We keep track of the growing awareness inside the U.S. mainstream press of the far-right character of Israeli political culture; and this weekend the LA Times published a long editorial slamming the Israeli government for “trying to wall out its critics.” The editorial grants dignity to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) and rejects a new law that bars visits to the country by boycott supporters.
The LA Times notes that France and many U.S. states have followed Israel’s suit, seeking to punish supporters of That’s not right, the editors say. BDS is not a form of “anti-Semitism, as some claim.” No:
whether one agrees with the goals of BDS or not, the fact remains that boycotts are a form of speech, a classic tool of peaceful political expression.
Nice work! (And stronger than the New York Times editorial on the same theme.)
The editors emphasize that they don’t support BDS, but you get an inkling that they kinda do now that Israel has maintained the occupation for 50 years, and world governments have done diddly to stop it:
Truly free countries tolerate peaceful dissent. The 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories seized during the Six-Day War has gone on for too long and must eventually be brought to an end. For Israeli authorities to demonize — or exclude — those who publicly oppose it is a terrible mistake.
Some of the BDS supporters accept a “two-state solution,” the Times points out, while others who are targeted merely support boycott of settlement products. Just what the Mennonite Church called for on Thursday.
The LA Times editors do salute “a strong democracy marked by vigorous debate and a tolerance of alternative points of view, at least for its own citizens inside its own borders.” But they describe the anti-boycott law as “noxious,” “an attack on freedom of expression,” and a “disappointing step backward for a country that routinely boasts of its robust democracy and presents itself up as a bastion of freedom in an unfree part of the world.”
It is plain that Israel is changing that old image in the western press: “Truly free countries tolerate peaceful dissent.”
One other achievement of this editorial is its point that stopping visits by boycott supporters will not “end what the law’s backers call the ‘delegitimization’ of the Jewish state.” That is enormously sensible. The Times knows that Israel and its zealot leaders and intolerant policies are the chief engineers of that delegitimization process. Activists and journalists are only trying to get the word out. This editorial shows we’ve got traction.
Thanks to Ofer and Annie.