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July 31, 2015 / 15 Av, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Economic’

Congressional Bill Introduced: Europe Must Reject Anti-Israel BDS in Free Trade Deal

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

If Europe wants to enjoy the benefits of what could be the largest free trade deal in history, the leaders of its member nations will have to pay a price: they must agree to reject the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, say two U.S. Representatives – one from each side of the political aisle.

The Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act was formally submitted Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 10) on Capitol Hill under bipartisan sponsorship, which is expected to smooth the way for rapid passage.

But there’s a catch. The legislation will “leverage ongoing trade negotiations to discourage prospective U.S. trade partners from engaging in economic discrimination against Israel, said Representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), who co-sponsored the bill.

Additional co-sponsors are to be recruited to the measure after its introduction to the floor. The two lawmakers said they are optimistic the bill will pass through the House of Representatives.

It’s a great deal. It is estimated the measure could add as much as 0.5 percent to the European Union’s annual economic output. The flip side of it, however, involves how the bill impacts the ongoing free trade negotiations between the U.S. and the EU. Foreign companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges will have to disclose links to BDS activities, and whether they have faced any pressure for avoiding participation in any boycotts.

“The bill … establishes a clear U.S. policy of opposing BDS as detrimental to global trade and regional peace and stability,” the two lawmakers wrote in their introduction to the legislation. They also noted that the measure was created in response to a growing trend among countries “primarily in Europe, to isolate and delegitimize Israel through BDS for political purposes.”

“Today, an alarming number of countries within the European Union and beyond have embraced BDS as a form of economic warfare aimed to cripple Israel’s economy and demonize its very existence. These attacks not only threaten Israel, but commercial relations across the globe,” Roskam told reporters.

“The US-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act will ensure that American free trade partners never engage in this harmful and illegitimate political protest against Israel, while also protecting US companies from foreign lawsuits targeting their associations with Israel.”

Vargas likewise noted, “BDS is a harmful political tactic which seeks to undermine and diminish Israel’s economic strength. We need to reassure our commitment to our ally in the region by clearly defining US policy to oppose this practice and dissuade other nations from adopting BDS policies toward Israel.”

The measure also unequivocally underlines the “strategic importance of trade and commercial relations to the pursuit of sustainable peace and regional stability,” making it clear that boycotts break down the potential for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the lawmakers said.

Perhaps that bit of wisdom should be directed towards the PA headquarters at its capital in Ramallah: Its latest anti-Israel economic boycott has just been launched, punishing local merchants far more than Israeli manufacturers. Worse, the boycott reinforces for Israelis the utter futility of attempting to secure any lasting agreement with anyone who claims to lead the Palestinian Authority.

Arab governments in the Middle East come and go, and so do those who lead the Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The PA commitments in particular – on paper or otherwise – can be likened to a ritual courtesy one carries out in ceremonial garb. They mean everything for the moment, but are instantly put aside when “reality” steps back into the scene. In that moment, all is forgotten and anything goes, as happened with the obligations of the internationally recognized Oslo Accords.

A bill such as the Roskam-Vargas measure is invaluable, coming at a time when a European groundswell of anti-Semitism appears to be growing into a tsunami and the U.S.-Israel relationship appears to be floundering in ways never seen before. The entire Middle East is in disarray, and Israel may be facing an existential threat from Iran as it gallops towards a nuclear military threshold. It is precisely now, as Iran strengthens its terrorist guerrilla proxies to the north and south of Israel’s borders, that the Jewish State most needs the support of its friends in the international community.

How fortunate that the lawmakers in Congress have chosen this moment to reaffirm — and concretely demonstrate — America’s commitment to Israel, and to underscore the strong relationship both nations share.

Done Deal: China’s Bright Food Buys Israel’s Tnuva

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

The Chinese government’s ‘Bright Food’ group inked the deal this morning (Thursday) to purchase Israel’s national dairy company, Tnuva, from Apax Partners for NIS 8.6 billion.  The Israeli government had no part in the deal.

Apax, which owns a 56 percent stake in the firm, will make a cool NIS 4 billion on the deal, and will not be required to pay any tax, according to a report posted on the Globes business news website.

The national kibbutz movement, which owns 23 percent of the company’s shares, did not sell. But Mivtach-Shamir Food Industries, which owns 21 percent of the company, is still negotiating, according to the report.

In a statement released to media, Bright Food said, “We are proud to acquire Tnuva. For us this is a long-term sound investment that will help Tnuva become a company that enters global markets. It is our intention to continue to keep Tnuva as an Israeli company and continue cooperating with all relevant local bodies including employees, farmers, and cattle farmers to faithfully serve the Israeli consumer.”

Under the terms of the deal, Tnuva’s CEO will be Israeli and its chairman of the board will be Chinese, from the Bright Food group. Its center of operations will remain in Israel as well.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been deeply invested in strengthening ties economically and diplomatically with China, and bilateral commercial ventures have risen over the past several years. Tourism projects between Israel and China has increased as well.

However, it is not clear what would happen if diplomatic relations between Israel and China were ever to falter, or if for some reason Israeli consumer regulations differed from those preferred by the Chinese food conglomerate.

The bottom line remains: What will happen to Tnuva — and by extension, to the Israeli dairy consumer — if relations between the two countries go sour?

The Iran Nuclear Agreement and the Common Sense Test

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Contrary to conventional “wisdom,” Iran considers the US and the Arab oil-producing Gulf States – not Israel – the primary target for its nuclear capabilities. Iran pursues mega (nuclear) capabilities in order to advance its mega goal (domination of the Gulf and Sunni Islam), by removing the mega obstacle (US power projection), irrespective of Israel’s existence and policies, the Arab-Israeli conflict or the Palestinian issue.

In the pursuit of agreements and peace with rogue regimes, the Free World must overcome its inherent temptation to subordinate common sense and reality-check to delusion and wishful-thinking, lest such agreements minimize the Free World’s posture of deterrence and the prospects of peace, while maximizing lawlessness, terrorism and the prospects of war.

Irrespective of President Rouhani’s ostensible pledges to end abuse of human rights in Iran, the minority regime of the Ayatollahs and Mullahs persists in oppressing the majority of Iranians and the number of executions since the rise of Rouhani has increased. According to Reuters, November 19, 2013, “The U.N. envoy on human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, said last month that Iran’s human rights record should not be overlooked amid overtures to the West by Rouhani. He criticized Tehran for executing 724 people in 18 months, including dozens after Rouhani was elected in June.” Rouhani’s intolerance of civil liberties – such as freedom of religion, press, speech and association and equal rights for women and ethnic minorities – reflects his genuine values and worldview.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements…

The diplomatic option is appropriately applied to rogue regimes that abandon violence and embrace peaceful-coexistence. The military option of deterrence should be appropriately applied toward rogue regimes that adhere to violence. While negotiating with the US, Iran is the leading sponsor of anti-US Islamic terrorism; the chief axis of unprecedented terrorism in Iraq; the key perpetrator of subversion and terrorism in the pro-US Arab oil-producing Gulf States; the top supporter of Jihadist movements in Africa and the killing of US GIs in Iraq and Afghanistan; a collaborator with the anti-US regimes in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador; and the anti-US hate-educator of Iranian youth.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

Rouhani has intensified technological, scientific, economic, diplomatic and military cooperation with North Korea. The leading Washington Times’ military correspondent, Bill Gertz, reported on November 26 that the two are currently engaged in the joint development of a new long-range missile, capable of carrying nuclear warheads, which could reach the United States, “the Great Satan” according to both Iran and North Korea.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

A Free World which is overly-anxious to conclude an agreement with rogue regimes is destined to pay a heavy price. Moreover, the assumption that rogue regimes would not sacrifice the welfare of their people on the altar of military superiority dooms the Free World to learn from history by repeating past critical mistakes. In 2009, North Korea welcomed President Obama by flexing its nuclear muscle (test), highlighting the dereliction by Wendy Sherman, who led Clinton’s failed negotiation with North Korea, and is currently heading the negotiation with Iran. Sherman deluded herself that the North Korea dictator supposedly recognized that the adverse economic consequences of pursuing nuclear capabilities could topple his regime. Fifty years of diplomacy, economic sanctions and agreements – loaded with verifications, sticks and carrots – to test North Korean intentions paved the road to another anti-US nuclear rogue regime. Thirty years of US sanctions and diplomacy have not transformed Iran, which is at the last lap of the nuclear marathon.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

Rouhani was not elected democratically, but was handpicked by the Supreme Leader, Khamenei, the omnipotent Shiite Muslim ruler of Iran. Khamenei adheres to the Quran-based Taqiyya, Kitman and Do-Pahlu concepts, which were introduced by the Shiites, shielding Muslims from the “infidel” and from each other via double-talk and deception-based provisional agreements, which are abrogated once conditions are ripe.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

Rouhani (just like Bashar Assad upon succeeding his father) is considered a reformer by Western policy makers and media. However, Rouhani demonstrated his own Taqiyya capabilities, while serving as Iran’s chief negotiator with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He systematically violated commitments made, providing Iran with extra time to acquire nuclear capabilities.  In September, 2002, while serving as the Chairman of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Rouhani stated : “When we sign international treaties, it means that we are not pursuing nuclear weapons.  We are not pursuing chemical weapons.  We are not pursuing biological weapons.” Rouhani was one of the planners of the 1994 “AMIA terrorism,” responsible for the murder of 85 civilians in Buenos Aires.
But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

Iran’s track record of systematic non-compliance is consistent with Middle East reality, which has never experienced intra-Muslim compliance with most intra-Muslim agreements, domestically and regionally. Unlike the Free World, which considers agreements as a means to advance peaceful-coexistence, rogue regimes with megalomaniacal-imperialistic aspirations consider agreements a means to enhance their capabilities, in order to eventually overcome partners to such agreements.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

The November 23, 2013 agreement with Iran provided Iran with the most essential resource – time – to attain nuclear capabilities, transforming Iran from a tactical – to a strategic – threat. Unlike the USSR, the apocalyptic regime in Iran was ready to sacrifice some 500,000 youngsters, in order to clear minefields during its war against Iraq, signaling its defiance of Mutually-Assured-Destruction. The nature of the Iranian regime on the one hand and compliance with agreements on the other hand constitute a classic oxymoron.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

The November 23, 2013 agreement subordinated common sense and reality-check to oversimplification and wishful-thinking. It follows in the footsteps of a policy which provided a tailwind to the anti-US Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, facilitated the replacement of Qaddafi’s tyranny with a worse anti-US regime, handed Putin a major gain in Syria, instills panic in Saudi Arabia and other pro-US Gulf States and funds hate-education in the Palestinian Authority.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

Happy Chanukkah and Thanksgiving, Shabbat Shalom and have a gratifying weekend,

Hypersensitivity

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

I was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art the other day, standing in front of a painting by an artist I much admire, Giovanni Battista Caracciolo (not as good as Caravaggio, but a close second). The painting, entitled “Tobias and the Angel,” is based on a weird story in the apocryphal Book of Tobit. Briefly, Tobit is a member of the tribe of Naftali exiled by the Assyrians to Nineveh. Horrible things happen to him. He gets blinded. His son goes off to try to collect a debt, and the angel Rephael sends him on a journey to Media to help a widow called Sarah who is possessed by the demon Asmodeus. Tobias is attacked by a fish as he crosses the Tigris. The angel tells him to use its innards to scare off the demon. He rescues Sarah and, back home, uses the miraculous innards to cure his father’s blindness. Tobias and Sarah marry, and they all live happily ever after. Not really the sort of book you’d expect to find in the Tanach, and it isn’t.

In the gallery the caption reads, “Based on the Biblical book.” My hackles began to rise because it might be in the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles, which include the Apocrypha, but it is not in ours or in most Protestant Bibles either. Couldn’t they get it straight? Then I got worked up about their calling it the Old Testament, for us primitive old fogeys, as opposed to the shiny New Testament for the good guys. And then I thought, “Am I crazy to get worked up by such a trivial issue?”

A few months ago a friend in London involved me in a complaint he sent to the director of the National Gallery about a painting called “The Rich Man being led to Hell“ by David Teniers the Younger, in which the rich man is clearly painted as a Jew complete with kipa and beard, not to mention exaggerated features. The director replied amenably, and tried to put it in the context of the painter and his time. But I did think a few lines added to the blurb might have put the portrait in the context of say “The Jew of Malta”, “The Merchant of Venice”, or indeed “Oliver Twist”, not to mention “Der Sturmer”.

If I am so hypersensitive, why am I so surprised when other people are? I have always been very quick to take offense at any perceived slur against my religion and my people, even if I am myself amongst the first to criticize them when they are wrong. Doesn’t Proverbs say, “Better the wounds of a friend than the sweet talk of an enemy”? Perhaps it was growing up in England where in my youth Jews and Judaism were indeed regarded as not quite acceptable. We were still called Christ Killers, Jew Boys, and Yids and were accused of being devious, rich, unpatriotic foreigners who should “go home”. Except, of course, many Brits didn’t want us to go “home” either!

Yet whenever people made fun of religion in general, pompous vicars or duplicitous priests, I enjoyed the fun. Jewish humor is predominantly self-critical and makes fun of God, Moses, rabbis, and the lot of us. But as society has changed we have been forced to become much more sensitive towards those who suffered from racial discrimination, sexual discrimination, indeed any kind of discrimination.

This weekend the doyen of American writers, Joyce Carol Oates, has been mangled online and in the press because she tweeted, “Where 99.3% of women report having been sexually harassed & rape is epidemic—Egypt—natural to inquire: what’s the predominant religion?”

Some of the criticism has been that Ms. Oates might have mentioned other factors such as social, economic, and historical. It was not fair to blame religion only. But why are some religious groups more prone to sexual assault and violence against women? Might it mot be, in part, because of religious attitudes? We can all see that within religions there are extremes and fanatics and bad guys as well as good guys. If people set themselves up as spiritual leaders, we have every right to expect them to behave as such and take responsibility. Toleration of corruption or distortion must be excoriated. That, after all, is our tradition. The prophets, Mussar, and Torah require self-analysis, self-criticism, and self-discipline.

(Not) Only Netanyahu Can Go to China

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Prime Minister Netanyahu is on his way to China on Sunday evening, but he won’t be the only one. PA President Mahmoud Abbas is also on his way. The two are not expected to meet – it is a big country after all.

Netanyahu will be in China for 5 days to discuss economic agreements between China and Israel. He will be meeting with the Chinese president and prime minister, as well as other senior officials.

It’s almost certain that Netanyahu will talk to Beijing about Iran. Less than two weeks ago, head of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, secretly met in China with his counterpart to reportedly discuss Syria and Iran.

As China has stood with Russia opposing Western intervention in the Syrian civil war, this trip could be very interesting considering the reports of multiple Israeli air strikes against Syrian chemical weapons.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/not-only-netanyahu-can-go-to-china/2013/05/05/

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