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The Peter Beinart Double Standard: Why is this boycott different from all other boycotts?

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This past Thursday, Yousef Munayyer and Peter Beinart held a debate on the solution to the Palestine/Israel conflict at the New America Foundation in New York City. During his segments, Beinart reiterated his opposition to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement on the grounds that it allegedly implies a single-state solution. Beinart’s arguments have been productively critiqued in numerous forums, including by Munayyer himself in the course of the debate and on this website, from his desire to separate different classes of refugees to his fundamental misunderstanding of the goals of the BDS movements.

However, listening to Beinart, what strikes me is how nonsensical his argument is, even on its own terms. That is to say, even if we accept Beinart’s proposal to distinguish between Israel’s systematic legal discrimination against Palestinians within the Green Line and the undoubtedly even more severe systematic legal discrimination practiced by Israel against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; even if we are willing to countenance his desire to forgo international humanitarian law by establishing distinctions between first- and second-generation refugees; and even if we are willing to entertain his increasingly isolated opinion that drawing a border to divide Palestine from Israel would be a relatively simple matter – in other words, even if we grant every single questionable claim Beinart makes – his conclusion to oppose BDS remains continues to defy all logic.

Let’s begin by briefly reviewing his stated position on Palestine-Israel: Beinart is willing to recognize “the unjust, immoral one state reality that exists today.” In other words, he is willing to acknowledge that the Israeli state maintains an apartheid system in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He also acknowledges that systematic legal discrimination exists within the Green Line, although he does not classify what he calls “Israel proper” as an apartheid system. Therefore, while Beinart supports a boycott of settlement products, he is unwilling to endorse a wider boycott effort. As becomes clear in the course of the debate, for Beinart, this is not simply a question of tactics. Adopting the talking points of apologists for Israeli human rights violations, Beinart argues, that the BDS movement has unfairly “singled-out” Israel and applied a “double-standard,” as there exist other countries which violate human rights that are not subject to similar international boycott campaigns.

For those of us who have worked on labor and human rights campaigns in the past, Beinart’s criticism of the BDS movement displays a shocking ignorance of how a boycott – any boycott – actually works.

First, boycotts target those responsible for maintaining oppressive systems, in the hope that such pressure will cause those responsible for these injustices to change their ways.

To be effective, a boycott must focus on those who (a) are responsible for maintaining oppressive situations and (b) have the power to change that situation. However, because all countries and companies are engaged in diverse activities at any one time, bringing effective pressure to bear on those who violate basic human rights entails boycotting not only the specific activities that are the immediate impetus for the action, but the company or country itself. For instance, few years back, farm workers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers launched a consumer boycott of Taco Bell, a major consumer of Florida tomatoes, demanding that the company leverage its buying power in order to insist that workers be paid better wages and improve working conditions. Of course, Taco Bell serves many products that do not contain tomatoes and, as far as I know, no one had called for a boycott of any of their other ingredients. But, as a major purchaser of tomatoes, Taco Bell was responsible for running a system that exploited farm workers. The boycott – whose demands were fully met in March 2005 – targeted the responsible entity because it ran an unjust system. Calls to boycott clothing companies who manufacture some of their products in unsafe factories in Bangladesh following the collapse of a factory in that country in 2013 followed a similar logic. Consumers were not asked to check the labels of individual shirts to ensure they were not sourced from these dangerous factories. Rather, the companies responsible for maintaining an exploitative system were held responsible for their actions. Just as boycotting Taco Bell’s tomatoes while eating the rest of their menu would be nonsensical, so too is Beinart’s call to only boycott settlement products. If, as Beinart readily admits, the Israeli state is responsible for maintaining an apartheid system, then it is the Israeli state and its complicit institutions which must be targeted with nonviolent direct actions. Doing any less would undermine the basic logic that undergirds all boycotts.

Second, boycotts do not work by ranking and comparing suffering. Instead, they select target that is violating somebody’s rights and mobilize people to pressure that target, in the hope that these actions will force them towards displaying the basic moral behaviors that they should have been upholding all along. In other words, all boycotts necessarily “single out” a target for direct action. In fact, it is precisely this focus that allows these movements to achieve success. For instance, Colombian activists have called for a boycott of Coca-Cola products, due to their partnering with paramilitary groups that murder and intimidate union organizers. (This despite the fact that Coca-Cola products in the USA are not manufactured in Colombia.) Is Coca-Cola the single worst violator of labor rights in the world today? Who knows? Who cares? Workers at Coca-Cola asked for international solidarity in order to uphold their basic human rights. Similarly, over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations have asked us to stand with them as they demand that their own basic human rights be respected. Asking any boycott to wait in line for other struggles to be addressed first is anathema to the very concept of solidarity, which undergirds all boycotts.

If Peter Beinart believes that Palestinians’ basic rights are not being violated or simply does not care, then he is free to scab. However, if, as he claims, Beinart truly is willing to acknowledge that the state of Israel is running an apartheid system – even if he believes that it is only in the West Bank and Gaza Strip – then he has a responsibility to endorse the nonviolent solution which actually targets the responsible party: boycotting, divesting from, and bringing sanctions to bear on Israel itself.

The objections raised by Beinart against the BDS movement are not actually objections to this boycott so much as they are objection to all boycotts. Assuming Beinart does not think boycotts are an inherently illegitimate political tactic, it is he, rather than the BDS movement, which is applying a double-standard.

Isaiah Silver
About Isaiah Silver

Isaiah Silver is a pseudonym for two Ph.D. candidates in anthropology in Chicago. Both writers have lived and worked in Palestine and Israel on and off for over a decade.

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46 Responses

  1. ritzl
    ritzl
    June 11, 2015, 9:58 am

    Thanks for the article.

    As much as there is to be critical of Beinart’s indefensible positions and inconsistencies, I have to say he has probably put out as much effort to effect some kind of real change as all other libzios combined.

    He has been pretty courageous about stepping outside his box.

    • just
      just
      June 11, 2015, 10:13 am

      +1, ritzl.

      This is a very fine article, ‘Isaiah Silver’.

      “Just as boycotting Taco Bell’s tomatoes while eating the rest of their menu would be nonsensical, so too is Beinart’s call to only boycott settlement products.”

      Nice.

      “Asking any boycott to wait in line for other struggles to be addressed first is anathema to the very concept of solidarity, which undergirds all boycotts.”

      Bingo.

    • Isaiah.Silver
      Isaiah.Silver
      June 11, 2015, 11:48 am

      Thanks for the comment, ritzl. Yeah, I agree that Beinart has put in some effort. But in some ways, that’s what makes him so frustrating. He isn’t burying his head in the sand and pretending Israeli violations of human rights don’t exist, in the StandWithUs etc mold. But he’s unwilling to take the next logical steps. And I’m honestly not sure why that is…

      • annie
        annie
        June 11, 2015, 11:54 am

        presumably Isaiah, because he has to live with himself and he believes what he is doing, his efforts, will make a positive difference. but his logic is deeply flawed and he will come around — i hope.

        edit: thought i would add..people often can’t see the contradictions in their own logic. they have blind spots when looking inward. whereas if they heard someone else arguing the same position, they might be able to critique the logic or hear it as others do. it’s not an unusual circumstance.

        but this is so important, he needs to wake up.. and much faster too.

      • Isaiah.Silver
        Isaiah.Silver
        June 11, 2015, 1:09 pm

        I totally, agree Annie, especially with the difficulties and great importance of examining our own logics. It’s not Beinart’s intentions that I question, but his effects.

        Since he and others are so concerned about double-standards, I should add that we had very similar experiences when participating in other boycott efforts. Sure, the people we were really mobilizing against were those who supported labor abuses, didn’t believe in minimum wages, or just didn’t care about human rights abuses. But at night, when we got together for drinks, the people who really upset us were the ones who agreed with us that Taco Bell or Coca-Cola were doing horrible things, but then said “but I can’t boycott them because I just love beef enchiladas / Coke Zero / whatever so much.” And in many ways, they were the ones who were really standing in the way of change, even if they were far from the most extreme opponents of the boycott. I guess all this is to say that I don’t question Beinart’s intentions, but I’m just not sure that intentions are what matters at the moment.

      • annie
        annie
        June 11, 2015, 1:57 pm

        i agree with you that i don’t think his intentions are what matter at the moment. i was addressing “he’s unwilling to take the next logical steps. And I’m honestly not sure why that is… ”

        the thing that strikes me about the worthlessness of beinart’s positioning (similar to the coke&taco customers you mention) is beinart doesn’t even represent the mainstream ‘liberal’ zionist. he’s way over to the left of many who self identify like that and, like j street, he’s hounded by centerist zionists. so debating him does knock out that line of defense and show the meaningless of it, but there’s still the behemoth of zionsim — the seemingly impenetrable brick wall ahead. albiet that wall has big cracks in it, and don’t they know it.

        And in many ways, they were the ones who were really standing in the way of change

        they are standing in the way of change no doubt, but i don’t think ‘they are the ones who are really standing’ when compared to the bill kristol’s of the world. there are those standing with much more force. and i think of beinart as a gateway person. still tho, he does serve as a distraction who provides an image that’s amiable or approachable. but on the other hand he seems amenable to change. i think he will change eventually.

        but all that takes way too long. we can’t hold the hand of every liberal zionist and coach them along. we have a revolution to attend to. we have to make inroads as fast as we can because people are dying and suffering and we can’t afford to be held up by each and every doubter.

      • Krauss
        Krauss
        June 11, 2015, 2:03 pm

        He isn’t burying his head in the sand and pretending Israeli violations of human rights don’t exist, in the StandWithUs etc mold. But he’s unwilling to take the next logical steps. And I’m honestly not sure why that is…

        So I’ll guess I’ll break on Beinart. I don’t think he’s merely trying to “do the right thing”. I take him as the most sophisticated hasbara activist in the U.S.

        He’s the stopping block against the left, and he does so by attacking the Jewish right constantly, in order to build credibility.

        But in his actions – and in his words – he has always supported discriminatory treatment for Palestinians inside 48-Israel(which is more a fiction than any actual place at this stage).

        Basically Beinart wants to go to a place where it becomes easier to sell Israel’s atrocities. At this stage not even Obama is buying the BS coming out of the Israeli government, and Beinart fears this. He’s much more effective than a clown like Dershowitz, but in the end the main goal remains the same.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        June 11, 2015, 4:06 pm

        Krauss nailed it. Beinart is currently the most dangerous Zionist propaganda agent in the US, bar none. As Annie says, he is of course an emotional and moral cripple –he wouldn’t be a Zionist otherwise. That doesn’t mean that he can’t be extremely effective with honest, ill-informed people in the US general public. Forget the US Jews –they are not enough to count or even likely to desert Zionism in droves. What counts is the general public and Beinart’s feigned innocence and advocacy of crime, while conceding frankly what is too evident even to morons, is too dangerous not to be opposed with all available means.

        In other words, the only answer I see as logical to Silver’s “I’m honestly not sure why that is” is: cold calculation of how much he’ll get away with.

      • marc b.
        marc b.
        June 12, 2015, 9:37 am

        I’ll second (third?) the Kraussian analysis. My only quibble is that I don’t find him all that sophisticated. (‘Jewish and Democratic’?) The blind spot to his antics is a product emotion, not intellect, because his wrongly perceived argument effectively produces a middle ground solution for both sides of the debate. But, to paraphrase Krauss, this is a tall glass of bullshit posing as skim milk.

      • can of worms
        can of worms
        June 15, 2015, 9:37 am

        +1.
        @ “i think he will change eventually.” Who cares? He targets those don’t have a deep knowledge of the issues, uses fog and tricks to create illusions, and saves his cheapest as a last resort.

        For example, he fails to pull the great refugee “disappear-and-switch stunt” (i.e., turning Jewish immigrants into “refugees”, turning Palestinian refugees into “immigrants”, and referring to the two discriminatory RoR laws as just “immigration policy”.) Then he gets called out (Wait! It is not an immigration policy. It is a refugee policy. It is an anti-refugee policy… it’s a discriminatory refugee policy! ).

        So Beinart, forced to kind of concede that he failed to turn Palestinian returnees into “immigrants” and Jewish immigrants into returnees, takes cover under his ever-ready second-best: that’s true, but my own mother from Alexandria was a refugee and she didn’t have the RoR either. I thought we were talking about Israel’s present discrimination and denial of human rights? He just used the cheapest Hasbara in the Whataboutery and Looktheotherway and Jewsarevictimstoo book — almost in the same category as his, “Why don’t you BDS Saudi Arabia?” Anyone who stoops that low to create a fog around the issues to dupe the least informed, who cares if he will change his mind and see the light eventually? Eventually, a democratic desegregated 1ss will force him to see the light.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        June 15, 2015, 11:12 am

        It’s true, I presume, that Professor Beinart’s mum is in fact denied RoR to Alexandria by the dodgy Egyptian government or by inflamed public opinion in Egypt. But can he possibly think that this treatment of her, which is damaging to her interests and insulting to her personally, is justified and should not be changed?

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        June 15, 2015, 12:01 pm

        can of worms:

        He targets those don’t have a deep knowledge of the issues, uses fog and tricks to create illusions, and saves his cheapest as a last resort.

        Exactly! Beinart is not trying to convince anyone but the clueless and most misinformed. Instead of showing any friendliness to such a person (because he doesn’t walk in jackbooted) it’s time to run him out of town. The crazies who speak their mind are not a problem.

    • irishmoses
      irishmoses
      June 11, 2015, 5:16 pm

      I was on ritzl’s side of this (paraphrasing, “Beinart has come so far and is oh so close”) until I read Krauss’ comment, “I take him as the most sophisticated hasbara activist in the U.S. He’s the stopping block against the left, and he does so by attacking the Jewish right constantly, in order to build credibility.”

      Whether Beinart is witting or un, his is the last ditch defense in what looks more and more like a very porous Zionist line. Cleverness in the cause of injustice amounts to little more than clever lawyering on behalf of an evil client. Plus, he’s way too bright a guy not to realize what he’s doing.

      Beinart is sort of the flip side of Goldberg. Neither of them ever has anything to say about the day-to-day plight of the Palestinians. Both are laser-focused on maintaining the Zionist enterprise and as much of Greater Israel as can still be salvaged.

      I find clever evilness far more repugnant than the direct version. Give me a Jabotinsky anytime.

      • lysias
        lysias
        June 11, 2015, 5:27 pm

        “As much of Greater Israel as can still be salvaged” for the Jews of Israel is now national status in a binational state with protections for the Jews of the binational state that are guaranteed by constitutional provisions and by international treaty. Neither Goldberg nor Beinart shows any sign of recognizing this.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        June 11, 2015, 5:57 pm

        How often is Beinhart appearing on US cable infotainment news? Not much. How about Bill Kristol or Bolton? Every week! Who supports these assholes? Somebody very influential. They are on Fox News all the time. When will Phill Weiss or Max Blumenthal get to be on MSNBC? US taxpayers are not getting informed by our main news media.

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        June 11, 2015, 7:46 pm

        Hi Gil, Sometimes when I try to keep it short, I mush it up. I was not at all trying to say, “Oh so close.” Emphasizing “his” box, was a way (it seemed so clear at the time…) to imply that “his” box is not the box that needs to be considered. It’s irrelevant actually, but none the less it shows some personal courage for him to step outside even that, imho.

        The subtext of that, for me, is that ultimately, if and when they have their epiphanies, some of these libzios will be allies with Munayyer and the Palestinian leaders of their search for real justice. I believe that his search and efforts shows that he is one of those potential allies. The J Street types, not so much.

        Beinart will have to be dragged, kicking and screaming to that epiphany. He will never be a leader in the search for justice, but he seems to have the ability to actually reflect a bit, a trait that is completely absent from almost all Zionists, liberal or otherwise. I think that is something that can be worked with (conditionally) as the movement progresses in front of him. He’s talented and introspective. I think that he may well become the very thing that today he says can never exist: someone who believes there is a way forward together, rather than separated. All that talent and evolution may be a useful combination in the right circumstances.

        All this is why I mostly disagree with Krauss on this. Beinart is losing the argument. I think everyone knows that he is losing the debate. I think even he knows it (or at least that was my take from the debate).

        This side-by-side with Munayyer hastened that result. The only way for Beinart’s version of the hasbara to continue and be effective would have been for him to avoid this debate like the plague. For whatever reason, he did NOT avoid it. With all the above, I think that makes him the antithesis of a supremely effective hasbara agent. To the contrary, I think he’s (witting or un, as you say) supplying the free sledgehammers with which to ultimately pulverize Annie’s “Zionist wall” to dust.

        TBD

  2. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    June 11, 2015, 10:34 am

    A further comment on Beinart’s logic. He says that BDS seeks the end of the Jewish State. I think this is true in the sense that a fully implemented PRoR would flood Israel-48 with so many Palestinians (including refugees/exiles from Gaza and West Bank and Jordan, as I understand the matter) that Israel-48 would no longer have a large Jewish majority and perhaps no Jewish majority at all.

    I have long supported PRoR to Israel-48. The exiles should never have been deported, should have been citizens of Israel-48, as should have been their children. In my view (not Beinart’s view), no-one had a right to insert a Jewish (or any other) state into Palestine so as to displace the then-current residents.

    But back to Beinart. He doesn’t support an effective boycott (targeted at all Israel) but only a symbolic one (targeted at OPTs). But both boycotts are BDS and have the same goals. And those goals include an end of a “Jewish State” as Beinart fears).

    So he seems illogical. More likely he hopes a limited boycott will fail or, if succeeding, will terminate (upon the ending of Israeli business in WB) early and before a PRoR can be established. If so, good thinking Beinart! And this is the reason the BDS boycotts must be as broad as possible, not limited to OPTs.

    • talknic
      talknic
      June 11, 2015, 11:15 am

      @ pabelmont ” I think this is true in the sense that a fully implemented PRoR would flood Israel-48 with so many Palestinians (including refugees/exiles from Gaza and West Bank and Jordan, as I understand the matter) that Israel-48 would no longer have a large Jewish majority and perhaps no Jewish majority at all.”

      Not so. Only the dispossessed non-Jewish Israeli inhabitantshave a right to return to Israel 1948. They are now far outnumbered by Jewish Israelis.

      The remainder and by far the majority only have a right to return to non-Israeli territory in Palestine.

      The real demographic threat is in the non-Israeli territories acquired by war and illegally claimed by Israel since May 15th 1948, none of which has yet been legally annexed to Israel.

    • irishmoses
      irishmoses
      June 11, 2015, 5:35 pm

      The BDS movement’s charter requires only that the refugee problem be resolved as stipulated in UN Resolution 194:
      “…refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”
      Resolution 194, passed by the UN General Assembly in November of 1948, sought to resolve all issues, including the refugee issue, caused by the 1948 war, through mediation by a Conciliation Commission. It is a non-binding resolution which means it serves mainly as a recommendation that the issue be resolved through mediation or negotiation between the parties. The essence of the BDS movement’s demands are that Israel end its occupation and settlement of Palestinian lands so that Palestinians can achieve the self-determination and state of their own they have long been entitled to.
      As a necessary part of allowing Palestinian self-determination, the issues of settlements, final borders, and the status of Jerusalem must also be resolved. The Arab Peace Initiative, the Geneva Accord, and the Clinton parameters all address the refugee issue as a matter of compromise in which a token amount or even just the surviving refugees be given the option of returning to Israel or to the new Palestinian state, or compensation and relocation to another country. Those refugees born after 1948 would be allowed to relocate to the new Palestinian state or to another country and also compensated for their losses. There is nothing in the BDS charter or by its members that can reasonably be interpreted as a threat to Israel’s existence.
      Israel’s claims of antisemitism and an existential threat from BDS are intended to change the subject from its unlawful actions in the occupied territories, for which it has no reasonable defense, to a shrill claim of victimhood in the hope that the world opinion will instead condemn supporters of BDS as antisemites intending Israel’s destruction.

    • irishmoses
      irishmoses
      June 11, 2015, 5:55 pm

      The BDS movement’s charter requires only that the refugee problem be resolved as stipulated in UN Resolution 194:

      “…refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”

      Resolution 194, passed by the UN General Assembly in November of 1948, sought to resolve all issues, including the refugee issue, caused by the 1948 war, through mediation by a Conciliation Commission. It is a non-binding resolution which means it serves mainly as a recommendation that the issue be resolved through mediation or negotiation between the parties.

      The essence of the BDS movement’s demands are that Israel end its occupation and settlement of Palestinian lands so that Palestinians can achieve the self-determination and state of their own they have long been entitled to. As a necessary part of allowing Palestinian self-determination, the issues of settlements, final borders, and the status of Jerusalem must also be resolved.

      The Arab Peace Initiative, the Geneva Accord, and the Clinton parameters all address the refugee issue as a matter of compromise in which a token amount or even just the surviving refugees be given the option of returning to Israel or to the new Palestinian state, or compensation and relocation to another country. Those refugees born after 1948 would be allowed to relocate to the new Palestinian state or to another country and also compensated for their losses.

      There is nothing in the BDS charter or by its members that can reasonably be interpreted as a threat to Israel’s existence. Israel’s claims of antisemitism and an existential threat from BDS are intended to change the subject from its unlawful actions in the occupied territories, for which it has no reasonable defense, to a shrill claim of victimhood in the hope that the world opinion will instead condemn supporters of BDS as antisemites intending Israel’s destruction.

      Hasbara Central has organized a 2 prong defense to BDS. Neither involves dealing with the substance of the BDS claim, that the occupation be ended and the Palestinians allowed self-determination. Instead, prong 1, is the specious claim that BDS poses an existential threat to Israel. Prong 2 is the tired What-About-ery claim. Our evil acts are not worthy of BDS because there is greater evil in the world.

      • irishmoses
        irishmoses
        June 11, 2015, 6:03 pm

        Oops, it looks like my original and edited versions were both posted. Read the second one

    • JWalters
      JWalters
      June 11, 2015, 7:57 pm

      It seems to me a good BDS poster to cut through Beinart’s linguistic tap-dancing would be a photo of Netanyahu with his quote

      “Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the State of Israel”.

      https://news.yahoo.com/boycott-movement-aims-destroy-israel-pm-184433604.html

      (Link from an earlier post by just
      http://mondoweiss.net/2015/06/without-american-shavit)

  3. hophmi
    hophmi
    June 11, 2015, 12:01 pm

    The discussion elides Beinart’s argument, which is that boycotting Israel for discriminatory legislation inside the Green Line is highly problematic from a moral point of view, both because there are far greater and more significant examples of countries with discriminatory internal legislation, and because, at least inside the Green Line, Israel hardly operates an apartheid system; Palestinian-Israelis vote, hold office, sit in the judiciary, attend universities with other Israelis (and benefit from affirmative action programs in Israel). Beinart’s point has also been made by Norman Finkelstein; the plight of Palestinian-Israelis pales in comparison to, say, Indian dalits, a huge group which faces more dire discrimination and poverty, problem which surely could be remedied by a boycott of India, a boycott unlikely to happen, just as a boycott of Saudi Arabia, a totalitarian dictatorship. And no one believes Yosef Munayyer when he suggests that all Beinart need do is start such a movement, and he would support it. No one in the BDS community that I know of has ever talked about boycotting Saudi Arabia, a state that indirectly (and perhaps directly) funds the boycott movement through the funding of campus organizations and Muslim communal organizations that promote it.

    It is also problematic from a moral point of view because Israel is a country of refugees established in the aftermath of the greatest genocide in human history. It is thirdly problematic because the state the Palestinians vie for is an Arab Islamic state based on sharia law, one that would almost certainly result in much greater societal discrimination toward minorities. At the end of the day, BDS is not a human rights movement. It is a part of the Palestinian nationalist movement. And the reason, in the end, why the Europeans might go as far as labeling settlement products (a policy that relates to its long non-recognition of Israeli claims over the territories), but no further, is because everyone accepts the idea that this is ultimately a land conflict between two nations, and not a conflict over human rights.

    • annie
      annie
      June 11, 2015, 12:10 pm

      Israel hardly operates an apartheid system; Palestinian-Israelis vote, hold office, sit in the judiciary, attend universities with other Israelis

      triple yawn. and yet there are over 50 laws discriminating against them.

    • just
      just
      June 11, 2015, 12:10 pm

      “The discussion elides Beinart’s argument, which is that boycotting Israel for discriminatory legislation inside the Green Line is highly problematic from a moral point of view, both because there are far greater and more significant examples of countries with discriminatory internal legislation, and because, at least inside the Green Line, Israel hardly operates an apartheid system; Palestinian-Israelis vote, hold office, sit in the judiciary, attend universities with other Israelis (and benefit from affirmative action programs in Israel).”

      I guess you conveniently forgot about the > 50 discriminatory and apartheid laws that affect the lives of non- Jews “inside the Green Line”.

      “In March 2013, Adalah launched the Discriminatory Laws Database, an online resource that collects more than 50 Israeli laws enacted since 1948 that directly or indirectly discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel in all areas of life, including their rights to political participation, access to land, education, state budget resources, and criminal procedures.”

      http://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/7771

      (In the spirit of finding something positive in your lengthy post, I must say that I do like your use of ‘elides’.)

      Now on to your: “It is also problematic from a moral point of view because Israel is a country of refugees established in the aftermath of the greatest genocide in human history. It is thirdly problematic because the state the Palestinians vie for is an Arab Islamic state based on sharia law, one that would almost certainly result in much greater societal discrimination toward minorities. At the end of the day, BDS is not a human rights movement.”

      Sing me another one, just like the other ones. “Refugees” don’t behave the way that today’s (or yesterday’s) Zio- supremacists do.

    • annie
      annie
      June 11, 2015, 12:14 pm

      there are far greater and more significant examples of countries with discriminatory internal legislation

      some examples would be helpful please. and do they call themselves democracies? what about billions in financial support from the US? do we support them in a similar fashion?

      what parity are you alluding to?

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        June 11, 2015, 8:03 pm

        Hoppy totally ignores the fact that only Israel has an enmeshed relationship with USA; all other US relationships with foreign states are at arms-length.

      • annie
        annie
        June 11, 2015, 8:24 pm

        he’s rhetorically winging it. not satisfied with the ol ‘syria does it’ or the plain whine of ‘other countries have discriminatory internal legislation’ he’s gotta lavish it on w/’far greater’ and ‘significant’ examples.

        he’s over there in the supreme court thread trying to bury hostage w/ mega-multiple paragraphed logically flawed hasbluster comments getting his a** whipped so maybe we should take pity on the poor guy? ;) nah!

        there simply is no parity, everyone knows it, so he can’t answer.

      • just
        just
        June 11, 2015, 8:37 pm

        “he’s rhetorically winging it. not satisfied with the ol ‘syria does it’ or the plain whine of ‘other countries have discriminatory internal legislation’ he’s gotta lavish it on w/’far greater’ and ‘significant’ examples.”

        winging it and whingeing, too!

        “he’s over there in the supreme court thread trying to bury hostage w/ mega-multiple paragraphed logically flawed hasbluster comments getting his a** whipped so maybe we should take pity on the poor guy? ;) nah!”

        It’s amusing to witness, Annie. Reminiscent of the moth drawn to the steady flame~ beating itself senseless. Hostage has awesome patience, too.

    • eljay
      eljay
      June 11, 2015, 12:25 pm

      || hophmi: … boycotting Israel for discriminatory legislation inside the Green Line is highly problematic from a moral point of view, both because there are far greater and more significant examples of countries with discriminatory internal legislation … ||

      It is not immoral to protest the existence of the rapist just because a murder also exists. It is immoral, however, to absolve the rapist of his past and on-going crimes simply because a murderer also commits crimes.

      || And no one believes Yosef Munayyer when he suggests that all Beinart need do is start such a movement, and he would support it. ||

      That belief – right or wrong – does not prevent Mr. Beinart from starting a BDS movement against Saudi Arabia or any other nation.

      || It is also problematic from a moral point of view because Israel is a country of refugees established in the aftermath of the greatest genocide in human history. ||

      You Zio-supremacists really love milking that “bestest genocide ever” line…
      – as though acts of injustice and immorality committed against Jews justify acts of injustice and immorality committed by Jews; and
      – even though the Holocaust is only debatably the “greatest genocide in history”. (The Jewish mass-murderous slaughter of 100% of Amalekites is debatably the greatest genocide in history.)

      The Holocaust did not and does not justify Jewish supremacism in/and a supremacist “Jewish State” or any of the past and on-going (war) crimes committed by Zio-supremacist Jews or by the “Jewish State”.

    • oldgeezer
      oldgeezer
      June 11, 2015, 1:15 pm

      @yonah

      “and because, at least inside the Green Line, Israel hardly operates an apartheid system; – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/06/standard-different-boycotts#comment-147706

      That’s hair splitting and it’s not at all immoral to boycott Israel.

      Even if we ignore the discriminatory laws inside of Israel, if only for the sake of argument, it is the state of Israel which has devised and enforced, under force of arms the apartheid system in operation in the West Bank. Let alone the war crimes and crimes against humanity and the violations of GC again under force of arms. To suggest it is somehow not responsible or accountable for that is risible.

      To suggest that crimes committed on other peoples territory are not the fault of the perp is immoral and twisted. Absolutely immoral. There is no room for debate on that but feel free if you can.

      And even there Israel tries to worm it’s way out of accountability claiming that the West Bank is not it’s territory while, at the same time, claiming it is Israel’s territory and it will be willing to give some up to form a 2SS.

      Beinart is just another apologist for war crimes.

    • Isaiah.Silver
      Isaiah.Silver
      June 11, 2015, 1:17 pm

      I’m afraid that you are the one who is eliding our argument. There is no such thing as a half boycott. If you think Israel is operating an apartheid system, then the logical thing to do is to boycott it until that apartheid system stops. We may disagree as to whether that apartheid system exists throughout the territory Israel controls or only in certain parts, but even if you are right, is running an apartheid system in only some parts of a territory OK?

      Boycotts – like all grassroots movements – are almost always coalitions of people from very different ideological background. Right now, everyone from anarchists, to socialists, to welfare state democrats, and special interest groups are working together to oppose TPP. Maybe you don’t agree with the anarchists for all of the reasons why they oppose TPP. But if you think TPP is an unacceptably bad trade deal, you still join the movement to oppose it. Same thing here: we can argue is Israel is maintaining an apartheid system on some or all of its territory. But if you think apartheid anywhere is bad and you think that Israel is running an apartheid system, then it is only logical to join up with the BDS movement to oppose it. That’s just how coalition politics of any kind work.

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        June 11, 2015, 8:05 pm

        Isaiah.Silver, great comment.

        Particularly: “…but even if you are right, is running an apartheid system in only some parts of a territory OK?

        That’s gotta sting.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      June 11, 2015, 8:00 pm

      Americans have a practical and moral right and duty to focus on Israel’s conduct and policies because Israel is the number one beneficiary of US foreign aid in the entire US history despite its tiny size and population and fact it is an economic power in its own right, and US soft power, its good reputation, is hideously harmed by the continued employment of US veto in the UN SC to immunize Israel from accountability under international law. Further, US voters are constantly told their values and Israel’s are the same when they are not.

  4. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    June 11, 2015, 12:09 pm

    Chomsky does this kind of thing too. I like Chomsky overall, and am glad he is still around.

    But for example he says it should not be called BDS but only BD because there are no sanctions on the horizon. But haven’t a number of countries already put on sanctions, namely Arab countries? Would it be so surprising if one country in the next year decided to add its voice or even add sanctions just on settlements?

  5. shalom
    shalom
    June 11, 2015, 1:14 pm

    Double Standards. There are so many problems with this process even as I am opposed to the occupation. First, bdsmovement.net, the original civil society location that announced and continues to represent the international BDS campaign is promoting both anti-occupation and an anti-Israel AKA Right of Return agenda. Beinart believes in anti-occupation regarding the West Bank, but not the state of Israel and I believe he would acknowledge that in fact he is still a two-state peacenik. Second, the BDS movement utilizes these two different proposals to cover the field of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism by allowing people including Beinart to claim allegiance to part even as they continue to roll out and claim victories from all those functioning on behalf of any of its three main goals. Third, the BDS campaign against Israel is not the same as South Africa and the gradual rise in Israeli/Jewish/Christian resistance to BDS will function to corrupt and postpone the peace process for many years if not for decades. Forth, maybe the BDS movement isn’t interested in peace and two-states at all. Fifth, while Israel holds an enormous advantage in political, military and economic power vis-a-vis the Palestine Authority it is not solely responsible for the continuation of the occupation and the subsequent lack of peace. I believe to use the words of another comment there are “blind spots,” on both sides that will not be overcome by separation walls or anti-normalization policies. It requires dialogue to promote understanding and…

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      June 11, 2015, 8:11 pm

      If Jews can claim a ROR from biblical days, why can’t Palestinians claim a ROR from 67 years ago?

  6. JWalters
    JWalters
    June 11, 2015, 8:23 pm

    For those who missed it, there’s a GREAT discussion on MSNBC hosted by Ayman Mohyeldin titled “Israel-Palestine debate rages on US campuses”

    MSNBC synopsis:
    “When does criticism of Israel cross the line and become anti-Semitism, and when is the charge of anti-Semitism used to silence dissent and criticism of Israel? Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America and Radhika Sainath from Palestine Legal join to discuss.”

    http://www.msnbc.com/road-map/watch/israel-palestine-debate-rages-on-us-campuses-456557635819

    • just
      just
      June 11, 2015, 8:59 pm

      Thanks, JWalters!

      Citizen @ June 11, 2015, 8:11 pm~ precisely!!! Never forgetting that it was Palestinian land and resources to begin with.

      lysias~ thank you for that Counterpunch article.

  7. thanh
    thanh
    June 12, 2015, 9:23 am

    This boycott is different because more and more people are joining.

  8. brenda at fol
    brenda at fol
    June 13, 2015, 1:42 am

    Excellent article! The analogies to Taco Bell and Coca Cola are spot on: To debate the worth of BDS regarding Israel, we must first understand the nature of boycott action.

    We frequently hear the complaints “BDS is trying to delegitimize Israel” and “there is no other country singled out for BDS.” Worse, we hear that BDS is anti-semitic because it picks on Israel–an allegation that in itself reveals that Israel is meant to be Jewish only (and thus non-democratic), else it wouldn’t be anti-semitic to criticise all of Israel.

    As far as singling out Israel, I might add that not only are many BDS-supporters involved in exposing human rights violations elsewhere in the world, but there is no other country for which the US superpower is so absurdly protective and is such an egregious benefactor.

    Is the practice of boycotting unjust? If so, why does the US (with approval from its Israeli ally) in effect practice its own system of BDS with its harsh sanctions against, gee Iran and Syria leap to mind. And remember “freedom fries”? The American boycott fever that raged against France in 2003 when France opposed the plan to invade Iraq? Were the boycotters trying to “delegitimize” France? Of course not. They were objecting to a political stance. You can’t have your proverbial cake and eat it too.

  9. brenda at fol
    brenda at fol
    June 13, 2015, 2:28 am

    On the question of the validity of boycott actions, it is interesting to note that in May 1939, the Jewish settlers in Palestine staged a violent riot protesting British policies, which they viewed as more favourable to the Arab population (specifically to the MacDonald White Paper of 1939, which proposed proportional partition of Palestine and limited immigration). The Jewish settlers in Palestine then adopted a policy of non-cooperation, defying limits on immigration, holding a boycott of British goods, refusing to pay British taxes, and seeking $4.7 million in loans from America to finance the bold new Jewish policies intended to impose their will on the native Arabs and the British who held governance in Palestine. See for example reports: “Jews Map Boycott as Protest Against Palestine Plan,” San Jose Evening News, 20 May 1939, and “Jews Assail British Plan,” Reading Eagle, 19 May 1939.

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=X6ExAAAAIBAJ&sjid=HqsFAAAAIBAJ&dq=jews%20map%20boycott%20as%20protest%20against%20palestine%20plan&pg=1031%2C4913183

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=5lshAAAAIBAJ&sjid=EYgFAAAAIBAJ&dq=jews%20assail%20british%20plan&pg=2032%2C3842086

  10. gratefuldennis
    gratefuldennis
    June 14, 2015, 11:58 pm

    I am so tired of Israel accusing anyone that is against their apartheid, occupation and repression of the Palestinian people as anti-Semitic. I was against Hitler but I don’t hate Germans, against Suharto but don’t hate Indonesians and dozens of others. In America I know a lot of Jews that don’t support Israel or Zionism or the occupation. I read recently that some Israeli said those who support the BDS are anti-Semitic. Suffering under German Fascism is no justification for the repression of the Palestinian people with Israeli Fascism.

    “Beinart argues, that the BDS movement has unfairly “singled-out” Israel and applied a “double-standard,” as there exist other countries which violate human rights that are not subject to similar international boycott campaigns.”

    If I could ask Beinart one question it would be: Do any of these other countries have about 270 U.N. resolutions against them from 1947 to 1991 and 226 United Nations Security Council resolutions from 1948 to 2012 except Israel?

    With one resolution in 1990 ordering Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait Bush Senior rushed over there with 500,000 troops. Where are the troops for the Palestinian people?

    • irishmoses
      irishmoses
      June 15, 2015, 1:15 am

      Well said.

    • Kay24
      Kay24
      June 15, 2015, 7:00 am

      Great comment. You ask a good question, that I am sure PB will find difficult to answer.

      Peter Beinart like many Jewish folk, finds himself in a difficult situation. I am sure he is not happy with how Israel has been operating, the human rights abuses, and the endless occupation, yet like many Jewish folk he feels disloyal to the motherland when the world organizes boycotts attempting to stop the madness. When it has been instilled into you that Israel is a victim, and the world is against you, it is hard to break out of that thinking, even when common sense tells you that Israel is the biggest bully.

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