Due to the Flotilla: Business people in Europe: “We are prohibited from doing business with you”

The Marker — 14 June 2010
By Ora Koren


[Translated by Dena Bugel-Shunra*]

Exclusive from Yehuda Talmon: “Companies that had been proud of their ties with the Ministry of Defense delete them from the site, as this has become cause for terminating business relationships.”

Israel businessmen have received about ten letters over the past two weeks from their colleagues in Italy, Germany, and Sweden, who demand that they do not manufacture dual use products – for civilian and security use.

The companies that sent the letters have declared that if they do not receive this kind of confirmation, their ethical codes oblige them to sever contacts with the Israeli companies, yesterday stated Yehuda Talmon, head of the Indpendent Contractors Organization (LAHAV).

“A phenomenon has started of members of the [LAHAV] bureau receiving communications from businessmen in Europe, including ones who have had commercial contacts with them for 10 or 20 years, who say that under the company’s ethical code – it is prohibited from doing business with them if they produce dual-use products, directly or indirectly.”

“Even if the company produces an assembly for a Ministry of Defense vehicle, it is ineligible as far as its client in Europe is concerned,” stated Talmon. “That makes companies, which had been proud of their relationships with the Ministry of Defense as a sales promoter, delete them from their sites, as it is becoming cause for the severing of business relationships.”

Last week Shraga Brosh, who heads the Financial Organization Coordination Bureau, received a letter from Rifat Hisharkiklioglu [sp?], chair of the Associagion of Manufacturing and Commercial Bureaus in Turkey (TOBB). In this letter he attacked Israel about the flotilla affair and called on Turkish companies to reconsider their business relationships with Israel. An inquiry by the Association of Industrialists found that this letter was sent to TOBB members.

As far as is currently known, this is the first directive sent by the leaders of the Turkey commercial sector to their colleagues against doing business with Israel. To date, Turkish businessmen assumed that they could continue doing business with Israel, despite political tensions.

“Governments come and go but business remains,” was the popular adage in Istanbul.

Another development came from the security industries. An Israeli security industry which was negotiating a deal in Spain recently reported to the Ministry of Industry and COmmerce that the potential partner has been evading communication with it ever since the Flotilla affair. The Gamatronic company, which works in the field of electricity and produces, among other things, generators, last wee reported that a Swiss company cancelled a deal with her following the Gaza Flotilla events.

In the course of his visit in South Korea last week the Minister of Inudstry and Commerce, Binyamin Ben Eliezer, heard reports from additional companies about difficulties with communications about collaboration as a result of the Flotilla Affair. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce fears that the “quiet cancellations” of these transactions – the ones that do not make media headliens – will expand and damage Israeli commerce.

At the end of the visit Ben Eliezer told the members of the business delegation that “The State of Israel is under a political seige which will only get worse. In this period the government must help you, and we will help you. You will have to tell us about ever feeling you have about damage to business, embargoes, and politicization of commerce. We may be able to stop things before they snowball.”

*Dena Bugel-Shunra
Washington State Registered Court Interpreter ID 10643

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