Letter to the Editorial Board, East End independent

My Great Good Friends,

Not likely The East Hampton Independent will publish my letter to the editor.

I thought you might enjoy it, anyway…


Editorial Board The Independent,

I thoroughly enjoyed your editorial ‘A Lesson in Democracy‘, (11-04-15).

Your focus on Roger Waters at the Bay St., and the protests his support of the BDS (Boycott Divest Sanction) Israel movement drew, was even handed and an appropriate illumination of our local perspective. ‘Local’ to include your statement “our Jewish community that has done so much for local charitable causes”. However, to broaden our view beyond the Hampton’s micro demographic to a national perspective may be helpful.

For example a number of the protester’s signs stated “Israel is not an apartheid state”. Unfortunately the concept is a bit to complicated to be employed correctly on a placard. Specifically in international law, the meaning was defined by the International Conference on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1973 ratified by the full body and applied continually to illuminate religious restrictions on civil participation within Israel proper as well as racial restrictions imposed in the occupied territories.

So, when Secretary of State Kerry stated Israel risked becoming “an apartheid state” he was merely and gently suggesting to an American audience what the world already accepts.

To venture slightly beyond Sag Harbor; the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church voted to divest itself of equity holdings in corporations whose products are used by Israel in the occupied territories. Joining the Friends Fiduciary Corp. (U.S. Quakers) and the Mennonite Central Fund Committee, the Presbyterians are expanding upon their 2012 biannial Assembly decision to boycott products made in the Palestinian territories. Other main-line religious institutions are at various stages of participation in the BDS movement. For example the United Methodist Church has announced it’s divestment of G4S Corp which provides security systems and holds operating contracts in Israeli prisons.

Lest anyone think this is merely a concern of the religious and academic communities, there are times the breadth of support for the BDS movement is actually humorous. I recall a week when Lauryn Hill (nee:The Fugees) announced her tour boycott and Barclays announced the completion of it’s Elbit Systems holdings divestiture. Hip-hop Divas to Merchant Banks define a fairly large tent.

Other times the announcements are incredibly serious. The September 7th press briefing by F. Mogherini, EU Foreign Policy Director, at the annual meeting of the 28 EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg announced the requirement imports now obfuscatingly labeled “Made in Israel” will be changed to “Origin of Goods from the Territories Occupied by Israel since June 1967”, effective this week. Thus the full EU will join Britain, Denmark and Belgium in the clear identification. And, given the EU is Israel’s largest trading partner ($32 B in 2014), no small thing. As well as following on the EU’s ban on the European Investment Bank making loans to Israeli banks (Leumi, Hapoalim and M Tefahot among others) which do business in the occupied territories.

Finally, to illustrate a context in which to evaluate the Bay St. protesters; Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu opined at the Russell Tribunal that Israeli apartheid is worse than the horrors visited upon South Africans by the white supremacist regimes. The Archbishop speaks with the authority of having acceded to Nelson Mandela’s position of moral leadership of the BDS Israel movement founded on their shared memory of Israel being the largest supplier and often the sole nation willing to ignore sanctions to sell military and police weapons to the pre1994 South African apartheid government.

Keep up the excellent reporting,

Anthony Niosi