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The anatomy of a blacklist

The chamber of the UN Human Rights Council (Wikimedia)

The chamber of the UN Human Rights Council (Wikimedia)

If there were an ounce of doubt that the UN is fundamentally anti-Israel, the publication yesterday of a blacklist of 112 mostly Israeli companies erased it.

We say this not because the concept of a blacklist or boycott is fundamentally wrong. We say this because this “database” doesn’t actually call for a boycott, instead it tars Israeli commerce — and those who engage with it. You may be thinking: Well, isn’t that better than an out-and-out boycott? No. Because besmirching Israel doesn’t require evidence, as it would if any actual action were called for.

Basically, the UN Human Rights Council, which mandated this database, wants to get everyone thinking: “It’s bad to do business with Israel.” Sow enough doubt, cast enough stones, and who needs a formal boycott?

Here’s how Prof. Yuval Shany, vice president of the Israel Democracy Institute, sums it up:

“While the list does not entail specific assignment of responsibility for human rights violations and does not impose sanctions on companies or countries, it can have long term implications, such as a ‘chilling effect’ on entities considering investing or operating in the West Bank, for fear of the stigma of being branded as human rights violators if they were to appear in this official UN database.”

Due process? Doesn’t exist at the UN. But then, no one is really surprised about that.

The most shameful thing about this blacklist, however, is that it will harm the very people whom the Human Rights Council is claiming to support: Palestinians. Regardless of one’s views on settlements and doing business in the West Bank, it is undeniable that commerce in the West Bank brings jobs to the West Bank. If commerce leaves the West Bank, so will the jobs.

One particularly egregious inclusion is that of Rami Levy, a grocery store chain known not only for employing Palestinians, but it has been deeply engaged with “Breaking the Impasse,” a World Bank-supported effort to facilitate peace through business.

For long-time UN observers, none of this comes as a surprise. UN efforts, whether through the General Assembly, UNRWA or UNHCR, appear to be about outsized criticism of Israel and cementing Palestinian identity as permanent refugee. Harming the West Bank economy seems proof positive of that.

For further information, UN Watch has an excellent “Myths and Facts” on the database.

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