As the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel gathers pace, the inevitable Zionist backlash is growing.
Here’s the Forward editorial this week:
Time was when a boycott demanded personal sacrifice as an expression of protest. That’s how the name first was coined, when Irish tenant farmers and tradesmen in the late-19th century refused to deal with the agent of an absentee landlord named Charles Boycott. And that’s how it has continued in the popular imagination: blacks in Montgomery, Ala., walking miles and miles to avoid the segregated city buses; consumers forgoing lettuce and grapes in solidarity with ill-treated farm workers.
The boycotted faced economic consequences, and so did the boycotter, sacrificing something important in service of a higher goal.
But the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel will have none of that. Despite its well-honed and increasingly effective rhetoric, its adherents seem uninterested in performing any personal sacrifice, or even measuring their “success” by hard numbers. They are most intent on sullying Israel’s name and bullying anyone who might suggest another path toward peace in the troubled region.
To the BDS people and their spiritual kin in Toronto, let me say just this: When you criticize Israel, for God’s sake – if only for the Palestinians’ sake – tell the truth. The whole truth. Not just your carefully composed cardboard cutout, the cartoon of the Jewish villain and the Arab martyr. And not from a distance.
Come here. Do the work. Take the risks. Put your slogans and your posters and your buttons and signs and t-shirts and open letters to the test. Put your life where your sloganeering is.
You despise Israel, we get that. You dismiss the capacity of Israelis for good faith and humanism. We get that too. But if you talk struggle in Toronto and San Francisco and Irvine, it’s no more than talk, and wasted breath at that. You can boycott away, all you like. In the end, you’re only drumming up more business for Israel.
If only such passionate words were used to try and end the occupation, rather than simply attacking those using non-violent tactics to do so. Peace won’t suddenly appear by hoping for the Obama administration or the Israeli people. The latter have had decades and the results speak for themselves.