Here are some boycotters of Israel after a successful campaign to rid Sussex University Student Union’s shelves of all those mounds of Israeli produce which were there before. But what is this? The feet of our international conscience appear to be clad in Nike. Haven’t these people read Naomi Klein from back when she was good?
And here’s a plan, by the Socialist Action-pwned Palestine Solidarity Campaign, to smash Israeli growers and pickers on pretext of justice for Palestinians (who probably don’t want that kind of help).
Anybody who decides to participate in this boycott should understand that they are hurting modestly-remunerated Israeli growers and pickers.
The boycott can’t touch this Israel – the one with the population of 7m which attracts more venture capital than France and Germany combined. The very young country whose economically successful innovation and entrepreneurialism has, in these authors’ assessment, been largely motivated by adversity. The authors pass over it, but I’m guessing they mean the denial of Israel’s right to exist, the terrorism, constant threat of war, and the boycotting of Palestine’s Jews which hardly missed a beat in 1948 when it turned into a boycott of Israel.
They aren’t repeating Naomi Klein’s slanted and made-up doctrine that Israel manufactures adversity in order to profit from it; rather they are confirming the age-old proverb about necessity being the mother of invention.
How can this boycott, an act of aggression, change the international policy – or any policy for that matter – of a country so well equipped to thrive (economically) on adversity?
From an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg with one of the aforementioned authors:
“JG: Go to one final thing, something that struck me when I was reading this book. You have a boycott movement in Europe, but in the U.S., too, you have forces that want to delegitimize Israel. I realized in reading this that it would be quite something to go tell Intel or Google or IBM to divest from Israel.
DS: They’ll never do it. I mean, it’s impossible. What various companies told us is that if they had to shut down operations in India tomorrow, they could survive because it’s basically a lot of outsourcing and a lot of call centers. They said if we had to shut down our operations in Ireland, we could survive. But what one person after another told us is that the one place in the world that would devastating for them to have shut down would be Israel, because they put so much of their mission-critical work and R&D in Israel. The Intel story we tell is amazing, this key chip that was central to Intel taking off was designed and then manufactured in Israel, so it would be devastating to these companies to lose Israel. And one more thing — the most interesting data point on all of this is that European venture capitalists invest more in Israel than they do in any single European economy.
JG: Is that true?
DS: Yes and, to me, that says it all. For all the ranting from Europe about boycotts and attempts at boycotts, that’s not what European capital is doing. In terms of the U.S., this is even more true. I don’t want to oversimplify, but who do think is more important to Barack Obama: The head of J Street or Eric Schmidt at Google? And if Eric Schmidt said that his company would be devastated if Israel came off-line — and we interviewed Schmidt and he talked about the importance of Israel — then I think I know the answer.”
This boycott is blatantly destined to fail – not only in its stated aims of liberating the Palestinians, but in its unstated aims of crippling Israel and ending its existence. So why would somebody persist in turning their back on ordinary Israelis, far from power, with produce to sell? The only plausible reason I can think of is visceral animosity towards Israel.
If you hate the world’s only Jewish state then you’ll get a certain amount of personal satisfaction out of boycotting and calling for boycott. But if you want a real result, have a read of the rest of the Atlantic piece linked above, which tells you all you need to know. Basically, you need to send your pennies to Ahmadinejad and get that Iranian nuke off the ground.
Or if this makes you pause, then how about sending some money to one of the many organisations in Israel trying to bring about an end to hostilities, hold their government to account and protect the rights of Palestinians and Israelis. Gisha, B’Tselem, Machsom Watch. Help OneVoice fund youth leaders in Palestine and Israel. Contact the International Labour Movement and find out how you can strengthen the agreement between Israeli and Palestinian trade union movements. Send some money to Shatil, which supports Israeli social change activists (they need it!) and teaches strategies to grow their networks and stop them burning out. Write to your elected representatives insisting that they maintain efforts to facilitate the parties to the conflict from their self-serving conflict management routine into sincere conflict resolution activity. Don’t allow the Israeli right to marshall existential fear into votes for themselves – reinforce Daniel Gavron’s sense of Israeli self-confidence and vision for peace
Just do something constructive, and relevant. Don’t boycott Israeli herb farmers and their labourers.
Meanwhile I suppose I’d better develop a taste for thyme.