Australian Business Council Won’t Comply with Arab Boycott

The Arab League’s trade boycott of Israel has been rebuffed by Australia’s largest business association.

The New South Wales Chamber of Commerce offered “categorical assurances” last week that it will no longer issue negative certificates of origin, which facilitate the boycott.

The chamber was sharply criticized by Bob Carr, leader of the opposition Labor Party, for issuing a document recently which not only contained the compliance stamp of the Arab boycott office but listed “Palestine” as one of the destinations for which the boycott stamp is required.

Carr, who is president of Labor Friends of Israel, blasted the chamber for listing Palestine and refusing to acknowledge the “moral obnoxiousness” of complying with the boycott.

David Taylor, executive director of the chamber, said he “can only sincerely apologize” for the inclusion of the word “Palestine,” which he attributed to “unacceptable behavior” by a “very junior clerical assistant.”

He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he “sincerely regretted the distress that the incident has obviously caused.”

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce of Victoria state also issued a boycott compliance certificate this week. No official response was received, however, following a meeting of the president of the chamber with representatives of Australia/Israel Publications.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has called on Foreign Minister Gareth Evans to “take whatever action is necessary” to end compliance with the Arab boycott.

Leslie Caplan, president of the council, said in that connection that the federal government has made clear that chambers of commerce have no authority from the state to comply with the boycott or give the impression that the Australian government concurred with it.

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