Monday, July 05, 2010

Attacking the Israeli banks

"To end the occupation, cripple Israeli banks":
"If international civil society is serious about urgently ending Israel's violations of Palestinian rights, including ending the occupation, then suspension of SWIFT transactions to and from Israeli banks offers an instrument to help bring about a peaceful resolution of an intractable conflict. With computerization, international banking technology has advanced dramatically in the subsequent 20 years since the South African anti-apartheid campaign.

Although access to New York banks remains essential for foreign exchange transactions because of the role of the dollar, interbank transfer instructions are conducted through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which is based in Belgium. So, instead of New York - as in the period when sanctions were applied on South Africa - Belgium is now the pressure point.

SWIFT links 8,740 financial institutions in 209 countries. Without access to SWIFT and its interbank payment network, countries are unable either to pay for imports or to receive payment for exports. In short, no payment - no trade. Should it come to a point where trade sanctions are imposed on Israel, it may be able to evade them. Instead of chasing trade sanctions-busters and plugging loopholes, it is both faster and much more effective to suspend the payment system.

The Israeli government may consider itself to be militarily and diplomatically invincible, given support from the United States, and other governments, but Israel's economy is exceptionally dependent upon international trade. It is thus very vulnerable to financial retaliation. South Africa's apartheid government had also believed itself to be immune from foreign pressure.

Without SWIFT, Israel's access to the international banking system would be crippled. Banking is the lifeblood of any economy. Without payment for imports or exports, the Israeli economy would quickly collapse. The matter has gained additional urgency with the bill now before the Knesset, Israel's parliament, to penalize any person who promotes the imposition of boycotts against Israel. Another important political factor is that SWIFT is not only outside American jurisdiction, it is also beyond the reach of Israeli military retaliation."
and:
"Such a suspension would not affect domestic banking transactions within Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip - or international transfers to Palestinian banks that have separate 'PS' identities. The campaign can be reversed as soon as the objectives have been achieved, and without long-term economic damage.

What is required is an urgent application in a Belgian court ordering SWIFT to reprogram its computers to suspend all transactions to and from Israeli banks until the Israeli government agrees to end the occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and that it will dismantle the 'apartheid wall;' the Israeli government recognizes the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and Israel recognizes, respects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees."
Interesting, and certainly effective, but I can't see it happening soon. The disconnect between normal and decent people and the kind of people who run SWIFT couldn't be greater, and the Jews would simply order any insubordination, e. g., a Belgian judge with a conscience issuing a court order, to be punished by moving SWIFT out of Belgium. This kind of thinking is good, as it makes people nervous, but I still see the end of Israel happening when it falls apart due to a self-defensive retaliation by the Lebanese for another illegal Jewish attack. A SWIFT attack might be the coup de grâce for an almost collapsed Jewish state.
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