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ISRAEL

Jewish NGO wants YMCA rapped for Israel boycott

The leading global anti-Semitism watchdog has called on the international Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) to denounce its Norwegian arm, after the group joined a boycott on goods and services made in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Jewish NGO wants YMCA rapped for Israel boycott
"Palestinian folk dance" at a KFUM festival in Denmark, 2013. Photo: Christian Roar Pedersen
Israel's Simon Wiesenthal Center has written to the Secretary General of the Geneva-based World Alliance of YMCAs, arguing for it to take action against its Norwegian arm. 
 
“It is outrageous that any branch of a respected organization which prides itself on inclusion and tolerance would embrace the anti-Semitic poison of the radical anti-Israel BDS campaign,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the centre's association Dean wrote in the letter. 
 
He argued that the boycott was "totally opposite" to the YMCA's stated aims of “fostering dialogue and partnership between people of different faiths and ideologies and recognizing the cultural identities of people.” 
 
Rather than helping Palestinians, he argued, the boycott's "sole goal is to demonize and isolate the lone democracy in the Middle East, the Jewish State of Israel." 
 
Late last month the Norwegian branch of the YMCA, KFUK-KFUM, aligned itself with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, arguing that it was the best way to pressure the country to end its illegal occupation of and settlements in Palestinian territories. 
 
On February 21st, KFUK-KFUM wrote on its Facebook page that it was supporting the boycott. 
 
"We are supporting a broad economic boycott of Israel in the fight against the occupation of Palestine," it wrote. "We are doing this in order to contribute to a solution which will bring  a just peace for BOTH PARTIES."
 
"God created all people in his image, equal in dignity, and that human dignity is now violated daily in the Palestinian territories."
 
It later said that it made the statement at the request of the Palestinian YMCA and YWCA, with whom it had worked for 40 years. 
 

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ISRAEL

Norway’s biggest trade union angers Israel with boycott

Norway's biggest trade union voted Friday in favour of a boycott against Israel, a decision immediately condemned by Israeli diplomats who judged it "immoral".

Norway's biggest trade union angers Israel with boycott
File image of Israel's ambassador to Norway, Raphael Schutz. Photo: Tore Meek/Scanpix

The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) went against a recommendation from its leadership and voted 197 to 117 in favour of an international economic, cultural and academic boycott against Israel because of the current impasse over the Palestine issue.

LO, which also called for Norway to recognise a Palestinian state according to the 1967 borders, was criticised by the government.

“Norwegian government strongly opposes Norw Labour Union's decision: #boycott of #Israel. We need more cooperation and dialogue, not boycott,” Foreign Minister Borge Brende wrote on Twitter.

Israel's embassy in Oslo said it “condemns in the strongest terms” the boycott.

“This immoral resolution reflects deeply rooted attitudes of bias, discrimination and double standard towards the Jewish state,” ambassador Raphael Schutz wrote in an email to AFP.

Noting that LO had also called for the dismantling of a barrier erected by Israel separating it from the Palestinian territories, Schutz said that “by adopting these positions LO placed itself shoulder to shoulder with the worst enemies of Israel”.

Norway hosted Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in the early 1990s that led to the now-defunct Oslo accords.

READ ALSO: Trondheim approves boycott of Israeli settlement goods