Before the Riots, Divestment Was the Rage

Make no mistake about it. The riots in France are related to the campaign to divest from Israel, and in a scarier way than you may imagine. Let's look at the basic facts.

Fred Taub, Boycott Watch

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Make no mistake about it. The riots in France are related to the campaign to divest from Israel, and in a scarier way than you may imagine. Let's look at the basic facts.

The divest-from-Israel campaign is part and parcel of the Arab boycott of Israel. Divestment is, by definition, a boycott of investments. Divestment advocates, along with the Palestinian Authority, are pressing businesses around the world to boycott Israel, as evidenced by the push to have Caterpillar stop selling products to Israel, and PA efforts to isolate Israel economically in Malaysia and in other parts of the world. The Caterpillar boycott did not just include products used by the Israeli military, but equipment used to build housing and roads, as well; thus, it was an overall campaign to hurt Israel as a nation.

In the US, asking businesses to engage in the Arab boycott of Israel is a direct violation of the US antiboycott laws, which were put in place to protect trade with nations friendly to the US and to prevent boycott efforts from being used to create de facto foreign policy, which Congress affirmed as its role when passing the law. Divestment advocates made Caterpillar itself a target by telling people Caterpillar is bad just for selling its products to Israel. Caterpillar was not just asked to stop investing in Israel, but more simply, to directly boycott Israel by stopping all sales to the government of Israel and to Israeli businesses in general. The Caterpillar campaign was started by the Palestinian Authority, which is signatory to the Arab League boycott of Israel. If some people, therefore, think that the divest-from-Israel campaign is not related to the Arab boycott of Israel, they only have to look at the Caterpillar boycott effort to realize it is.

Caterpillar has rejected calls to boycott Israel because they realized, among other things, that refusing to sell products to Israel based on information supplied in support of the Arab boycott of Israel would be a direct violation of US import-export regulations. As such, Caterpillar, just like other businesses and municipalities, such as the city of Somerville, Massachusetts, has rejected efforts to engage in the divest-from-Israel campaign. The divest-from-Israel campaign is illegal, and Divestment Watch has outlined the illegalities in complaints to the US Office of Antiboycott Compliance of the US Department of Commerce.

In France, not only has boycotting Israeli products been pushed, but boycotting the products of Jewish-owned businesses in France is prevalent. Synagogues in France have been bombed and Jews in France are afraid to show any symbols identifying their faith in fear of attack. The problem is so bad in France that rabbis have forbidden Jews from wearing religious head coverings despite the fact that such head coverings are religious mandates dating back centuries.

In essence, French Jews are in fear, and have been in fear, of their lives for many years, and from the same people who are now rioting in France. Some media pundits have claimed that the riots are because of a lack of economic opportunity, which is to say that people who refuse to look for jobs and compete are therefore somehow justified to riot, which is absurd. First, we have learned in the US that anyone in any ethnic group can build their own future if they just try, and that can be applied in any country, including France. Second, the French socialist society makes sure that even people who do not want to work have everything they need anyhow; thus, they created a disincentive to work. By subsidizing unemployment, France has just encouraged it. France hands out all basic needs and these riots are the thank-you cards in return.

Even if the economic claim was true, these are not economic riots. The trigger of the riots is seldom mentioned in the media. Two Muslim teens trespassed into a power substation and were electrocuted. Muslims then falsely claimed that the teens were chased into the power station by the police, who are therefore responsible for their deaths. In reality, the teens illegally entered into a hazardous area where only trained professionals are allowed. Yes, the riots are based on the false claim by Muslims that infidels killed Muslims; thus, the riotous mayhem and destruction is aimed at everyone whom Muslims call "infidels", specifically, Christians and Jews.

One media pundit tried to claim that the Muslims were burning their own cars and in their own neighborhoods. While some in the media are clearly trying to cover the fact that Muslims are specifically rioting against non-Muslims, the claim that Muslims were targeting their co-religionists has been quickly shot down, and rightfully so. The riots in France are simply Muslims attacking non-Muslims, the same way Muslim governments sanction oppression of non-Muslims in their countries under Islamic laws.

And what was the response from France? Not much. Then again, what should we expect from the same country that taught its children not to fight for any reason and as a result, stood by and watched as the Nazis were marching into Paris. These days, France stood up for Saddam Hussein, but Jews in France are scared to even say they are Jewish. The French still teach non-resistance to violence, and we see the results of that policy here again today.

Forgetting the lack of response and action by France to stop the riots, these riots are an outgrowth of the spread of the Arab boycott of Israel, of the divest-from-Israel campaign. The riots were simply a next phase after a lack of response from French citizens to stop bigotry. The Muslim Arab anti-Semitic attacks in France started with boycotts, then came small attacks, then bigger attacks, then the divestment campaign, then even bigger attacks, and now, riots. What does each stage of these anti-Semitic campaigns have in common? The answer is the lack of response from the French people and the French government to stop the attacks. By keeping silent, the French sent a message of approval and complacency, which only led to the escalation of violence as we see in the Muslim riots in France.

Rioting is a far cry from peaceful protest. Rioters simply do not care about the property or safety of others or about peaceful and friendly relations with others. Rioting is a selfish act of hate. No one can ever claim that rioting can ever bring peace. Allowing riots to go on for weeks, as the French government did, is tantamount to acceptance of the rioters' destruction, if not their mission. France should have taken immediate action to stop the riots when they first began, and because they didn't, the riots intensified. This is a direct result of the non-response by the French government, which lead to more rioting and to a virtual sense of permission to continue rioting, because nobody was stopping it or cared to stop it.

The divest-from-Israel campaign is simply a weapon in the arsenal of hate that preceded the riots in France. In order to achieve peace, there needs to be economic cooperation, and the goal of divestment and boycott is to end all economic cooperation. Israel has peace with Jordan and that peace is based on the free trade between the two countries. By advocating divestment, one is by definition anti-peace. There is simply no way one can claim divestment and boycott will bring peace, especially when the same Arab countries that enforce the Arab boycott of Israel refuse to have any peace with Israel, and when countries that have peace with Israel have open trade with Israel. Peace and economic cooperation go hand in hand.

Is there a connection between the divest-from-Israel campaign and the riots in France? Absolutely. These riots are divestment gone wild. If we ever want to see peace in the Middle East, it has to come with free and open trade. The next time you see so called 'peace activists' advocating the divest-from-Israel campaign, call them what they really are - call them hate- and war-mongers.