UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

Puma is urged to ignore anti-Israel boycott calls

UKLFI, together with the Zionist Advocacy Centre, have written to the CEO of Puma International to congratulate him on continuing to sponsor the Israeli Football Association and to counter the anti-Israel groups who have been urging Puma to withdraw its sponsorship.

Anti-Israel campaigners have been pressurising Puma to withdraw from sponsoring the Israeli Football Association on the ground that some of its sanctioned football matches take place in so-called West Bank Settlements.

We wrote to remind Puma that boycotts relating to the West Bank are both immoral and costly to firms as was recently learned by Unilever and Airbnb.

Our letter explained that boycotts of trade with the “West Bank” are an antisemitic strategy to attack the Jewish state. They are a “camel’s nose” strategy because enemies of Israel realize that they cannot get support for general boycotts of Israel and so they call for West Bank boycotts as a first step towards a total boycott.

There are over 100 areas in the world which are disputed and/or occupied territories — in Asia, in Africa, and even in Europe.  Nevertheless, there are no calls for boycotts of parties in these other disputes (for example, boycotts relating to the Turkish presence in Cyprus or the Moroccan presence in Western Sahara.) Simply put, anti-Israel boycott activity is in actuality an attempt to put a social justice gloss on an ancient tradition of Jew hatred.

Fortunately, laws against Israel boycotts recognize this new strategy by defining Israel boycott activity as including “taking other actions to limit commercial relations with Israel, or persons or entities doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories.”  See e.g. Florida Tax & Finance Law Section 215.4725(1)(a).  In other words, these laws correctly treat these camel’s nose activities the same as full-on Israel boycotts.

As well as moral reasons, there are practical reasons for refusing to take part in Israel boycotts. For example Unilever, a large international conglomerate, announced in July  2021 that its subsidiary, Ben & Jerry’s would be permitted to engage in anti-Israel boycott activity.  Serious civil consequences for Unilever resulted from that decision.

Several U.S. States announced that their pension funds would divest from Unilever, including New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Texas.  There were also numerous civil lawsuits and other civil proceedings which were either filed or planned to be filed at the time Unilever ultimately changed course and reversed the boycott.

Similar things happened before Airbnb reversed a planned West Bank boycott.

Anti-Israel activists are constantly urging third parties to get involved in the Arab-Israel conflict and to engage in anti-Israel boycott activity.  These activists sometimes make the claim that such boycott activity is protected under the United States constitution and similar provisions of laws of other countries.  Simply put, these claims are incorrect.  For example, in June 2022 the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit upheld Arkansas’ Israel anti-boycott law against a Constitutional challenge.

In order to support commerce with Israel, David Abrams has invested in Puma by purchasing a share and encourages others to do so as well.

Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UKLFI, commented:

“The Israeli Football Association strongly promotes mutual respect, equality and tolerance of different groups in Israel. We commend Puma for their sponsorship and for rejecting the BDS campaign of hate and division.”