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Kiwis protest NZ-Israel trade summit

NZ Palestine Solidarity Network

Media release.

Kiwis protest NZ-Israel trade summit - no business with Israel while the Occupation is business as usual

A meeting in Auckland tomorrow (Friday 11 November) designed to foster trade relationships with Israel has been described as “another Israeli public relations trick” by Auckland supporters of the Palestinian people.

Spark CEO Simon Moutter is heading a trade and innovation summit featuring Israeli businesses, after leading a group of New Zealand business leaders to Israel in June.

A spokesperson for the Palestine Solidarity Network, Janfrie Wakim, says Israel is trying to foster links with countries such as New Zealand for political not economic reasons.

“The Israeli government knows people throughout the word are increasingly supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against institutional Israeli racism, and it’s desperately trying to pretend Israel is everyone’s friend by diverting attention away from its international crimes,” she says.

The Palestine Solidarity Network points to the recent film cooperation agreement between Israel and New Zealand as an example of what it calls a “calculated entanglement of New Zealand with Israel’s propaganda apparatus”.

Wakim also says the visit to New Zealand of the Israeli Batshiva Dance Company in 2011 is another example of what she calls “an attempt to avoid world condemnation of Israel’s continuing occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, increasing racial discrimination in Israel and the continuing refusal to allow millions of expelled Palestinians to return to their homeland.”

“Just a few weeks ago the Israeli navy intercepted a vessel with MP Marama Davidson on board in international waters off the coast of besieged Gaza. There wasn’t any friendly talk of innovation going on then. The real military and oppressive face of Israel was on display instead.”

Wakim also disputes the possibilities of much trade development with Israel as a result of the summit meeting.

“The Israeli embassy has managed to wheel out the welcome mat for all sorts of New Zealand industry notables at this trade summit, but the reality is Israel has never bought much of our main exports and is never likely to.

“Israel is a world leader in equipment and weapons used for military surveillance and the brutal control of civilian populations. We surely have no need for that nasty oppressive stuff here”.

“You also can see Israeli behaviour here in New Zealand. It was the Israeli spy agency Mossad that was getting fake New Zealand passports in 2004. A warrant was issued in Auckland this time ten years ago for the arrest of the former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for alleged war crimes in Gaza, before he skipped the country.”

“New Zealand has international law responsibilities to do nothing to assist the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories. Hosting Israeli companies here, which are complicit in the Occupation, is sending the wrong message of business as usual.”

“The attempts of the Israelis in diplomatic, business and cultural areas to curry favour in New Zealand are just like the supporters here of South Africa’s apartheid system thirty years ago. It was the same message – politics has nothing to do with business, sport or culture – even if it came from a society as racially oppressive as Israel or South Africa. It was only when people saw the contacts with apartheid South Africa for what they were, that the apartheid system collapsed.”


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