Bogus Bus Boycott

Last week, Haaretz was the latest media outlet to fall prey to false claims of BDS success. The Dec. 12 analysis about the “swell of boycotts” which has hit a growing number of entities that have connections to Israeli settlements or projects over the Green Line stated:

It is not only Israeli companies that have been targeted. International firms that operate beyond the Green Line have also come under fire by boycott campaigns. The French giant Veolia Transport is facing heavy pressure due to its presence in East Jerusalem and other West Bank locations. Veolia’s subsidiary in Israel just announced it would stop operating buses on Route 443, a highway that connects the West Bank to Jerusalem.
Did Veolia really stop operating a bus on Route 443 following pressure of anti-Israel activists? Veolia is an international firm that has several subsidiaries in Israel. Until recently one of those subsidiaries was a transport company known as “Connex” or “Veolia Transport.” Two months ago the company in its entirety was sold to the Israeli firm “Afikim” ending Veolia’s involvement in bus transportation in Israel. The move wasn’t  a politically motivated decision, but part of a larger strategy by the global firm to sell its transportation wing. A 2012 article in Ha’aretz, for example, explained Veoila’s business decision to sell the Connex bus service:

The negotiations started after the international firm decided to close down its transportation businesses all over the globe and sell off its operations in the sector. Veolia’s Israeli transportation business is estimated to be losing NIS 20 million a year.

Similarly Globes – an Israeli business paper – reported:

Veolia Environnement recently decided to abandon investment in transportation and to focus on its core businesses, especially environmental services, energy, and water. It sold its transportation business to international parties; in Israel, Afikim Ltd. acquired the bus operations of Connex Israel.

Even though the sale of the Israeli transportation company was part of the company’s global strategy, supporters of BDS hailed it as a “one of the most significant, tangible victories” of the BDS movement.

Clearly, Veoila which for months has not owned a company running bus routes in Israel did not “just announce” that they will no longer operate busses on route 443. Nor did it do so, before the sale. Presspectiva, CAMERA’s Hebrew site, contacted Veoila which emphatically denied the claims in the Ha’aretz report. The company’s spokesman told Presspectiva: “The public transportation company Connex was sold in its entirety to Afikim. This was solely a business decision. Before the sale no bus line on Route 443 was cancelled.”

When Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone cancelled a trip to Israel because of the untimely death of the latter’s son, BDS activists claimed victory. Similarly, when Veolia made the business decision to cut its losing investments in transportation around the world, including in Israel, anti-Israel activists took credit. In light of the movement’s record of dishonesty, journalists must independently verify all BDS claims of success.
For the Hebrew version of this article, please see Presspectiva.

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