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Israel practices aggressive boycott, divestment and sanctions – against Gaza

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Earlier this month, the ICRC warned that Gaza is on the brink of “systemic collapse”. 

Nearly seven years have passed since the ICRC noted that “The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility”, that “the closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law”, and that “the dire situation in Gaza cannot be resolved by providing humanitarian aid”.

It is just under 10 years since the ICRC warned that “chronic malnutrition is on a steadily rising trend and micro-nutrient deficiencies are of great concern”. 

It is also two years since a UN report concluded that Gaza may become “uninhabitable” by 2020, and that what hinders Gazan economic development is “merely Israeli policies, the closure (blockade) and other restrictions imposed on Gaza.”

It is nearly a decade since Yoav Galant, who is now a centrist MK and Construction Minister but then chief of Southern Command, vowed to send Gaza “decades into the past” using Cast Lead (Israel’s 2008-9 Gaza onslaught), and when Matan Vilnai, who was then Deputy Defense Minister, warned that Israel would inflict a “Shoah” (Holocaust) upon Gazan Palestinians. Vilnai has been a leftist-centrist politician with repeated ministerial offices since 1999, now ambassador to China.

Notably, it is over a decade since Dov Weisglass, then advisor to PM Ehud Olmert, said, following Hamas’s democratic election in 2006 (which Jimmy Carter noted as “fair and square”), that

“the idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger”. 

Israel has thus been practicing an aggressive policy of boycott, divestment and sanctions, which goes far beyond what could be called non-violent pressure. It involves seasonal massacres, and what authoritative historians and intellectuals such as Ilan Pappe have been calling “incremental genocide”. Insightfully, Pappe has already noted this back in 2006.

Haaretz journalist Amira Hass has said two years ago:

“Let me be blunt: Gaza is a Huge Concentration Camp”.  

On the same occasion in Duke University, Hass also noted the following:  

“This did not start, unlike what many people think, with the rise of Hamas, Hamas being elected in 2006, or Hamas taking over the security agencies and apparatus in Gaza in 2007 after the short civil war. We can almost trace it to the moment when it started, and this is the 15th of January 1991 — long before Oslo, long before Madrid, and of course long before the suicide attacks inside Israeli cities and against Israeli civilians.

This policy of sealing off Gaza, of making Gazans into prisoners, de-facto prisoners, started then. I’ve written extensively about it and yet I know it always surprises.”

 To call all this “economic warfare” is way, way too generous. Yet it is in this light, that we are to look at Israel’s decrying of Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) as a “moral outrage”, a campaign faithfully led and voiced by Netanyahu.  

The irony is amazing. A state that practices such policies which make BDS look downright pale, is crying “anti-Semitism” and is “morally outraged” when a non-violent grassroots movement seeks to take it to task for its systematic violations of international law.

Israel simply cannot moralize on this one. Those who have come far enough to see beyond the Israeli propaganda called Hasbara, inevitably come to notice the hypocrisy of this ‘moralizing’.

The ‘anti-Semitic’ claim is supposed to deter any ‘moderate’ person from supporting BDS. But it was the late Shulamit Aloni who noted that the ‘anti-Semitic’ claim is a “trick” which “we always use” to rebuff criticism of the Israeli government, as she told Amy Goodman in a Democracy Now interview.

The Israeli claim that BDS is a “moral outrage” cannot be addressed to its non-violent means, which are also considered protected speech by US constitution. The only way to regard it as a “moral outrage” is by stressing its supposed “anti-Semitic” vein. And this is, supposedly, because it threatens the Jewish State. This Jewish State is supposed to be a holy matter, the challenging of which can only be undertaken by extremists. On the other hand, if that policy effectively means erasing Palestine, that is supposed to be considered ‘reasonable’.

As mentioned, Israel’s policy regarding Gaza is to be seen way beyond the paradigm concerning Hamas. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note, how Hamas’s refusal to recognize Israel (despite its conceding to a 2-state solution on 1967 lines) is taken to be extremist, whilst the Likud refusal to recognize Palestine (Likud party platform 1999, never rescinded, states that “the Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river”) is simply seen as something to be ‘negotiated’. 

Yet let us not get overly drawn in by the Likud-Hamas comparison. The suggestion that the ‘2-state solution’ was ever really intended by anyone in Israel’s establishment is a myth. Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy has said long ago that “the truth is this: The two-state solution is dead (it was never born)”. 

It’s not the 2-state or 1-state matter that is the issue here (and anyway BDS steers away from the one-state-versus-two-states debate).

The issue is Israel, and what it does to maintain the Jewish State. Israel obviously wants to make this about everything else. Terrorism. Hamas. Say Hamas again. As long as we are focused on the response of the people living in concentration camps and under incremental genocide, rather than the cause of their suffering, then we are sure to be fooled. We are sure to be subdued. We are sure to be ‘moderate and reasonable’. But this also means to surrender. To surrender to Israel’s designs for ‘peace’ – a one Apartheid Jewish State with Palestinian Bantustans. That’s not moderate. That’s extreme.   

Jonathan Ofir

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

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5 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on May 30, 2017, 2:05 pm

    RE: Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy has said long ago that “the truth is this: The two-state solution is dead (it was never born)”. ~ Jonathan Ofir

    Two-State Solution Debate | Gideon Levy | Proposition
    The Motion: This House Believes a Two-State Solution in the Middle East is Unattainable.
    Gideon Levy closes the case for the Proposition, as the seventh speaker of eight in the debate.

    • JLewisDickerson on May 30, 2017, 2:41 pm

      Gideon Levy: Americans “Are Supporting the First Signs of Fascism in Israel” ~ Published on Mar 22, 2016
      Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy talks to journalist Max Blumenthal about how the Israeli occupation has poisoned not only the region but much of the world, and how BDS might be the last standing hope to dismantle it

  2. JLewisDickerson on May 30, 2017, 2:16 pm

    RE: “The issue is Israel, and what it does to maintain the Jewish State. Israel obviously wants to make this about everything else. Terrorism. Hamas. Say Hamas again.” ~ Jonathan Ofir

    SEE: “How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas”, By Andrew Higgins, The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2009

    [EXCERPTS] Surveying the wreckage of a neighbor’s bungalow hit by a Palestinian rocket, retired Israeli official Avner Cohen traces the missile’s trajectory back to an “enormous, stupid mistake” made 30 years ago.

    “Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,” says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel’s destruction.

    Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. . .

    . . . When Israel first encountered Islamists in Gaza in the 1970s and ’80s, they seemed focused on studying the Quran, not on confrontation with Israel. The Israeli government officially recognized a precursor to Hamas called Mujama Al-Islamiya, registering the group as a charity. It allowed Mujama members to set up an Islamic university and build mosques, clubs and schools. Crucially, Israel often stood aside when the Islamists and their secular left-wing Palestinian rivals battled, sometimes violently, for influence in both Gaza and the West Bank.

    “When I look back at the chain of events I think we made a mistake,” says David Hacham, who worked in Gaza in the late 1980s and early ’90s as an Arab-affairs expert in the Israeli military. “But at the time nobody thought about the possible results.” . . .


    WAYBACK MACHINE (1-29-09) –

  3. JosephA on May 30, 2017, 10:15 pm

    Well thanks Jonathan, you have yet again managed to weave together an insightful article whose conclusions are true, but sad. Reality is what it is.

  4. ET on June 8, 2017, 10:38 am

    What Israel practices is not BDS nor “economic warfare”: It War Criminal Enterprise
    International Relations
    1 Non-existent Diplomatic Relations
    2 Diplomatic Relations
    2.1 Boycott: Individual action
    2.2 Divestment: Corporate action
    2.3 Sanctions: Government action
    Severance of Diplomatic Relations
    3.1 What is being to Qatar by Saudi’s+
    3.2 Russia vs Former Allies of France, UK, & USA at Berlin
    3.2.1 Response: Berlin Airlift
    4 Blockade: specific targets at crossing into territorial waters
    4.1 Saudi & USA at Yemen vis-a-vis weapons runners
    4.2 USA vs Russia at Cuba vis-a-vis Russian Missiles
    5 State of Armed Conflict
    State of Israel occupation of UNGA 181 State of Palestine is a War Criminal Enterprise qualified by Principles of Nuremberg
    Principles of Nuremberg
    Principle VI, (c) Crimes Against Humanity: Political persecution of Palestinians in an attempt to dispossess them from their UNGA 181 National Rights of sovereignty in connexion with
    (a) Crimes Against Peace: Breach of 1949 Armistice & non-compliance with Chapter VII Article 39’s UNSC 242
    or (b) War Crimes
    [i] Systemic Breach of I_973 Geneva Convention Article 49 transfer of Israeli Citizenry into occupied UNGA 181 State of Palestine West Bank Territory
    [ii] Genocide Convention: IDF siege vis-a-vis the People of UNGA 181 State of Palestine Gaza Territory
    Absurd premise that any IDF war operation could be a LOAC Act of Reprisal to force Palestinian National Resistance Leadership to comply with UNSC 242 & LOAC when UNSC 242 & I_973 Geneva mandate that State of Israel vacate their Article 33 collective punishment siege at Gaza & vacate their Article 49 ipso facto war criminal settler citizenry at West Bank
    War Crimes

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