Along with an apology for my recent quiet I hope you’ll accept this offering of some interesting reading, coming mainly out of Israel, on issues relating to the settlement boycott I’ve come out in favour of.
Beinart and Gal-On have good intentions, though they go about achieving their goals in a counterproductive way. They hope to neutralize the demographic threat to Israel’s Jewish majority represented by the millions of Palestinians living on the West Bank and Gaza.
And motivated by a healthy Jewish morality, they want to see the end to Israel’s rule over Palestinians.
Meanwhile, Beinart has proposed that along with the boycott targeting settlements products, a parallel effort should be made to buy goods and services produced by Israeli firms located inside the Green Line – an unabashedly pro-Israel move.
I disagree it’s counterproductive — to reply to the Post’s points in order: this isn’t intended to be the only way to bring about a peaceful end to the conflict, it’s just a way that everyday Israelis and Zionists can contribute ethically to that end; I choose not to buy from any settlement because those settlements are often being extended, and actively inflame tensions, having said that if the government of Israel came out and said ‘we’ll keep settlement X and Y and give you land Z in return’ and the Palestinians agreed I would likely reconsider — but that the Post considers “Zionist BDS”, as Beinart puts it, a phrase I incidentally think terrible, a legitimate Zionist viewpoint is reassuring.
The editorial makes the outrageous claim that left-wing Jews living in the Diaspora who call for global boycotts of Israeli settlements may be considered as acting within a Zionist framework. [...]
When [Diaspora Jews] call for global boycotts of Israeli settlements, they are effectively promoting delegitimization and paving the way for broader boycotts. Besides, unlike their delusional Israeli counterparts, they are mere observers, physically unaffected by the negative repercussions of their actions.
This Diaspora negation was something, I’m sure, Leibler would have despised in his day as an Australian Jewish leader. Israel is a project of all the Jewish people, and it would be tragic for me not to do something to help Israel (be it give to an Israeli charity or boycott settlements) just because I wasn’t living there. That makes little sense to me (and I and my fellow Australians would now like our millions of UIA dollars back, please).
Finally, from Gideon Levy, whose column about the settlement boycott contained this luminous point (which of course Antony Loewenstein completely misunderstood and took for him advocating complete BDS, but what can you do?):
Those who want to buy illegal products should buy Bagel & Bagel items, toilets made by Lipsky, cosmetics manufactured by Ahava, mushrooms from Tekoa, or wine from the Psagot or Golan Heights wineries. Those who want to bolster the settlement enterprise and reinforce it can buy these products and enjoy them.
But those who want to make a minimal act of protest against this sinful enterprise are invited to boycott it and refrain from buying from it. For my part, I shall continue to read the fine print on every product. The citizens of the world also have this right.
There is something about Leibler’s writing that strikes me. Those who yell, scream and try to censor are scared. They can see the future generation of Jews and Zionists claiming their mantle and saying they don’t want Israel to be like they do. We want Israel to be free and democratic, and unshackled by an immoral occupation. Talking about this, acting individually on this, terrifies this leadership.
Israel cannot sustain the settlement project and remain Jewish and democratic. It is simple. If my choice, as someone who wouldn’t readily come across something from a West Bank settlement anyway, is to refuse/boycott to economically contribute to national suicide, then that should be fine. But when my choice — and those of other liberal Zionists — evokes this extraordinary reaction, it shows something much deeper.