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

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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, where this post originally appeared.  Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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