Friday, 16 August 2013

Israel's finance minister frets over economic impact of growing boycott movement

Israel’s finance minister has denounced what he called growing anti-Israeli sentiment overseas and raised concerns over its impact on the country’s export-based economy even as its leaders sit down for peace talks with the Palestinians. In an interview with the Financial Times, Yair Lapid, the centrist former television presenter who was the big winner in January’s elections, said he was concerned anti-Israel lobby groups in Europe were gaining more legitimacy to “do their thing”, which would be “more and more painful” to Israel economically.

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The past decade had seen a growth in lobby groups talking of “the new apartheid” in Israel, raising the spectre of the country being economically isolated as South Africa was in the 1980s, Mr Lapid said. “We are not there yet,” he said of the country’s isolation, but added: “I’m not going to pretend that this doesn’t hurt us.”

Mr Lapid criticised as “horrible” last month’s publication of new EU guidelines restricting access to European funds for Israeli entities operating on occupied Palestinian lands.

The move by the EU, which also plans to adopt guidelines on labelling Jewish settlement-produced goods by year-end, had hurt prospects for reaching a peace deal by emboldening radical groups that oppose a two-state solution, he said. “What does it say to the Islamic Jihad and Hamas and all those people who really want to stop the negotiation?” he asked. “It allows them to go to [Palestinian President] Abu Mazen and tell him, ‘See, you don’t need to do anything; all you need to do is sit on the sidelines and wait until the Jewish state will suffocate from the international pressure. “There is a lot of plain old-fashioned anti-semitism out there disguised as peace-loving, pro-whatever, 1960s kind of slogans that is hurting us,” he said on Thursday. “You don’t want to have more things like this EU decision, and you don’t want to have markets closed down.” Mr Lapid’s remarks are the latest indication that Israel’s growing diplomatic isolation over the occupation is raising concern about possible economic consequences at the highest levels of Israel’s government. more

Israeli PR official warned against spreading abuse on Facebook

A senior government official responsible for promoting positive images of Israel on social media networks has been ordered to stop posting offensive statements on his Facebook page.

The gagging order followed a series of trenchant comments made by Daniel Seaman, who recently took up the post of head of Israeli public diplomacy on the internet, over the past few months.

They included a response to a demand by the Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, for an end to new settlement expansion that read: "Is there a diplomatic way of saying 'Go F*** yourself'?"

At the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset, Seaman posted: "Does the commencement of the fast of the Ramadan means that Muslims will stop eating each other during the daytime?"

In response to a Church of Scotland report that argued that Jews do not have a divine right to the land, he wrote: "Why do they think we give a flying F*** what you have to say?" more

Israeli military admits misrepresenting Malaysian shopping centre as a mall in Gaza

PETALING JAYA: A photo of an upscale shopping mall in Malaysia was mistakenly used by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) on its blog to depict a seemingly normal life in Gaza.

In a post entitled "What Happened to the Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza?" the photograph, which shows Suria KLCC's centre court was accompanied with the caption "the shopping mall for the latest caption from overseas".

According to The Jerusalem Post, the image was part of 17 other allegedly accurate photographs of Gazan life.

The report cited the IDF apologising for the error, saying that it was an "innocent mistake" and the photo has since been removed.

"It was an innocent mistake. The picture was removed when we learned (of the error)," the IDF was quoted as saying.

The blog post, which was published on Aug 12, claimed that Gaza was not an "open-air prison" as was reported by the media.

"Sun, beach, shopping: these are the types of things that define summer all over the world, and Gaza is no different," said the blog post.

The photos, among others, showed Palestinians going to modern-looking grocery stores, playing beach volleyball and having free access to a luxury hotel and enjoying nightlife.

"As you can see, there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Many Gazans have money, food and even luxuries that much of the world goes without. more