JP: What’s Richard Branson’s Problem with Israel?
Afghanistan and Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi. During Brahimi’s assignment he criticized Israel’s violence and suppression of Palestinians and called Israel “the big poison in the region.” Nice. Branson, apparently, sees eye to eye with Brahimi. After his 2009 trip to Israel with the Elders, Branson wrote, “On my return I rang my 92 year old father and told him of our trip. “It’s strange” he said “that the Israel politicians seem to like keeping a wound open and festering year after year.” Now, perhaps his father said this out of ignorance. Perhaps he’s unaware of all the Israeli attempts to make peace with the Palestinians that ended with thousands of Israelis dead in suicide bomb attacks. But then Branson ought to know better than the response he gave his father: “Lets hope 2009 will be the year that wound is healed.” Branson’s crack team of peacemakers also includes Mary Robinson, the former head of one of the most corrupt anti-Israel organizations on earth, the UN Human Rights Council. During her time there, she presided over the Durban “World Conference Against Racism” which has gone down in history as one of the vile displays of public anti-Semitic in recent times. Yet she described the conference as “remarkably good, including on the issues of the Middle East.” During the Gaza conflict of 2014 she and Jimmy Carter wrote a letter arguing for the recognition and inclusion of Hamas due to the genocidal terrorist group’s “legitimacy as a political actor.” The Elders had earlier that year praised the Hamas-Fatah unity government. Robinson’s appointment on the Elders council isn’t surprising, seeing as how Branson ignored the fact that Hamas has fired over 14,000 missiles at Israeli towns when he said, “Just watching Israel bombarding Palestine and Palestine sending one or two little rockets over to Israel—it’s just too sad for words. ” Branson also has former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari on board, who has said he calls on the western world to end the boycott of Hamas. “During Ahtisaari’s time with The Elders, he condemned Israel’s raid on ships to Gaza in a press release that stated, “The Elders described Israel’s attack on the aid shipment and the resulting killings and injuries as completely inexcusable.” The UN itself later exonerated Israel in this matter. But when you’re agenda is to harm Israel there’s little need to find supporting facts for your biased claims. Branson has been a very public figure in the business world. I actually admire the swashbuckling commercial image he has cultivated. Why does he have to tarnish his image and his brand with these anti-Israel statements and associations? Why pour millions of dollars into activities aimed at harming and weakening the Jewish state? His organization continues to be a force for the defamation of Israel. Jimmy Carter recently spoke on behalf of The Elders stating, “We have also encouraged Europeans for instance, at least to label products that are made by Israeli people who occupy Palestine and ship their products out of Palestine to be sold in Europe. … so that the buyers can decide whether they want to buy them or not.” The time has come for Richard Branson to follow his generosity of spirit by disassociating himself with arch-Israel haters, ceasing to fund them, and to support and stand behind the Middle East’s only democracy. After all, Israel is not just the Jewish State. As a bastion of freedom and human rights in the world’s most tyrannical region, it’s also the great Arab hope that one day Arab countries will similarly copy its example of liberal democracy and human rights. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is the international best-selling author of 30 books, winner of The London Times Preacher of the Year Competition, and recipient of the American Jewish Press Association’s Highest Award for Excellence in Commentary. He will shortly publish “The Israel Warrior’s Handbook.” Branson photo cropped from Chatham House original. This article was published by the Jerusalem Post. ]]>