LONDON (Jun. 15)
London Jewish Chronicle
British Aerospace, the United Kingdom’s largest military contractor and exporter of manufactured goods, has admitted compliance with the Arab boycott of Israel.
The admission came after an embarrassing mistake in which the company accidentally submitted a boycott request to an American supplier.
The company’s media relations manager, Allan Piper, told the Jewish Chronicle that, in the past, the firm had guaranteed Arab clients that no part of any ordered aircraft had been made in Israel.
“Certain Middle East countries insist on a clause in the contract certifying that none of the materials used in an aircraft is of Israeli origin or has any connection with Israel,” he said.
“It is not something we would put in an order for any components from America, because of its anti-boycott ruling. We would do so if we were buying from a U.K. source,” he said.
In December, the company’s military aircraft division, placed an order worth a mere $330 with Machine Components Corp. in New York state for six toggle switches used on the joy stick pilots use to steer British Aerospace’s Tornado jet fighter.
Under the heading “Relations With Israel,” the order sought a guarantee from the supplier that none of the parts was made in Israel, made by an Israeli company outside Israel or transported by an Israeli carrier.
‘USED THE WRONG FORM’
American companies can be fined for bowing to boycott requests and must report them to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Machine Components Corp. notified the U.S. authorities of the British demand.
Piper said the boycott clause on the order was a mistake, “because the young lady used the wrong form.” British Aerospace, he said, apologized to the New York firm, submitted a fresh order and, as far as he knew, received the consignment of toggle switches.
The switches could be used on Tornado aircraft bound for Saudi Arabia, which has purchased $5 billion worth of the planes from British Aerospace. But Piper said the Saudis had not insisted on any boycott compliance clause in the contract.
Asked whether it is right for a major British company to comply with the boycott, Piper replied: “It’s a difficult question. You have a customer and naturally you try to conform to his wishes. On occasions, political things come into it as well.”