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October 7, 2022 3:29 pm
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American Jewish Committee Calls for End of Arab League Israel Boycott, Welcomes New US Penalties

avatar by Andrew Bernard

A Palestinian boy looks on near graffiti boycotting Israel in Bethlehem, November 3, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Stephen Farrell/File Photo.

The American Jewish Committee on Friday welcomed new U.S. Commerce Department rules designed to more strongly counter the Arab League’s boycott of Israel while also calling for the 76 year old boycott to end.

“We appreciate that the Biden administration has made enforcement against the Arab League boycott a priority as one of its tools in fighting antisemitism and anti-Zionist sentiment,” AJC CEO Ted Deutch told The Algemeiner on Friday. “As more Arab nations have taken the sensible step of establishing diplomatic and economic relations with Israel, the Arab League should take a hint and end this misguided boycott once and for all. Just as the BDS movement has shown, boycotts that seek to demonize Israel and call for its destruction are ultimately doomed to fail.”

Under the revised regulations announced on Thursday, companies charged with acquiescing to the unsanctioned foreign government boycott will face larger fines and will have to admit wrongdoing before resolving any boycott charges.

The Arab League, a regional organization in the Arab world made up of at least 20 member nations, adopted the initial elements of the boycott in 1945 before Israel’s foundation as a state. Together with the Arab League’s 1967 “Three Nos” policy (No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel), the boycott policy is one of the elements of regional politics that has been most dramatically reversed by the Abraham Accords, which established relations between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain and were later joined by Morocco. Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan ended the participation of those countries in the boycott.

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“Holdouts, like Assad’s Syria, have categorically rejected ‘normalization’ with Israel. And in May, Iraq passed a law that even criminalizes normalization of relations with Israel,” said Matthew Axelrod, Assistant Commerce Secretary for Export Enforcement, at a meeting with AJC on Thursday.

Congress first barred American companies from complying with the Arab boycott in 1977. While current law prevents US companies from agreeing to any unsanctioned foreign boycott, the Office of Antiboycott Compliance at the Commerce Department notes that “the Arab League boycott of Israel is the principal unsanctioned foreign boycott that U.S. persons must be concerned with today.”

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