Opinion

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.   

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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… Read more »

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… Read more »

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.

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… Read more »