The board of directors of aircraft and defense manufacturing giant, Boeing, has issued a statement urging its stockholders to reject a proposal recently introduced by a pro-Palestinian group that would require more detailed reporting about arms sales the company makes to Israel. Although expected to fail, the mere introduction of the proxy item represents a significant accomplishment for the BDS movement.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Institute told Hamodia that the tactics currently employed to apply international pressure on Israel have been borrowed from the model used against South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s.
“They [BDS activists] are in it for the long haul. They know they will lose this vote, but the very fact that it is in the mailings and will be brought up at the shareholders’ meeting is a huge victory that helps build momentum for their worldwide movement,” he said. “It shows the commitment of these extremists to demonize Israel and portray it as a monster. If you repeat a lie often enough, it begins to gain acceptance. That’s their game plan.”
The proposal, which will be voted on at Boeing’s general shareholders’ meeting in May, calls for the company to produce a comprehensive report on its weapons sales to Israel, recommending disclosure of such details as “procedures used to negotiate arms sales” and “risk analysis” of its sales in light of accusations of “violating Geneva and Hague conventions and international human rights law.” It goes on to argue that giving the “flight of investment from Israel” over what the authors of the proxy item refer to as “illegal occupation, apartheid, and human rights violations,” shareholders will be best served by supporting the call for greater reporting.
Boeing’s Board of Directors placed a statement of its unanimous urging of the item’s rejection in the mailing of all proxy items, saying that information is already publicly available and that such a move would “micromanage key elements of Boeing’s business, including its relationship with the U.S. federal government.”
“Boeing responded appropriately. They are basically telling their shareholders that this would mean that the company would have to have its own foreign policy about every country they sell arms to,” said Rabbi Cooper.
The Board explains that its sales to Israel, as to other foreign countries, are done through the U.S. government.
“We recognize that particular sales may be controversial to a small number of individual shareholders,” says part of the Board’s recommendation. “However, singling out one particular customer for detailed disclosures would serve no purpose other than to allow those shareholders to second-guess these important decisions to the detriment of long-term shareholder value.”
The proxy item was introduced by a Chicago-based left-wing group known as the Anti-War Committee, which has been heavily active in BDS and other anti-Israel activities. Over the past year, several members of the organization purchased Boeing stock in order to exercise their right as shareholders to introduce the proxy item.
Boeing initially refused to submit the proposal, citing that it interfered with the business of the company, but a February ruling from the Securities and Exchange Commission forced the item to be introduced.
“This story has to be seen in a broader context of their [BDS activist] campaign,” said Rabbi Cooper. “We should not be overly concerned about it, but we shouldn’t laugh it off either.”