Tel Aviv Stock Exchange CEO Is a Leader of a Pro-Boycott Organization

A shocking exposé: TASE head is a member of NIF's International Council.

Ronn Torossian

OpEds Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian

Plain as day on the website of the New Israel Fund is a statement which says, “NIF opposes the occupation and subsequent settlement activities. NIF will thus not exclude support for organizations that discourage the purchase of goods or use of services from settlements.” The New Israel Fund supports boycotts against Israel – and says so clearly on their website.

While they continue to fund organizations that practice full-blown BDS, NIF tries to get around the issue by claiming that the “West Bank” is not Israel, hence they do not consider it a boycott of Israel.  The high-profile SodaStream debacle, which saw actress Scarlett Johansson step down as “global ambassador” of Oxfam centered around this very issue. Ms. Johansson resigned from Oxfam, noting she has “a fundamental difference of opinion” with Oxfam International because the charity opposes all trade from Israeli "settlements", and noted that she and Oxfam “have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”

Sodastream, of course, was in Mishor Adumim in the “West Bank.”  And while Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled recently that the Finance Minister can “impose fines and withhold funding from Israeli NGOs calling for boycotts of businesses in all or parts of Israel and the power to file lawsuits against those NGOs,” unfortunately NIF considers to practice what Justice Hanan Meltzer described as “political terrorism.”  NIF-sponsored organizations petitioned the court to overturn the law against boycotting Israel.

Considering the outrage at boycotting Israel, it is shocking that the CEO of the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), Yossi Beinart is a New Israel Fund leader.  Beinart is a member of their International Council which “is an advisory group established in 2002 to supplement the work of the organization’s governing Board.  The role of the IC is to sustain involvement of past Board members and to educate, motivate, and nurture future leadership for the Fund.”

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange is Israel’s only stock exchange, with hundreds of public companies listed.  The head of start-up nation’s stock exchange serving on the board of an organization that advocates a boycott of Israel raises many questions.

Boycotts are beyond the pale. Several Knesset members from Israel’s political left have expressed their opposition to the boycott against Israel. MK Eitan Broshi (Zionist Camp), for example, lambasted 16 foreign ministers from the European Union who called for the labeling of products from the "settlements". He said, “This is blatant anti-Israel activity and should be condemned…”

MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Camp) agreed with remarks by WIZO Switzerland President Anne Argi, who told Knesset members, “Today it is actually we who need help against the rising wave of anti-Semitism in Europe and the calls for a boycott against Israel. The Jewish communities are battling for their survival and we need real assistance from Israel in order to fight in this war of the entire Jewish People.”

On another occasion MK Nachman Shai noted that “Yesterday 100 businessmen from top-tier Israeli companies … pointed out the danger and mentioned their tremendous concern regarding an economic boycott of Israel. This is not a theoretical matter, but rather a very practical and significant issue for Israel, which has a major export sector and relies heavily on exports. The closure of markets to Israeli products could cause tremendous damage…There is potential here that could seriously harm Israel.

For this article, Mr. Beinart was asked to comment on the following:

Question: Do you feel there is a conflict of interest to serve as CEO of TASE and also as a leader of the NIF which supports a boycott of Israel?

Question:  Would you consider your role any different than that of Scarlett Johannson who publicly resigned from her position at OXFAM following the Sodastream controversy?

Question:  Do you support companies traded on TASE whose operations are over the "green line" (the 1949 Armistice Line, ed.)?

Upon learning of this article, Mr. Beinart changed his biography as it appears on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange website to make it appear as if his support for New Israel Fund was in the past.  Idit Yaaron, TASE spokesperson said in a comment for publication, "Mr. Beinart is no longer a member of the NIF management..”. At the time of publication, his name remains on the New Israel Fund website.

What remains unclear is how the CEO of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange can support and serve as a leader of an organization that supports boycotts of Israel.  There is an inherent conflict of interest.  

George Birnbaum is an international political consultant, who formerly served as chief of staff for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hank Sheinkopf, CEO of Sheinkopf Communications is a leading political strategist whose clients have included former President Bill Clinton.  Ronn Torossian is CEO of a top 20 US PR Agency, and author of “For Immediate Release.”