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October 28, 2008 

Arab League Holds Conference Aimed at Reinvigorating Israel Boycott

The Jerusalem Post published a story today by reporter Michael Freund describing a three-day conference that was held in Damascus, Syria last week aimed at reinvigorating the Arab boycott of Israel. The article indicates that the conference was attended by representatives of 14 Arab countries, including including Libya, Syria and Kuwait and representatives of the Palestinians and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

The article reports that various speakers at the conference reiterated the importance of the embargo on Israel as a means of pressuring the Jewish state and called on the Arab League's members to intensify its enforcement. The Commissioner General of the Arab League's Central Bureau for the Boycott of Israel stated that said the trade embargo Israel aims "to challenge the legitimacy of Israel's existence", the boycott is of "a tolerant nature" because it "targets persons who support the Jewish entity in any way, regardless of their nationalities or religions" and that calls to end the boycott are "illogical" so long as "Israel is pursuing its aggressive policies and committing atrocities."

The antiboycott provisions in Part 760 of the Export Administration Regulations prohibit U.S. persons from complying with unsanctioned foreign boycotts, such as the Arab boycott of Israel. The antiboycott regulations also require U.S. persons receiving certain boycott requests contained in letters of credit and other sales-related documents to report them to the Bureau of Industry and Security's Office of Antiboycott Compliance (OAC). OAC remains active in enforcing the antiboycott regulations and recently imposed a $108,000 civil penalty on a freight forwarder related to alleged violations of the antiboycott regulations.

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This is not too surprising. What is, however, is that more Arab "friendlies" weren't mentioned in the article. Fourteen nations is quite a few, so it wouldn't be surprising if Saudi, Egypt, or even Iraq were there. Please note, however, that Iran was probably in attendance - and they do not consider themselves Arab.

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