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Reykjavík Boycott Draws Israeli Fire

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Reykjavík Boycott Draws Israeli Fire

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Photo: Björk Vilhelmsdóttir.

Reykjavík City Council has voted to boycott goods and services from Israel.

The move is primarily a symbolic protest against the country’s occupation of Palestine and treatment of the Palestinian people and is in no way motivated by anti-Semitism, according to council leader Björn Blöndal. He says Reykjavík has a Jewish councilor, Elsa Yeoman, who voted in favor of the proposal herself.

The proposal was the final one offered by departing Social Democrat councilor Björk Vilhelmsdóttir. While many products in Iceland were either made or developed in Israel, including Soda Stream, fruits and vegetables, frozen foods and cosmetics, not many of them are directly bought by the City of Reykjavík; meaning the council’s vote is primarily symbolic.

That decision earlier in the week has drawn harsh criticism from Israel, with a foreign ministry statement claiming that a volcano of hate has erupted at Reykjavík City Hall. With no tangible reason behind the council’s decision, hatred is the only fair explanation, the statement says.

Dan Poraz, Israel’s deputy ambassador at its embassy in Oslo, which also covers Iceland, told RÚV that there is little more to add to his government’s statement—except that Björk Vilhelmsdóttir should ditch the tablet computer she was photographed using, because tablets would not exist without Israeli research and development.

If Reykjavík wants to stick to its promise, he adds, then hospitals will need to give up some of their most important medicines and medical equipment.

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