Fail at Israeli Boycott
By ZEINA KARAM
April 30, 2002
DAMASCUS, Syria -- Arab officials on Tuesday failed to revive the
moribund boycott of companies doing business with Israel but said
the decades-old sanctions regime remained an important tool to deter
Israeli military action against Palestinians.
Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania, which have relations with Israel,
were absent from the three-day meeting of the Damascus-based Central
Boycott Office of the 22-member Arab League.
A closing communique said the 19 countries present discussed "ways
of activating the economic boycott of Israel in the Arab and Islamic
countries," as well as the status of companies violating the
existing but largely ineffectual boycott.
The statement did not say if the meeting blacklisted any new companies
and did not name the companies that were discussed.
"The participants expressed their conviction that economic
boycott of Israel and expanding (the boycott's) geographical boundaries
... constitutes a tool for deterring (Israeli) aggression and bolstering
world peace and security," said the statement read by Ahmed
Khazaa, commissioner-general of the boycott office.
Abdullah al-Jurmani, of Oman, told reporters participants examined
the status of 17 companies, including ones from Italy, Germany,
the United States and Britain, and made certain recommendations
without taking the decision to boycott them. He did not elaborate.
The boycott office was set up in 1951 to track down foreigners
who do business with or support Israel and then ban them from operating
in the Arab world. It has not been active for almost a decade but
once listed more than 8,500 companies and people, including Coca-Cola,
the Ford Motor Co. and Elizabeth Taylor movies because the actress
converted to Judaism and was seen as pro-Israel.
But the boycott's influence waned as Egypt and Jordan made peace
with Israel and the Palestinians embarked on a peace process.
A boycott on international companies said to be pro-Israeli, meanwhile,
was called for on posters that began appearing on downtown walls
in Sarajevo, the capital of predominantly Muslim Bosnia-Herzegovina.
"Our contribution to the fight against terrorism. Boycott
the companies that support Israel," the posters said.
One poster displayed the logos of 64 international companies, including
world-renowned producers of food, soft drinks, cosmetics and clothing
- but failed to explain why the companies are considered in support
The posters carried the mark of an organization called Islambosna.
The head of the organization Muslim Brotherhood in Sarajevo, Faruk
Visca, told the Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje on Tuesday that the
companies named were chosen according to a survey done by a U.K.-based
Muslim Web site, Inminds.