The occupation is extreme

For the past couple of weeks I have been reading articles and letters written by leaders of Jewish organizations and activists urging the US Presbyterian Church not to vote to divest from three companies that profit off of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Tuesday, after a long debate, committee 15 of the Church’s General Assembly voted in favor of a motion calling for divestment from those companies. Today the entire plenary is expected to vote on the matter.

It is specifically when I read articles and letters that argue against using any form of boycotts, divestment campaigns or calls on our government for sanctions (i.e. BDS) from people who are opposed to Israel’s continued policy of growing settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, that I am perplexed. It is when I hear those who are genuinely concerned with Israel’s future and democratic character refer to the non violent BDS movement as a threat to resolving the conflict, I have to shake my head in wonder. I am sure they are aware of Israel’s Prime Minister recently announcing the building of hundreds of new homes in a Jewish only settlement in the West Bank. In my opinion, that is what should be labeled as a “Threat to Conflict Resolution,” not friends making decisions of conscience about where they invest their retirement funds. 

When I see the Global BDS movement characterized as extreme or as using extreme rhetoric, it truly gives me pause. It does so because what I read from many who are opposed to the use of these non violent tools of political dissent is the characterization that those of us engaged in BDS are “anti-Israel,” “self hating Jews,” and trying to “delegitimize the state of Israel.”

In my opinion, THAT is extreme rhetoric.

I don’t consider those who choose not to purchase goods produced in Jewish only settlements built on Palestinian land which has been occupied by the Israeli military forces since 1967 in violation of international law to be extreme. Nor do I consider those who decide not to invest and profit from the gains of companies which willingly and defiantly choose to enrich themselves off of the demolition of people’s homes or other human suffering to be extreme.

Do you? 

Would you choose to make money off of an investment in a company which knowingly supplies the equipment used to violate the human rights of people by destroying the homes of over 24,000 Palestinian families? In my opinion, 24,000 homeless Palestinian families is extreme. 

Let’s face it, in our modern global economy where we choose as individuals and communities to spend our money and where we choose NOT to are among our strongest political tools. Frankly, I think threatening people’s freedom to make those decisions based on personal values is extreme. Threatening a friendship or an alliance if someone makes a decision about what they buy (or don’t) or where they invest their money (or don’t) is extreme. It is not how I was taught true friends treat each other. 

Yes, this week the Presbyterian Church is once again considering divesting from companies that directly profit off of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands and people. After years of engaging with the those companies unsuccessfully, they will vote once again on whether or not to apply their stated values to their investments. As an activist, a proud Jewish American, the daughter of a proud Israeli father and one to whom the future of Israel and Palestine matters greatly, I am hoping they will follow their hearts and apply their values to their investment choices. But if they don’t, it won’t affect my friendships with Presbyterians one bit.

About Estee Chandler

Estee Chandler is the Los Angeles Organizer for Jewish Voice for Peace.
Posted in Activism, BDS, Israel/Palestine, Occupation

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

  1. seafoid says:

    The occupation is extreme in the same way that Slobodan Milosevic was rude.

  2. Krauss says:

    Mearsheimer got a lot of flack for his 2010 speech where he outlined the emering three groups of Jews in relation to Israel:

    1. The New Afrikaaners(support Israel no matter what). Examples:
    Jeff Goldberg, Abe Foxman, the neocons, David Frum, Malmcolm Hoenlein and many others.

    2. The disaffected middle. They know things are not right but are torn between tribal loyalty and their liberal principles. Mearsheimer predicted that most would either gravitate towards the liberal side as time went on, but that many would also completely sever themselves from all matters concerning Israel entirely. A minority would be hardened.

    3. The liberals. The people who actually believe in Jewish values, democracy and human dignity. They are in the minority now, but they will win over most Jews in the end, Mearsheimer predicted, because the formalization of Apartheid cannot be defended in Jewish terms credibly for the vast majority of American Jews. But it will take time. He named people such as Naomi Klein, Finkelstein, Phil Weiss, David Schulman as well as possibly David Remnick, Peter Beinart and others. Mearsheimer included people in this group, like Beinart or Remnick, who are 2SS believers and who will cling to it for a long time but who eventually will realize that in a choice between a democratic, binational state and Apartheid, they can only really pick one option.

    For this speech he was attacked, as usual. But I think his predictions were spot-on. We’re seeing this gulf now. JVP is ahead of the pack on this issue. But 10 years from now, we will look back in amazement at how it was possible for so few Jewish orgs to support the obvious and why JVP was leading the way in clear and moral terms.

    • seafoid says:

      Things are moving really fast now. The volume of bad news coming out of Israel every week is rising . The left has been crushed by Likud/the settlers . The translation of the demographic growth of the Orthodox into political power has shifted the debate towards the extreme right. It is very hard to see things ending well for Israel. The forces which are pushing the country away from democracy are crude and backward and even the IDF is under threat given the structural changes in the make up of the population. Throw in the global financial crisis and stir. Neoliberalism is in a very sinister phase. It is all building up into a very volatile mix. If US Jews really cared about Israel they would be supporting the very weakened forces of reason in the country but there is too much bet on the status quo enduring.

  3. ColinWright says:

    This fight isn’t really about whether to engage in behavior that will affect Israel economically. After all, if I recall correctly, the measure calls for reinvesting the ‘divested’ funds in Israel in some other way.

    It is about whether critical responses to Israel are permissible at all.

    • seafoid says:

      “We can say we are fighting Israel. We should be much more specific. We are fighting people who are criminals.”

      at 12.10

  4. Sumud says:

    I agree with you Estee.

    It reminds me of Isrselis incessantly blabbing about Palestinian violence – meanwhile Israeli has maintained a brutal military occupation for 45 years now and the state was founded amid massacres and ethnic cleansing.

    A whole lot of projection there.

  5. anan says:

    How many Palestinians support a two state solution?

    How many Palestinians do not support an end to occupation but support reunification or preserving or restoring the union of Palestine?

    Reversing the divorce (partition) of Palestinians and Israelis is a difficult goal. It will require a lot of love, respect and understanding on all sides. Are Israelis and Palestinians ready for that?

    • Avi_G. says:

      Here’s a quarter! Buy yourself a clue.

    • Inanna says:

      Many more Palestinians support a two-state solution than Israelis. Israelis say they support it but keep gobbling up Palestinian land and increasing the number of settlers in what could be Palestine.

      But let’s face it. All this propaganda you’re spouting is just designed to cover the Israeli agenda to have the whole land. That’s what Israeli actions say. And that will be the undoing of Israel. They were offered ‘the biggest Yerushalim in history’ and still didn’t take the deal. Because they want unconditional Palestinian surrender. They want to be absolved of their sin against Palestine by it’s sons and daughters.

      It will not happen.

  6. “reunification”
    “union of Palestine”
    “divorce (partition) of Palestinians and Israelis”

    So now you’re bringing this nonsense over here, anan? How many times should we repeat to you that there has never been a “union”. There was no “marriage” hence no “divorce”. There was no “civil war” (as you usually put it on my blog). Prior to 1948 the vast majority of Palestinians were Arabs and there was no “Israelis”, (again as you put it); only a minority of Jews who grew bigger and stronger with extreme immigration from Europe of people hell bent on taking over the whole country. Now I know that this is not going to sink in, “god” knows I’ve tried but I wish more luck to fellow Mondo commentors to convince you otherwise.

  7. RE: “When I see the Global BDS movement characterized as extreme or as using extreme rhetoric, it truly gives me pause. It does so because what I read from many who are opposed to the use of these non violent tools of political dissent is the characterization that those of us engaged in BDS are ‘anti-Israel’, ‘self hating Jews’, and trying to ‘delegitimize the state of Israel’. In my opinion, THAT is extreme rhetoric.” ~ Estee Chandler

    MY COMMENT: I certainly agree.
    And shame on Americans for Peace Now (APN) for sending out a press release urging the Presbyterian Church not to divest from three companies doing business in the occupation because the measure serves those who seek “Israel’s destruction” and raises “very real and understandable worries about global anti-Semitism.”
    Instead, Americans for Peace Now (APN) should have sent out a press release urging the Presbyterian Church to divest from the three companies doing business in the occupation because Israel’s occupation and mistreatment of the Palestinians serves those who seek “Israel’s destruction” and raises “very real and understandable worries about global anti-Semitism.”

  8. piotr says:

    anan: “How many Palestinians support a two state solution?”

    This is really a necessary question to answer before we attempt to determine if the following is justified:

    (a) making Gaza a shooting gallery to be used at assorted occasions, e.g. PM of Israel returns from D.C. in a sour mood, or IDF detects a “wrong state of mind” among some Gaza denizens

    (b) making West Bank and East Jerusalem a place for assorted “contact sports”, which could make a list worthy of Olympic games, and which include demolishing houses, demolishing roads, nightly detonations in the middle of villages, water deprivations, kicking lambs, kicking children, kicking sheep (this is difficult, adult sheep can resist!), chopping trees, burning fields, to be engaged by heroic IDF and heroic Jews who are molding the national destiny and provide ample occasions for a good cheer by their compatriots. [According to my observations, of late the killings in West Bank and East Jerusalem are relatively rare and do not form regular policy, but "contact sports" are systematic. It is a very unique form of occupation that inflicts an enormous amount of minor atrocities.]

    But could we at least make a “conditional judgement”, say, if only 10% of Palestinians support two state solutions than all of that is justified, but if 50% do support, perhaps the State of Israel should refrain from kicking lambs and something else (like kicking adult sheep which is difficult in any case, with all that wool they hardly feel it), and with 90% we could consider some other magnanimous gestures. For example, ever moderate Dennis Ross pondered if Palestinians could be allowed to operate a quarry or two in Area C.

    • anan says:

      The question is what the question is. It isn’t meant to be anything more than that.

      Schoenech TGIA. :-) Hope you are doing well. :-)

      I am trying to learn more.

      In 1919, about 19% of Palestinians happened to be Jewish. four fifths were Sunni, Atheist, Christian, Agnostic, Koranist, Shia or some other faith. During the harsh English occupation of Palestine, many immigrants moved to Palestine. They moved in accordance with English law. Buying property with their own money, getting property certificates from the English occupation authority.

      Akhi TGIA, any complaints you might have about immigrants between 1919 and 1948 should be directed against the English, not Palestinians or Israelis. It is not the fault of immigrants.

  9. jimmy says:

    you all this beauty

    Israeli General: Populated Areas Will Be Targeted in Next Lebanon Invasion
    Predicts New Lebanon Invasion After Collapse of Syria

    Speaking to journalists today, Israeli Brigadier General Hertzi Halevy predicted another Israeli invasion of Lebanon would come soon, likely following in the wake of the collapse of the Assad regime in Syria.

    Israelis promising another invasion of Lebanon is hardly news, of course, and the real meat of the interview comes when Halevy promised bloody attacks on dense populated areas, adding that “the damage will be enormous.”

    “The Goldstone report will pale in comparison to what will be here next time,” Halevy said, referring to the 2009 UN report faulting Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip and documenting the large number of civilians killed.

    Israel last invaded Lebanon in summer of 2006, killing a large number of civilians including some particularly ugly incidents involving killing scores of children in Qana and bombing of a house full of Canadian civilians who were vacationing at the time of the invasion.

    is it any wonder nobody likes these people…except the US congress and msm of course

  10. Citizen says:

    Here is a transcript of the recent debate in the British Parliament about the Israeli settlements, especially and most specifically, Area C: link to scribd.com

    Note the characterizations of the occupation as a grinding down of the Palestinian people, and essentially, treating them like so much garbage. Note also the concern that Britain itself may be acting illegally by not essentially joining BDS against Israel products made in the OT. Note the concern that soon there will be insufficient land upon which to form a Palestinian state. Note the awareness that the Israelis are much more concerned about Iran than about the settlements or peace with the Palestinians, and that the Israelis fear an Obama second term.

    Can you imagine a debate like this in the US Congress? And broadcast by CSPAN, talked about on the nightly mainstream news? I didn’t think so.

    Note the concern that as the EU helps the Palestinians built much needed infrastructure, the Israelis demolish it once it is built.

    Note that it’s the EU & US who pay directly for Palestinian needs that are legally the responsibility of the occupier, Israel, under international law.

    The debate is dense, detailed, and when you are finished reading it you will conclude there’s no reason Israel should not like the status quo, which is why we have it.