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March 10, 2016 2

The Economic Costs Of Boycotting Israel: An Arab Perspective

Anti-Israel activists have often argued that the goal of the Boy­cott, Divest and Sanc­tion (BDS) cam­paign is to encour­age Israelis to think crit­i­cally about the “eco­nomic cost of the Occu­pa­tion,” but a recent arti­cle pub­lished by Al-Hayat, one of the lead­ing daily pan-Arab news­pa­pers, may be chal­leng­ing them to con­sider think­ing about the costs some Arabs endure as a result of calls to resist nor­mal rela­tions with Israel.al hayat

“Resist­ing Nor­mal­iza­tion [with Israel] in Jor­dan adds eco­nomic losses to the defeat” by Jor­dan­ian jour­nal­ist Ibrahim Gharaiba, which appeared on the inter­na­tional edi­tion of Al-Hayat on March 7, offers a real­is­tic pic­ture of the real price Jor­da­ni­ans are pay­ing as a result of calls to boy­cott Israel.

Accord­ing to Gharaiba, the Israel–Jordan peace treaty, known as Wadi Araba, could have trans­formed the sta­tus of war between the two coun­ties into great eco­nomic and devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties for Jor­dan. “Israel, which its sta­tus has changed into a non-enemy coun­try is located at the same geo­graphic region as Jor­dan, and it has an advanced econ­omy which achieves very high lev­els of human development.”

This Israeli suc­cess story, accord­ing to the arti­cle, is focused around areas with strate­gic impor­tance for Jor­dan, such as water desali­na­tion and agriculture.

“Jor­dan, which suf­fered a mil­i­tary defeated in 1967 and regional crises cre­at­ing a refugee pro­por­tion close to 70 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, is also plagued by bizarre polit­i­cal trends work­ing against its best inter­est in a puz­zling way. [This polit­i­cal trend] turned work in Israel, export to and import from it, and train­ing and tech­ni­cal coop­er­a­tion with it into some­thing taboo.”

Israeli goods burned as part of the BDS activities in the Arab world

Israeli goods (and goods per­ceived as Israeli) burned as part of the BDS activ­i­ties in the Arab world

The author also defends his fel­low Jor­dan­ian cit­i­zens who seek work oppor­tu­ni­ties in Israel against attempts to crim­i­nal­ize their actions. “Cit­i­zens who work in Israel are try­ing to pre­serve their [human] dig­nity, espe­cially as the unem­ploy­ment rate [in Jor­dan] is too high.”  Gharaiba also responds against those who label coop­er­a­tion with Israel as “trea­son” by offer­ing a para­dox­i­cal real­is­tic def­i­n­i­tion: “Trea­son is when a gov­ern­ment aban­dons the inter­ests and eco­nomic oppor­tu­ni­ties of its people.”

The arti­cle com­pares the con­se­quences of such polit­i­cal rhetoric about boy­cotting Israel with the sit­u­a­tion in 1967 when Jor­dan joined sev­eral other Arab coun­tries in attack­ing Israel. Many in the Arab world remem­ber the polit­i­cal rhetoric in these years, which rejected any com­pro­mise with Israel. Accord­ing to the author, today’s calls to boy­cott Israel would add an eco­nomic defeat to the mil­i­tary defeat of the Six Day War.

Gharaibah is not the only one in the Arab world who empha­sizes the eco­nomic hard­ships that are shap­ing the future of the Arab world. A num­ber of Arab intel­lec­tu­als have chal­lenged attempts to mask the role of eco­nomic con­di­tions in trig­ger­ing frus­tra­tions of the Arab youth.

While many who sup­port the BDS move­ment may be moti­vated by what they believe to be the human rights agenda of its lead­ers, they often choose to dis­re­gard real­i­ties on the ground when it comes to the real bur­den endured by the aver­age Arab cit­i­zen. This arti­cle is a sober­ing reminder that the BDS movement’s rhetoric is dis­con­nected  from the real­ity of the cit­i­zens of Jor­dan and poten­tially oth­ers in the Arab world, many of whom are in seri­ous need of the eco­nomic ben­e­fits that could come from fur­ther coop­er­a­tion with Israel.

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March 8, 2016 0

Shooting Investigation Vindicates Troopers, Raises Questions About FBI Actions

lavoyfinicumshootingOre­gon author­i­ties revealed today the results of their inves­ti­ga­tion into the fatal shoot­ing of anti-government extrem­ist Robert “LaVoy” Finicum by Ore­gon state troop­ers dur­ing an attempt by state and fed­eral author­i­ties to arrest many of the ring­lead­ers of the Jan­u­ary 2 armed occu­pa­tion of the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.

The inves­ti­ga­tion vin­di­cated the actions of the state troop­ers who shot Finicum, but revealed that there is a sep­a­rate mis­con­duct inves­ti­ga­tion ongo­ing into some of the FBI agents’ actions at the scene.

On Jan­u­ary 26, sev­eral weeks into the refuge stand­off, Ore­gon state troop­ers and agents from the FBI’s Hostage Res­cue Team attempted to con­duct a planned traf­fic stop of two vehi­cles filled with occu­piers on their way to a meet­ing, so that they could arrest sev­eral of the extrem­ists.  Both vehi­cles ini­tially stopped but the one dri­ven by Finicum sub­se­quently sped off down the road until it crashed into a snow­bank after nar­rowly avoid­ing run­ning into a law enforce­ment roadblock.

As cap­tured on video taken by a police heli­copter cir­cu­lat­ing over­head, Finicum almost imme­di­ately jumped out of the vehi­cle.  As Ore­gon state troop­ers approached from two direc­tions, Finicum twice reached towards his jacket, as if to pull out a weapon (he did have a weapon there, it was deter­mined). At the sec­ond reach, the troop­ers opened fire on Finicum, fatally wound­ing him.

After any officer-involved shoot­ing, there is an inves­ti­ga­tion. In this case, the inves­ti­ga­tion took on added impor­tance because of the sen­si­tive nature of the sit­u­a­tion: anti-government extrem­ists believe that Finicum was delib­er­ately mur­dered and since his death have ener­get­i­cally tried to turn him into a mar­tyr for the “Patriot” move­ment cause, cre­at­ing a risk of future vio­lence.  Indeed, on the week­end before the inves­ti­ga­tion results were released, anti-government activists staged nearly 50 ral­lies across the coun­try to protest his death.

The Ore­gon inves­ti­ga­tion con­cluded that the two troop­ers who had fired shots at Finicum were jus­ti­fied in so doing, because the troop­ers believed Finicum was about to injure or kill some­one.  Another trooper, who had fired three shots at Finicum’s truck as it was about to hit the road­block, was also vindicated.

How­ever, in a sur­pris­ing rev­e­la­tion, author­i­ties announced that the Jus­tice Depart­ment is con­duct­ing a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into the actions of five FBI agents present at the scene of the shoot­ing.  The state inves­ti­ga­tion uncov­ered that one FBI agent allegedly fired two shots dur­ing the inci­dent, then allegedly sub­se­quently denied to inves­ti­ga­tors that he had fired his weapon.  Nei­ther shot hit Finicum. The other agents under inves­ti­ga­tion report­edly may have helped cover for the first agent. It is not clear when this sec­ond inves­ti­ga­tion will be complete.

The FBI’s Hostage Res­cue Team was heav­ily crit­i­cized in the 1990s for actions and deci­sions its agents had taken at armed stand­offs in Idaho and Texas involv­ing extrem­ists or fringe groups, but it has not had any con­tro­ver­sies in recent years.

The admis­sion of pos­si­ble FBI mis­con­duct will unfor­tu­nately pro­vide more ammu­ni­tion for anti-government extrem­ists attempt­ing to use Finicum’s death to stoke anti-government anger.  This in turn may increase the risk that right-wing extrem­ists may engage in acts of vio­lence out of some sort of desire for ret­ri­bu­tion. Thus the news of pos­si­ble FBI misconduct—never wel­come under any circumstances—was par­tic­u­larly dis­turb­ing in this context.

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March 4, 2016 1

Multi-State Indictments Bring Bundy-Related Arrests To 38

Updated March 22, 2016, to reflect addi­tional charges and defen­dants.

In early March, fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in Las Vegas announced charges against 14 anti-government extrem­ists from a vari­ety of states in con­nec­tion with a 2014 armed stand­off between the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and sup­port­ers of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy at Bundy’s ranch.  Pros­e­cu­tors added addi­tional defen­dants later in the month.  As of March 22, 19 peo­ple have been indicted for that con­fronta­tion, includ­ing Bundy him­self and four of his sons.

Many of those indicted on charges related to the Bundy Ranch stand­off, or present at that stand­off but not indicted, have also sep­a­rately been indicted in con­nec­tion with the more recent armed stand­off at the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore­gon, in January-February 2016. This includes alleged ring­leader Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan, both sons of Cliven Bundy.  As of March 22, 26 peo­ple have been indicted on var­i­ous charges related to the Mal­heur standoff.

Almost all of the orga­niz­ers and many of the par­tic­i­pants of the 2016 stand­off in Ore­gon had taken part in the ear­lier stand­off in Nevada.

The below chart shows the 38 peo­ple indicted so far in the two armed con­fronta­tions. More indict­ments may be forthcoming.

Bundy Standoffs Chart 3-22-16

 

 

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