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Boycott calls disappointing: KFOI

Kiwi Friends of Israel

Boycott calls disappointing: KFOI

Kiwi Friends of Israel, a newly formed Israel support group, says calls to boycott Israel are misguided and disappointing.

Global Peace and Justice Auckland, a radical left activist group led by employees of the UNITE union, has publicly backed www.big.org.nz in its calls for a comprehensive boycott of Israel, comparing the liberal democracy to Apartheid South Africa.

"It is disappointing to hear Global Peace and Justice Auckland (GPJA) and other anti-Israel groups smearing Israel by comparing the situation on the ground to Apartheid South Africa. Israel is a liberal and pluralistic democracy where Jews from countries ranging from America to Ethiopia to Yemen work and live alongside large and vibrant Arab communities."

"Arab Israelis make up 19% of Israel's population and are well represented in its Parliament, the Knesset. They are treated as first class citizens with all of the rights and responsibilities of other citizens of Israel, with the sole exception being that they can choose to opt out of military service.

"Comparing Israel to Apartheid South Africa is not only grossly offensive and factually incorrect, it also trivialises the horror and savagery of South Africa's apartheid regime, a regime Israel boycotted from 1987."

Mr Brownlee says calls for a boycott also ignore the reality that boycotting Israeli-made goods would mean a New Zealand with fewer medicines for the sick and computers and other technology ten years behind the rest of the world.

"The BIG campaign purports to list all Israeli goods available in New Zealand but the list is pretty short, consisting mostly of some pretzels available from PAK'nSAVE and a work horse available from Mitre 10.

"The organisers of the campaign are either being deliberately deceitful or are unaware of the extent of Israel's contribution to the world. Israel has been at the forefront of technological and biomedical developments for sixty years. Just some of the advances to come out of Israel include:

* Two of the world's most widely used multiple-sclerosis drugs, Copaxone and Rebif, developed from research carried out at Weizmann Institute of Science.

* A biological control for mosquitoes and black flies that cause malaria and river blindness, saving the sight and lives of millions of people in Africa and China, developed by a scientist at Ben-Gurion

* A highly effective drug Exelon for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and dementia

* Velcade, an effective new cancer drug that treats multiple myeloma, is based on research by two Technion-Israel Institute of Technology professors

* BioPetroClean, developed by Tel Aviv University, a safe environmentally-friendly technology for cleaning oil spills in seas around the globe

* Proneuron Biotechnologies, an Israeli company, is developing a therapy for Parkinson's with support from the Michael J. Fox Foundation

* An Israeli scientific team from the Technion has succeeded in creating in the laboratory beating heart tissue from human embryonic stem cells

* Researchers at the Hebrew University and the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge have isolated the protein that triggers stress in order to try to treat post-traumatic stress syndrome

* The Pentium NMX Chip was designed at Intel in Israel. Both the Pentium 4 microprocessor and the Centrum processor were designed, developed and produced in Israel

* Most of the Windows operating systems was developed by Microsoft-Israel, as was voice mail technology

* Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the US in Israel, attracted by the high quality of engineers

"A boycott of Israeli goods, on spurious grounds, would leave many sick and suffering Kiwis without the medicines they need and less access to much of the technology we take for granted."

ENDS

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