Daily TIP

The Daily TIP: Federal Court in Arkansas Finds Laws against anti-Israel Boycotts to be Constitutional

Posted by Tip Staff - January 24, 2019

Federal Court in Arkansas Finds Laws against anti-Israel Boycotts to be Constitutional
When Europe Trades with Iran, It Provides Tools for Oppression
Israel, UK Conclude Post-Brexit Trade Deal in Davos
Going to Pot: U.S., Israeli Investors Create Fund for Cannabis Tech

Federal Court in Arkansas Finds Laws against anti-Israel Boycotts to be Constitutional

A federal judge in Arkansas ruled that the state's anti-boycott laws do not violate free speech and are constitutional, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

United States District Judge Brian Miller ruled against the Arkansas Times, which had brought a suit against the state's 2017 anti-boycott law.

The newspaper had asked the judge to block the law that required contractors doing business with the state to reduce their fees by 20%, if they did not sign a pledge not to boycott Israel.

In his ruling, Miller wrote that "before researching the issue, I thought the law required a different outcome than the one ultimately reached." However in his conclusion, he acknowledged that "engaging in a boycott of Israel, as defined by Act 710, is neither speech nor inherently expressive conduct," and is therefore "not protected by the First Amendment."

"The Times may write and send representatives to meetings, speeches, and picketing events in opposition to Israel’s policies, free from any state interference," Miller wrote in his ruling. "It may even call upon others to boycott Israel, write in support of such boycotts, and engage in picketing and pamphleteering to that effect." None of these expressions of free speech are constrained by the anti-boycott law.

Legal scholar, Eugene Kontorovich, summarized the reasoning behind the court's ruling, "Federal court rules that anti-BDS contracting laws do not violate First Amendment; mere refusal to do business with Israelis is not speech under Sup Ct. precedent."

In July 2017, Kontorovich explained further that the proposed legislation was nothing more than an updating of existing legislation that prohibited American companies from participating in the Arab boycott of Israel. However, given the efforts of the United Nations Humans Rights Council to establish a blacklist of companies doing business in the West Bank, Kontorovich argued that the law needed updating.

When Europe Trades with Iran, It Provides Tools for Oppression

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday that he expects a European-backed system to facilitate non-dollar trade with Iran, a so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) which allows European Union countries to circumvent sanctions imposed by the United States, to take effect in the coming days.

The SPV would act as a financial and commercial intermediary for exports and imports between the Islamic Republic and the EU and will be open to other countries that are trading with Iran. The system would rely on euros or sterling rather than U.S. dollars to minimize the exposure of participating businesses to U.S. sanctions.

The gold-rush mentality seems to be blinding policymakers and investors alike to the brutal nature of the Iranian regime. Trade with Iran is not a risk-free business. It is a Faustian-bargain with one of the world’s leading pariah states that has used the multi-billion-dollar windfall in sanctions relief to repress its own civilian population and wreak havoc in the Middle East.

The main beneficiary from trade with Iran is no other than the country’s hard-line Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – Quds Force with its extensive tentacles in the economic realm wielding control over strategic industries and black-market enterprises.

The IRGC is Iran's most powerful security entity and the Quds Force, which projects Iranian influence throughout the region, is spearheading Tehran’s military campaigns in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen. The IRGC also plays a central role in Iran’s notorious internal security apparatus via the so-called Basij, an arm of the organization that monitors Iranian citizens for compliance with the regime.

And here is where the problem comes full circle. The Guardian reported on Thursday that Iranian authorities arrested more than 7,000 dissidents last year in a sweeping crackdown across the country.

To read the complete essay, please click here.

Israel, UK Conclude Post-Brexit Trade Deal in Davos

British and Israeli ministers announced on Wednesday that they have agreed on an “in principle” post-Brexit trade agreement at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as Britain prepares to leave the European Union, The Jewish Chronicle reported.

Speaking at the forum, International Development Secretary Liam Fox said: “I’m delighted that as Britain prepares to leave the European Union, and to ensure continuity for our businesses in both directions, we’ve reached agreement in principle today with our colleagues in Israel.” Fox made the announcement alongside Israel’s Minister of the Economy Eli Cohen.

“Israel has been one of the most cooperative and productive partners in this relationship, where our trade is already strong and set to go further,” Fox said, adding that it was a “precursor to an even more ambitious agreement in the future.”

Trade between Britain and Israel passed the $10 billion mark for the first time last year. The trade volume between the two countries surged by 75 percent in the first half of 2018. Israeli exports totaled $3.45 billion between January and June 2018, up from $1.97 billion in the first half of 2017, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported last September.

“This free trade agreement will accelerate, increase and strengthen our economic relationship,” Fox predicted. The minister said Israel and Britain would hold a trade and investment conference in London “in the coming months.” Cohen added: “I am sure that this free trade agreement will help us to accelerate and increase even more and strengthen our economic relationship.”

Shortly after taking over the International Trade portfolio in 2016, Fox launched the UK-Israel Trade Working Group “designed to identify and remove barriers to trade between our two countries.”

Going to Pot: U.S., Israeli Investors Create Fund for Cannabis Tech

A $30 million cannabis technology venture capital fund is under establishment by Jerusalem-based global investment platform OurCrowd and the 7thirty Opportunity Fund of Boulder, Colorado.

The new fund will invest in emerging companies involved in med-tech, ag-tech, retail, e-commerce, marketplaces, SaaS solutions, and deep-tech research related to cannabis. It will be headquartered in Boulder with activities in Israel, Canada and the United States.

OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved noted that Canada recently legalized cannabis nationwide and Israel is in the final stages of legalizing cannabis export. Approximately 95 percent of U.S. citizens live in states where cannabis is legal for recreational and/or medical purposes. The United Kingdom legalized medical cannabis in 2018.

“The amount of serious medical research in cannabis is booming. This market will generate unprecedented global investment activity and returns for cannabis-focused startups,” Medved said. “Together with 7thirty, we plan to lead investments for serious companies that will pioneer technology for this important and growing market.”

OurCrowd has already invested in Israeli cannabis technology companies such as Syqe Medical (which recently raised $50 million) and ag-tech company EdenShield.

The 7thirty Opportunity Fund is led by veteran cannabis technology investor Micah Tapman, formerly a co-founder at CanopyBoulder, where he led investments in some 90 cannabis-related companies. He was recently named one of 20 rising stars in the cannabis investment world by Business Insider.

Tapman said “Israel is a recognized leader and pioneer in cannabis technology, and OurCrowd has a demonstrated track record as a value-added investor. Together we plan to bring institutional discipline and rigor to the cannabis technology investment market.”

(via Israel21c)

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