Saturday, September 19, 2015

Essential facts on the Iceland boycott

On Tuesday, Iceland’s  Reykjavik City Council voted in favor of a general boycott of Israeli goods.  The decision will be retracted, according to  Reykjavik Mayor Dagur Eggertsson and amended to indicate that the Council will be boycotting only  goods produced “in occupied areas”

Our friends at Five minutes for Israel call this "virtue signalling"

From Five Minutes for Israel

Essential to know

  1. Iceland-Israel trade is minimal. According to Statistics Iceland, the small island exported 103.7 million Icelandic Krona (about $US805,000) to Israel in 2012 and imported 798.2 million Icelandic Krona  (about $US6.27 million) in 2012.
  2. Björk Vilhelmsdóttir, retiring councilwoman for the Social Democratic Alliance, put forward this motion forward as her last major act in the city council. What perfect virtue signalling. If there are consequences she won’t be around to take responsibility.
  3. The boycott is for all goods from Israel not just those produced over the 1948 armistice lines (AKA 1967 borders or the Green Line). (Note: this part has been rescinded)
  4. Reykjavik City Council may decide to boycott other countries that violate human rights in the future. This implies that they don’t do so now. China, which accounts for 7.2% of Iceland’s imports must be so relieved. In 2013 Iceland became the first European country to sign free trade agreement with China.
  5. The Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declared, the City of Reykjavik’s resolution is not in line with Iceland‘s foreign policy nor should it be seen to reflect on Iceland‘s relations with Israel.
  6. The boycott is probably illegal as it is contrary to Iceland’s constitution.“Municipalities are the government and they can only perform what they are mandated by law. Day B. Eggertsson and the City has not been assigned foreign policy or decide sanctions against foreign countries. So they have gone far beyond its role as a municipality. In addition, could not even government take such a decision, it would have the authority of Parliament. “
  7. The boycott is probably illegal because both Israel and Iceland are parties to theWTO international trade treaty which bans such boycotts.
  8. The boycott is probably illegal because Iceland is a member of EFTA (European Free Trade Association) which signed a free trade agreement with Israel in 1992.
  9. Most Israeli imported goods are not of the type that the Reykjavik City Council would buy, anyway. The bulk of it are Dead Sea chemicals and machinery.
  10. Of the roughly 300,000 people who live in Iceland, it is believed that no more than 50 to 100 are Jewish, nearly all of whom live in the country’s capital city of Reykjavik.
  11. Iceland has its own problems with boycotts. Their continued commercial whaling is highly controversial and has led to formal protests by the European Union, USA, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand – and yes, Israel. Should actions follow word the results will not be symbolic.
  12. If you were planning on visiting Iceland as a tourist (really?) the Simon Wiesenthal Center has issued a travel advisory on Reykjavik, Iceland. That could really hurt Iceland’s economy and is unlikely to be lifted while the Icelandic boycott is in place.

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