Mohun cite the Islamic Human Rights Commission’s attempts to put pressure upon Turkey to veto Israel’s entry to the OECD with approval. According to the Stephen Roth Institute:

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) is a radical Islamist organization that uses the language and techniques of a human rights lobbying group to promote an extremist agenda. Formed in 1997 by its current chairman, Massoud Shadjareh, the IHRC supports jihad groups around the world, campaigns for the release of convicted terrorists and promotes the notion of a western conspiracy against Islam.

Shadjareh and the IHRC subscribe to the radical Islamist belief that Jewish conspiracies are afoot to undermine Muslims, and they compare Jews and Israelis to Nazis. Members of the IHRC’s board of advisors have even called on Muslims to kill Jews. They include the Saudi Islamist Muhammad al-Mas‘ari and Muhammad al-‘Asi, an American convert to Islam who was banned from preaching at his mosque in Washington, DC, and has been a frequent visitor to Britain.

The IHRC organizes the annual Quds day demonstration in London, on the last Friday of Ramadan, initiated by the late Ayatollah Khomeini to protest the Zionist “occupation” of Jerusalem. At the IHRC-organized demonstration against the Israel solidarity rally in Trafalgar Square in May, participants called for holy war against Israel, recalling the battle of Khaybar waged by the followers of Muhammad against the Jews, and declared their loyalty to Usama bin Ladin and Shaykh Ahmad Yasin.

Of course this is not the type of organization with which one would expect British academics to be expressing solidarity, but the topsy-turvy world of Middle East politics makes for strange bedfellows these days.

Shlaim and Mohun go on to attempt to reinforce their arguments with claims of “breaches of human rights principles and of international humanitarian law, whether during the Gaza offensive in the winter of 2008-09 or through the continuous expansion of its settlement project in the West Bank, “ (of course unproven in any International Court of Law) and conveniently ignore the background to the partial Israeli embargo upon Gaza calling it “a form of collective punishment, clearly proscribed under international law “ . The fact that the residents of Southern Israel have had their human rights abused for almost a decade by terrorist groups based in Gaza completely escapes these two brilliant intellects, as apparently does the Israeli government’s responsibility to defend and protect its citizens. The Fourth Geneva Convention’s definition of collective punishment (article 33) hinges upon the definition of ‘protected persons’.

Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals. But it explicitly excludes Nationals of a State which is not bound by the Convention and the citizens of a neutral state or an allied state if that state has normal diplomatic relations within the State in whose hands they are.

Given the fact that Israel has not been an ‘occupying power’ in the Gaza strip for almost 5 years, and that the Hamas regime in Gaza is not a High Contracting Party, one cannot but call into question Shlaim and Mohun’s comprehension of the term ‘clearly proscribed’ in this instance.

Ironically, the authors then go on to state that “The OECD Convention also stipulates that members “avoid developments which might endanger their economies or those of other countries”, and “reduce or abolish obstacles to the exchange of goods and services”. Anyone with a memory span of more than a decade cannot but recall the detrimental effects of the second Intifada upon the Israeli economy. The important tourism industry collapsed and some 50,000 people were made redundant. A friend of mine who owned a small business selling camping and outdoor gear at the time found himself literally overnight unable to get hold of goods which he had commissioned for manufacture in one of the West Bank towns and unable to retrieve the $100,000 he had already paid for them either. This pushed him into bankruptcy and, having been forced to sell his home, resulted in his having to send his wife (who was recovering from cancer and unable to work) and two small children to live with her parents abroad whilst he worked around the clock as a taxi driver and camped on friends’ sofas in an attempt to pay back to the banks the debts incurred. By no means was he the only small businessman to go under due to the sudden outburst of orchestrated Palestinian violence which consigned the Oslo accords to the back burner of history. Should any contemporary Israeli government even consider endangering the Israeli economy yet again by rushing to sign peace agreements with parties so clearly not interested in real peace and which do not even represent the whole of the Palestinian people or have control over terrorist factions within that society? No Israeli government can afford to repeat the mistakes of Oslo and the above clause from the OECD Convention is in fact an excellent example of why Israel cannot and should not be pressured to endanger herself yet again in the elusive chase after peace at the expense of concrete guarantees of her security.

Even more bizarrely, Shlaim and Mohun apparently see no contradiction in the fact that the second half of the statement they quote (“reduce or abolish obstacles to the exchange of goods and services”) cannot be expected of Israel when the Palestinian Authority is planning legislation to prevent Palestinians working for Israelis or buying Israeli-produced goods, but of course political zealotry such as that displayed by these two writers often blinds its holders to logic. In fact Shlaim and Mohun clearly give the game away in their final paragraph when they write:

“More generally, if the US and the EU learn to use their trade relations with Israel as leverage, they may discover that the much-sought-after incentive for peace is to be found there, if nowhere else.”

This is nothing more than bullying by means of BDS; albeit not the type of BDS which employs such crude tactics as harassing shop workers or trashing Israeli produce, but BDS with white collars, academic credentials and a peeling facade of pseudo-respectability. The content is, however, just the same.

Of course, as the estimable Santa Moniker points out, there are other ways of looking at Israel’s proposed joining of the OECD which one would think could have merited some academic analysis from Professors Shlaim and Mohun, but then again, that wouldn’t serve the interests of their narrative.



After all, as we are only too aware, for these ‘new historians’ and their fellow travelers, the narrative is far more important than the pesky facts.

Update

Since this article was written, the OECD has announced its unanimous acceptance of Israel’s accession to the organization. However, not everyone is pleased by this decision and indeed some seem determined to continue to try to make political capital out of it. Jonathan Hoffman on his blog brings us the news that the Director of the IJV mouthpiece, JNews, Miri Weingarten, has sent out the following e-mail.

Hi all,

You will have already seen that Haaretz has reported a unanimous vote for Israeli accession to the OECD this morning.

FYI, the Palestinians hope to achieve a small technical delay based on a *legal argument* (below) by getting the legal advisors of one of the MFAs of a member country to request a legal opinion on this issue from the OECD legal department, and asking that the accession process (due to be finalised May 27) be suspended until this legal question is answered.

The bottom line of this argument is that the OECD would itself be breaching the 4th Geneva convention if it admits Israel under current conditions (i.e with settlement data, but without data on Palestinians in the OPT). By including settlement data it has actually forced itself to apply the rules of occupation (Geneva 4) to Israel, which include responsibility of the Occupying Power for the welfare of the occupied population. The only way that accession would be legal is a) if settlement/OPT data is totally excluded [total disaggregation] or b) if data from both settlements and OPT Palestinians is included.

A brief based on this argument has been sent to all Ministries of foreign affairs of member countries.

The legal argument will now be important for press purposes. Please feel free to send it around as another point of messaging to your lists.

[There follows the legal argument]

*best
Miri

Miri Weingarten, Director
JNews
60 Farringdon Road
London EC1R 3GA
Tel. xxxx

Should we be surprised by this slip of the JNews “promotes understanding” mask? Considering that one of JNews’ patrons is none other than the co-author of the above CiF article, Avi Shlaim; definitely not. As almost inevitably happens, if one looks around long enough in any BDS pie, the same fingers usually come into view.

23 replies »

  1. Good analysis, IN – once again, peeling back the Guardian’s sources (Simon Mohun) reveals a nasty underbelly presented to the gullible as if he is an impartial observer.

    As for:

    “The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC)”

    Shouldn’t they focus on the lack of human rights in so many Islamic societies?

    “declared their loyalty to Usama bin Ladin and Shaykh Ahmad Yasin.”

    Ah yes:

    Sheikh Yasin the arch terrorist mourned even on this blog by berchmans as a helpless quadriplegic …

  2. By the way, another kind of white collar BDS is the the attempt on various campuses to get the universities to divest from Israel (whatever tha means – they would have to sel their entire portfolios, since there’s hardly an American company of any size or sort that does not sell goods in Israel).

    They suffered two resounding defeats at UC Berkely and UCSD last week.

    Divest this!

    The student BDS movement has never actually succeeded in accomplishing even one BDS demand on campus.

    Meanwhile, Israel marches ahead, int the willing arms of the OECD, for example.

  3. Israeli nurse

    ” Israel has embarked upon peace processes in the past – Oslo, the Roadmap crumbled due to ill-considered choices made by the Palestinian ”

    This is another well chosen and fairly carefully considered article. Only one tiny criticism.

    You fail to mention the recent hard kick in the groin that the Israelis gave to Biden ..sinking the latest opportunity for talks. This would have taken a sentence and would have shown balance…which is missing from this otherwise moderate analysis.

  4. The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC)

    Isn’t that an oxymoron to begin with?

    Since this article was written, the OECD has announced its unanimous acceptance of Israel’s accession to the organization.

    Yes. I heard that last night. It gave me a warm feeling thinking of the disappointment of the Guardian faithful when hearing this announcement.

  5. Turkey did not just withhold its veto – it voted in favour.

    p.s. There is not Queen Mary University. It’s Queen Mary college, U. of London. I should know, being an alumnus. But no: I did not study under Mohun.
    (perhaps you just copied the wrong designation from the Guardian’s profile of Mohun!)

  6. Berchmans if you cant learn from being among us you are wasting your time.

    The truth of the Biden incident is that Ramat Shlomo is in northern not eastern Jerusalem. Ramallah chose his visit to name a square after a suicide bomber. Who decided to throw their hands up in horror at the one and not the other?

    That is playing the ME political game and you are either not bright enough or too prejudiced to see the truth.

  7. Greensleeves to Berchmans, well-put, particularly about the not learning bit.

    Mitnaged, if you should drop by, isn’t this a prime example of what you mean by personal construct hostility? If you haven’t one already, perhaps you could get a PhD using Berchmans, Arkasha and other assorted CiF loons as your subjects.

    Or perhaps not…. you’d have to read all their rubbish and I wouldn’t envy you that.

  8. Not white collar BDS, but here’s a little factoid that shows again how ineffective the BDS thing has actually been. A great deal of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    Remember the glee over the Norwegian “divestment” from Elbit? Here is some data from “statistics Norway” that reflects the last three years. In addition to Israel I picked 2 of Norway’s major trading partners – Germany and the US. For whatever reason I couldn’t find the UK. The table will be hard to read in this format, but you can get the idea. The values are for all trade with these countries, in 1000’s of NOKs. You can see the effect of the 2009 crisis, but notice that Israel has done better than Germany on imports to Norway, and exports to Israel soared (oil?):

    Imports 2007 2008 Change 2009 Change
    IL Israel 633630 705739 11.38% 615381 -12.80%
    DE Germany 63536270 66676572 4.94% 54969445 -17.56%
    US United States 22574009 26893887 19.14% 26410346 -1.80%

    Exports
    IL Israel 448947 412434 -8.13% 529371 28.35%
    DE Germany 97895933 123004823 25.65% 102112276 -16.99%
    US United States 49050435 41190616 -16.02% 36111506 -12.33%

  9. Greensleeves

    Berchmans if you cant learn from being among us you are wasting your time.

    Indeed this is a very good place to learn but I think perhaps it is more a good place for Berchmans to waste others’ time.

    There are rare people posting on the internet with all the time in the world to be nuisances but the time and space they occupy does leave less room for good stuff.

    (That was a very prolix way to say “waste of space”.)

  10. AKUS, the continuing farce: focusing on I/P, BDS(alphabet stew?) at university campuses, in particular California. Anyone keen on the news is well aware of the financial turmoil in California(IT’S A MESS!) and cuts in funding to the university system, jeopardizing academic and student programs, access to education, scholarship, etc. But economic diverstiture from Israel is on top of these students agenda’s?

  11. The Irrelevancy of ‘Belligerent Occupation’ and the 4th Geneva Convention

    The article relates to the right of Jews to live in the Territories and it makes good points on legal rights.

    “Dore Gold was recently an advisor to Sharon and had to adapt – it was diplomatic of him to describe Yesha as “disputed land.” I think that we should refrain from using the term “disputed land” or “unapportioned land” or “residual areas” and only point out that all of Palestine is Jewish by virtue of Mandate, and Western Palestine even more so, since “the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withold application of such provisions of this Mandate… [from the later addition to the Mandate in sept 1922]” were not applied to Western Palestine. The use of the words ‘postpone’ and ‘withold’ can be invoked to claim that Jewish right to Eastern Palestine – now the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan – was not cancelled by the League but only postponed (they did have some sense of shame at this period).”

    There is also some comparison of the matter of “occupation” by Israel to much bigger and more modern areas of conflict in:

    http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/forum/forumnew120.php

  12. Greensleeves

    ” if you cant learn from being among us you are wasting your time.”

    You are attacking my paper…by calling it prejudiced.. you are calling me the same. I’ ll do you a favour. I will stop bonking you and your slow motion pals in public if you stop attacking CIF.

    Israeli nurse is by far the best that CIFW has now that AKUS has become a photocopy of a tightly wound Zionist..and she is sliding into unbalanced cotton wool for fear of being seen as a little close to the self haters.

  13. Wow, this description here of the Islamic human rights group Shlaim pins his hopes on… It’s pretty amazing that he doesn’t seem to worry at all about how this reflects on him.

    As always, Israelinurse, admirable job; one thing you and your co-Cifwatchers are doing, I think, is assembling a pretty impressive brief showing just how bankrupt — ethically and intellectually — the anti-Israel crowd really is: Oxford history prof cheers on antisemitic jihadist “human rights” group; Apartheid judge presides over panel demonizing Israel — you have to wonder if there is a lower limit for them.

  14. You might want to see this.It was on the Dennis MacShane thread.
    “Two votes of no confidence”

    And this was a response from one ‘AllyF’ who also happens to be a Contributor.

    “Aye,do the decent thing Dennis,there’s a good chap.You’ll find a bottle of whisky and a revolver in the next room”.

    The Guardian sure knows how to pick them.

  15. Berchmans is ‘bonking’ cifwatch because we attack ”his” paper by calling it prejudiced.

    ”my paper right or wrong”
    “my paper for a horse”
    “dulce et decorum est pro my paper more”

  16. We are calling the Guardian exactly what it is and stands for.A nasty anti-Semitic rag.

    The Guardian’s vile anti-Israeli bias contributes to vile anti-Semitic violence.

  17. spoton
    .

    The Guardian’s vile anti-Israeli bias contributes to vile anti-Semitic violence.

    Do you not think” vile bias” is overstatement? There are many pro Israeli commentators ..from the reasonable Petra to the comical Alderman. Any anti Semitism…anything even vaguely anti Semitic is instantly vapourized if the abuse button is pressed.

  18. @IsraeliNurse:

    “In the statement quoted above, the authors deliberately ignore the fact that Israel has embarked upon several peace processes in the past – Oslo, the Roadmap and others – each of which crumbled due to ill-considered choices made by the Palestinian leadership at the time”.

    What, precisely, is your proof that omission is due to ‘deliberate ignorance’? The article was centred on Israel’s human rights record and the conflict that poses for membership in the OECD. How is the Oslo peace process relevant to that? As Shlaim/Mohun note:

    “Stated OECD values include “a commitment to pluralist democracy based on the rule of law and the respect of human rights””

    that obviously falters given that the occupation is illegal under international law, and that human rights are abrogated in numerous respects via the military administration. What Shlaim/Mohun are contesting is the OECD’s failure to adhere to its stated principles:

    “Israel’s numerous breaches of human rights principles and of international humanitarian law, whether during the Gaza offensive in the winter of 2008-09 or through the continuous expansion of its settlement project in the West Bank, clearly contravene this commitment”

    “They both ignore the fact that for any credible peace process to get off the ground Palestinian infighting must come to an end”

    How is that relevant to the problems posed by Israel’s accession to the OECD? If Gaza was attempting to gain access it would be relevant; but that’s clearly not the case.

    “seek to put the onus for the previous and current lack of progress on the diplomatic front exclusively upon Israel, thereby absolving the Palestinians of any responsibility whatsoever for their past, present or future as well as sweeping the glaring Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel’s existence under the carpet”

    Arafat recognised Israel-proper back in 1987; and again it has no bearing on issues. Israel is the state in occupation, not the Palestinians; and Israel’s record is therefore directly pertinant; the Palestinians’ is not.

    More to the point – given the predictable jeremiads herein – how is pressing Israel to respect international law and human rights anti-Semitic? How is it anti-Semitic for Shlaim/Mohun to press for OECD integrity prejudicial?

    You’re quite right to suggest that Israel’s government is not exclusively responsible for intransigence: the U.S. is culpable as well. But, again, the U.S. is not seeking entry into the OECD, which makes its behaviour irrelevant to the point.

    “The fact that the residents of Southern Israel have had their human rights abused for almost a decade by terrorist groups based in Gaza completely escapes these two brilliant intellects, as apparently does the Israeli government’s responsibility to defend and protect its citizens.”

    It doesn’t; again, it has no bearing on the issue; and the cause of Hamas’ rocket fire is, of course, Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Given that Israel has refused to negotiate with Hamas, peace is lacking for a number of reasons. That doesn’t justify or excuse Hamas’ violence; but it certainly doesn’t justify Israel’s.

    “The Fourth Geneva Convention’s definition of collective punishment (article 33) hinges upon the definition of ‘protected persons’”

    It doesn’t: protected persons refers to persons protected by the convention – namely civilians under occupation:

    “Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals”

    http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/7c4d08d9b287a42141256739003e636b/6756482d86146898c125641e004aa3c5

    In other words herein, the Palestinians under Israel’s occupation.
    You could at least try to be accurate, if not honest. And Gaza may not have been occupied for circa five years; it has however been blockaded since then, which – needless to say – Shlaim and Mohun mention:

    “The blockade of Gaza, severely restricting the flow of food, fuel and medical supplies to its 1.5 million inhabitants, is a form of collective punishment, clearly proscribed under international law – yet these issues have not been brought up at all in the accession process.”

    I’m not sure what kind of value pedantry is supposed to have, but if you’re going to be pedantic then accuracy is the minimal requirement.

    @Spoton: “The Guardian’s vile anti-Israeli bias contributes to vile anti-Semitic violence”

    Your proof being what, exactly?

    @Greensleeves/Berchmans: how does somebody ‘bonk’ a newspaper? I haven’t heard that euphemism since I was a kid.

    “Berchmans if you cant learn from being among us you are wasting your time.”

    Let’s try to hold ourselves to higher standards than that, Greensleeves. Arrogance is evidently misplaced on this thread.

    @Ariadne: “The article relates to the right of Jews to live in the Territories and it makes good points on legal rights”

    Aye – an article by ‘Think-Israel’. In reality, Jews do not have any more of a right to live in the Palestinian territories than Christians have to invade Israel, dispossess Israelis of their land and claim ownership on the basis that Jesus once lived there, and they are his heirs. It’s called chauvinism; and it has no bearing. The occupation is illegal under international law; and If international law can be ignored in one respect, then why not in all? If Israel’s government is not required to respect it, then why should Hamas? You can’t really have your cake and expect to eat it.

    “There are rare people posting on the internet with all the time in the world to be nuisances but the time and space they occupy does leave less room for good stuff. (That was a very prolix way to say “waste of space”.)”

    As above: if you’re going to be abusive towards people, you can’t really complain when they respond in kind.

    @Berchmans: “Any anti Semitism…anything even vaguely anti Semitic is instantly vapourized if the abuse button is pressed.”

    Yes – but that’s actual anti-Semitism; not the made-up kind that so called ‘people’ might deem to be criticism of specific Israeli government policies.

  19. Who is this Hutton who talks of ”us”, anyway? He’s no acquaintance of mine. Rather a preaching bore.

  20. Hutton? Who indeed. I back Ami Isseroff any time.

    ‘…all of Palestine is Jewish by virtue of Mandate, and Western Palestine even more so, since “the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withold application of such provisions of this Mandate… [from the later addition to the Mandate in sept 1922]” were not applied to Western Palestine. The use of the words ‘postpone’ and ‘withold’ can be invoked to claim that Jewish right to Eastern Palestine – now the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan – was not cancelled by the League but only postponed (they did have some sense of shame at this period).”’

    Hutton doesn’t know what belligerent occupation is.

  21. heres to davy- “You are attacking my paper…by calling it prejudiced.. you are calling me the same.”

    ….and your point is caller?