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The Daily TIP: Legal Expert Slams Hypocrisy of UN’s “Unprecedented” Israel Blacklist

Posted by Tip Staff - June 20, 2017

Legal Expert Slams Hypocrisy of UN's "Unprecedented" Israel Blacklist
Germany Agrees to Show “Censored” Documentary on Anti-Semitism as Public Pressure Grows
Fmr. Italian FM: Europe Should Adopt a "More Assertive Policy" Against Iranian Aggression
Adaptation of Award-Winning Israeli Film to Open on Broadway this Fall

Legal Expert Slams Hypocrisy of UN's "Unprecedented" Israel Blacklist

Northwestern University Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich presented the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday with a report documenting business dealings in occupied territories around the world, underscoring the hypocrisy behind the council's decision to compile a blacklist only of companies operating in the West Bank.

In a presentation explaining the study, Kontorovich, who also heads the International Law Department at the Kohelet Policy Forum, observed that some 44 companies from countries including Sweden, Switzerland, France and Germany operate in different occupied territories around the world.

"The study reveals that international businesses play a crucial role supporting occupation and settlement enterprises around the world in places such as Western Sahara, Northern Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Crimea," Kontorovich said, but "the Council has never condemned any of this business activity."

The study describes the blacklist, which was approved by the UN earlier this year, as "absolutely unprecedented" and warns that it could ultimately be used to sanction companies operating in areas of the West Bank under Israeli control. Noting that there is no similar list of companies operating in any other occupied territory, Kontorovich asserted that "the activity the Council treats as criminal when Israel is involved is regarded as unremarkable anywhere else."

He added that the blacklist of Israeli companies operating in the West Bank is "based on a false premise that businesses violate human rights when the work in an occupied territory. The Council itself does not really believe that." He illustrated this by observing, "The two countries that depend on business support for their settlement enterprises, Turkey (Northern Cyprus) and Morocco (Western Sahara), both voted for the Israel blacklist."

Consequently, the blacklist can't be said to be the result of a universal application of the principles of international law, but "a specific effort to delegitimize Israel."

Kontorovich warned that compiling a blacklist of companies operating in the West Bank could have implications for companies operating in other occupied territories, because though "the Council wants to confine this to Israel," the "law knows no borders."

“The extensive business activity in occupied territory around the world, which goes unmentioned by the UN and NGOs, demonstrates the utter indifference to human rights that are not tied to the UN’s obsessive and politicized focus on Israel,” Anne Herzberg, legal advisor to NGO Monitor, said in a statement released by the group ahead of Kontorovich's presentation. “International law does not prohibit businesses from operating in occupied territories, yet UN bureaucracy is again mobilized to deliberately target Israel.”

Kontrovich in June 2015 critiqued French telecom operator Orange for pulling out of Israel, ostensibly because it didn't want to operate in occupied territories, while maintaining its presence in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is illegally occupied by Armenia.

In October 2015, it was revealed that a prominent activist advocating for the boycott of Israel was on the board of a group that supported the illegal occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Germany Agrees to Show “Censored” Documentary on Anti-Semitism as Public Pressure Grows

Germany’s public broadcaster has announced it will show a documentary on anti-Semitism in Europe after accusations of political censorship, The Times of Israel reported Monday.

The documentary titled “Chosen and Excluded – Jew Hatred in Europe,” directed by Joachim Schröder and Sophie Hafner, has become the subject of great controversy over the last five months.

The documentary was originally commissioned and approved by Germany’s public broadcaster WDR on behalf of its partner channel Arte. The Franco-German TV network, however, refused to show the documentary over accusations of pro-Israel bias in violation of production guidelines.

ARD’s decision to air the documentary on Wednesday comes after mounting public pressure and accusations of political censorship. Germany’s prominent tabloid Die Bild Zeitung leaked the documentary last Tuesday and made it available on its website for 24 hours to protest the boycott.

Julian Reichelt, Bild’s editor-in-chief, raised the suspicion that the documentary was being withheld to hide inconvenient truths about modern-day anti-Semitism in Europe. “It is suspected that the documentary is not being shown [on television] because it is politically unsuitable and because the film shows an antisemitic worldview in wide parts of society that is disturbing,” Reichel wrote on Bild’s website.

Emmanuel Nahshon, the spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, told Benjamin Weinthal of The Jerusalem Post last Thursday, “Israel believes the film should be shown and we find the decision not to show it very disturbing. Bild is to be congratulated for its initiative. The European public opinion should know the truth.”

The film will air on Wednesday, June 21 on WDR at 10:15 p.m. (CET).

Fmr. Italian FM: Europe Should Adopt a "More Assertive Policy" Against Iranian Aggression

Italy's former foreign minister urged European nations to join with the United States in adopting a "more assertive policy" with regards to Iran in a commentary published Sunday on Fox News.

Giulio Terzi, who served as Italy's foreign minister from 2011 to 2013, warned that if Iran "emerges from the nuclear agreement with improved delivery systems" that could target Europe, this "would constitute an immediate threat for European security and peace." He criticized the European Union for being "slow to adapt to the new geopolitical reality" of Iran's increasing aggression since the implementation of the nuclear deal, which he blamed on "a false narrative and the political environment encouraged by the [nuclear deal]."

Since the accord was supposed to encourage more ties with Iran, "European leaders and businesses are ill-advisedly rushing" to take advantage of the new markets. But Terzi noted that increased business will only strengthen Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which "currently controls more than half of the Iranian gross domestic product." This makes it "nearly impossible to invest in the Islamic Republic without financing directly or indirectly the nuclear-capable missile program, as well as terrorist organizations and Iranian military interventions and 'ethnic cleansing' in the Syrian and Yemeni civil wars."

The IRGC has also shared some of its missile technology with Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have threatened Saudi Arabia and international shipping lanes. Additionally, it directs Iranian proxies including Hezbollah and Shi'ite militias in Iraq, and supports terrorist organizations including Hamas.

Terzi praised the White House for appearing to adopt an "assertive policy" towards Iran and putting it "on notice." He called on the U.S. and Europe to support democratic opposition to the regime, both inside Iran and abroad.

Ultimately, Iran's support of terror and illicit weapons program "must be constrained," Terzi wrote. He called on all European nations "to get on board" in confronting Iran.

In January 2016, Terzi predicted that though the P5+1 nations and Iran had begun implementing the nuclear deal, it "will neither make the Middle East safer nor fundamentally change the nature of the Iranian regime and its conduct in the region." Given the continuing bloodshed and increasing tensions in Syria, for example, his assessment appears to be accurate.

Adaptation of Award-Winning Israeli Film to Open on Broadway this Fall

A Broadway musical based on the multiple award-winning Israeli film “The Band’s Visit” is set to open on Broadway this fall, with previews scheduled to begin October 7 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City’s theater district.

The 2007 film depicts an Egyptian police band that arrives in Israel to play a concert in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva but ends up stranded in a remote desert town called Beit HaTikva by mistake. The sweet story unfolds as the wary travelers are forced to depend on the kindness of Israeli locals to put them up for the night.

American playwright Itamar Moses and composer David Yazbek (“The Full Monty”) adapted the film, which was written and directed by Israeli screenwriter and director Eran Kolirin and won numerous awards from the Israeli Film Academy and international film festivals.

Last December, the musical won eight awards for its critically acclaimed four-week run off-Broadway, and is nominated for seven Drama Desk awards. It was directed by David Cromer, choreographed by Patrick McCollum and starred Tony Shalhoub, John Cariani and Katrina Lenk. Cromer and McCollum will reprise their roles in the Broadway version as well. The cast has not yet been announced.

(via Israel21c)

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