When some long-time participants have opted out and others are doubling down, the Biden administration will toughen sanctions for adhering to the boycott of Israel by the Arab League that has been in place for decades.
Those who adhere to the boycott will now need to admit wrongdoing before settling with the U.S. government, according to Matthew Axelrod, the assistant commerce secretary for export enforcement, who spoke to the American Jewish Committee on Thursday.
They will also face penalties if their foreign subsidiaries adhere to the boycott. Until recently, businesses did not have to admit to taking part in the boycott when they resolved claims.
Axelrod said that the boycott, which has existed since before Israel became a state and which Congress made illegal in the 1970s, was waning at a meeting with the AJC at its Washington, D.C., office.
Notably, he noted, all four of the Arab nations that, in 2020, under the terms of the Abraham Accords, repaired their relations with Israel have renounced the boycott and are all members of the Arab League.
However, he claimed that other nations were renewing their boycotts of Israel.
According to a statement from the AJC, Axelrod stated that “holdouts, like Assad’s Syria, have unequivocally refused “normalization” with Israel.” “And in May, Iraq approved a law that even makes restoring diplomatic ties with Israel illegal. The recent escalation of anti-Israeli sentiment by nations like Syria and Iraq coincides with a startling rise in antisemitism, which the AJC describes as the oldest form of hatred in the world, both here in the United States and globally.
The briefing Axelrod gave the AJC was the organization’s first under its new CEO, former Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch.
Even though the boycott is less relevant, Deutch argued that fighting it is still crucial.
“The Arab League stupidly persists in this boycott, which has done nothing to prevent Israel from becoming an economic superpower in the Middle East, despite the improving relations certain Arab countries have with Israel,” he said. “We support the Commerce Department’s efforts to penalize American businesses who comply with boycotting nations’ demands or try to win their favor by doing business with them. They must answer for their involvement in spreading anti-Zionist attitudes.