- If you've ever wondered about the definition of hypocrisy
you'll find the answer right here.
- Last month the Swiss foreign minister visited Iran and,
together with President Ahmadinejad, attended the signing of a multi-billion
euro contract for Iran to supply Switzerland with large amounts of natural
gas over the next 25 years.
- The US State Department immediately condemned the deal
and said it would be investigating whether it breached the Iran Sanctions
Act. Israel complained too, describing the Swiss minister's visit to Tehran
as an "act unfriendly to Israel". Various Jewish groups also
joined in the protests, including the World Jewish Congress.
- This righteous indignation was entirely predictable but
more than a little odd nevertheless. On March 30, the Swiss newspaper Sonntag
retaliated with the revelation that Israel, supposedly observing an ironclad
boycott of all things Iranian, has been buying Iranian oil for years.
- The story is in German but Israeli journalist <http://www.arendt-art.de/deutsch/elam_shraga.htm>Shraga
Elam has provided me with a translation which I'll quote from here.
- "Israel imports Iranian oil on a large scale even
though contacts with Iran and purchasing of its products are officially
boycotted by Israel. Israel gets around the boycott by having the oil delivered
via Europe. A reliable Israeli energy newsletter, EnergiaNews, reported
this last week [March 18] ...
- "EnergiaNews got the information about the Iran
trade from sources with ties to the management of Israeli Oil Refineries
Ltd ... According to EnergiaNews the Iranian oil is liked in Israel because
its quality is better than other crude oils.
- "The report by EnergiaNews editor Moshe Shalev states
that the Iranian oil reaches various European ports, mainly in Rotterdam.
It is bought by Israelis and the necessary European bill of lading and
insurance papers are supplied. Then it is transported to Haifa in Israel.
The importer is the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co (EAPC), which keeps its
oil sources secret."
- EAPC was established in 1968 as a joint Israeli-Iranian
company to transport oil from Iran to Europe. After the fall of the Shah,
Iran ceased to play an active role in its affairs and there are ongoing
legal disputes between the two partners.
- The Swiss report continued:
- "It is not clear if the Iranian exporters know about
Israeli purchases of their oil. At the other end, the Israeli buyers and
governmental offices are well aware of where the high-grade oil comes from,
although it is a blatant defiance of the boycott. The EnergiaNews article
even made it through Israeli censorship, which asked only for some changes
in the text. The fact that the report cleared the censors increases the
credibility of the information. In the past, such reports were forbidden.
- "When questioned by Sonntag, an energy expert of
one of the leading Israeli papers confirmed the EnergiaNews report: Israel
has been importing Iranian oil for many years. The expert stressed, however,
that the purchases were made on the free market and not directly from Iran."
- Sonntag quoted a spokesman forOil Refineries Ltd as denying
that his company imports and processes Iranian oil. However, Sonntag pointed
to a report in Haaretz newspaper last October which said that an Israeli
energy company called Paz would be refining Iranian oil and supplying it
to the Palestinian Authority from the start of this year.
- This begs the question: if Iran is, as Bibi Netanyahu
argues, an existential threat to Israel, why does the government allow
such trade? Would Israel have the US attack Iran's nuclear programme and
provoke a potential region-wide conflict while it cannot seem to wean itself
from high quality Iranian crude? You'd think if Israelis are cowering in
fear from an Iranian bomb and the arch antisemite Ahmadinejad, they wouldn't
want to trade with such an enemy.
- When is a boycott not a boycott? When it's in your naked
economic interest to circumvent it, apparently. But one should ask: if
Israel doesn't honour its self-declared boycott of Iran, why should the
rest of the world honour its boycott of Hamas and Gaza? If Israel doesn't
honour its own boycott, then why should members of Congress vote with AIPAC
when it proposes a measure that even Israel honours only in the breach?
- It's interesting to note from a discussion (in Hebrew)
on the Kedma website that Israel does not formally define Iran as an "enemy
nation" and therefore in a strictly legal sense such trade is permissible.
Ironically, Iran too has a boycott against Israel in place and is violating
its own measures in that regard. Furthermore, the same commenter notes
that Israel last week dismissed attempts to engage Syria in a diplomatic
process as a failure because Syria refuses to renounce its ties with Iran.
Do I hear the word "hypocrisy"?
- The Guradian - UK