New York Times Jerusalem correspondent Jodi Rudoren’s piece on the boycott movement is titled, “West Bank Boycott: A Political Act or Prejudice?” and her answer is prejudice, revealing herself (again) as culturally bound– operating within the Israeli Jewish experience.
Rudoren begins by citing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s view that a boycott is “immoral” and she seems to agree, for she promptly brings in the Nazis:
for many Israelis, the boycott that comes to mind is the Nazi-led one of Jewish-owned businesses that spread in the 1930s from Germany across Europe and beyond. Avoiding a coffee shop because you don’t like the way the boss treats his employees is voting with your wallet; doing so because the boss is Jewish — or black or female or gay — is discrimination.
But no one is boycotting Jews as Jews. They are boycotting Jews because of the way they treat people under occupation, in the boycott of settlement products, the supposed focus of this story.
Though it is surely the case that some boycotters oppose Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, does that make them anti-Semitic? I should think that would make them anti-Zionist. Rudoren equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Many believe, she says,
that the movement is motivated by anti-Semitism, that the ultimate target is not Israeli policy, but Israel’s right to exist.
Yes, she quotes Omar Barghouti, saying BDS is not singling out any religious or ethnic group, but our West Jerusalem minder promptly steps in– “Many Israeli leaders do not buy this,” and quotes a torrent of rightwingers, government spokesman Mark Regev (“It’s of dubious morality…”), Dani Dayan, Netanyahu, and Malcolm Hoenlein.
FYI, Hoenlein is not an Israeli at all, but an American Jewish leader.
“Seventy years ago, you went after, ‘Kill the Jews’ — here you say, ‘Kill the Jewish state,”’ said Malcolm Hoenlein… “The politically correct way to be anti-Semitic is not to say, ‘I hate the Jews,’ but to say, ‘I hate Israel.”’
I can think of at least two Jewish groups that are for boycott of settlement products, Peace Now and Jewish Voice for Peace. Do they hate Jews? No they hate the colonies. And Peace Now and Peter Beinart (who also supports settlement-boycott) are Zionists. Why didn’t Rudoren quote them when she was calling Americans to talk about Israeli opinion?
What’s more, Peace Now is a constituent of the Conference of Presidents, of which Hoenlein is the executive director. Why does Peace Now remain in the Conference when Hoenlein is calling it a collection of anti-Semites?
It is surely good news that the fat is in the fire on boycott, that people are discussing it at last in the mainstream. But Nazis? This is a form of hysteria. To her credit, Rudoren did a pretty good job about going into the territories to write up Palestinian employment in settlements the other day; but when is she going to talk about the actual conditions of life inside the occupation, which even Haaretz says is a form of slavery, because Palestinians lack control over their lives and bodies? When will the Times undertake to explain how it has come to pass that a couple dozen other peoples have gained the right of self-determination in the 67 years since the U.N. voted to give the Palestinians a state, but they still don’t have that right? That is why I am for boycott, and so many other Americans are, too. To do what I can to lift the heel of the oppressor.