Divestment effort targets Iranians

Boycott to start with Air France, Bosch and BMW.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
June 13, 2010 02:17
2 minute read.
Illustrative photo

stocks 311. (photo credit: AP)

Jews around the world must boycott companies that continue to do business with Iran and should not buy their stock, according to Shai Ba’aton, an Israeli financial strategist who is initiating a new divestment campaign.

In a story first reported by Maariv, Ba’aton will contact President Shimon Peres on Sunday to ask him to serve as honorary chairman of the new effort. He will then write 52,000 Israeli companies and businessmen, and rabbis and other Jewish community leaders around the world.

“We got a list of companies that have been formally warned by their home countries, the International Atomic Energy Association, or the international community not to do business with Iran but continued, and we decided to work to punish the companies economically,” said media strategist Tom Wegner, who is working with Ba’aton.

Wegner and Ba’aton decided that rather than try to get consumers to memorize a list of 120 companies that do business with Iran, they would initially focus on just three: Air France and German companies Bosch and BMW. Other companies will gradually be added to the boycott.

The three companies were chosen strategically because they were seen as particularly vulnerable to a boycott. Beverage companies Coca-Cola, Pepsico, and Cadbury-Schweppes all do business with Iran, but the boycott organizers decided not to include them on the initial list because it would be hard for consumers to avoid the products of all three companies at the same time.

Ba’aton is chairman of the Israeli branch of Cashflow, an international chain of financial education institutes. He believes the stock market is sensitive enough to be manipulated to cause significant damage to the companies – first by telling people not to buy the stocks, then by reaching out to the companies’ shareholders.

The boycott organizers intend to contact the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the heads of the French Jewish community, and top rabbis around the world. They hope the rabbis will issue rulings declaring it forbidden by Jewish law to do business with companies that remain in Iran.

Asked whether Israelis should be initiating boycotts when they have suffered from so many of them, Wegner said there was no problem with using the same tactics that have been used against Israel.

“This campaign can help Israel’s image by focusing attention on a black-and-white issue like preventing the nuclearization of Iran,” Wegner said.


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