Wiesenthal Center tells Jews not to go to Reykjavik

LA-based NGO issues travel advisory after Icelandic capital’s ‘extreme anti-Israel and anti-Semitic’ boycott

A view of Reykjavik, Iceland's capital. (CC BY-SA 3.0 Andreas Tille/Wikipedia)
A view of Reykjavik, Iceland's capital. (CC BY-SA 3.0 Andreas Tille/Wikipedia)

The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Friday issued a travel warning for Jews wishing to visit the Icelandic capital after Reykjavik municipality voted Tuesday in favor of a boycott of Israeli goods “as long as the occupation of Palestinian territories continues.”

In an emailed statement Friday, the associate dean of the LA-based Jewish NGO, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, said that while Iceland was a popular destination with many Jews and Israelis, “when the elected leaders of its main city pass an extreme anti-Israel and anti-Semitic law, we would caution any member of a Jewish community about traveling there.”

Cooper also accused those behind the boycott of hypocrisy, for singling out Israel as a target. “The Jewish state alone — not Syria, not Iran, not North Korea, or the Sudan — is being subject a dangerous double standard that needs to be denounced by all fair-minded people,” he said.

Iceland’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday distanced itself from the boycott decision, saying the move was “not in line” with the country’s foreign policy. Its government told The Times of Israel that the resolution by the capital was its own and not representative of the country’s stance.

“The Ministry for Foreign Affairs wishes to underline that the City Council’s decision is not in line with Iceland’s foreign policy nor does it reflect on Iceland’s relations with the State of Israel,” a spokesperson said by email.

The ministry pointed out that Reykjavik, Iceland’s largest city and home to one-third of the island’s population, “formulates policies pertaining to its own local affairs, including its procurement policy, ensuring that it is in accordance with national legislation.”

In 2013, 2014, and 2015, Iceland’s total imports from Israel amounted to roughly $6 million, the bulk of which was Dead Sea chemicals and machinery.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry condemned the move, and, in an apparent reference to Iceland’s famed geological activity, said “a volcano of hatred spews forth from the Reykjavik city council building.”

“For no reason or justification, except hatred for its own sake, calls of boycotting the state of Israel are heard,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We hope someone in Iceland will come to their senses and end the one-sided blindness fielded against Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Ilan Ben Zion contributed to this report.

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