Reykjavik Boycott of Israel: Councilor Responds

Readers Corner

Reykjavik Boycott of Israel: Councilor Responds

News reports of the Reykjavik city boycott of Israel have been rather limited, as most were based on one short news story in the Icelandic media, leaving out background, local colour, etc.

The motion was tabled without much preparation or any preceding public discourse. A councilman for the left-wing majority was resigning (to volunteer in Gaza) and tabled the motion as a farewell-motion of sorts. The council majority, in no way opposed to the idea, passed it as a gesture to their colleague no less than the people of Israel.

The motion on the Reykjavik Boycott of Israel was as follows:

The City Council directs the Mayor’s office, in cooperation with the city Procurement office, to plan and execute the boycott of Israeli goods by The City of Reykjavik while the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land continues.

This motion was carried by the nine votes of the left-wing majority of Reykjavik City Council, while all four councilmen of the Independence Party (conservative) opposed. My arguments were:

We are of course obligated to condemn abuse of human rights, wherever it takes place.
A great number of countries carry out human right abuses. If council members wish to boycott goods from a country due to its abuse of human rights, they must be self-consistent and introduce comparable boycott against other nations in breach of human rights accords.

China would be an obvious example, the country where most acts of human rights abuse take place, as documented in reports by international human rights observers. According to these reports, human rights abuse in China has lately been on the increase. Not least in Tibet, a country illegally occupied by China since 1950.

Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson, council leader of Samfylkingin (social-democrat), has not let this widespread and widely reported human rights abuse in China hinder him from going on official visits to China on the invitation of the Peking regime. Boycotting one country while finding nothing wrong with being regaled by the World leader in human rights abuse reveals utter hypocrisy and base duplicity.

Giving up Israeli goods is no big sacrifice for The City of Reykjavik, as the municipality procures little or no Israeli exports. Which thus casts a doubt on the majority's professed love of human rights if they are only ready to boycott those countries where it doesn’t really matter, but decline to table or approve a similar motion against countries where Reykjavik City has considerable commercial interest.

Boycott and sanctions are hostile measures, not to be taken lightly, but do not usually serve any great purpose, as they seldom have the desired effect. The U.S. embargo of Cuba for over half a century is a case in point.

Best regards, Kjartan Magnússon, city councilor for the Independence Party (conservative).

Kjartan Magnússon