On a boycott tool

Consumption should be political – that’s why I used to subscribe to the boycotters’ magazine Ethical Consumer. But when it began to get too preoccupied with boycotting Israel, I began to find it less than credible and let my subscription slip.

For the same reason I approached this online Boycott Toolkit with trepidation. I came to it via a link to a Pajama’s Media article which gave the impression that it was a tool dedicated to boycotting Israel. It isn’t though.

I don’t want to interfere with ongoing moderate Israeli attempts to get mainland Israel to divest from those settlements which are not part of the peace plans (i.e. to be exchanged for Israeli land elsewhere) as a condition of bringing about a Palestinian state. This kind of targeted action makes sense to me in a way that an entire boycott of Israel, with all its attendant scapegoating and veiled hopes for erasure, never will. The settlement boycott has acceptance of a state of Israel built in – it espouses a two-state solution. Anti-Zionists don’t like it. For this reason it is important to distinguish between settlement boycott and all-Israel boycott. In the Boycott Toolkit today, there is no overall boycott all-Israel campaign (although it’s open for users to make one, and I think it’s probably just a matter of time).

It’s early days to see what kind of political vehicle the Boycott Toolkit becomes. Focus on Israel there is currently disproportionate, and that focus reflects its creator’s politics. However, there is also a campaign against the state of Arizona, sponsors of Glenn Beck On Fox News (for calling Obama a racist), the Californian financiers of Proposition 8 which bans gay marriage, and BP for the oil spill. But the Israel and Palestine related campaigns have the lion’s share of the energy. If it remained that way, and I were its creator Josh Levinger, I’d feel obliged to do something about that singling out.

A couple more thoughts. Currently there is no distinction between settlement that isn’t part of peace plans and settlement that is. To some extent this only mirrors Israel’s long-standing policy of undifferentiation. I’m not sure what to make of it – it’s open to people to start a separate campaign which does make a distinction. The second thought is that the presence of an entry supportive of Palestinian Products on this boycott site shows how the tool can be gamed.

Hat tip: Bob’s Jogo.

Bonus link: Hasan Abu-Libdeh, Palestinian Authority Minister of the National Economy writing in the Jerusalem Post, “The Palestinian campaign against settlement products represents a practical commitment to peace”