Boycotting Israeli apartheid is both moral and necessary

Of course, if you’re a self-described Leftist Zionist like Philip Mendes in Australia… you write for Murdoch’s Australian and tell Palestinians to grow up and embrace their occupiers:

The international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel is a by-product of the second Palestinian intifada and the collapse of the Oslo peace process. It is essentially war by other means – a non-violent, but nevertheless extremist strategy – allied with the practice of suicide bombings and rocket attacks, and intended to coerce Israel into surrendering to Palestinian demands.

The first major manifestations of the BDS occurred in April and May 2002 when academics in Europe and Australia urged a boycott of Israeli academics and academic institutions.

The campaign was formalised in July 2004 when 60 Palestinian academic and other non-government organisations called for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. It has three key aims: to end the Israeli occupation of lands occupied in the 1967 war, including East Jerusalem, and dismantle the security barrier; to achieve equality for the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel; and to support the rights of Palestinian refugees, including their demand for a right of return to Israel as implied by UN Resolution 194.

The leading Palestinian BDS advocate, Omar Barghouti, in his 2011 book BDS: the Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights, opposes a bi-national state based on parity between the two national groups. He returns to the long-dated Palestine Liberation Organisation proposal for a secular democratic state that recognises Jews only as a religious, not national, community.

The BDS campaign has had limited success. Its major drawback is that it offers no strategy for promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace and reconciliation. Rather, it is a negative and one-sided campaign aimed at demonising Israeli Jews irrespective of their political views on the Palestinian question.

The obvious answer to the BDS is a two-state solution. The Israeli government says it wants to negotiate a two-state solution, and is waiting for a suitable Palestinian partner willing to accommodate Israeli security requirements.

Back in the real world, away from Melbourne academia where being loved by the Zionist community is your highest priority, Gideon Levy explains in Haaretz why BDS is vital:

I don’t buy merchandise that comes from the settlements and I never will. To my way of thinking, those are stolen goods and, like any other goods that have been stolen, I try not to buy them. Now perhaps the South Africans and the Danes also will not buy them; meanwhile their governments have merely requested that products from the settlements be marked so as not to deceive their customers. Just as there was no need in the past to label merchandise from the British colonies as British products, so there is no need to mark products from Israel’s colonies as Israeli. Anyone who wants to support the Israeli colonial enterprise can buy them; those who are opposed can boycott them. As simple as that, and as necessary.

Israel, which boycotts Turkey’s beaches and Hamas, should have been the first to understand that. Instead we have heard heart-rending cries and angry rebukes. Not yet to the Danes, who are nice, but to the South Africans, who are less nice in our eyes. The decision was labeled “a step with racist characteristics” by the Foreign Ministry spokesman, referring to the country that waged the most courageous war against racism in the history of mankind.

Yes, the new South Africa can teach Israel a lesson in the war against racism; and yes, Israel can teach the world a lesson in racism. It has once again been proven that Israel’s chutzpah knows no bounds: Israel, of all countries, accuses South Africa, of all countries, of being racist. Is there anything more ridiculous?

It was not by chance that the South African ambassador to Israel, Ismail Coovadia, seemed both amused and embarrassed at a reception for Cameroon’s independence day, when the foreign ministry launched a ridiculous search for him, according to reports, after he failed to respond to its summons for what was described in advance as a rebuke. It is not difficult to imagine how many such reprimands Israeli ambassadors in different parts of the world deserve to be summoned to, if labeling produce from the settlements is a reason for rebuke and accusations of racism on the part of the Israeli government, which is so purely non-racist.

Labeling products from the settlements should have been an obvious move a long time ago, as a guide to the intelligent and involved consumer. A boycott of settlement products should also have taken place a long time ago, as a compass for law-abiding citizens. We are not referring only to a political or moral position; this is a question of upholding international law. A product produced in the settlements is an illegal product, just like the settlements themselves. Just as there is a growing public of consumers in the world who will not buy products made in sweatshops in southeast Asia nor “blood diamonds” from Africa because of their source and the conditions under which they are produced, so it can be anticipated that there are consumers who will boycott products produced in occupied territory through the exploitation of cheap Palestinian manpower whose opportunities to work are in the settlements.

The self-righteous, sanctimonious protests of Israeli factory-owners and farmers in the occupied territories who say they care so much about their Palestinian workers, who claim a boycott could endanger their employees’ sources of income, are a cynical attempt to mislead people. Had the settlements and the occupying forces been removed, and the lands on which these enterprises arose been returned to their owners, they would have had much more dignified sources of income.

A boycott of goods from the settlements is a justified boycott, and there is no other way to define it. Labeling these products is the minimum demand that every government in the world should make, as a service to its citizens.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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