We Should Not Boycott Our Allies
Today, Congressman Doug Lamborn was joined by dozens of Members of Congress in sending a letter to the leadership of the European Union encouraging them to not issue labeling guidelines on Israeli goods. This would amount to support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
"The U.S. Congress and successive U.S. administrations of both parties have long combatted efforts to extract concessions from Israel outside of direct negotiations. This American policy was recently reinforced in a wave of anti-boycott legislation at the state level across the United States, as well as in the U.S.- Israel Trade & Commercial Enhancement Act. The policy of labeling Israeli good will not be helpful in bringing peace to the region. I’m afraid that the anti-Israel EU guidelines may be understood as supportive of the disgraceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement’s campaign. Issuing these guidelines also seems very ill-fitted at a time that anti-Semitism attacks in Europe are at a record high. It also seems extremely discriminatory and one sided to adopt such a policy at a time when Israeli citizens are under daily attacks, stemming from the malign incitement of the Palestinian leadership. I truly hope that this letter would convince our friends in Europe to re-examine their boycott-supportive policy, and move toward a more even handed policy toward Israel."
The Honorable Federica Mogherini
Dear High Representative Federica Mogherini,
We are concerned by reports that in a few weeks’ time the Commission will issue new guidelines that promote restrictive and illegal trade measures against Israel. These new labeling policies come on top of a growing list of sanctions on Israel in the fields of trade, agriculture, science and culture.
As members of the United States Congress we are concerned that such measures will undermine decades-long American efforts to achieve a bilateral negotiated peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians. Moreover, such a policy will constitute the de-facto boycotting of Israel, its economy and commodities, due to the burden on importers to apply and adhere to them, as well as the negative effects on consumers resulting from the misguided suggestion that purchase of these good is ethically-questionable. These effects will, in all likelihood, reflect on Israeli products in general.
Such restraints on trade are in contradiction to American policy as was demonstrated over the years through several pieces of anti-boycott legislation. The U.S. Congress and successive U.S. administrations of both parties have long combatted efforts to extract concessions from Israel outside of direct negotiations, including the campaign to limit commercial relations by Europe and others with Israel and Israeli entities.
Since the 1970s, U.S. federal law has barred companies from complying with de jure or de facto boycotts of Israeli companies, regardless of their location. Recently, these measures were reinforced in a wave of states’ legislation throughout the U.S., as well as in the U.S.- Israel Trade & Commercial Enhancement Act. The act clearly states that among the principal trade negotiating objectives of the United States for proposed trade agreements with foreign countries, the U.S. must discourage potential trade partners from participating in or promoting politically motivated acts of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, and to seek the elimination of politically motivated non-tariff barriers on Israeli goods, services, or other commerce imposed on the State of Israel.
Reports on the content of the prospected guidelines trigger our concern and hint at further escalation of the discriminatory policy already in place toward Israel, including the complete exclusion of certain agricultural products produced in the Israeli settlements.
We would bring to your attention that the proposed policy may be understood as supportive of the BDS movement. As you know, the politically motivated BDS campaign against Israel unfairly singles out Israel for punitive treatment, undermines efforts to achieve a negotiated solution, and diminishes the hope for peace.
Furthermore, it is our belief that the BDS movement and its effort to smear Israel are connected with the recent rise in acts of anti-Semitism. Faced with this reality of escalating anti-Semitism, we believe it would be ill-advised to endorse a policy that likewise singles out Israel and holds it to different standards than any other country. What’s more, such policies seem extremely ill-fitted and discriminatory at a time when Israeli citizens are under daily attacks, stemming from the malign incitement of the Palestinian leadership.
Moreover, such discrimination is not merely unfair, but also violates core principles of international trade law.
Finally, the application of these rules to the Golan Heights belies any notion that it is designed to help peace negotiations with the Palestinians. There is no plausible peace partner in Syria, and any effort to push Israel to end its control of the Golan would add dangerous fuel to the already disastrous situation in the region
Based on many years of understanding between the U.S. and the EU we believe that you too share the hope for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. We therefor urge you to refrain from adopting the unhelpful suggested guidelines and to re-examine the current boycott-supportive policy.