ACOM statement against anti-semitic libels

On 13th August, 2016, the network against the occupation of Palestine (Rescop) – the association in Spain of groups, collectives and “labels” backing the anti-Semitic campaign of boycott against Israel and those supporting the Jewish state – published a statement. In it they expressed their satisfaction with the number of municipalities that have declared themselves “Free of Israeli Apartheid” and back the boycott campaign. The statement also included strong accusations against ACOM, the reference pro Israel public diplomacy group in Spain.

ACOM will not answer the libels and malicious accusations against Israel. We will however underline that Israel is an oasis of freedom for minorities persecuted in the Middle East and home to the most persecuted of all.

Neither will ACOM comment on the ravings of those who accuse others of being “extremists” while glorifying terrorism under the same judeophobic banner as the jihadis and nazis. In contrast, ACOM, is a Spanish association (Rescop never uses the term Spain but instead “Spanish State”) made up of a group of volunteers who abhor racism and discrimination. ACOM has never received public funding from Israel, Spain or any other country. We challenge the groups that form the “Network against the occupation of Palestine” to say the same.

We doubt that they can due to the cosy relationship its supporters have with the Public Administration and the taxpayers’ money, regardless the colour of the government.

This is the case of the “Mundubat” association, for example, with a budget in 2015 of 4,069,422 euros, of which at least 3,750,884 euros were subsidies from various public institutions. It is not the the only one. “Paz y Dignidad” in 2015 has current assets of 4,276,728 euros, of which 2,975,911 was the initial balance of the subsidies granted.

To be fair, not all of the tens of franchises that participate in Rescop have this size: the “Asociacion Andaluza por la Solidaridad y la Paz” only received 493,861 euros of public funding in 2015.

The members of Rescop have received tens of millions of euros in public funding. Many members are merely a screen or a name, not registered as associations and they do not publish the required accounts.

Millions of euros of taxpayers’ money are squandered annually to this purpose. Thanks to the Spanish taxpayers’ money these groups have well paid employees and ample resources to persuade local government to execute illegal agreements to discriminate and coerce companies and individuals because of nationality, race, religion or political opinion.

Although their success is more than questionable (the boycott against Israel has only been adopted by some local councils in Spain, some of them after being misled into it and others that are governed by extremist groups) it is nonetheless worrying that about 2 million Spanish citizens live in a “Judenfrei” (“free of Jews”) area though this municipal agreements. So far, 51 town councils, 2 provincial governments and 1 Insular council support the anti-Semitic boycott of Israel.

What the supporters of the well subsidised Rescop omit to mention in their recent press release is that, despite their resources, their full time employees and the air cover provided by the Podemos-IU national party (over 20% of the vote in last national elections), with occasional support from PSOE, the socialist largest opposition party in Spain, town councils like those of provincial capitals Tarragona, Zamora, Cordoba and many others have refused to offer their support for the boycott after being informed about the discriminating and extremist nature of the campaign, considered illegal in some countries. In spite of their massive efforts, so far, only one of fifty provincial capitals has joined. Neither do they mention the fact that this year the boycott has being declared null and void in judicial resolutions and withdrawn in six cities after legal action started by ACOM. Or that six court orders have suspended the boycott in other towns pending final declaration of illegality. The statement from Rescop does not explain that the reasons for these court decisions is unlawful discrimination, antisemitism, the violation of constitutional rights and liberties and breach of International Law. Neither do they mention that the legal defence of the proponents of the boycott in all 50 cases presented by ACOM before the courts and those still in process is always based on the denial that the boycott has any real efficacy.

Rescop statement affirms ACOM’s desire to undermine local democracy, civil liberties and freedom of expression. To these accusations ACOM responds that our constitutional system is the best form of defence in the face of abuse and coercion. Only those who break the law would consider it a threat.

The statement invokes freedom of expression to defend the right to boycott Israeli interests. But the judges have already decided that the groups that support the boycott exercise unconstitutional discrimination comparable to xenophobia and racism. It is a sarcasm that Rescop demands banning judicial action against boycott agreements by anybody that opposes Rescop’s intentions to marginalise and exclude from civil, social and economic life the friends of Israel in Spain.

The freedom of city councillors to offer and debate opinions is extensive – in ACOM’s opinion, it should be almost unrestricted – not only because of freedom of expression, but also due to the constitutional right to political participation through representatives elected by popular vote. However, that has to be compatible with freedom of individuals that do not have the privilege of public office and want to ensure City Council decisions respect the law and limits of their competences.

The boycott against Israel – whose target is all companies and organisations of one specific country and those associated in any way with this country – is adorned with the attributes of the most intolerable discrimination: it affects individuals and companies NOT because of any particular behaviour but because of who they are, their origin or where their sympathies lie. It would seem that Rescop in its totalitarianism does not understand that, whilst individuals have fundamental constitutional rights, the Administration only has the duty to serve in the public interest. Governments do not enjoy a freedom of expression that is applied to harm and discriminate a group of citizens.

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