Israeli anti-boycott bill takes boycott to its logical conclusion

As the boycott of Israel mainstreams, it becomes a political football. As seemed likely from early on, it strengthens the Israeli right; most recently, some members of the Israeli Knesset are tabling a bill to outlaw ‘home-grown boycotters’. Natalie Rothschild comments in Spiked:

“The ugly side of this law – preventing cooperation and exchange between different peoples – is also the ugly end-product of international boycott campaign against Israel. And just as boycotters expect Israelis to take responsibility for the politics of their government – campaigning for the banishment of Israeli artists, academics, sportsmen and others from international events – so MKs are now demanding that all Israelis decide whether to be with their state or against it. If they choose the latter, they will be punished.”

As far as I can tell, Spiked believes the root of all evil to be narcissistic moral posturing and is primarily motivated to point  out the hypocrisies and counter-productive excesses of moralisers. The boycott of Israel has plenty to occupy them including this by Tim Black in 2009, countering the assertion that sanctions liberated South Africa.

Here is another fatalistic piece, a contrasting one I have some sympathy with, by Moshe Shoked, an academic anthropologist based at Tel Aviv University.

“I tend to believe that it is only a matter of time before this country’s academic institutions are boycotted, regardless of the wishes of the education minister and other champions of Israeli patriotism. They will be boycotted not because of the handful of Israeli professors who have unabashedly supported such a step, but because Israel is under a global microscope that perhaps unfairly discriminates against it compared with other countries that act unjustly, even violently, toward their minorities and neighbors.

For better or worse, Israel does not enjoy the same luxury as countries like Russia and China, which do not rely on the support of Europe and the United States. Indeed, a look through this microscope reveals the foolishness of Israel’s weak-kneed leadership.”

He predicts academic brain drain from Israel and the success of academic boycott. Perhaps out of demoralisation, or perhaps because he is diverted by his feelings towards Israel’s government, Shoked omits to protest these outcomes, though they are the purpose of boycott.

As boycotters and the Israeli right cooperate to knock the wedges in, OneVoice look even more like the dauntless, democratic, free-expression-loving stimulants of the moderate majority they are, inviting single-staters to debates, providing an alternative to grass-roots violence, and coming to talk to British trade unions.

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