In the flurry of last-minute activity before the end of the Massachusetts legislative session, one item in the proposed bonding bill H.4732 remains in question:
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF HOUSING AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Office of the Secretary
7008-1116 For the commonwealth’s local economic development projects; provided that $250,000 shall be expended for the facilitation and support of the Massachusetts-Israel Economic Connection operated by the New England Israel Business Council to pursue economic collaboration between Israel and Massachusetts
This is an unconscionable boondoggle. By what stretch of imagination should the Commonwealth of Massachusetts subsidize a business propaganda organization funded by the Israeli government and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs? http://neibc.org/about/.
All the ballyhooed importance of Israel to the Massachusetts economy is wildly exaggerated in NEIBC’s so-called The Massachusetts-Israel Economic Impact Study. A fact-checking review of the study, prepared by Jelena Mitic Elliot of the University of Massachusetts – Boston for Massachusetts Peace Action, is available here. In reality, Israel is our state’s 25th or so trading partner – much behind Canada, China, Mexico, Japan and Germany, for example — and most of the so-called “Israeli” businesses cited by the report are only thus through a tortured and unrealistic definition.
Akamai Technologies, for example, is not an “Israeli business” because one of its founders, Daniel Lewin, was an American-born mathematician who moved with his parents to Israel at the age of 14. Wang laboratories was not a “Chinese” business and Tesla Motors is not “South African” because its founder grew up in Pretoria. Not only that, but Israel itself has been implicated in many instances of industrial espionage in our country.
The fact is that Israeli businesses need Massachusetts for market access and capital much more than our state needs them. If Israel wants to fund a business council here, good luck to them. But Massachusetts taxpayers should not be on the hook for a quarter-million dollars to help the Israeli economy.
This budget item passed in the House (which knocked it down from $500,000 to $250,000) and is now under consideration by the Senate Ways and Means Committee. We call on Senators to put a stop to this taxpayer rip-off.