Powered by WebAds

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

More Boycott News

Fresh on the heels of this story, I had the "pleasure" of reading this one this morning:
The lead architect tapped to head the $1.7 billion redesign of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center last month hosted the founding meeting of an association of professional building designers considering a boycott against Israel.

On February 2, Richard Rogers gave his office space for the inaugural meeting of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine in his London headquarters.

A statement from the new organization released on February 9 condemns any individual or company working on "occupied territory" as violating their professional ethics and being complicit in promoting "an apartheid system of environmental control."

Sigh. It doesn't surprise me that anti-Israel sentiment exists in this world, and that it manifests itself in the way of boycotts. That is nothing new. What I find so hard to believe is that the US government, both on a national and local level, finds it acceptable to hire companies and individuals who so clearly and publicly show their anti-Israel colors. I still have some hope that NY will back out of the Javits deal - the article seems to imply that they are considering their wiggle room in that direction. But our dear President of the rapidly plummeting approval ratings seems to be inexplicably digging in his heels in support of the ports deal, even in the face of the revelations that the Dubai company is an active and proud participant in the anti-Israel boycott.

Anyone else feeling a little abandoned by our government these days? Used to be that the US government, as opposed to the governments of Europe, was the only one that could be counted on to stand up against these types of anti-Israel sentiments. Seems like things might be changing around here. Scary.

18 Comments:

Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

I agree. As the boycott movement seems to be gathering steams, this issue is not going away. Especially when it comes to contractors with unique skills like architects or artists.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome to chutz laaretz. If anyone thinks that anywhere out there is better than anywhere else - you are wrong. Come to Israel.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

I'm not thrilled about the ports deal, but everyone's perception of what is actually happening is way off. The NYTimes had an excellent article in their Business Day section on Friday - sadly, their main section hasn't been nearly as straight about it.

CBS is getting ripped for their poll: Apparently, 40% of the people polled were Democrats, 33% Independents, and 27% Republicans. Were all sampled equally, the results would have likely been between 44 and 48% approval. *Very* different.

I know those were side points, but I felt I should point those out...

1:47 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Daled Amos had a post last night about the boycott issue which was very good as well; doesn't quite answer the issue, but it's a lot better than most people think.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe if George Pataki (who controls the Javits center and its renovation) didn't dole out state contracts like a dunken sailor to his cronies and campaign donors, we woundlnt be so suceptible to anti-semitic entities gaining entry so easily to the american taxpayers business...

2:54 PM  
Blogger Noyam said...

Just to play Devil's Advocate here, while I see the concern from the Jewish perspective, I don't think there's much that can or should be done.

Do we really want the government to start vetting contractors before starting a bidding process? As if this will reduce the amount of cronyism? You don't think that maybe VP Cheney's Hliburton in-dealing could then be justified with "Sure they cost more, but we know we can trust them."

We don't expect independent contractors to take the same oath of office that the President does. They don't swear to "uphold the constitution and the laws" and the certianly don't swear to agree with US foreign policy. It wouldn't be fair, and probably an unconstitutional infringement on these contractors' right to free association, to ban any company that advocates a boycott of Israel from doing business with America.

Now, again, this is a lamentable position. And certianly the US can urge American companies not to join to boycott, and to reaffirm America's position of support for Israel. But to refuse to do business with a company that is determining its own course of Financial dealings would just be wrong.

3:58 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

But to refuse to do business with a company that is determining its own course of Financial dealings would just be wrong.

Huh? In certain cases, yes. But the guy who lends his office and support to coordinating a new boycott of Israel? Should get a contract for a huge job in the City of New York? I don't agree.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Noyam said...

OM -

On what basis is it OK to make contract determinations based on someone's political agenda?

Saying "we won't give him the contract because he boycotts Israel" is a small step removed from "we won't give him a contract because he's a democrat" which is only a small step removed from "we won't give him a contract because he's Jewish."

Government contract should be awarded based on financial and economic factors, such as who made the lowest bona fide bid, who can get the job done the quickest, etc. It should not be based on whose politics we agree with.

Would you have the same problem if the director was Muslim and the meeting was to discuss a boycott of Denmark over the cartoons?

Would you have the same problem if the director was Jewish and the meeting was to discuss a boycott of Saudi Arabia?

In all cases, the company favors the boycott of an ally of the US. And in none of the cases, should that be the basis for determining who gets the contract.

Your gut feeling aside (that this is just wrong, and Pataki shouldn't humor this guy, especially in NYC), there's no fair, rational or legal basis for doing what you call for.

5:50 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Your gut feeling aside (that this is just wrong, and Pataki shouldn't humor this guy, especially in NYC), there's no fair, rational or legal basis for doing what you call for.

I completely disagree. There is no reason that a guy with views like these should be getting huge amounts of our tax dollars.
Let me ask you, Noyam, where do you draw the line? Would you allow a White supremacist or neo-nazi owned company to bid? Yes, the lines can get blurry - but we have to draw them somewhere. Being awarded a government contract is a benefit. There are all kinds of rules that make a company or individual unfit to bid for a contract. Why is this any different?

6:26 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

There are all kinds of rules that make a company or individual unfit to bid for a contract. Why is this any different?

You're trying to restrict any private commerce that doesn't fit into certain unspecified guidelines. That's pretty tricky to do without being racist. DP World hasn't done anything wrong; and despite their offical boycott, still has business dealings with Israel's largest shipping company (the Zim line). Do I like it? No. Do I think that something should be done? No - it will create much bigger future headaches.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Noyam said...

OM -

What Ezzie's saying is right. Even if you don't like it, that doesn't make it OK. You didn't really answer my question. How would you react if the director was Jewish and calling for a boycott of, say, France (to protest the burning of Synagogues). Certainly, that's a political agenda youwould support, yet, the reasoning to an impartial observer is identical. A private contractor calling for the boycott of an American ally based on political agenda. This hypothetical Jewish contractor would be as entitled to taxpayer money as the real one calling for the boycott of Israel.

It's not right (not to mention, unconstitutional) to decide that this guy is bad because you don't like his politics.

"There is no reason that a guy with views like these should be getting huge amounts of our tax dollars."

Actually, there is one very good one: he won a presumably fair, legal and open bidding process. (If otherwise, your qualms are different than Israeli policy, so don't pick nits with that point.)

Where would I draw the line? Simply, the same place that the US Government and the Supreme Court and US Law does. A contractor that illegally disfavors minorities or violates the Fair Housing Act, or calls for the destruction of America, or the violation of American Law or the constitution would not be entitled to bid for government contracts.

Anyone else, whatever his foreign policy, is allowed. Even if I don't like it. That's a free market, that's a democracy and that's America.

I get that you don't like it. I don't like it either. But it is what it is. There are certain things that we may not like that we have to accept in America. As long as this guy isn't saying "No Jews in my building" or advocating the violent overthrow if the government, he isn't unfit to get a government contract, regardless of the size of it, the location of it or how much taxpayer money he's getting.

8:07 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

You're trying to restrict any private commerce that doesn't fit into certain unspecified guidelines.

Private commerce? The Javits Center is government owned!!

8:38 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

I get that you don't like it. I don't like it either. But it is what it is. There are certain things that we may not like that we have to accept in America. As long as this guy isn't saying "No Jews in my building" or advocating the violent overthrow if the government, he isn't unfit to get a government contract, regardless of the size of it, the location of it or how much taxpayer money he's getting.

Oh, but he is, as long as he participates in a boycott of a US ally. And guess what? The architect himself agrees. He backed off the anti-boycott group. I will post on it shortly.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

ANyway, not awarding contracts to companies that act contrary to US foreign policy is nothing new and certainly not illegal. A perfect example is the Helms Burton act, which sanctions non-US businesses that violate the Cuban biycott.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'Private commerce? The Javits Center is government owned!!'

The Port Authority is also not a private business.

11:45 PM  
Anonymous REReader said...

But our dear President of the rapidly plummeting approval ratings seems to be inexplicably digging in his heels in support of the ports deal, even in the face of the revelations that the Dubai company is an active and proud participant in the anti-Israel boycott.

Um, hello? Bush? The long-time close associate of the Saudi Royal family? The born-again Christian who was willing, during his first presidential campaing, to tell a reporter outright that Jews can't go to heaven? The candidate who kept getting endorsements from all the Arab-American groups in both campaigns? The one who talked nice about supporting Israel while giving money to the Palestinians? Why is this even a tiny bit of a surprise?

12:06 AM  
Blogger kasamba said...

Once again Orthomom; great blog!

Rabbi Berel Wein once said that as Jews we always have to keep abreast of even subtle political changes that can be detrimental to us. We are Jews first and Americans second. If G-d forbid we should forget that, unfortunately there will always be those who will remind us.
Scary, huh?

3:25 AM  
Blogger Noyam said...

Krum -

There's no explicit US Foreign policy that makes boycotting Israel illegal, so this case isn't really analogous to the Helms Burton Act.

OM -

So anyone that boycotts a US ally doesn't get a contract? You don't think that, just maybe, that's sacting slightly in opposition to free trade and freedom of association?

Again, how would you react of the architect was Jewish and calling for a boycott of Saudi Arabia, also an ally of the US?

9:51 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home