The vanity and cluelessness of boycotting Israel

Just a sample from the Web.

In Ha’aretz, Bradley Burston has Yom Kippur and the new film Ajami, the Israel-Palestine conflict in microcosm jointly directed by Palestinian and Jewish Israelis, on his mind:

“This week we observe the ancient boycott known as Yom Kippur. We ask forgiveness for sins of a hardened heart, of judgmentalism and hatred, of a willful deceit of others and an unknowing deceit of ourselves.

For the sin of demanding that only others search their souls and repent. And for the sin of finding others guilty and passing sentence, without having the courage to allow the accused to face their accusers.

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.

Alternatively, as a first step, you might go see Ajami. If it’s hard as hell for you to understand, then you’ve made a beginning. See it again.

It’s Yom Kippur. It’s time to get rattled. Just as in the cartoons, when you run off a cliff, it’s only when you look down, that you begin to plummet.

Look down. We’re all falling here. We’re all trying to keep our families and friends, our children and our elders, from the cliff. Until you understand that, you understand nothing.”

The Forward had a recent editorial on the boycott campaign against Israel.

“While the stated goal of the BDS movement is to isolate and discomfit Israel and support human rights for the Palestinians, it is clear that many followers are not trying to change Israel. They’re trying to eliminate it.

The argument that pushing Israel into economic, academic and cultural purgatory will somehow persuade its government to dismantle the security barrier, evacuate the West Bank and embrace its sworn enemy is misguided. And that’s being generous. Whatever the flaws of the Netanyahu administration — and there are many — it is clearly responding to (and, true, at times stoking) real fears and anxieties among the Israeli population.

The boycotters are either grossly ignorant about the Israeli psyche, or don’t care to understand it. The attempt to isolate and delegitimize “is counter productive because of the nature of who we are. It confirms our worst fears,” says the noted South African journalist Benjamin Pogrund, who now lives in Israel and writes extensively about boycotts, having lived through the apartheid era in his native land.”

Read it all.

From last week’s The Forward, a piece on how the boycott is taking hold.

“The BDS movement is highly decentralized, with each group in the coalition allowed to choose its own targets as it sees fit. It has no articulated political vision. such as a one- or two-state solution to the conflict. The principles that guide the movement — as set out in a call for boycott, divestment and sanctions issued in June 2005 by a wide group of Palestinian civil society organizations — demand instead that Israel adhere to international and human rights law. The amorphous structure and broad goals appear to be responsible for many of the group’s appeal. But some who watch this movement closely contend that, in the end, even a “targetted” boycott is ultimately aimed at all of Israel.

The actual monetary impact of the movement is often unclear. But for activists seeking as much to affect Israel’s image in the public’s mind, money is not always the bottom line.”

And in response, an expression of Jewish solidarity: buycott.

2 Responses to “The vanity and cluelessness of boycotting Israel”

  1. Lynne T Says:

    I’m not sure what to conclude from the article in the Forward as it speaks in particular to the financial difficulties of one Jewish business man and his company, Africa-Israel, which may be suffering more from the world-wide economic crisis than due to the boycott. Elsewhere, I’ve read that Israel’s exports actually increased last year by 25%, and that, on the whole, its economy hasn’t been hammered as badly as most free market countries.

    What I have witnessed here personally, is that the boycotts have backfired — last April, the focus against Israeli wines at Passover resulted in a sell-out at Ontario’s government own liquor distribution stores and a few weeks ago, tickets to the City-to-City Tel Aviv event at the Toronto International Film Festival sold out as well.

    What the TIFF boycott really accomplished was to bring out some of the more articulate anti-boycott voices, some of whom very effectively made quick work of one of it’s leading lights, Naomi Klein, on national radio, on Friday Sept. 11. Simca Jacobovici cut Klein’s hypocritical posturings to shreds. You’ll find the podcast here:

    It’s really worth a listen, right to the end of Klein’s pathetic claim that she really would be “the first to offer support if…”, although in truth, while she made the effort to go visit Gaza, I’m sure she’s never been near Sderot or Ashdod, nor had a word to say about Gilad Shalit’s 3-year imprisonment without even a visit from the Red Cross.

  2. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    @Bradley Burston: “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.”@

    There are no real risks to take for them. When you look on Israeli academia, you can see, that sometimes the antizionists are in majority.
    Still life in the diaspora is much more comfortable. And so by opposing Zionism and Israel in the diaspora, some of those doing it have not only a comfortable life, but are looked upon in British academia as “good, decent Jews”.

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