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ADL Succeeds in Persuading Samsung to Comply with Anti-boycott Rules

Samsung Ltd., a leading Korean manufacturer of electronics, has agreed to comply with U.S. legislation barring cooperation with the Arab boycott against Israel.

Most Arab countries boycott Israeli goods and blacklist companies doing business with Israel. The U.S. Commerce Department, in provisions of the Export Administration Act, prohibits American firms from cooperating with boycotts directed at countries friendly with the United States. But the law does not govern the activities of businesses abroad.

B.U. Chung, president of Samsung’s American subsidiary, said the Samsung Group has now agreed to “prepare and distribute to all group entities worldwide a policy statement and compliance program to ensure that there are no violations of the United States anti-boycott rules.”

The promise came in a letter to Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, who wrote to Chung after seeing an advertisement in the March 17 issue of the English-language Korea Times.

In the ad, Samsung Electronics & Construction Co. denied it had opened a branch office in Israel and stated, “We will never violate the Arab Regulations.”

Samsung may have placed the ad in response to threats made by the Arab Boycott Office in Damascus, Foxman said. ADL has taken other companies to task over the Arab boycott issue, but Foxman noted that he has never seen such acquiescence to the implied threat of boycott.

“Most of the threats are empty, just bluster and intimidation,” he said, recalling an episode 30 years ago involving the Hilton hotel chain.

Conrad Hilton was preparing to start building hotels in Israel and was notified by the Arab Boycott Committee that he would be “kicked out of the Middle East” if he did business there Foxman recalled. He said Hilton ignored the warnings, and nothing ever came of the threat.

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