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Israel, the kiss of death for corporations

A branch of Barclays in the United Kingdom vandalized by protestors (Photo: Palestine Action/X)

In the world of corporate enterprise, success has always hinged on a good product or service offered to the public. Politics never entered the equation, but, these days, having any association with Israel, for many businesses, can be equivalent to the corporate kiss of death. At least that must have been Barclays understanding when they decided to suspend their sponsorship of Live Nation music festivals following protests to their connections to the Jewish homeland. 

It turns out that Barclays had “links to defense companies that work with Israel.”

Caving into pressure from more than 100 artists who “complained about the financial firm’s investment ties with arms companies that trade with Israel, they decided it just wasn’t worth the headache of “continuing their five-year sponsorship deal with Live Nation,” likely responding to “staff intimidation and vandalism” which had already occurred. 

Barclays is just one corporation that has had to rethink its association with the Jewish state which has gained the reputation of having a toxic affiliation for those who have deemed that Israel is the real enemy amidst all the global terrorism. 

According to news reports, major companies worldwide have cut military ties with Israel on the heels of the ICJ charges of Gazan genocide. Such companies include the Japanese textile firm Itochu, which “owns a portfolio of investments and rights in well-known fashion brands such as Converse, Hunting World and LeSportsac.”

Transportation company Kuehne+Nagel has also severed its ties with Israel’s Elbit Systems, a weapons manufacturer along with iO Associates Recruitment Company and Fisher German, both of whom were previously affiliated with Elbit Systems. 

Ironically, even as far back as 2020, well before the events of October 7, which led to a massive trend of overt antisemitism, the UN had already released a list of 112 companies doing business with Israeli West Bank settlements, in an effort to shame and intimidate them into cutting their ties. Of course, those companies, once disclosed, became easy targets for the BDS movement (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) whose goal was to pressure consumers not to purchase their products or patronize them.

Boycotts work, as McDonalds has discovered, after falling short of sales, due to “perceived support for Israel.” It paid a heavy price when “its Israel branch gave thousands of free meals to Israeli troops in October.” But they are not the only ones. 

Starbucks is another company that also had a sharp decline in their sales, supposedly due to the war in Gaza as protesters campaigned against the company, calling for them to take a stand against Israel.” Likewise, Coca-Cola ran into their own set of problems when many called for boycotts, culminating in the November Turkish parliament vote to “remove the drink from shops and restaurants on its grounds.” 

Add Domino’s to the list, where dubious social media posts claimed that they, too, provided free goods to Israeli soldiers, despite failure to substantiate the action, but why not include them anyway, just to make a point of what awaits those who show any support towards Israel. 

In short, every company that does business in Israel is potentially a target for BDS supporters whose aim is to alienate and isolate Israel as a state entity which must be punished and hung out to dry for daring to defend herself at a time when she is being viciously attacked, to the point of an existential war which has vowed to utterly destroy the Jewish nation.

As these kinds of corporate intimidation tactics become more successful, there is no reason to let up on the pressure that is being placed upon such companies by hitting them where it hurts – their sales. 

After all, if their own existence is being threatened, why should they stick their neck out for a country that is looked upon as a pariah? Why jeopardize their own status? These are, undoubtedly, some of the considerations, which will be made when deciding whether or not it’s worthwhile to continue doing business with a country that is, more and more, losing once friendly connections, never imagining that the dirty business of politics would, one day, be an influencing factor.

Regrettably, we are now living at a time when it actually takes courage for those running corporations to ignore the threat of consumer blowback when it comes to doing business in Israel. In fact, it’s not far-fetched to ask how long will it take before the same measures are applied to anyone doing business with Jews. 

It’s a fair question, because if we look back at history, it was in the days leading up to the full takeover of Nazi Germany, in the mid to late 1930s, that Jewish-owned businesses were also boycotted, even as early as 1933 when a “nationwide boycott of Jewish businesses was held, signaling the start of the exclusion of Jews from all aspects of German society.” 

In that frightening environment, marches began to be held with signs that read, “Don’t buy from Jews.”

Why should anyone think that this will not happen in today’s super-charged society where ordinary Jews, who have no real connections with Israel, are singled out and lumped together with the Jewish homeland, marked as Zionists, regardless of whether or not they have any desire to live in Israel or be counted among its people? 

If anything, given what we’re seeing, we are not very far away from the same kind of ugly prejudice and blatant collective guilt which, the moment it became an acceptable societal norm, began to spread and take hold of every facet of daily life, turning Jews into unwelcomed deplorables, to borrow a Clintonesque term. 

When a democratically-run nation, such as Israel, has to worry that companies are seeking to distance themselves from her, simply for the right to defend its citizens from further massacres, it’s time to make an honest evaluation and come to the conclusion that this has nothing to do with the country and everything to do with Jew hatred, the oldest and longest surviving form of bigotry which never seems to completely subside but only emerges with more potency and fervor.

In this case, it only took 80 years to return with a vengeance. But for corporations and companies, whose CEOs and board members may still believe in the promises of God, they should not be intimidated to continue to bless and support Israel, because, in the end, their bottom line might be the proof of the pudding that Genesis 12:3 is still very much in effect. (I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.)

A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.

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