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 A boycott of Israel was rejected by Dutch mega-pension fund ABP, notwithstanding the vocal Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in Europe and elsewhere against the Jewish state. Also, Israeli leaders and organizations are standing up to the increasing threats and intimidation.

Dutch pension fund ABP, one of the world’s largest, announced this week that it will not join a boycott of Israeli banks.

Danske Bank, the largest in Denmark – serving five-million clients – declared on its website that it was boycotting Bank Hapoalim for “legal and ethical” reasons, citing the Israeli bank’s operation in Judea and Samaria, which it terms “occupied territories.”

Nordea Bank, the largest in Scandinavia, has demanded clarification from Bank Leumi and Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank regarding their activities in that region.

Hapoalim and Leumi are Israel’s largest banks.

Despite the ongoing peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the PA continues to deny recognition of Israel as the Jewish state and has thus far offered no comprimises. Israel, however, has made painful concessions, such as freeing Palestinian-Arab prisoners, including many with blood on their hands. Still, the pressure exerted against Israel by US Secretary of State John Kerry along with European boycott initiatives has been growing.

ABP, a pension fund for some 2.8-million government, public and education workers with invested capital last year of some 292 billion euro, “posted on its website on Wednesday an announcement saying that publicity about boycotts of Israeli banks has led the fund to explain why it does not exclude Israeli banks from its investments,” the Jerusalem Post reports.

“The fund said that its environmental, social and corporate governance policy (ESG) – a catchall phrase for what is known as socially responsible investing – is based on two objective criteria: international law and the principles laid down in the UN Global Compact, a policy initiative for businesses who want to align their operations with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption,” the Post explains.

“The fund said that these matters are discussed each year by its directorate, and that it has concluded that the Israeli banks…’do not act contrary to international law and regulations’ and that there were no court rulings indicating the need to end investments in those banks,” according to the Post.

 

ABP’s statement came several weeks after the second-largest Dutch pension fund – PGGM – said it was divesting its holdings in Israel’s five largest banks, Ha’aretz points out. “PGGM justified its decision because of what it described as the banks’ involvement in financing Israeli settlement activity” in the Palestinian-administered territories or their establishment of branches in Judea and Samaria.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the “double standards,” saying that Israel was “a light unto the nations, but only for those in the international community who want to see the light, because there is a lot of hypocrisy.”

Pointing to massive human-rights abuses in other countries and the “most horrible things” taking place around the world, the Israeli leader ridiculed the false claim that Israel is a “war criminal.”

“This hypocrisy harms efforts to eradicate the evil and promote the good,” Netanyahu stated. “But we will not be deterred. We will continue our efforts to be a light among the nations, if only they will want to see the light.”

BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL REJECTED BY LOCAL ARTISTS

Meanwhile, Israel National News reports that Poets for Israel – a group of artists, musicians and poets supporting Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria – has petitioned Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to change the name of a central square.

“Denya Square’s name should be changed, the group said, now that Denmark’s largest bank has announced that it will no longer do business with Israel’s Bank Hapoalim.”

“This boycott is a direct extension of ongoing Danish policy to boycott Israeli communities and businesses in Judea and Samaria, directly and indirectly,” the letter states.

“Denmark does not boycott companies in Syia, Iran, North Korea, and other dictatorships’ companies where crimes against humanity are routine. There is no reason to keep using the name honoring Denmark for an important geographical site in Jerusalem.”

Danske Bank, INN adds, “had already announced in 2010 that it was boycotting two Israeli construction firms, Africa Israel and Denya Cebus, because of their involvement in construction of Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria. This is the first time that the bank announced a boycott of an Israeli bank because it has invested heavily in Judea and Samaria and has branches in the region.”

The name Denya Square was given in honor of Danish activities to save the Jewish during WWII.

Author: UWI Staff
Date: Feb. 6, 2014

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