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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Documenting the massive Veolia #BDSFail

From a report by Christian Middle East Watch:
★ In 2000 Veolia Transport became a minority shareholder in the consortium contracted to plan, build and operate a light rail transport system (LRT) in Jerusalem, running from the west to the north-east of the city, its route crossing the 1949 armistice line between Israeli and Jordanian forces. The LRT had been conceived following the Oslo Accords of 1993, as a means to bring together the Arab and Jewish populations of the city and to encourage growth and more efficient public transport.

★ Since its participation in the light rail consortium, Veolia has been the target in several countries of groups representing the Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In Britain, one aspect of this campaigning has been to pressure local councils and joint authorities to refuse to allow Veolia to bid for contracts or to reject bids submitted by Veolia (or even to terminate existing contracts). Councillors and councils are fully aware that, under UK regulations, they must not allow political considerations to affect commercial decisions in the bidding process.

★ In order to evaluate the true results of the BDS Veolia campaign in the face of dramatic claims of success at every turn, we sent freedom of information (FOI) requests to 18 councils that (a) had been the subject of a local BDS anti-Veolia campaign, and/or (b) had recently either accepted or rejected a Veolia bid for a future contract, and/or (c) were due to consider a Veolia bid in the near future, and/or (d) had voted on an anti-Veolia resolution, and/or (e) were the subject of claims of success by the BDS movement. Our FOI requests revealed that every one of these contracts was decided on straight commercial grounds and that political considerations were not applied in rejection of Veolia’s bids.

★ Our research included 17 situations where BDS campaigns had pressured local authorities to break their legal obligations in spending public money by asking them to deny Veolia the opportunity to bid for contracts or even to break existing contractual arrangements. We found that the BDS campaigns had failed in every case to achieve their aims.

★ The BDS campaign against Veolia has clearly failed and the main reason why is not hard to find. Any decision by a local authority to reject a commercial bid by Veolia on political grounds would be illegal; and even though the movement has tried to get round that by alleging “grave misconduct” on Veolia’s part (an exception under EU procurement regulations), council lawyers are highly unlikely to advise that participation in a legitimate light railway project in another country is an act of “grave misconduct”.

★ Furthermore, since Veolia never held more than a 5% stake in the LRT consortium and sold that stake in 2010, there is even less point in continuing to wage an empty and doomed campaign against a company no longer holding even a tiny financial stake in the project. The campaigners clearly sought to exploit Veolia's commercial dependence on UK public sector contracts, but have been defeated by the strict regulations governing the local authority bidding process.

★ In order to cover up its defeat, the BDS extremists have been reduced to constant repetition of the mantra that Veolia is “losing” contracts “following” BDS campaigns: a charade which this paper exposes.
The upshot is - BDSers are lying again, and did not succeed in forcing Veolia to lose a single contract.

Big surprise.


There is something else I just noticed.

You know how the BDSers always say that "Palestinian civil society" calls for their boycotts? I've discussed many times how most of the groups that signed on to the original BDS call were tiny groups (many of whom probably no longer exist) and many are not even from "Palestine."

But if you look at the original 2005 call for BDS, you see something interesting:
We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.
This appears to be a call for direct boycotts against Israel, not secondary boycotts against those who do business in Israel  - like Veolia.

Now, who did support secondary (and tertiary) boycotts against Israel?

The Arab League, continuing their policy of boycotting Jewish businesses since 1922!

The current BDS campaign didn't start in 2005 - it started as a purely anti-semitic initiative before Israel was born, and there is a straight line between the old Arab boycott of Jewish businesses, to the Arab boycott of Israel before "occupation," to the BDS movement today.