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 The War in Context
   alternative perspectives on the "war on terrorism"


COMMENT -- While the feebleness of George Bush's recent appeals for the Israeli Defense Force to "withdraw [from the Occupied Territories] without delay" was clearly regarded by Ariel Sharon as an indication that the US administration dare not stand in his way, the real leverage that the US possesses in abundance (even if it lacks the political will) is economic power. Although the US Congress, beholden to pro-Israeli special interests, may not be willing to cut off aid to Israel, the European Union is not encumbered by the same constraints. Fear of European economic sanctions is already sending shockwaves through the Israeli economy. Those US citizens who may be experiencing frustration in their attempts to influence their own legislators may find that expressing support for European sanctions is a viable alternative means to exert political influence. See below for contact information at the European Union.

Continental divide
Growing talk in Europe of trade sanctions, embargoes and boycotts against Israeli goods may already be hurting the local economy

Leora Eren Frucht, Jerusalem Post, April, 21 2002

The EU is Israel's most important trade partner, accounting for 31 percent of exports and 41 percent of imports last year. The wide-ranging economic ties are regulated by the 1995 EU-Israel Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement, which grants Israel preferential trade status with the EU (and lays out the legal framework for relations between Israel and the 15-member body.) Last week the EU Parliament called for a suspension of this agreement, effectively demanding trade sanctions against Israel. The clause invoked by the parliament is the one stating that "all provisions of the agreement are to be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles which guide the internal and international policies of the parties."

"This vote wasn't the result of the whim of a few anti-Israel parliamentarians. They didn't act in a vacuum. They were affected by public opinion in their countries," says Avi Primor, former ambassador to Europe.

"Our real concern," concurs Alon of the Agriculture Ministry, "is that these recommendations represent part of a wider trend that 'Israel is not okay.'"

The mere discussion of sanctions could have grave economic consequences.

"There is a bad smell in the air of a general embargo, one that threatens our trade with all of Europe, spreading to other key markets," said Dan Gillerman, president of the Federation of Israel Chambers of Commerce last week. "The call [by European parliaments] for sanctions could lead other countries independently to set aside their economic ties with us, leading to less investment in the Israeli economy."
[The complete article]

Contacts in the European Union:
Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission: Romano.Prodi@cec.eu.int
Guy Legras, Director-General External Relations, European Commission: Guy.Legras@cec.eu.int
Gunter Burghardt, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission based in Washington DC: Gunter.Burghardt@cec.eu.int
European Parliament: civis@europarl.eu.int

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September 11 and the declaration of a "war on terrorism," has forced Americans to look at the World in a new light. No one can afford any longer to define the limits of their concerns by refusing to look beyond this nation's borders. If the freedom that every American cherishes, is not to become a freedom bound within a fortress, then every American will need to understand and respect the needs and concerns of the rest of the World. To this end, The War in Context invites anyone with interest and an open mind to listen to the critical discourse in which the policies and actions of the Bush administration are now being questioned. This debate, which is engaging inquiring minds inside and outside America, will hopefully inform the development of a sustainable new world order - a world order in which America is as much shaped by the World as is the World shaped by America.