On 15 November, hundreds gathered in Dublin, Ireland for a demonstration against the CRH Irish construction company. The demonstration was organized by the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (IPSC).
CRH owns 25% of Mashav (“resource” in Hebrew), an Israeli company controlled by the Israeli billionaire Nochi Dankner.
CRH purchased Mashav back in 2001, but the demonstrations came as a response to Mashav”s move to purchase the Hanson construction-materials company.
According to the “Who Profits?” website of the Coalition of Women for Peace, Hanson Israel operates concrete plants in two Israeli settlements: Modiin Illit and Atarot, and an asphalt plant and a quarry in the settlement of Elqana.
It should be noted that such factories, in addition to being an essential part of the illegal colonization process of the West Bank by Israel, are also harvesting Palestinian natural resources for generating profits to Israeli companies. The natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territories include stone and marble, which could generate vital income to a future Palestinian state. The practice of harvesting these resources by Israeli companies, which was documented by the Yesh Din organization, amounts to a classical colonial exploitation of occupied lands.
Mashav itself is a holding company which owns the Nesher Israeli Cement Enterprises, a company providing cement for the Wall of Separation and other military installations and colonization projects in the occupied West Bank.
The demonstrators demanded that CRH divest from Mashav and disassociate itself from the Israeli occupation. They reminded CRH that the company boasts on their website that CRH is committed to corporate and social responsibility, and that investing in the occupation is a clear violation of that pledge.
Hanson Israel has been the target of boycott pressures before, when the HeidelbergCement company was sued for its ownership of Hanson Israel, following a report by the Yesh Din organization which exposed Hanson”s theft of Palestinian resources, an Israeli court decided to freeze the quarries” expansion for six months. Due to the pressure, HiedelbergCement decided to sell its share of Hanson Israel to Mashav.
The demonstration in Ireland was covered by the Israeli economic newspaper TheMarker, under the title “Is the Boycott of Israel Expanding?” indicating a growing sensitivity of the Israeli business community to the growing economic pressure.
The pressure on CRH is especially interesting in the context of the successful pressure applied against Lev Leviev and his company Africa Israel. Leviev”s business empire has been targeted by many organizations and campaigns due to his involvement in illegal construction of settlements in the occupied territories. Leviev”s empire took a serious financial hit due to the international economic crisis, and following a series of divestments from Africa Israel (most notably by the BlackRock British company), Leviev was unable to raise enough money in new loans in order to make his regular payments on his standing debt. Leviev had to reach an agreement with his bond-holders and with several banks in order to save Africa Israel from bankruptcy.
This time, with the demonstrators directing their energies to expose the Mashav company, the Israeli targeted is Nochi Dankner, one of Israel”s strongest businessmen. Dankner has recently bought into the Credit Swiss bank and the Carfour supermarket chain, which makes him particularly vulnerable to boycott pressures in Europe. It should be noted that Dankner”s business empire has accumulated debts even deeper than Lev Leviev”s empire, and what happened to Africa Israel could be repeated for the companies I.D.B and Koor in which Dankner has control.
The developments regarding Hanson Israel seem to indicate that the boycott movement against Israel is indeed rapidly gaining momentum.
* WhoProfits website.
* Habeeb, Sameh A., 2009, “Dublin: Hundreds Attend Rally Against Israeli Apartheid in Palestine,” The Palestine Telegraph, 15 November 2009.
* Halpern, Nimrod, 2009, “The Boycott of Israel Expanding? Calls for the Irish Construction Giant CRH to Eliminate Its Holding of Mashav,” TheMarker, 18 November 2009.
* Nieuwhof, Adri, 2009, “HeidelbergCement Tries to Sell West Bank Mines as Legal, Boycott Pressures Grow,” Electronic Intifada, 13 July 2009.
* Nieuwhof, Adri, 2009, “Irish Construction Giant Digs Deeper into Occupation,” Electronic Intifada, 18 August 2009.
* Rinat, Tzafrir, 2008, “”Yesh Din”: Israel is Using the Natural Resources of the Occupied Territory for Its Own Purposes,” Ha”aretz, 15 December 2008.