Africa

Does the OECD Know Where is Israel? Just say NO!!

When words like “hush money,” “tax fraud” and “Republican slush funds” dominate the headlines, it is time for us to find new leadership.
IT IS THE TIME TO ACT If the people stand together they cant stop us.
May, Israel is expected to join the prestigious organization of developed economies, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Although the OECD claims to be an organization of democratic countries, in the past year it has accelerated efforts to invite Israel to become a member, despite Israel’s numerous violations of international law and military occupation of the Palestinian and Syrian territories. Israel seeks membership in the OECD vigorously, as it would be a powerful affirmation of international legitimacy to Israel’s policies.

It only takes one country to vote against accepting Israel in order to block the process, and that is why it is important for activists in all OECD countries to put pressure on their governments, raise questions in parliament and ask their foreign ministers how can they accept a state which violates international law, and doesn’t even meet the most basic requirements of the OECD.

What is especially interesting, is that the OECD is not even able to define Israel. What are the borders of this new state set to join the organization? It seems that OECD officials are well aware that Israel is very different than OECD countries. In fact, in its assessment of the Israeli social and economic situation, the OECD said that Israeli politics are defined by “policy agendas rooted in ethnicity and religion” (OECD, 2010a: 11). Nevertheless, there seem to be a great deal of pressure within the OECD to accept Israel, mainly because whitewashing Israel’s crimes helps legitimize similar crimes by other OECD countries.

The OECD Committee on Statistics was asked by the OECD to find a technical solution to what is essentially a political problem: how to deal with the occupied Palestinian territories under Israeli control. The Committee published a report, in which the confusion within the OECD regarding Israel’s territory is evident. The committee realizes that although the internationally-recognized borders of Israel are the 1967 borders (the “Green Line”), Israel controls a much larger territory, including the Gaza Strip, Syrian Golan Heights and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem). Furthermore, though Israel controls this wide territory, it ignores the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and only collects statistical data on the Israeli colonists in these areas, who comprise approximately 13% of the population there. Furthermore, Israeli statistics render it impossible to get an accurate view of the Israeli economy excluding the occupied territories, as the illegal settlements are included in every piece of data.

The OECD uses the 1993 System of National Accounts (SNA) in formulating statistical reports on OECD countries and on prospected members, which provides for situations where the political boundaries of a state may not coincide precisely with the economic boundaries of a state. However, the OECD Committee on Statistics found that this does not resolve the political issue – that Israel ignores the Palestinians but counts the settlers, creating an intentionally-distorted picture of the area which it controls, as well as of its national economy. Although Israel does indeed enforce full economic control over the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, it does not include the majority of the population in these areas in its statistics, thus leaving the OECD Committee on Statistics with no statistical way to separate the data between the occupied territories and Israel proper (Statistics Directorate, Committee on Statistics, 2010: 4). As a result, the OECD asks that Israel will not include any statistics concerning these territories (although this would exclude about 7% of Israeli citizens from the statistics as well).

In a few weeks, a report will be issued that could be the first step to criminalizing criticism of Israel in Canada. The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA) is preparing a summary report and recommendations. This report could make criticism of the policies of the State of Israel difficult, perhaps even illegal, by positioning such criticism as a form of anti-Semitism.

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