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Norway's $810 billion Government Pension Fund, also know as The Oil Fund, announced today that it was excluding two Israeli companies, Africa Israel Investments and its construction subsidiary,  Danya Cebus, from the fund due to "contribution to serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict through the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem."

East Jerusalem, the West Bank (including the Jordan Valley), the Golan Heights, and Gaza are not Israeli territory;  Israeli settlement there is illegal under international law. A war crime, actually, under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The fund's purpose is to invest parts of the surplus generated by Norway's vast petroleum reserves. It's investment decisions are guided by the fund's Advisory Council on Ethics.

The fund...is not allowed to invest in firms involved in severe environmental damage, "serious and systematic human rights violation", such as forced labour, the worst forms of child labour, murder or torture.
link

The fund also announced that it was divesting from the Indian company, Sesa Sterlite, on environmental grounds.

In addition, following the lifting of international sanctions on Myanmar, the fund is allowed to buy sovereign bonds from that country. However, the fund is now not allowed to buy bonds issued by Iran, North Korea or Syrian, because of international sanctions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ha, but the settlers got ScarJo, so there! (9+ / 0-)

    Who needs Norwegians-Schmorwegians, when we have the world's prettiest semi-shikse teaching silly Oxfam a lesson about humanitarianism, environmentalism and human rights?

  •  The divestment by Norway's Pension Fund would (5+ / 0-)

    have much greater validity if -using the criteria below -
    China was on their exclusion list along with many Arab countries.

    "The fund...is not allowed to invest in firms involved in severe environmental damage, "serious and systematic human rights violation", such as forced labour, the worst forms of child labour, murder or torture"

  •  Some context would help. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HairyTrueMan, MGross, JNEREBEL, livosh1

    First, the two companies already had been excluded from investment consideration "during the period August 2010 to August 2013[.]"

    Second, the complete list of excluded companies shows only a tiny handful--four by my count--are Israeli.

    Third, excluded American companies include: Raytheon, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, Boeing, Altria Group, Lorillard, and Wal-Mart.

    Fourth, considering the limited nature of the Norwegian fund's exclusion of Israeli companies as investments, seemingly primarily focused on construction beyond the Green Line, the investment exclusion doesn't appear to present any kind of threat to the Israel economy.

    Fifth, a somewhat more substantial impact likely would result from European Union countries refusing to admit Israel products from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Note, however, that drawing this line would reinforce the legitimacy of Israel within the Green Line (or any borders that might result from successful peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority), a result the BDS movement, which the PA does not endorse, would abhor.

    Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

    by another American on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:09:00 AM PST

    •  I'm not sure what point you're trying to make (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Assaf, lotlizard, corvo, WattleBreakfast, poco

      with your "context." That this is inconsequential to Israel and they should just keep on keepin' on?

      But here's some more context (for my point that Israel should most definitely pull its head out):

      http://www.ynetnews.com/...

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      http://www.reuters.com/...

      http://www.insidehighered.com/...

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      http://www.theasa.net/...

      http://www.theguardian.com/...

      http://www.theguardian.com/...

      If reality clashes with your belief, then the problem clearly is reality.--God

      by Flyswatterbanjo on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:33:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hardly. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MGross, HairyTrueMan, JNEREBEL

        The occupation is wrong, harmful to Israel in many ways, and urgently should be ended. (We also need to recognize Israel has justified, legitimate security concerns that will have to be addressed sympathetically in a peace settlement.)

        Please forgive me if I misunderstood the diary, but I took "pull your head out" to suggest that that the action of the Norwegian fund was some sort of "wake up" call and significant for the Israeli economy. On checking, however, I discovered that these two companies previously had been on the excluded list, that only a handful of Israeli companies are so listed, and that many more U.S. companies are listed. From this context, I concluded that the diary's premise, if I correctly understood it, is mistaken.

        I haven't followed all the links in your comment, but the ones I did follow all speak of a more general boycott. Were it to materialize, such a boycott could have serious consequences. And perhaps the fear of such a boycott will have the beneficial effect of influencing more Israelis to demand that their government work vigorously and sincerely with Secretary Kerry to achieve a two-states-for-two-peoples peace settlement. (If it doesn't provoke in a stronger "circling of the wagons" response.) Of course, the BDS movement opposes such a peace settlement because it has not use for Israel within any borders.

        The important point regarding the Norwegian fund, however, is that these two exclusions evidence a focus on construction across the Green Line. If anything, this signals the fund's recognition of Israel's legitimacy within the Green Line.

        Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

        by another American on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:49:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And? Regarding Israel's legitimacy within the (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HoundDog, Assaf, corvo, WattleBreakfast, poco

          Green Line? That's fine. I think you're assuming things about the Norwegian fund, or me, perhaps, or people who ascribe to the idea of non-violent protest against Israel's occupation via BDS.

          Not everyone who thinks economic pressure on Israel is a good idea wants Israel to self-destruct.

          We can, if we choose, use BDS as one of our tools to end occupation rather than eschew it merely because it is wielded by people who may share some, but do not share all, of our goals.  We can create (and name) a pro-two-state, anti-occupation, Jewish BDS movement that is not limited to settlement products but that extends to everyone who profits from the occupation.
          http://www.thedailybeast.com/...
          the vast majority of organizations represented on the Palestinian Boycott National Committee (BNC) – the movement’s steering group and collective leadership – explicitly support a two-state solution. You can see a list of organizations that currently make up the BNC.
          http://electronicintifada.net/...

          If reality clashes with your belief, then the problem clearly is reality.--God

          by Flyswatterbanjo on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 11:07:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Norman Finkelstein, no friend of Israel, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JNEREBEL, livosh1

            is clear on the aim of the BDS movement:

            We have to be honest, and I loathe the disingenuousness. They [BDS Movement] don’t want Israel. They think they’re being very clever, they call it their three tier – we want the end of the occupation, we want the right of return and we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they’re very clever because they know the result of implementing all three is what? What’s the result? You know and I know, what’s the result? There’s no Israel… there’s no Israel, full stop… If you want to eliminate Israel that’s your right but I don’t think you’re going to reach anybody. I think it’s a non-starter.
            Here's a video of the interview.

            Individuals may have different goals, but anyone with eyes in her head knows what the BDS movement's goal.

            Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

            by another American on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 11:24:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  ManyIsraeli citizens, both Jewish and Palestinian, (5+ / 0-)

              also participate in BDS.

              We don't want a destruction of the country. Only a fundamental transformation of its political institutions, to a system not built on systemic discrimination and dispossession, and the inevitable violence - both sanctioned and unsanctioned - that they generate.

              To most of us, as long as the current system dominates, the country is embroiled in continual self-destruction. We're trying to yank it out of this toxic paradigm.

              •  I'd appreciate some verifiable information (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JNEREBEL

                about how many Israeli citizens "participate in BDS," taking "BDS" to mean the official BDS movement. My impression is that the total number isn't close to being potentially effective. More Israelis, so far as I know, boycott products from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as I do. But their number also isn't sufficient, at least not yet, to threaten the settlement project.

                More fundamentally, I doubt that participation in the BDS movement can have any beneficial impact on Israeli society vis-a-vis ending the occupation or achieving a peace settlement with the Palestinians. Possibly, a different movement, focused on products from the OPT and heralding its support for Israel alongside Palestine, could be more effective.

                Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

                by another American on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 12:01:04 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Really, you're over thinking this. (6+ / 0-)

                  Whether one goes full-on BDS or settlement-only BDS doesn't really matter that much.

                  Beinart has effectively joined hands with the global BDS movement, at least in the sense that he calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against companies that directly aid the settlers. If that places him with Mahmoud Abbas rather than Omar Barghouti, dayyenu, it’s enough for us. The important thing is that he doesn’t stand with official Israel on this matter.
                  http://www.thedailybeast.com/...

                  As far as getting Palestinians on board with a settlements-only BDS, I can understand why they might have trouble. Take for example the Dutch pension fund that divested from five Israeli banks last month. Those were not "settlement" banks, but banks in Israel proper that provide the funding for settlement real estate developments in the West Bank. For that reason, the Dutch firm divested. The thing the Palestinians may be able to see more clearly than those with, perhaps,  an emotional attachment to the Jewish State of Israel is to what degree Israel proper is entwined in the occupation.

                  So I say, do what you can do, and don't do what you can't. You think it won't be effective; I do, as the world catches on. I really don't think it's totally dependent on Zionists getting on board.

                  If reality clashes with your belief, then the problem clearly is reality.--God

                  by Flyswatterbanjo on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 12:21:34 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Better than not thinking it through. (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JNEREBEL, Flyswatterbanjo, livosh1

                    Jerry Haber may like to think that Peter Beinart has "effectively joined hands with the global BDS movement," but Beinart doesn't think so:

                    On Monday, the American Studies Association voted to boycott Israeli universities. I think such a boycott is dead wrong.

                    The best argument against the ASA’s boycott isn’t about double standards or academic freedom. It’s about the outcome the boycott seeks to produce. The Association’s boycott resolution doesn’t denounce “the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.” It denounces “the Israeli occupation of Palestine” and “the systematic discrimination against Palestinians,” while making no distinction whatsoever between Israeli control of the West Bank, where Palestinians lack citizenship, the right to vote and the right to due process, and Israel proper, where Palestinians, although discriminated against, enjoy all three. That’s in keeping with the “boycotts, divestments, and sanctions” movement more generally. BDS proponents note that the movement takes no position on whether there should be one state or two between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. But it clearly opposes the existence of a Jewish state within any borders. The BDS movement’s call for “respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties” denies Israel’s right to set its own immigration policy. So does the movement’s call for “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality”, which presumably denies Israel’s right to maintain the preferential immigration policy that makes it a refuge for Jews. Indeed, because the BDS movement’s statement of principles makes no reference to Jewish rights and Jewish connection to the land, it’s entirely possible to read it as giving Palestinians’ rights to national symbols and a preferential immigration policy while denying the same to Jews.
                    Just to focus on American Jews for the moment, many, many are deeply uneasy about the occupation. But, for the most part, they won't associate themselves with a movement that, as Beinart puts it, "clearly opposes the existence of a Jewish state within any borders." So, it seems to me, people who seriously wanted to end the occupation, but who were prepared to support a two-states-for-two-peoples peace settlement, would seek to communicate both a justified opposition to the occupation and a sympathetic regard for Israel's justified and legitimate security concerns.

                    Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

                    by another American on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 12:35:24 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Great discussion. n/t (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Flyswatterbanjo, livosh1

                      "Stay close to the candles....the staircase can be treacherous" (-8.38,-8.51)

                      by JNEREBEL on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 03:00:10 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Well, if you want to get down to it, (4+ / 0-)

                      this part of Beinart's quote, that you bolded:

                      BDS proponents note that the movement takes no position on whether there should be one state or two between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. But it clearly opposes the existence of a Jewish state within any borders.
                      states the truth in the first sentence. The second sentence is an strange assertion on Beinart's part with faulty back-up to follow.

                      He says next:

                      The BDS movement’s call for “respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties” denies Israel’s right to set its own immigration policy.
                      We're not talking about immigration policy here. These people who were ethnically cleansed don't want to immigrate to Israel, they want to return to their homes that were there before Israel was even created. And that is a right that ALL refugees have under international law. Beinart doesn't like that . OK, but he's still boycotting the settlements in order to end the occupation, and that's also a goal of BDS.

                      Next he says:

                      So does the movement’s call for “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality”, which presumably denies Israel’s right to maintain the preferential immigration policy that makes it a refuge for Jews.
                      Read it slowly. He's outraged that people are calling for equal rights, and he's trying to make an argument for why equal rights are not a good thing. This is embarrassing from a liberal.

                      None of the above show that BDS opposes the existence of Israel. The question is, is Israel a state that must deny equal rights and break international law continuously in order to exist as it is today? Because the goals of BDS, looked at objectively, are valid and morally sound: Equal rights for citizens, the right under international law of refugees to return home, and the right to not live under occupation.

                      Anyway, Beinart needed to draw a line between what he's doing and what others are doing to oppose the occupation, and that's fine.  Like Haber said, he's more of an Abbas BDS guy, rather than an Omar Barghouti BDS guy. We know where he stands.

                      If reality clashes with your belief, then the problem clearly is reality.--God

                      by Flyswatterbanjo on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 04:49:05 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Will you boycott, say, Germany and India, or (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        JNEREBEL

                        at least demand recognition of the "right" of Germans from central and eastern European countries, and their descendants, and Muslims from India, and their descendants to return to their places of origin?  Greece and Turkey?

                        On the principle you invoke, their "rights" are at least as well established as the Palestinians'.

                        A two-states-for-two-peoples peace settlement requires both an Israel and a Palestine. Palestine should be the state of the Palestinians and all its citizens, with sovereign control over its immigration policies; Israel should be the state of the Jews and all its citizens, with sovereign control over its immigration policies.

                        There are any number of reasons for accepting or supporting this result: the high value placed on peace or achieving a Palestinian state; recognizing that, in effect, a population exchange took place; recognizing that Palestinians who 'return' to that Palestinian state will be 'returning' to what was Mandatory Palestine; etc.

                        The bottom line is that one can have peace, Israel, and Palestine only by (1) limiting realization of a Palestinian "right of return" to the state of Palestine and (2) limiting realization of the Israeli 'law of return" to the state of Israel.

                        Beinart knows that the official BDS movement rejects this, demands conditions incompatible with Israel's continued existence, and this divide negates you and Jerry Haber's attempts to form and amalgam with people like him (and me).

                        Indeed, Norman Finkelstein, for all my many disagreements with him, knows this, too, as demonstrated in the video to which I linked above.

                        If I didn't think it important to secure peace and the existence of both Palestine and Israel, I would say: by all means, make yourself feel righteous by keeping on organizing and agitating for policies, like BDS, that aim at ending Israel, even if the consequences contribute, at most, to foment war and delay or prevent the creation of a Palestinian state. But what can I do? I don't want to bite off my nose to spite my face.

                        Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

                        by another American on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 03:19:11 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                •  Funny UR arguing with me here. To most Israelis (4+ / 0-)

                  and most BDS supporters, once you say you boycott settlement products - you are part and parcel of BDS whether you like it or not.

                  95%+ of Israelis would consider you no different from anyone else in the BDS movement, so it's really a waste of energy to split hairs over this. It's like that scene from "Life of Brian".

                  I am Israeli, and I have participated in protests against SodaStream and other BDS activities, mostly organized by JVP which considers itself a participant in BDS albeit on its own terms.

                  Under current Israeli law, I am liable to be sued and prosecuted for this. As are you, if you land in Israel and proclaim you boycott settlement products.

                  Hope that's good enough for you.

                  •  No, it's not good enough for me. And not only (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JNEREBEL

                    because, to the Israelis I know and care about, it makes a difference that I, and most of them, are both against the occupation/settlements and for a democratic Israel within the Green Line (=- swaps, etc.).

                    Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

                    by another American on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 01:44:56 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Why don't you post anything else Norman has said? (3+ / 1-)
              Recommended by:
              corvo, WattleBreakfast, poco
              Hidden by:
              JNEREBEL

              It's funny how the pro-apartheid people like yourself always trots out this one video like it gives you any credibility.  

              Do you now come to every Israel-Palestine diary spouting disingenuous right wing talking points?

              •  HR for falsely accusing me of supporting apartheid (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JNEREBEL

                except that, being in direct conversation with you, I won't actually press the HR button.

                But unless and until you withdraw your vile aspersion, I see no reason to respond to you substantively.

                Have a nice life.

                Shalom v' salaam; peace and wholeness

                by another American on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 01:46:23 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  When you start denouncing the Apartheid policies (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  WattleBreakfast, poco

                  of Israel instead of protecting them from legitimate critics of those policies, then I will apologize.  When you support giving Palestinians full human rights that they are entitled to, then I will apologize.

                  How can I withdraw a valid point when you practice it?  All you do is moan about how nonviolent protests are bad and people shouldn't do them as well as trot out anti-human rights right wing talking points.  Why should I respect you when you say nonsense like this?

                  Also, when are you and goons like you going to stop spamming diaries with this one (and only one) Norman Finkelstein video?  You must think it gives you some sort of legitimacy in this conversation but it just makes you look like a pathetic clown who is against human rights and nonviolence.  

    •  So this is a renewal of the previous exclusion (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, Flyswatterbanjo, poco

      on the basis of these companies' ONGOING and CONTINUING "contribution to serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict through the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem."

      The context is, that these companies are habitual violators of these standards and are being held to account.

      Additionally, although the reason for exclusion is due to their activities in the Occupied Territories, to the extent that they cannot access investment their activities elsewhere are also going to be impacted, so there may be a somewhat greater effect on the Israeli economy as a whole.

      Finally, I doubt that the question of what if anything proponents or participants in the BDS movement feel about this was in any way considered in this decision.  This is an internal Norwegian decision reflecting their respect for international law - and Flyswatterbanjo recognizes this by not mentioning BDS at all.  Your comment is what tries to bring that into this diary.

  •  divesting from israeli companies (0+ / 0-)

    lets focus on the main point here.  people are fed up with israeli's non existent peace effort.  there is a growing push to get them moving in the right direction.  money talks and speaks loudly.  israel as a country is becoming more isolated.  unfortunately, right wing extremists will hold on to their ideology till their dying breath, but maybe the financial pain will move those on the moderate right to the middle.  Peace.

  •  Great idea. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Flyswatterbanjo

    I support a two-state solution to the conflict, and I believe that anyone who does business in the settlements (including East Jerusalem) should be boycotted, period. I don't support BDS (and the academic boycotts etc.) but I think that divesting from settlement-enablers is a good idea.

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