[Update: be sure to read the comments as well -they contain more interesting opinions]
Here's a story that made me angry. It involves a Belgian company called U2U. A company that I personally got to meet some of its employees when I was at teched europe.
According to a news story on YNet(Hebrew) - an Israeli newspaper with an online extension, the CEO of U2U, Wim Uyttersprot, has refused to do business with an Israeli company (who was not named in the article) due to the war we had in Lebanon less than 2 months ago (which was totally justified after a few Israeli soldiers were kidnapped into Lebanon territory - they haven't been recovered yet, BTW).
I'm translating parts from the article into English with my notes after that:
"Business man "Avner" (not real name), who does product management and development marketing and training, contacted after the war in Lebanon a Belgian company with the intent of cooperating with them and was refused due to "war crimes and apartheid regime" by Israel.
Avner Contacted a Belgian Company named U2U who specializes in training and consulting to developers in .NET Technologies and was interested in creating a cooperation between the two companies.
"I value your interest in my company" writes Wim,the company CEO, in a response that was forwarded to YNet, "but after the inhumane and destructive war crimes Israel has done in Lebanon, and due to the apartheid regime that your government leads in Palestine, U2U does not feel fit to be tied to Israeli Products. I hope the political situation in your country will change dramatically and will be based on peace and respect for non Jewish cultures"
Despite the anger, Wim signs "Warm Regards, Wim Uyttersprot"
Avner contacted the company again and let them know that their answer is non dignified and non professional, and tried to appeal to Uyttersprot's reasoning.
"I wrote him: 'Don't believe everything you read in the papers or see on TV. Israel is a democracy surrounded by countries run by dictators. Europe suffers from terror as well' " Tells Avner to YNet.
"I told him that Israel is a technological Center as well, and that many of Microsoft's products that he works with are developed right here in Haifa, Israel." he Adds.
Avner also mentioned to U2U that he intends to contact papers in Israel and Belgium, and to Microsoft, of which U2U is a certified partner, but received no response.
All of YNet's attempts to contact the company have not received a response either."
To say the least, I don't agree with Wim's actions, and I'm posting this so that U2U at least gets known for its decision.
I'm not totally surprised - the news and general media are and have always been biased against Israel, and while Israel is not a perfect political entity and we have our share of issues, Wim is wrong in closing the ties. There is no black and white in these things - only gray. Big, ugly, heavy, dirty gray, and everyone loses there.
I think that under the same circumstances that we face, no country, Belgium or otherwise, could have done better.
And no, we don't have apartheid, but we do have roadblocks, Which many people in Israel don't like due to some harsh incidents occurring there. So why do we have them? One of the basic problems is we haven't found a better solution to roadblocks yet - whenever we open them up- bombers come in and bomb women and children in buses and Discos. How fast would it take you to shut down the road the terrorists use? Unfortunately, innocent civilians also can't get to work that way - ambulances are stopped (ambulances have in several cases been found to contain explosives and weapons, not to mention explosives found in children's carts or worn on pregnant women - wouldn't you check each and every one who is passing through?)
And yes, we do condone anything non Jewish - many people have Druse and Arab friends, and many Arab-Israelis live right smack in the middle of many Israeli cities, including Jerusalem. When both sides want to - people do live in harmony. But try and do that when we have missiles still being shot into the south of Israel on a daily basis from Gaza. Would you easily trust people who you know want to kill you(some of them) and who believe that all of Israel should be theirs and all Jews should be thrown to the sea? Not all Arabs in the Gaza strip think that, but Hamas - the leading party ruling there, has that as part of its platform. What do you think happened if Hamas got to rule all of Israel? Do you think many of us would be left alive here? Now try and build trust. Hard isn't it?
Wim, If there's one thing I hate - It's mis-informed people making rash judgments especially when your own country has a history of abuse it would rather forget. If I said that U2U is anti-Semitic, would I be doing the same thing to them? How would that feel?
They are not Antisemitic, I know. I know at least a couple of bloggers who work there which I respect. I just think the CEO made a regrettable decision, and people should be informed about it. If Israel isn't getting U2U's business, perhaps U2U would be better off not getting any business from anyone who does support Israel - standby your decisions - follow through.
Right now I bet that Wim is getting plenty of hate emails from stupid Israeli teenagers who read that article (the comments on that article list Wim's email from the site - guess it's time to change emails!). That's stupid thing to do, but the ball is already rolling. perhaps some stupid Israeli wannabe hacker will try to DOS the site. Also stupid stupid stupid.
That's not going to get us anywhere. What Wim does need to understand is that we are intelligent human beings who do want to live in peace with our neighbors - we tried several times - just look at the past 10 years and all the agreements we tried to accomplish. If you can't accept that, fine. Thanks, and god speed.
Wim, personally from me, your business is not welcome here anymore until you figure out that we are all on the same side.