‘Progressive Zionist’ group in U.S. calls for settlement boycott (while J Street continues to refuse to)

The liberal Zionist organization Meretz USA is calling on American Jews and Israelis to boycott West Bank settlements.

While distancing itself from the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, the statement represents a significant stand among left-leaning American Zionist groups who profess their belief in the two-state solution.

Even more significant is the fact that Meretz USA is closely linked with J Street, the liberal group that has taken great pains to distance itself from the BDS movement. Meretz USA was a partner in J Street’s first annual conference, and the Union of Progressive Zionists, which Meretz USA helped to found, was “reorganized” as J Street U, the group’s college wing.

J Street’s official position on a boycott of settlements is more nuanced than their total rejection of the Palestinian-led BDS movement, but the organization has refused to come out in support of a settlement boycott.

The February 15 statement from Meretz USA, titled “Buy Israel–Don’t Buy Settlements (They’re not the Same)” reads:

We believe it is of great importance to actively oppose the policies of Occupation and settlement while at the same time struggling to defend Israel against those seeking its destruction. Consequently we:

* Support the actions of Israeli performers, directors and writers who refuse to participate in performances held in Ariel or any other settlement beyond the Green Line.

* Support the actions of Israeli university professors who refuse to teach at or have professional ties with institutions of higher education in Ariel or any other settlement beyond the Green Line.

* Believe that American Jews, in order to express their support for the brave Israeli citizens refusing to cooperate with settlement policy, should refuse to purchase any goods or services, including tourism services, made in or by the settlements.

* Believe that American Jews should express their support for Israel’s continued existence within the Green Line by purchasing Israeli goods and services that are made within the Green Line.

* Disagree with calls to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel proper (within the Green Line), which we believe are misguided and ineffective. Such a broad set of actions amounts to a blunt punishment of all Israelis, rather than a targeted approach that focuses on the issue of settlements and Occupation, and is incapable of bringing those polices to an end.

* Denounce the use of BDS whenever employed as a tactic to bring an end to the State of Israel.

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and blogger based in New York City.  He blogs on Israel/Palestine at alexbkane.wordpress.com, where this post originally appeared.  Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Posted in BDS, Israel Lobby | Tagged , , ,

{ 10 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. pabelmont says:

    Meretz’s also calls for a freeze here.

    As the UN Security Council deliberates on a resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction over the Green Line, we appeal to the Israeli government to act in the country’s best interest, in the interest of peace, and in the spirit of friendship with the US, and implement a complete, effective settlement freeze, unlimited in time and including the area of annexed East Jerusalem.

    . Too bad it does not call for repatriation of all settlers and dismantlement of all settlements and the wall. But doing justice is too much to ask.

    • Citizen says:

      As of yesterday, the US has agreed to stand with all the other UN Sec Council members on a unified statement that is against “continued settlements.” So the fact that the whole Middle East is rebelling against tyrannical regimes there, the Egyptian domino effect, has weakened the US’s longstanding defiance of any UN attempt to hold Israel accountable for anything? Currently the US is alone, standing against all the other UN Sec Council members who want to condemn all Israeli settlements as illegal and the key roadblock to peace. Nettie didn’t buy Obama’s attempt to stop settlement expansion for even two months (even with a giant bribe), so why should the Palestinians who’s land has been taken daily every since 1967 be on-board with such a watered-down US proposal? link to turtlebay.foreignpolicy.com

  2. Theo says:

    I will greet the day when the majority of american jews distance themselves from Israel and its zionists rulers, the american zionist organisations, and demand an immediate withdrawal to the 1948 borders of the land.
    Or even better, Palestina will become a single country where all citizens have the same rights, the settlers go back to their home and the arab refugees return. Sounds a bit utopistic, however, if we can send men to the moon, we can do this by applying pressure in the right places.

  3. Chaos4700 says:

    How long do you suppose it’ll take the Inquisition to come around and strong-arm Meretz into retracting their statement?

  4. Citizen says:

    What’s the Meretz USA stance on the USA regime’s boycott of everything Iranian? Isn’t that punishing the whole Iranian people? (When’s the last time Iran initiated an attack anyone?) And the USA has pushed a lot of other countries to take part in the boycott and economic sanctions on Iran. I imagine, when the English language newspapers were hit with the headline banner “World Jewry Declares Boycott on Germany!” back in the pre-Shoah day, the German government of the time quickly translated that headline across their own front pages for all Germans to see. Did that help? If memory serves, Crystal Night happened not long after.

  5. Avi says:

    There’s no point in boycotting the colonies. They will simply mark their goods as Made in Israel. The groups that support boycotting the settlements know that very well.

    • Surcouf says:

      That’s why we should boycott all products whose bar code starts with 729 – denoting Israeli origin.

      • Avi says:

        That’s why we should boycott all products whose bar code starts with 729 – denoting Israeli origin.

        For the record, 729 barcode is dated information from the late 1990s. Nowadays, the barcode ranges vary.

        It’s best to ignore the barcode and look for the country of origin.

        By the way, some Israeli textile companies have factories in Jordan, products of which they label as Made in Israel. So, the actual location of the factory or company should be of little importance since the goods are made by an Israeli-owned company.