Firm Fined for Boycott Violation As Anti-boycott Efforts Gain Steam

The U.S. government has imposed a fine of $83,000 against a New York-based company for allegedly complying with provisions of the Arab boycott against companies doing business with Israel.

The Commerce Department imposed the civil penalty against Kanematsu USA Inc., an exporter of timber, steel and agricultural products, alleging that the firm agreed not to do business with firms that have commercial ties with Israel.

Federal law bars companies from complying with unsanctioned boycotts directed at countries friendly to the United States.

Kanematsu did not admit that it had violated U.S. law, but it agreed to pay the fine.

Efforts to press for a quick end to the Arab boycott of Israel have been picking up steam here in recent weeks, as administration officials from President Clinton on down, as well as members of Congress, have voiced their concern about the boycott and its economic effects.

Last week, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation barring U.S. weapons sales to countries participating in the boycott of Israel.

Maloney’s legislation joins other boycott-related bills pending in Congress, including one introduced in January by Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) that would bar participating countries from receiving most-favored-nation trade status.

Following his meeting last week with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Clinton called for an end to the boycott, saying it would benefit the economies of both the United States and Israel.

Some say the Maloney bill has little chance of passage because the United States is not likely to halt lucrative arms sales to Arab countries, the primary target of the legislation.

But many who follow boycott-related issues agree that the legislation makes a strong statement about the importance of ending the boycott.

Will Maslow, who edits the newsletter Boycott Report for the American Jewish Congress, said this week that anti-boycott forces should be focusing on the secondary boycott of companies doing business with Israel.

While the primary boycott concerns countries that boycott Israel itself, the secondary boycott deals with the blacklisting of companies that do business with Israel.

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