What does a settlement boycott actually mean?

This is a guest post by Jak Codd.

On March 31st UNISON, one of the UK’s largest trade unions, announced their support for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s effort to end the sale of Israeli settlement produce in Britain. On the face of it this is hardly a controversial position – the settlements established from 1967 onwards are widely considered illegal and a barrier to the peace process.

However, a closer look at the ideology and discourse of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign show that all is not as it seems. The PSC have an interesting article on their website entitled 62 Years of Nakba in which they state the following:
The United Nations had proposed a partition plan giving 55% of ancient Palestine for a Jewish state but the Zionists – who had targeted the whole of Palestine for the creation of a Jewish State long before the Nazi atrocities – took 78% of the land by terrorist tactics and military force.

The clear implication here is that it is not the land taken in the 1967 war by Israel that is occupied, but rather much of the land that Israel controlled after the 1948 War of Independence. Under this thinking, the cities such as Ashdod, Beersheva and Jaffa are considered occupied Palestinian land. Does the PSC consider produce from these areas as ‘settlement goods’ that should be boycotted?

The PSC’s ‘Settlements – The Fact’ briefing sheet again reiterates this position :

In 1947, the UN partitioned Palestine (whose population was 70% Palestinian Arab) and decreed that 55% of the land would be used to create Israel. In 1948, Zionist forces seized more land, razing about 500 Palestinian villages to the ground and driving 750,000 Palestinians abroad as refugees. More than 13,000 Palestinians were killed.

The PSC is deliberately blurring the line between the lands occupied in 1967, and the State of Israel as established in 1948. The TUC, UNISON, and other trade unions that sign up to the PSC campaign to boycott settlement goods should clearly distance themselves from any attempt to conflate the two. Failure to do so could result in a full scale boycott of Israeli goods, which would be a barrier to peace and significantly damage Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists and workers on the ground. Opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank should be accompanied by solidarity with grassroots activists in the Histadrut and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions. It is the workers on the ground that want to see a just and long lasting peace for Israel and Palestinian – and it is groups like the PSC that seek to undermine them at every turn.

15 Responses to “What does a settlement boycott actually mean?”

  1. Thomas Venner Says:

    In the end, it doesn’t matter what land within Israel the PSC decides to define as “occupied”. If the Unions in question decide to boycott settlement produce, they will only be boycotting produce which is labelled as having come from the settlements anyway. The idea of a total boycott of all Israeli produce was rejected, so even if the PSC decides to define large parts of Israel (or even the whole of Israel, as some of their material suggests) as “occupied territory”, the Unions involved will still only be boycotting produce from what are officially recognised as settlements on occupied land.

    Also, how much settlement produce actually finds its way into the UK? I’ve never come across any myself.

  2. Nachman Says:

    Sorry why are settlements an obstacle to peace? Why should it be the case that 400,000 Jews with Israeli citizenship living in what may become an Arab State under that state’s laws constitute an obstacle to peace? There are over a million Arabs living in Israel and no one calls them an obstacle to peace. Why should Judea and Samaria over which there has never been Arab sovereignty only Jewish sovereignty become ethnically cleansed of Jews if in the events which happen it becomes part of an Arab State?

  3. Absolute Observer Says:

    I quite agree.
    Of course, they will have to renounce their Israeli citizenship, adopt the citizenship of Palestine and renounce all claims to Israeli sovereignty over the new state.
    Perhaps, someone can direct me to where the Settler movement has expressed such willingness to do so. From what one hears, the Settlers only remain in the Occupied Territories because they believe it is an integral part of Israel and will not accept another state’s sovereignty over it.

  4. point of no return Says:

    I strongly believe that we must all ENGAGE unapologetically with the settlers and the settelments in the so-called disputed territories of Judea and Samaria (where our religion and people originate).

    Being Israeli Jews the settlers must NEVER be singled out for a boycott by the rather anti-semite hypocritical British left.

  5. Absolute Observer Says:

    Nothing “so-called” about it, sunshine.
    And I don’t give a flying fig where your, or anyone else’s religion “began”. It’s the 21st century and the question of Israel and Palestine is a political matter.

    The claim about Settlers being “Israeli Jews” whilst formally correct is heavily disputed and challenged by Israeli Jews and non-Jews. Indeed, many, if not the majority of Israelis, are sick and tired of extreme rightist such as yourself who seek to identify the entire Israeli state with your nasty, aggressive expansionist agenda.

    I also know of many Israelis who make a point of not buying produce from the settlements.

    It is true, of course, that many who seek a boycott in the UK are not as choosy and see no difference between the settlements and Israel proper, as the post shows.

    • Thomas Venner Says:

      Quite right. I know quite a few proud Zionists who don’t buy anything from the settlements, because they see the settlements as undermining Israel’s security.

      • Gil Says:

        Funny that, when I’m shopping for fruit & veg at the supermarket I can never identify if the produce comes from Israel or the Occupied Territories. However, regardless of my strong opposition to the Settler Movement I certainly will not boycott Israeli/Settlement produce because I don’t believe in boycotting Israel or anything related to it.

  6. Absolute Observer Says:

    Tell you what, your posts are better placed on anti-ZIonist sites, since you both think that “Greater Israel” is a true presentation of the State of Israel. You can both have a good old ding-dong, since you have so much in common.

  7. point of no return Says:

    hypocritical absolute obsever presents himself as a zionist yet refuses to ENGAGE with his own zionist brothers and sisters in judea and samaria and instead support their boycotters. talk about racist double standards. shamefull cawardice.

    • Thomas Venner Says:

      I’m afraid you’ve got it wrong about the settlers. A lot of them aren’t anyone’s “Zionist brothers and sisters”, seeing as many (if not most) of them don’t even recognise the state of Israel, and are in fact staunch anti-Zionists, to the point that some have even attacked Israeli military police and soldiers in recent years (and these attacks appear to be becoming more and more frequent). Arguably, it would be appropriate for dedicated Zionists to boycott some settlements on account of their residents’ opposition to Israel’s existence. Those settlers who do self-identify as “Zionists” are more often than not adherents to an aggressively expansionist, right-wing brand of Zionism which is viewed unfavourably by mainstream Zionists.

      Also, please don’t throw around accusations of racism for cheap point-scoring. It doesn’t help anyone.

  8. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Two points: firstly, the following link to an article in Foreign Affairs gives an interesting slant on how to restart the peace process:
    EHUD YAARI is Lafer International Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Middle East Commentator for Channel 2 news in Israel. He is the author, with the late Ze’ev Schiff, of Israel’s Lebanon War and Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising — Israel’s Third Front.

    I found it interesting, because it doesn’t preach all or nothing for the two-state solution now.

    Our commenters Nachman & point of no return might just find it useful!

    Second point: Karen Jennings is currently the Deputy General Secretary of Uniseon and the Labour Candidate in Hornsey and Wood Green, currently by a pro-Israeli Lib Dem with a 5000+ majority. Could be interesting.

    • Thomas Venner Says:

      Pro-Israeli Lib Dem? I didn’t know they still existed. How long, I wonder, before they get hounded out of the party.

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        How about the Greens Engage group then, Thomas? Our Mira is a member of that sub-group of the Green Party, and we all know what the leadership of the party’s attitude is to Israel and boycotts thereof.

        I notice that Mira is still hanging in there, so will this MP. If we wanted to start rubbishing democratic politics (not the particulars, the whole concept) then the same comment could be made about pro-PSC types in the Labout and Conservative Parties, given their leaderships consistent pro-Israel’s right to exist stance.

  9. paul Says:

    I think this boycott will eventually hurt the Arabs Living in Israel and that is why the Presbyterian church has decided against this boycott and not only that but I think it will ultimately people around the world may end up boycotting Britain made goods and services

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