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Israel boycotters making a ‘mistake,’ sending bad message to Palestinians, says Israel ambassador

February 7th, 2014
08:50 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Proponents of a boycott on Israeli goods are making a “mistake” and sending a “problematic” message to Palestinian negotiators, Israeli Ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“If they genuinely want to advance peace, what they're really doing is they're sending a double message, which is very problematic,” Taub said. “They're sending a message to the Palestinians … that you don't need to be sitting at the negotiating table.”

The “suggestion that they can go off to other places to try and get political gains, I think, would be very, very damaging,” he said.

The campaign to divest from Israel and boycott its goods – not unlike the campaign to pull out of Apartheid South Africa more than two decades ago – has been gaining increasingly mainstream traction.

The ambassador denied that divestment was going “mainstream,” citing tech giants like Google and Microsoft “straining at the leash” to work in Israel.

Major European pension funds have begun to announce that they will no longer invest in Israel – the Dutch pension fund PGGM being the latest to make headlines.

Just last week, actor Scarlett Johansson severed her relationship with the charity Oxfam over her advertising deal with the Israeli company SodaStream, which has factories in the West Bank.

“We are concerned about it,” he said, but emphasized that divestment is not the reason Israel is seeking peace with the Palestinians.

“The reason that we want peace is because we want peace, because we don't want to be at war,” he said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has launched an aggressive campaign to get Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace accord; he has been on a near-constant tour of the Middle East over the past year.

Ambassador Taub said that Kerry had the “absolutely unequivocal” support of the Israeli leadership.

Last month, however, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon came under fire – and was forced to apologize – for remarks he made about Kerry.

"Secretary of State John Kerry – who arrived here determined, and who operates from an incomprehensible obsession and a sense of messianism – can't teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians,” Ya’alon was reported to have said.

When presented these comments by Amanpour, Taub said that it was important for Israel, and everyone else, to be “focused on the goal.”

In the past, he said, “we haven't let, you know, maybe unfortunate wording or the passions of people divert us. And I think it would be a terrible shame if we were to do that at the moment.”

The Israeli government, he said, is doing “remarkable things” to advance peace.

The fact that so little has been said publicly by negotiators, he said, was cause for optimism that “things are actually happening.”

Amanpour asked the ambassador whether he believed progress would be made this year.

“We very much hope so,” he said. “Israel is putting itself on the line, showing flexibility on the most crucial positions. And nobody wants peace more than we do.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Israel • Latest Episode
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Mikie

    Boycotts are the most peaceful form of protests. Israel has been expanding illegal settlements since their existence, the US keeps funding their illegal activities any resistance with violence toward these expansions (an act of war) has been branded terrorism in US and Israeli news. Now that these financial boycotts are showing effectiveness Israel will now try to spin their demise onto the Palestinians.. Since when did Israel care about Palestinian jobs? Bombing them into the stone age, preventing building supplies preventing fishing and enclosing them into an open aired prison, yet now we are to believe they are concerned for Palestinian job?

    February 7, 2014 at 9:46 am | Reply
    • thegreywolfe

      First of all, there is no law or convention that makes "the settlements" illegal, since the territory doesn't fall under the definitions for the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

      Terrorism is the targeting of civilians for political purposes. If the Palestinians were truly "resisting the occupation", they would be targeting the IDF and Israeli government installations, not shopping malls and public buses. What the Palestinians do with suicide bombers and indiscriminate rocket attacks on civilian towns is terrorism.

      The financial boycotts are far from showing effectiveness, and the background is so different from South Africa that any comparison is a Kafkaesque fallacy.

      Are you aware that up to the first intifada in 1987, about one-half million Palestinians were employed by Israelis inside the Green line and commuted to work every day? There were almost no checkpoints, Palestinian vehicles traveled Israeli roads with little interference, and getting a work permit was almost automatic as long as you could show you had employment waiting.

      The Palestinians have no one to blame but themselves for the conditions you complain about. Have you ever heard of the principle of cause and effect? If someone comes up and punches you in the groin, you're going to do a lot to guarantee it won't happen again. The two intifadas murdered close to two thousand Israelis– would you expect the Israeli government to sit back and do nothing while its citizens were murdered?

      Think of the American reaction to the Boston Marathon bombing... then remember that Palestinians have murdered more than 20,000 Israelis since 1948. In comparison, imagine that proportionately, that would be 750,000 US citizens if this were happeneing in the Us. That's 15 times more people than the US lost in Vietnam!

      February 7, 2014 at 10:50 am | Reply
      • Nibs

        Honestly Greywolfe, you really need to read a little history on this. Yours is such a one-sided spin which could only come from an American with a msm which presents this ridiculous pro-Israeli spin. The rest of the world does not see things your way.

        February 7, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
      • Damien Luciferi

        Interesting that you mention 20,000 casualties since there can be no independant source found for that number. But we can assume that the number quoted include civilians since you refer to suicide bombings and rocket attacks by the Palestinians.
        However unfounded the numbers may be, basically every credible source number the Palestinian casualties at four times or higher than the Israeli. So using your equivalence calculations they have lost 3,000,000 to 750,000 while being 20% of the population.
        I will not go into the legality regarding settlements apart from pointing out that the ICJ has ruled against Israel in some cases.
        Please respond with sources for your claims

        February 7, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
      • Thinker23

        everything you've said is correct, Greywolfe. The only correction is that close to 20,000 Israelis killed is the totoal number of Israeli casualties of war since 1948, not only Israelis killed by the Palestinians. This is what Wikipedia is saying including several sources:

        Israeli casualties of war, in addition to those of Israel's seven major wars, include 9,745 soldiers and security forces personnel killed in "miscellaneous engagements and terrorist attacks",[1] which includes security forces members killed during military operations, by fighting crime, natural disasters, diseases, traffic or labor accidents and disabled veterans whose disabilities contributed to their deaths.[2] Between 1948 and 1997, 20,093[3] Israeli soldiers were killed in combat, 75,000 Israelis were wounded, and nearly 100,000[4] Israelis were considered disabled army veterans."

        February 7, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
      • Thinker23

        Damien... As long as the Palestinians are willing their war against Israel to continue it means that they're happy with its results including dead Palestinians, settlements, occupation and everything else Palestinians and their supporters love to complain about. This also means that in order to make peace possible it is necessary to make the Palestinians unhappy with the war so they will be willing to consider other, more peaceful, alternatives.

        February 7, 2014 at 6:06 pm |
      • Henri

        If divestment wasn't having an impact, or projected to have an impact, they wouldn't even be talking about it. The fact they are shows they're sweating. And when someone has stolen your home, taken everything you had, and denied your children any chance of a future, terrorism is justified. The Israelis deserve whatever they get. If I were Palestinian I wouldn't rest until every last one of them was dead. By comparison, most Palestinians seem positively reasonable.

        February 8, 2014 at 4:45 pm |
      • Mycology

        Pay careful attention to someone like Henri, he is exactly why murderous and genocidal regimes and people can come to power, he wishes death on people he's never known and never will know and tries to justify it with hyperbole and other nonsense statements, facts are completely irrelevant to him. Scary that he gets to share the earth I walk on and the air I breath.

        February 8, 2014 at 7:18 pm |
      • israelisanapartheidstate

        Gee. Every single nation in the world recognizes that the settlements are illegal. The settlements are illegal according to the Fourth Geneva Convention. But you don't think the settlements are illegal.

        It's tough to know who to believe.

        February 18, 2014 at 9:36 am |
    • dapper98

      If you would present facts instead of propaganda, an answer would be forthcoming. But nobody can argue with propaganda.

      February 10, 2014 at 2:25 am | Reply
  2. Willy barmasai

    Israel grabbing going against international law send wrong signals to the world. I buy my stuff carefully these days. Anything from Israel or other oppressive threats to world peace is a total boycott.

    February 7, 2014 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • Mycology

      What are some other "oppressive threats to world peace"?

      I wonder, if an anti-israel bigot sees anything else in this world other than: Israel israel israel israel israel israel israel

      February 7, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Reply
    • Max

      Hi Willy!

      Did you know that the USSR, one Israel's biggest adversaries, knowingly imported Israeli mandarins, but just requested it to carry signs "Product of Morocco"? Label printing is much-much easier today. :):)

      February 8, 2014 at 9:05 am | Reply
    • dapper98

      So be careful not to buy anthing that says "Intel inside", don't use life saving medicines invented in Israel and do not eat any vegetables or fruits that are raised with drip irrigation.

      February 10, 2014 at 2:27 am | Reply
      • israelisanapartheidstate

        Translation: "Israel invented the helicopter, the vegematic and the q-tip, so you must support Israeli racism, terrorism, colonialism and apartheid if you want to use those products. And don't buy any technology that might have stemmed from space exploration, because the Nazis are responsible for rocket technology."

        It's that "special" zionist logic.

        February 18, 2014 at 10:32 am |
  3. ashok

    Secretary of State John Kerry deserves praise for his laser like focus on bringing peace and midwifing the birth of a Palestinian state, hopefully in this calendar year. Israel should be receptive to the message the world is trying to send it through these proposed boycotts. These are Israel's friends who want it to do more.

    February 8, 2014 at 6:49 am | Reply
  4. gmxusa

    Apartheid Israel is in a undeclared war against the non-Jews. The Palestinians just happen to be there.

    February 8, 2014 at 8:11 am | Reply
  5. Jeff

    I think we are observing the start of a "Perfect Storm" and the "elements" can be very harsh, indeed. We have an Israeli led-(AIPAC proxy)-but unplanned-destabilization of the entire Middle East. We NOW have the start of the third and final Intifafda; Gandhi style. We have a nation striking out an its ONLY ally with personal attacks-multiple times-on John Kerry, as US Rep. We have an American president who is not seeking re-election which frees him from worries about funding sources for his next campaign and can thus bring a level hand to dealings with the Israelis and the Palestinians-for the first time in 60 years. We have a country that has decided to "circle the wagons" and totally ignore world opinion. The next phase (per Thomas Friedman) will be a major boycott of Israeli products, just like before the last breathes of the Afrikaans's Apartheid Regime in South Africa. Actually the world is circling the wagons on the Israelis and from now on, we all should be putting Israel on a suicide watch. The current behavior suggests no other option.

    February 8, 2014 at 10:31 am | Reply
  6. Zohar Freiberg

    Israel really wants peace. What about the Palestinians?

    February 8, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Reply
    • israelisanapartheidstate

      "Israel really wants peace"?

      Sure. Israel wants the native, indigenous people of Palestine to agree to surrender their human rights, accept their status as sub-humans, and allow Israel to keep the homes and lands it stole from the Palestinians and to continue to subject the native people to systematic, violent racist oppression. If only the Palestinians would accept that, Israel would have peace.

      It's that "special" zionist logic yet again.

      February 18, 2014 at 10:35 am | Reply
  7. omar jallow

    I am your number one fan all over the world,I am a Gambian in west Africa.please amanpour keepup the good work you are doing.

    February 8, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  8. BOMBO

    Hmmm. A lot of unthinking people here. Maybe I should make a special effort to find and BUY Israeli made goods to offset this ridiculous trend.

    February 9, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Reply
  9. BOMBO

    If I was to put together a list of countries to boycott due to human rights abuses, most Islamic countries would be near the top.

    February 9, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Reply
    • israelisanapartheidstate

      Not that Islamic countries export much besides oil, but as soon as we take care of Israeli apartheid, they're next on the list.

      February 18, 2014 at 10:36 am | Reply
  10. jossefperl

    Here she goes again; what we are seeing is the same old anti-Israel mantra from Amanpour, immediately opening her interview with an Israeli official, by focusing on accusations of Kerry's anti-Semitism from some minor Israeli MKs and making the headline of her interview a statement made of-the-record by Israel's defense minister calling Kerry's peace efforts messianic; the Israeli defense minister who is in charge of implementing the security around any peace agreement, considers Kerry's proposals to be very dangerous for Israel; there are a lot more offensive terms he could use than "messianic" and US officials (including Obama himself) have used a lot more pejorative terms toward foreign leaders, particularly toward Netanyahu. When did Amanpour ever did a show about Palestinian anti-Semitism, indoctrinating children in their schools to call Jews Dogs and Swines? When did Amanpour do a show on Palestinian youth camps focusing on hate of Jews and idolizing homicide bombers. So, Kerry may not be an anti-Semite, but Amanpour has been so consistent for decades in her hostility toward almost anything Israel says or does, and that satisfies one of the criteria of anti-Semitism. I have had it with Amanpour.

    February 9, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Reply
    • Zhazirah

      She's doing the right thing. It doesn't matter what colour or religion you are, if what you're doing is wrong, someone has to make it right. I'm sure if the people of Israel are in the Palestinians' shoes right now, you would want Amanpour and the US Secretary of State to help you too right?

      February 10, 2014 at 2:25 am | Reply
      • Thinker23

        If the people of Israel were in Palestinian shoes they would try to force their leaders to NEGOTIATE A PEACE AGREEMENT.

        February 11, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
  11. BOMBO

    Why isn't there a report abuse function on this blog? A thoughtful exchange of opinions is one thing even if the other side are clearly wrong, but there is no place for Henri advocating murder. Delete him. Block him.

    February 9, 2014 at 7:07 pm | Reply
  12. dapper98

    Amanpour is an Iranian who is in love with antisemitic propaganda. She will do anything in her power to discredit Israel. It's time she resigned from CNN and started working for the Palestinian news agency!!

    February 10, 2014 at 2:30 am | Reply
  13. inferencial

    Hundreds of thousands of South African citizens are boycotting any products from Israel on sale in South Africa. As Nelson Mandela wants said " As long as Palestine is not free, nor will we be free".

    February 10, 2014 at 4:19 am | Reply
    • dapper98

      Nelson who? The terrorist?

      February 10, 2014 at 4:55 am | Reply
    • Johan Fourie

      As a South African who lived and fought against Apartheid I must correct your statement! Careless with facts, you erroneously slams Israel, or maybe it's just your propaganda that makes you feel better about yourself... But most South Africans do not boycott Israel even though our goverment led ANC is full of Muslims who are pushing their own religious agenda which is very anti to the only non Muslim state in the Middle East. Most South Africans use Israeli technology every day to make their lives better (from 80% of our farmers to all of our big banks) and only very few like Tutu have completly lost their marbels on the Israeli/Palestinian question and have been misslead by old friends with ulterior motives. I am sorry to disappoint you, but even Mandela himself did not boycott Israel and in his state visit to Israel (which angered South African Muslims) in 1999 he proved that he and yourself do not share the same ideology.
      while you correctly quote Nelson Mandela as having said “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians” you omitted his very important qualification acknowledging Israel’s legitimate security concerns: “I cannot conceive of Israel withdrawing if Arab states do not recognize Israel within secure borders.”
      Please don't quote Madiba out of context, and please don't compare our dark past of appartheid to Israeli self defence. Your propaganda and lies has rubbished the history of appartheid.

      February 11, 2014 at 4:25 pm | Reply
  14. hdq

    “The reason that we [the Israeli Government] want peace is because we want peace, because we don't want to be at war,” he said.
    Peace is easy:
    1. Pay adequate compensation to the 1948 dispalce Palestinians, and provide them with a accptable citizenship.
    2. Either withdraw from the 1967 territories, or buy them fro their ihabitants (similar to 1 above).
    The cost?
    Cheeper than keeping Israel secure so far, and cheaper than the endelss "peace process" (with all its military implicatiosn).

    This is all there is to it.

    February 10, 2014 at 6:28 am | Reply
    • miriam

      More Jews were displaced as a result of the 1948/9 war.
      Israel has not annexed the territories and therefore cannot offer the Palestinians there Israeli citizenship. They do have Palestinian/ Jordanian citizenship.

      The WB acquired by Israel in 1967 was won in legal defensive battle from Jordan who, apart from not having been a recognized sovereign over them, has no further claim.
      Similarly, Egypt has no further claim to Gaza.

      It is clear that the creation of a Palestinian state will not bring peace so the cost of security will not be any cheaper.

      February 10, 2014 at 11:13 am | Reply
  15. miriam

    PGGM should explain why they haven't divested from the Bank of China or the Turkish equivalent.

    February 10, 2014 at 11:05 am | Reply
    • Dan

      Because these are not Jewish banks

      February 10, 2014 at 11:55 am | Reply
  16. BOMBO

    Yup. Bought myself a sodastream. Might never use it. I'll probably buy a few more as birthday presents and such. And I never would bought them if there had not been this nonsensical talk of boycott. Sodastream can thank these boycotters specifically for my purchases.

    February 10, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Reply
    • Andre' Jansen

      What you did should be promoted as one way to deal with this idiocy

      February 11, 2014 at 9:19 am | Reply
  17. israelisanapartheidstate

    Supporting the Palestinians in their struggle against Israeli racism, terrorism, colonialism and apartheid "sends them a bad message"?

    It's that special zionist logic at work.

    February 18, 2014 at 9:38 am | Reply
  18. Peter Beck

    As I understand it, the BDS movement is not boycotting goods made within what is recognized internationally as Israel. They are boycotting only products manufactured by Israeli companies in the illegal occupied Palestinian territories. Mr. Taub is trying to erase that distinction.

    February 19, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  19. Wayne Stollman

    Bds is a KKK Nazi style organization and appalling to all Jews. It's has nothing to do with peace between Palestine and Israel. In fact when peace occurs this movement will still move forward with the goal of destroying Israel. The racism this brings to the United States is an affront to our values of freedom.

    March 2, 2014 at 5:56 pm | Reply

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