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If Israel is unwilling to differentiate itself from the settlements, then boycotters shouldn’t either

on 31 Comments

Israel’s passing of a law that bars entry to foreigners involved in boycotting Israel (including its settlements) was condemned by a wide spectrum of Jewish organizations, including J Street, Americans for Peace Now, the American Jewish Committee, Jewish Voice for Peace, and others.

The bill alienates and criminalizes even those who have supported a ‘partial’ or ‘selective’ boycott, which has merely targeted settlements.

Such strategy has been the hallmark of those who sought to mark their opposition to settlements as an ‘obstacle to peace’ as USA would often call it, based on the perception of a two-state solution that was supposedly just around the corner. Policies such as EU regulations to mark settlement products in recent years, have been under this notion – to show that it was the settlements that are being criticized, not the state of Israel as a whole (so as to keep away from the notion of ‘delegitimization’ of Israel as a whole, which is often regarded as anti-Semitic by Israel apologists).

Conceptually, this selective notion has been puzzling for some – are the settlements not the child of Israel? Did settlers just appear there, again and again, with Israel simply ‘adjusting itself to a new reality’ which was forced upon it?

These used to be critical questions, entailing careful nuance. But Israel has cut through all that. With its new law (actually based upon the 2011 anti-boycott law which was meant mostly for ‘internal’ purposes), Israel is equating in no uncertain ways itself with its settlements. It does not matter if one is selective – the settlements, which are considered illegal by international law, are a one piece with the state.

So now, activists and organizations, even the liberal Zionist ones who have supported boycott of settlements, are to ask themselves: If Israel does not differentiate between itself and its occupied territories, if Israel bars entry to any foreigner who boycotts (even if they are Zionist), why should the boycotters make the differentiation between Israel and its settlements? Even if they still think that ‘settlements are an obstacle to peace’, it is now the state that fully and unequivocally sponsors them by this law. All masks are dropped.  

This law will thus challenge the sincerity of those protesting against Israel’s policies: Are they willing to take Israel, as a one state, to task for its violations of international law? Will some continue to target the theft but not the thief, even when the thief has declared the theft their own?

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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31 Responses

  1. amigo on March 8, 2017, 2:31 pm

    I recall that 10 to 15 years ago , the usual suspects would claim that the “Settlers” were making individual choices to return to “Judea /Samaria” and the GOI had no hand in the matter , ergo they were not illegal settlers .We argued that the GOI provided funding and military support and coverage at the UN , ergo they were illegal as provided for in the 4th GC article 49 , but still they persisted in making those bogus claims.

    We now see the same folks claiming that all of Palestine is belong to the Jews and the Settlers are simply exerting their right to self determination ,in their historical homeland .God gave it to them , blah , blah , blah.

    Moral of the story is , don,t waste your time arguing with these morons but turn your energy to boycotting all things Israeli.If you are not in a position to hit the streets , then donate to those who are.Pass around petitions to your friends.Raise the subject whenever you can.Avail of every opportunity to put Israel,s crimes front and centre. Write to your print media.Contact your Radio /TV stations.

    Israel demands our attention–let,s not disappoint them.

  2. WH on March 8, 2017, 2:47 pm

    ‘Will some continue to target the theft but not the thief, even when the thief has declared the theft their own? ‘

    Excellent ending, perfectly put.

  3. Maghlawatan on March 8, 2017, 4:29 pm

    It’s fascinating that the Jewish tradition of law has nothing to do with how Israel uses the law. Israeli law is a piss take.

    • Citizen on March 9, 2017, 8:41 am

      I think in the story of Jesus and the moneylenders, that was the protagonist’s stance too–the story shows him getting violent the only time in his life…

      • eljay on March 9, 2017, 9:25 am

        || Citizen: I think in the story of Jesus and the moneylenders, that was the protagonist’s stance too–the story shows him getting violent the only time in his life… ||

        Dunno, I thought he got pretty violent when he petulantly destroyed a perfectly good and completely harmless fig tree.

        Mark 11:12-14, 20-21:

        … On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
        . . .
        As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” …

      • talknic on March 9, 2017, 8:50 pm

        @ ejay

        He couldn’t give a fig

  4. JLewisDickerson on March 8, 2017, 7:14 pm

    RE: “With its new law (actually based upon the 2011 anti-boycott law which was meant mostly for ‘internal’ purposes), Israel is equating in no uncertain ways itself with its settlements. It does not matter if one is selective – the settlements, which are considered illegal by international law, are a one piece with the state.” ~ Ofir

    MY COMMENT : A couple of days ago news articles related that the Trump administration had warned Israel that there would be an “immediate crisis” between Israel and the U.S. if it annexed the West Bank. However, Isreal’s new anti-boycott law amounts to a tacit claim by Israel that the West Bank Judea and Samaria are already part of Israel!
    In essence, Israel is saying “suck on this, Donald Trump”: We don’t need to annex Judea and Samaria, they are already part of (the Land of) Israel!

    “A day late and a dollar short”, Trump administration.
    Oh, the delicious irony!

    • Citizen on March 9, 2017, 8:42 am

      so, the fingers are short!

      • JLewisDickerson on March 9, 2017, 9:35 am

        “Size” is in the eye (i.e., mind) of the beholder. ~ moi

        “The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters.” ~ Antonio Gramsci

        “Not everything that is faced, can be changed, but nothing can be changed, until it is faced.” ~ James Baldwin

        “Think not, is my eleventh commandment; and sleep when you can, is my twelfth.” ~ Stubb in Moby Dick

  5. oldgeezer on March 8, 2017, 9:37 pm

    It is more than silly that such a distinction was ever made. It certainly isn’t one I have ever made or been willing to consider.

    The GoI is the planner, promoter, funder and facilitator of the illegal settlements. It is not alone in all roles but it is the key enabler at all stages.

    The GoI directly benefits from the economic activity of the settlers. Israelis in Israel proper also directly and indirectly benefit for those same reasons. All Israelis benefit from the cheap labour pool that is available and more importantly from the resources stolen. Israelis also benefit from the lack of pressure on housing prices in the country which would skyrocket if the settlers contended for the available housing within Israel.

    It’s all one and the same. To pretend that the settlement activity is something seperate is just plain silly. All of Israel should be subject to boycott, divestment and sanctions.

  6. diasp0ra on March 9, 2017, 6:02 am

    IMO, it was already rather pointless to distinguish these two in the first place. It’s akin to punishing the crime and not the criminal. These settlements are not self sustaining, they aren’t created by themselves, nor support themselves with their own army or infrastructure. This is all provided by Israel, that offers incredible benefits to those living there, especially for educators.

    Furthermore, the distinction between Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Israeli settlements inside the green line never appealed to me. Israel as a whole is a settler colonial state.

  7. talknic on March 9, 2017, 6:42 am

    I have come to the same conclusion in the past four years.

    The State of Israel is in breach of its legal obligations.

    Boycott the state and any business or person/s profiting from the state’s illegal actions in any non-Israeli territories

  8. Boo on March 9, 2017, 12:05 pm

    An old English saying “May as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb” illustrates my position. It means that since the penalty for theft is the same, it hardly matters which of the two “offenses” I commit.

    Since I’m to be deemed an anti-Semite anyway if I boycott settlement goods, why not boycott all Israeli goods? What will I be called then — a Nazi, pray tell? I no longer care.

    If I choose to buy a Ford rather than a VW because VW deliberately tweaked its software to cheat on emissions tests, am I “delegitimizing” VW because of my free choice as to how to spend my money? Not in the least. They delegitimized themselves when they broke the law willfully and uncaringly.

    If I elect to buy hummus made in the US instead of “Sabra” brand, it’s because I choose not to do business with those who do business in a state that’s delegitimized itself. Money exerts leverage, and I’m not the least bit shy to use what little leverage I have, in order to bend the arc of justice just the teensiest bit.

  9. catalan on March 9, 2017, 1:46 pm

    I think that boycotting – as long as no physical pressure is applied – is great. When I go shopping, I can look at the country of origin and include that in my decision making process, along with price, need, future benefits. So if I don’t like what Ireland is doing I can choose not to buy Irish cheese. Every country is subject to the same scrutiny. Nothing wrong with choosing products that align with one’s values.
    Obviously, in the case of Soda Stream, people are putting emphasis on taste, need, utility and not on politics. That is why they are doing spectacularly.

    • amigo on March 9, 2017, 4:17 pm

      “I can choose not to buy Irish cheese” catalan.

      do me a favour catalan, you tell me how Ireland makes you unhappy and I will have a chat with our leaders and see what we can do to make you happy again.

      We wouldn,t want to lose such a loyal customer .

      Btw , Dutch cheese is far better , but don,t tell anyone I said so.

    • amigo on March 9, 2017, 5:25 pm

      Apologies catalan , I omitted to tell you that Irish cheese stinks .It is produced mainly at the foot of the “Magillycuddy,s Reeks”.

    • talknic on March 9, 2017, 8:03 pm

      @ catalan
      “Obviously, in the case of Soda Stream, people are putting emphasis on taste, need, utility and not on politics. That is why they are doing spectacularly”

      Not to mention the fact that they pulled out of the West Bank. If they’re pulled out earlier or better yet, never been illegally in non-Israeli territories in the first place they’d likely have made even more.

      A rabid vein popping Zionist from my neck of the woods sold his shares in Soda Stream because they were going to move out of the West Bank. He’s rightly deserving of every lost shekel. Poor sick sod. LOL

    • Maghlawatan on March 10, 2017, 11:11 am

      You can boycott any country but how many will join you? The lovely thing about Israel is that it is so easy to hate. And so many people do.

      • catalan on March 10, 2017, 11:34 am

        “The lovely thing about Israel is that it is so easy to hate” – Mag
        ever since we learned about evolution and that man is not made in the image of the supreme being, we know that people are basically survival mechanisms. Boycotting is generally a private affair – nobody looks if you buy French or Israeli Feta. And evolution says that we do in private selfish things but when someone is watching we do the “right” thing. Only few of us are saints and do the right thing in private – and saints are not great procreators. Selfishness, cheating, violence is great at procreating. They say that the person with most descendants is a Moroccan sultan that had 1200 wives. Him and Ghengiz Khan and others like that. So good luck depending on the morality of strangers making private decisions.

      • Eva Smagacz on March 11, 2017, 2:58 pm

        Well Catalan, if this makes you feel a bit safer for a bit longer, keep this wishful thing going.
        If privately, selfishly, people would not boycott Israeli goods, then what is the problem?

        Why do you think Israel protests so shrilly against the very idea?

  10. Misterioso on March 9, 2017, 2:48 pm

    As apartheid is rampant not only in the occupied Palestinian West Bank/East Jerusalem, but in Israel proper as well, i.e., west of the green line, it is entirely appropriate for BDS to be applied to both.

    “Former Foreign Ministry director-general invokes South Africa comparisons. ‘Joint Israel-West Bank’ reality is an apartheid state”
    EXCERPT: “Similarities between the ‘original apartheid’ as it was practiced in South Africa and the situation in ISRAEL [my emphasis] and the West Bank today ‘scream to the heavens,’ added [Alon] Liel, who was Israel’s ambassador in Pretoria from 1992 to 1994. There can be little doubt that the suffering of Palestinians is not less intense than that of blacks during apartheid-era South Africa, he asserted.” (Times of Israel, February 21, 2013)

    “…EU broadside over plight of Israel’s Arabs”
    EXCERPT: “The confidential 27-page draft prepared by European diplomats… [shows] that Israeli Arabs suffer ‘economic disparities… unequal access to land and housing… discriminatory draft legislation and a political climate in which discriminatory rhetoric and practice go unsanctioned.'” (The Independent, Dec. 27/2011)

    The U.S. State Department’s report on International Religious Freedom: “Arabs in Israel…are subject to various forms of discrimination [and the government] does not provide Israeli Arabs…with the same quality of education, housing, employment opportunities as Jews.”

    In its 2015 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor acknowledges the “institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel.” (U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015 Israel and The Occupied Territories)

    To the best of my knowledge, Israel is the only country in the world that differentiates between citizenship and nationality, i.e., “Israeli” nationality does not exist, only Jews and non-Jews, and each citizen carries an appropriate identity card. While the implications of this absurdity for discrimination and racism against non-Jews are obvious, it has been upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court.
    Israeli TV Host Implores Israelis: Wake Up and Smell the Apartheid

    One example of apartheid within Israel:
    “Jewish town won’t let Arab build home on his own land ”
    Excerpt: “Aadel Suad first came to the planning and construction committee of the Misgav Local Council in 1997. Suad, an educator, was seeking a construction permit to build a home on a plot of land he owns in the community of Mitzpeh Kamon. The reply he got, from a senior official on the committee, was a memorable one. ‘Don’t waste your time,’ he reportedly told Suad. ‘We’ll keep you waiting for 30 years.’” (Haaretz, 14 December 2009)

    Eminent Jewish Israeli journalist Bradley Burston aptly sums up the horrors Israel inflicts on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem:
    “Occupation is Slavery”
    “In the name of occupation, generation after generation of Palestinians have been treated as property. They can be moved at will, shackled at will, tortured at will, have their families separated at will. They can be denied the right to vote, to own property, to meet or speak to family and friends. They can be hounded or even shot dead by their masters, who claim their position by biblical right, and also use them to build and work on the plantations the toilers cannot themselves ever hope to own. The masters dehumanize them, call them by the names of beasts.” (Haaretz, Feb. 26/13)

  11. echinococcus on March 9, 2017, 3:22 pm

    There’s no need to do as if a boycott limited to the post-1967 occupation area were the default!
    This is in fact the “boycott” version proposed by the “liberal” Zionists themselves. No matter if the “BDS” organization itself (not the popular movement to boycott Zionists) changed its bylaws and agreed with this nonsense.

    Unlike the Palestinians of the “official” BDS organization, who live under the military occupation by the enemy and its PA henchmen, we outside Palestine have absolutely no reason to pull any punches. Zionist products and Zionist activities, cultural and non, have always been legitimate targets, not limited to Palestine either.

    I remember perfectly when boycotting anything related to Zionists was the natural rule among sympathizers of the Resistance, already way before the 1967 wave of occupation. The surprising thing is perhaps that there should be any need to discuss this for anyone but the Zionists.

  12. BethlehemOlivesRedeem on March 9, 2017, 5:51 pm

    echinococcus: “There’s no need to do as if a boycott limited to the post-1967 occupation area were the default!”
    Well, apparently there is. Consider how many years already Phil Weiss et al have been battling to open the minds of fellow Jewish Americans alone! Not to mention the rest of us, many still swooning over Paul Newman’s baby blues, and many others regurgitating misquotes of MLK on Israel as an anti-colonialist struggle.

    What many tend to forget, in discussing the settler-colonialist regime of Euro-American Jewish Supremacy (thank you, btw, to Alison Weir, for her brilliant and pithy Against Our Better Judgment – she got beat up so bad because she’s NOT Jewish and she exposed what so many of us missed about the depth of Zionist penetration in the politics and ethos of 20th-c America!), is the indisputable fact that the “state of Israel” wouldn’t exist, literally, nor would it have evolved world-class universities much less achieved cutting-edge science-and-technology status, if not for the wealth-funneling, media-dominating, dual-citizen American, British and French white-identified Jews for whom Israel is a hothouse plant they cultivate as a sort of elitist home away from home.
    Most Zionists (Jewish ethno-nationalists) prefer to live outside Israel and have cultivated an elaborate guilt/shame-denial mindset that enables them to croon operatic about Holocaust victims their Hero Ben-Gurion was happy to see fall into the flames of Hitler’s slave camps rather than have all Europe’s Jews escape persecution by emigrating to countries other than Palestine.
    “Liberal Zionism” is an oxymoron, like “humanitarian slave-trader.”
    So, the battle we outside Palestine/Israel must engage is with the woodwork of our own local city halls and statehouses, already so infested with the intel-termites of Zionist rhetoric that our elected officials are blithely selling off their own as well as our First Amendment rights.
    Fact is….
    We need an offensive strategy, and must stop getting knocked back on our heels by AIPAC sucker punches like the anti-BDS bills sweeping across the country.
    Otherwise, we might as well sew a giant blue six-pointed star across the stars and stripes and call it a day, relegating Palestinian political prisoners inside Israel’s mini-Gulag to the disposability our white forebears, North and South, gladly devised to Ben Carson’s “African immigrants” to these shores.

  13. catalan on March 10, 2017, 9:27 am

    “Btw , Dutch cheese is far better , but don,t tell anyone I said so” – amigo
    They used to have an amazing Irish cheese at Costco, extra sharp Cheddar, very strong, and with consistency almost of Parmesan. Very unique.
    If I could choose one European country to live in, it would be Ireland. As an EU citizen I can move there actually but I just can’t see my wife agreeing to it. And now I am getting a little old for that stuff. I think I would be unrecognizable as Jewish because my features are North European (dark hair, blue eyes, extremely light skin). It is interesting how I am a Sephardic Jew, maybe I have the blood of the Vandals and the Visigoths in me.

    • Maghlawatan on March 10, 2017, 11:09 am

      Prolly a rape or 2 of the ancestors. There is no such thing as ethnic purity anyway. Love doesn’t recognise it.

    • eljay on March 10, 2017, 2:35 pm

      || catalan: … I think I would be unrecognizable as Jewish because my features are North European … ||

      Hush! You mustn’t let Boris hear you say such things!

      • Mooser on March 11, 2017, 11:27 am

        catalan: … “I think I would be unrecognizable as Jewish because my features are North European … “

        “catalan” what about your speech-patterns, word-choices and affect? Not to mention your tone of voice.

        Those things identify, more surely than looks, in the first few sentences you speak or write.

  14. Maghlawatan on March 11, 2017, 3:48 pm

    Most Israelis do not understand how the Oslo process was understood in Galut. Millions of people in Europe saw it as Israel waking up and acknowledging the injustice done to the Palestinians. People thought Israel was serious. Nobody understood it as a piss take.
    Israel deserves to be boycotted.

    • echinococcus on March 11, 2017, 6:25 pm

      Never mind Glutts or Galubbs. Everyone but the Zionists, their accomplices and the happy-go-lucky boobies saw it clearly and denounced it as a huge sale down the river of Palestinian resistance –to top the endless massacre of the 80s. Enforced by a gun to the head of a complacent PLO and by the ruthless elimination of other leaders.

  15. catalan on March 11, 2017, 3:56 pm

    “Why do you think Israel protests so shrilly against the very idea” Eva,
    Not sure I understand why my safety depends on the health of the Israeli economy…I am an American citizen living in New Mexico. I have no substantial investments in Israeli companies…I am a bit confused.
    As to why Israeli politicians protest the boycotts, well that’s their job, kind of, isn’t it? If someone boycotts the state of New Mexico, I would hope that the governer would be saying something about it. The Israeli stock market says that investors are not worried for their money.

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