B'nai brith canada stuck its nose into a major controversy when it urged General Motors to ignore protests and keep its promise to sponsor a conference with the Israeli government in the Occupied Territories.The scientific gathering slated for the West Bank city of Ariel was roundly criticized by U.S. Arabs and the Israeli peace group Gush Shalom.
And, for a moment at least, it looked like their cries of condemnation had forced GM to pull out of the affair -- at least that's how it seemed when an Israeli executive with the company failed to show for a scheduled speech.
Alas, the meeting went ahead as planned. B'nai Brith executive-VP Frank Dimant says he is pleased that GM did not bend to political pressure.
It's a sentiment not shared by Hussein Ibish of the American Arab Anti-discrimination Committee. Ibish says GM's involvement in the conference amounts to a human rights abuse against Arabs whose land is being illegally settled by Israelis.
Adam Keller from peace group Gosh Shalom, says from Tel Aviv that the whole affair has been embarrassing for GM.
But Henry Wong from GM in Detroit says that it was not the company's intention to inject itself into a political situation. He adds in the next breath that he can't rule out future involvement in the Occupied Territories.