If you doubt that we are in the forefront of a growing movement to support human rights for Palestinians, then you have not read readers’ comments on an article in the New York Times yesterday on the move by the European Union to label imports from the occupied Palestine as “settlement goods.”
Even as Times editors sought to brand the move as anti-Semitic, Times readers overwhelmingly applauded the move and decried Israeli policies. Many called the settlements by their correct name, colonies. Many mentioned anti-Palestinian discrimination. And many said they used to support Israel but have been disgusted by Israel’s landgrabbing and its killing of Palestinians. It was not till the 13th comment that you found one that was supportive of Israel.
Here are extended excerpts of the first ten to convey the thoughtfulness and verbal powers of these writers:
David in Wisconsin:
The fact that this is even an issue is ridiculous. I, along with many consumers (if not most) want to know where the products I purchase originate from. For example, I prefer to purchase U.S. made products over Chinese. And since the occupied West Bank, Golan, and East Jerusalem are not internationally recognized to be Israeli land, why in the world should any country allow Israel to put made in Israel on these products. I would be equally deceptive if products made by a U.S. company in China were labeled “made in the U.S.”
DrSpock in NY:
This modest step by the EU allows for its citizens to engage in a simple, nonviolent protest of the policies of annexation and ethnic cleansing in the West Bank. It’s more than ironic that these policies of annexation are openly discussed in the israeli press, but the the US the reaction of surprise and denial. But this is what some of our six billion dollars a year in direct aid is going toward. The West Bank is today an Israeli colony that is rapidly being absorbed into the state of Israel. But to carry out this appropriation Palestinians are being expelled and herded into increasing smaller ghettos ringed by jewish only freeways and military checkpoints.
Allowing consumers to decide whether to support those policies with their purchasing power is a simple measure that is long overdue. Discrimination? Of course, but we all should be discriminating buyers. This is true of those who refuse to buy fur, those who refuse to buy clothing made under slave labor conditions and those who may decide not to buy products made from an area under military occupation in violation of international law.
On the other side, the fair trade movement supports products made under conditions that honor human rights. Israel has every opportunity to move to that side of the international trade equation when they recognize an independent Palestinian state and engage in mutually beneficial commerce between the two states and in their commerce with the rest of the world.
JRMW in Minneapolis:
The Israeli govenment does not seem to understand the massive damage the Settlements have done to Israel.
I believe the Settlements are the #1 security risk to all of Israel.
Prior to the Settlement expansion. I was Pro-Israel 100%
I had no problem supporting Israel to defend itself against hostile Middle Eastern neighbors.
With Netanyahu’s massive Settlement Expansion, they lost me. I also know they have lost many people like me (Pro-Israel Liberals)
I still support Israeli Jews and want to keep them safe, but no longer support Netanyahu or his government.
I have much more sympathy for the Palestinians and their plight.
And I oppose the Settlers 100%.
I no longer wish to be involved in Israel or Palestine. I do not want my tax dollars used to arm Israel. I do not want my consumer dollars used to purchase Settlement products…
But I am tired of seeing Israel use American made rockets to bomb Palestinian Citizens so that Ultra Conservatives can steal their land
tiddle in New York:
As a largely disinterested layman to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I find the arguments from Israel fairly weak.
Chris in Mexico:
What Israel is doing in the Occupied Territories is pure and simple colonialism. It is an unambiguous violation of international law, the result of which resembles nothing so much as apartheid. The predictable accusations of anti-Semitism are an insult to everyone, not least the victims of real anti-Semitism.
It is too late for a two state solution. The settlements have rendered a viable separate Palestinian state an impossibility. What measures like this and the more forceful ones demanded by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign can achieve is a single state with full and equal citizenship rights for both Jews and Palestinians. It won’t happen without a struggle, but there is no humane and democratic alternative.
Wrighter in Brooklyn:
If Israel is worried about people not buying their products once they learn of their origin perhaps they should change their policies to alter public perception and if not, deal with the consequences like every single other nation or company in the world
N Smith in New York:
It is amazing how quickly Israel claims ‘discrimination’; for a nation that practices it so freely.
Again, it wasn’t till the 13th comment that you saw a peep out of Israel supporters, someone saying that East Jerusalem is not occupied. And right after that came this hammer blow from JK in Jericho, Vermont:
The Palestinians live [in] an ever growing large concentration camp. Palestinians have lived in this area for thousands of years. What nonsense to believe that somehow the Jews have a god-given right to seize their land, tear up their deeds, destroy their orchards, and build every growing Israeli settlements in their lands. I have always respected the history and struggles of the Jews; but they have done unto others what was done to them. What a tragedy! The Israeli government has thrown away the moral high ground.
Hasbara Central must be getting overwhelmed by the flood of critical sentiment; you can see from even the Times editors’ picks of the best comment that it is unable to respond to this outpouring, when years ago an article of this ilk would have been swamped by Israel-flag-waving letter-writers and commenters.
This shift in public opinion is why Israel’s former ambassador Michael Oren tweeted two days ago:
I predict that, without a diplomat horizon, historians may someday write about how Israel lost its Jewish and democratic character.
This shift is why Anne-Marie Slaughter told Hillary Clinton four years ago that Palestinian solidarity will “grow and grow… and be impossible to stop.”
These attitudes are sure to be reflected before long by mainstream commentators and politicians.