Monthly Archives: August 2010

Israel Opportunity 2010: A chance to invest in Apartheid

Israeli Chamber of Commerce, Tel Aviv

The first of July 2010 saw the tenth annual ‘Israel Opportunity Investment Conference’ take place in London. Represented by the PR company Grayling (www.grayling.com), the aim of the day was to sell Israel as a secure investment opportunity and a promising emerging market worthy of attention. Only four weeks before the conference, Israel had been accepted into the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) despite the efforts of campaigners to prevent this by protesting that a country which include their illegal settlement activities and businesses in their economic data can hardly be seen as complying with the OECD motto “For a stronger, cleaner, fairer world economy’.  However, since Israel had also been promoted from ‘emerging’ to ‘developed’ market status by the MSCI a few days before the event, there was always bound to be a lot of interest from investors willing to find ways to benefit from Israel’s occupation economy.

Focusing on banking, energy and the biotech sector, the conference highlighted the already cosy relationships between Israel and global international companies. For instance, the sessions encouraging investment in the Israeli businesses Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim and the Strauss Group were facilitated by two representatives from Deutsche Bank and Barclays Capital respectively. Both financial institutions have established offices in Israel already. The literature handed out to attendees at the conference gave, as one of the top ten reasons for investing in the country, that ‘The state of Israel is committed to encouraging local and foreign direct investment by offering a wide range of incentives and benefits, such as investment grants, tax benefits and exemptions to investors’, hence making it very clear to potential investors that should they choose to get involved with any of the companies exhibiting, they would be beneficiaries of Israel’s apartheid system. Continue reading

Tourism in apartheid Israel – a ‘unique’ experience

Israel tourism advert from G2

A few weeks ago the Guardian’s G2 supplement ran a series of adverts for tourism in Israel. One of them,  shown above, describes a holiday in Israel as a ‘unique experience’. Damn right its a unique experience; interrogation by surly airport security, sharing buses with hordes of armed to the teeth Israeli adolescents and the chance to see the old city of Jerusalem policed by racist goons with a quota of Palestinian residents to harass. For the more adventurous tourist there’s the deserted and terrorised streets of the old city of Hebron, daubed with xenophobic graffiti, the apartheid wall, collective puishmment, targeted assassinations, house demolitions, torture and repression – the possibilities are endless.

None of that was mentioned in the G2 adverts. Readers are presented with a picture of a couple enjoying the Dead Sea Coast – much of which is in illegally occupied territory (see http://corporateoccupation.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/kibbutz-kalia-part-1-a-holiday-in-israeli-apartheid/). Continue reading

Hadiklaim in the Jordan Valley

Hadiklaim is an Israeli date growers cooperative which deals with several major supermarkets in the UK, including Sainsburys, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Waitrose (although the Co Op and Marks and Spencer maintain that they only stock Hadiklaim products from 1948 Israel). The company boasts that it exports to 30 countries (see http://www.hadiklaim.com/company_customers.asp). Tesco and Marks and Spencer branded dates are Hadiklaim produce.

The Hadiklaim cooperative includes date growers from 1948 Israel, mostly the South, and from the settlements in the occupied Jordan Valley. Hadiklaim’s website portrays the company as one which deals only with 1948 Israel; listing growers in Beit Shean, the Kinneret, the Arava, Eilat and (ambiguosly)’the Dead Sea region’. However, the company also exports from the Israels settlements in the Jordan Valley. Hadiklaim’s statements in the Israeli Hebrew language media are markedly different – the companies CEO has stated in YNet that the occupied Jordan Valley is an important area for Hadiklaim. Continue reading

The Jordan Valley meeting point: The Jewish National Fund’s racist alternative reality

JNF sign of of land reclamation in the Jordan Valley

If you are a follower of this blog you will have read a lot about the Jordan Valley -an area that comprises almost 30% of the West Bank. Because of its fertile land and border with Jordan, it is under urgent threat of annexation by Israel, who are issuing statements about their claim to the land with alarming frequency. In March this year Benjamin Netanyahu officially announced that “Israel will never cede the Jordan Valley” and since then the Palestinians there have been met with increasing repression. Only during the last few weeks, the Israeli Occupation Forces entered the Palestinian village of Al Farisiya and demolished 23 houses, leaving over 100 people homeless. When the villagers rebuild some of the destroyed structures the army returned to the area and yet again razed it to the ground

44% of the land in the Jordan Valley is controlled by closed military zones and 50% by the 37 illegal settlements -leaving the indigenous Palestinian population in control of a mere 6% of their land. Around 7000 illegal Israeli settlers and 50.000 Palestinians live in the parts of the valley which are on the Palestinian side of the Green Line. An uninformed visitor could be forgiven for thinking that the numbers were reversed; It is entirely possible to take a bus straight from inside Israel and along the Israeli controlled Road 90 through the valley, seeing only settler greenhouses with their lush, irrigated crops. This is a façade that Israel work cold-heartedly to promote.

Zionist information point for tourists

Visiting the Jordan Valley Meeting Point – an Israeli run rest stop and tourist centre along Road 90- is a disturbing and slightly surreal experience for anybody who knows what the real Jordan Valley, and life for its Palestinian communities, is like. Entering the meeting point area feels like joining some ethnically cleansed zone in a Zionist alternative universe, as everything Palestinian has been removed from view. Any tourist, or conscripted Israeli teenage soldier, stopping off there for a Coke and falafel will be presented with a version of the truth designed to brainwash them and airbrush anything Palestinian from the valley. The information points provided describe historical and archaeological sites, attractions and tour routes, state of the art agricultural technologies and Israel’s “battle legacies” in the area. Inviting tourists to join settler organised Jeep trips and walking tours, they highlight the possibilities to follow migrating birds and appreciate blossoming wild flowers in a stunning landscape. What they fail to mention, however, is that no Palestinian has the freedom to enjoy any of these things as all their villages are surrounded by closed military zones and they are prevented from taking a step out of line. Continue reading

Companies trading from Ro’i settlement in the Jordan Valley

Greenhouses in Ro'i illegal settlement

As part of Corporate Watch’s efforts to map settlement exports from the Jordan Valley, we visited the illegal Israeli settlement of Ro’i earlier this year.

Established in 1976, Ro’i is a “typical” Jordan Valley settlement in that it has a low population (of less than 150 settlers), but has stolen large areas of land from the indigenous Palestinian population. With its private security, army protection and rows upon rows of greenhouses, Ro’i poses a challenge to the existence of Bedouin communities such as nearby Al Hadidya and Ras-Al Ahmar, who are under constant threat of house demolitions and army harassment aimed at the  ethnic cleansing of bedouin from the area. The Israeli’s described these communities as a “security threat” to the settlers.

Al Hadidya is located just next to Ro’i, which was partially built on their land, and inhabitants have to more or less drive through the the outskirts of the settlement in order to reach their home. Any company trading from Ro’i, or importing their produce, are directly responsible for the very real possibility of Al Hadidya’s forced extinction.

Al Hadidya's - in the shadow of Ro'i settlement

Continue reading