The World Economics Forum Controversy
The World Economics Forum (WEF) brings thousands of world political and business leaders to Davos to exchange information. Condoleeza Rice addressed the conference today via satellite uplink. After complaints from some who do not believe in free speech (because the truth is to their disadvantage), Klaus Schwab Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF apologized for publication of my article asking for a boycott of Israel in the WEF Global Agenda Magazine distributed to all attendees. Global Agenda Magazine is the official magazine of the WEF. BTW, in the same issue Paul Wolfowitz wrote an article in his capacity as head of the world bank.Here is how the magazine described itself: "Each year, the World Economic Forum brings together business and political leaders from around the world to identify and debate the economic and social challenges of the day and ultimately to create practical solutions that benefit humanity as a whole. From these meetings emerge many individual initiatives, supported by the World Economic Forum itself and by its members. Global Agenda is the official magazine of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. The magazine's role is to seek comment from leading business people, politicians, academics and members of civil society on the topics to be discussed at the Annual Meeting."
The article in the glossy magazine was also originally posted at their website but subsequently pulled (original link http://globalagendamagazine.com/2006/Qumsiyeh.asp). This is a clear violation of free speech and very unfair since none of the other articles were pulled (some of them like that of Michael Ledeen clearly advocating violence). Please read my article Boycott Israel and judge for yourself if this act of censorship/lack of free speech is warrented. Thankfully the buzz around this created far more interest in the subject and more groups and governments are now leaning towards divestments and boycotts. We also received hundreds of letters of support including from key government officials. This article and the dictatorial censorship of it by Klaus Schwab generated a number of stories in mainstream media outlets around the world. Schwab then canceled the magazine for future years and the magazine is no longer published.
Here is Klaus Schwab statement/press release
Here are examples of media coverage (mostly biased but at least shows the hypocricy to readors on issues of free speech and censorship which is now in the mainstream media because of the European Cartoons denigrading Islam):
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/675281.html (instructive reader comments here :-)
http://www.assafir.com/iso/today/front/119.html (in Arabic)
Also several articles in local and regional European papers in German and French (mostly sympathatic)
Neue Z'rcher Zeitung, Jan 27th 2006
Basler Zeitung, Jan 27th 2006
Berner Zeitung , Jan. 27th 2006
Tribune de Gen've January 27th 2006
The Jerusalem Post revives the controversy 2011
ARTICLE IN BLOOMBERG NEWS (link not available)
Davos Organizer Schwab Apologizes for Israeli Article (Update2) 2006-01-26 14:39 (New York)
By John Fraher
Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- World Economic Forum Founder Klaus Schwab apologized for an article urging a boycott of Israel that was published in its Global Agenda magazine distributed at its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. The article, titled ``Boycott Israel,'' undermined the stated message of the World Economic Forum, he said. The organization's slogan is: ``Committed to Improving the State of the World.''
"I, on behalf of the Forum, profoundly apologize and express my regrets to everyone,'' Schwab said in an e-mailed statement. The article by Palestinian writer Mazin Qumsiyeh is "totally in contradiction to my own, and the Forum's mission and values.'' The article urges people ``to boycott Israel until it ends its apartheid-like treatment of Palestinians.'' The World Economic Forum distributed about 1,500 copies of the magazine in the main conference center in Davos and across hotels in the Alpine resort. The magazine's contents are approved by the organization around the end of December, said spokesman Mark Adams in an interview.
"It should never have happened,'' he said. The publication has been withdrawn and it will be reprinted without the article. "It's appalling,'' said former Bank of Israel Governor Jacob Frenkel and now a vice chairman of American International Group Inc., the world's biggest insurer. ``It's a very serious matter to put it under the umbrella of the World Economic Forum.''
About 2,340 participants are attending this year's meeting in Davos including Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates.
Qumsiyeh, who has served on the faculties of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, says people should join "a global Movement Against Zionism.''
"Zionist apologists support equality in America and Europe, but tolerate discrimination and exclusion of Palestinian refugees in Palestine/Israel for being not Jewish,'' he wrote in the article. The World Economic Forum didn't inform him of its decision, he said in an interview. "This is unprecedented censorship of an article that talks about nonviolent opposition to occupation and oppression,'' said Qumsiyeh. "It's suppression of free speech.''
Somy of my letters
The World Economic Forum: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
cc: Will Goodhart, Managing Editor email@example.com
cc: Margaret Doyle, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
I see the big ruckus about my article. What happened to free speech. The magazine in question published this article by me calling for a non-violent method to be used UNTIL Israel complies with human rights and International law. In the same issue, the magazine published articles promoting war (e.g. by Michael Ledeen). I ask the readers to first read the article (it is posted at my website qumsiyeh.org) before they make a judgement. Bishop Desmond Tutu said the same thing. Here is also what the Israeli Artists Declaration of 2002 had to say about this:
"If the state of Israel aspires to perceive itself as a democracy, it should abandon once and for all, any legal and ideological foundation of religious, ethnic, and demographic discrimination. The state of Israel should strive to become the state of all its citizens. We call for the annulment of all laws that make Israel an apartheid state, including the Jewish law of return in its present form" (artists' Declaration 2002).
My letter to NY Times (not published)
Landler and Markoff in their article ("Boycott Call Creates Fracas at Davos Forum" 1/27/06) claims that I said that I was asked to submit an article by a staff writer to Global Agenda that created a "tempest" at the World Economics Forum. I never said such a thing. Further, I simply joined millions around the world who call for boycotts as a non-violent response UNTIL Israel complies with human rights and International law. Bishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, many Israeli academics, and millions around the world agree with an Israeli boycott. The Israeli Artists Declaration of 2002 stated:
"If the state of Israel aspires to perceive itself as a democracy, it should abandon once and for all, any legal and ideological foundation of religious, ethnic, and demographic discrimination. The state of Israel should strive to become the state of all its citizens. We call for the annulment of all laws that make Israel an apartheid state, including the Jewish law of return in its present form".
That magazine published articles promoting war (e.g. by Michael Ledeen) so I do not see why our call for justice and peace creates "fracas".
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD