Why Boycotting Apartheid Israel Matters

Owen Holland makes the case for the boycott of Israel

Back at the beginning of the year, over thirty UK universities went into occupation in response to Israel’s brutal, unremitting assault on Gaza. At some of these universities, the movement is now beginning to crystallise and gather enough strength – as well as political will – to turn into an organised campaign to boycott Apartheid Israel. The campaign is supported by numerous organisations: Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Action Palestine and PSC to name but a few. And that’s just UK-based groups. The Global BDS Movement website carries up-to-date information on the international context.

A matter of weeks ago, Sussex University joined Essex, Goldsmiths and SOAS in voting to tell its students’ union to boycott Israeli goods on campus. Despite the sour jibes of the inevitable reactionary backlash, the decision was not the result of a core of politically-minded activists having seized control of the union in order to manipulate it to their own shadowy and malign ends: it was the result of a free and fair referendum, the biggest in the union’s history. It was Democracy, you know, a bit like Irish ‘No’ vote on the Lisbon Treaty (Wrong Answer Irish: Vote Again) or the population of Gaza electing Hamas.

The call to boycott originates, crucially, in Palestinian civil society and trades unions. This immediately deflates the claim, heard sometimes from the ‘Vote No’ campaign that a boycott would hurt the very people it aims to help. Rather, the tactic stands in a long tradition of mass resistance to oppression, of standing in solidarity with the oppressed: the name originates with a certain Captain C. C. Boycott, an Irish land agent who died in 1897. Small wonder, then, that the Falls Road Murals in Belfast paint pictures of solidarity with Palestinian suffering.

We also have a historical precedent of success on our side: Apartheid South Africa is no longer with us. Ben White’s recent book Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide does an excellent job of drawing out the parallels between the two cases.

Even if one were able, for a moment, to suspend Israel’s criminal incursion into Gaza and its ongoing annexation of the West Bank and look at Israel on its own terms: it is an apartheid state. One need only consider the 20% Arab-Israeli minority who live within Israel and look at their exclusion from the full rights of citizenship to see the hypocrisy of the frequently touted idea that Israel is a ‘beacon of democracy’ in the Middle East. One could then draw a link to the millions of Palestinian refugees who are denied the right of return to their historic homeland. Indeed, one might go say so far as to say that it is the Palestinian Diaspora – truly global in its reach – that has inherited the real legacy of Jewish universalism: the legacy of an enforced statelessness and consequent universality. In Babylon, however, there was no such thing as white phosphorous.

There is something curiously hypocritical about the view which responds to the seemingly intractable situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories by saying: we want debate, as a bridge towards peace, but then simultaneously asserts that such debate stirs up division and unnecessarily imports the conflicts of another part of the world onto, say, a university campus. In other words, ‘debate’ is allowed, provided it does not interrupt the discourse of the dominant power. In this instance, such an interruption would call into question the Israeli occupation and oppression of Palestinians, which Israel’s Euro-US sponsors conveniently overlook – over and over again. This is what was behind the attempted suppression of the Goldstone report on the Gaza assault.

The apologists for Israel seek to foreclose debate by stating which terms can and cannot be used: ethnic cleansing, apartheid, Zionism are all definitely out. This restrains consciousness within a cocoon of inertia, allowing the Israeli state to continue its policy of drip-drip ethnic cleansing safe in the knowledge that mass passivity will be the only response. But universities are not ivory towers, they cannot pretend to be unaffected by the struggles of the world or hold themselves aloof from its antagonisms and conflicts. There are, needless to say, some people who cannot bring themselves to avert their gaze in such a manner. The imperative to turn one’s eyes away speaks of nothing more than the guilt of the complicit. So not only will we refuse to turn our eyes away, we will actively promote consciousness of Palestinian suffering.

18 Responses to Why Boycotting Apartheid Israel Matters

  1. Zee says:

    Israel’s cruel attacks on Palestine and world’s (specially USA and UNO) unjustice with Palestine is unblieveable.. Looks like there is no Law in world

  2. modernityblog says:

    OK,

    Who else would you boycott? What other nations?

  3. ben says:

    http://www.tufi.org.uk/delegation-blog/?p=43&cpage=1#comment-30

    Funny how british trade unionists got a completetely different perspective when they actually went to israel and palestine. perhaps israel’s “dominant discourse” restrained their “consciousness” as well? Did Karl Marx write the above article?

  4. Owen Holland says:

    TUFI. Given the innocuous sounding name, one could easily miss what this acronym is filling in for: Trade Union Friends of Israel. As if the poor benighted country didn’t already have enough friends here, here and here as it is, they need to try and co-opt the British Labour Movement as well. Needless to say, TUFI are hardly well embedded in the British TUC. TUFI’s distance from the TUC is best summed up here: a democratic vote of the TUC membership.

    In fact, I hadn’t even heard of TUFI until one of their representatives came to speak on Sussex campus in an attempt to shout down the boycott: he read uninspiringly from a sheet for 5 minutes before failing to answer any of the questions addressed to him.

    Please, please follow the link provided by ben: it contains absolutely nothing of substantive value. One searches in vain, however, to see the TUFI name printed in full – even on the organisation’s home page – perhaps because the conspicuous absence of the letter ‘P’ would be just a little bit too revealing.

    The chairman of TUFI? Roger Lyons. The President? Lord Clarke of Hampstead who is now so far away from the trade union movement that he is, well, a Lord. Both inordinately reputable fellows. Is this really what TUFI are reduced to? Or is it more a case of taking what you can get. Heck, even the BNP have a trade union front organisation: they call it ‘Solidarity’ and it is a laughing stock.

    TUFI descends to the level of the farcical when it claims, on its website, that the PGFTU don’t support the boycott. They do. Suggesting otherwise is pure hasbara.

    I am happy to let the gnome’s remarks fly for now because they are simply a polite way of phrasing the question: ‘Why are you singling out Israel?’ The ridiculousness of such a question – with its subtle, not-so-subtle innuendo – comes into view if one imagines the same question being repeatedly posed to campaigners for a Free Tibet. Why are you singling out China? Or Tamils. Why are you singling out Sri Lanka? It really is only the apologists for Israel who think it is a legitimate line of argument to suggest they are being singled out for special criticism.

    If one were forced to descend to this level, one might note that it is the IDF who take things to the superlative when claiming to be the most moral army in the world. The Lt.-Gen doth protest too much, methinks. And no other country on the planet uses the Bible to legitimate its claim to the land on which it stands.

  5. modernityblog says:

    Owen,

    OK, for the sake of the argument, let’s accept all that you say, my questions are:

    Who else would you boycott? What other nations?

  6. Owen Holland says:

    Gnome,

    It should, I hope, be sufficiently clear to most readers of my previous post why your questions do not require answers. To quote Robert Zimmerman: How do you expect me to answer such a question if you’ve got the nerve to ask it?

  7. modernityblog says:

    Owen,

    So you don’t feel the necessity to boycott any other country in the world? Hmm.

  8. Owen Holland says:

    I will gratify the Gnome’s goads and taunts with one more response before simply ignoring the troll. S/he evidently has a compulsion to repeat – with little imagination or variation – which is the surest symptom of a repression. So what is being repressed?

    The gnome is attempting to employ a strategy which deflects attention away from the real issue at hand: the cause of the call to boycott Israel. For the gnome, the fact that there are other countries that also do Bad Things entirely negates the force and validity of that call. The gnome would have us boycott anything and everything.

    What are the ethical stakes involved in the claim that we should boycott everything? Does this not imply that every object of the projected boycott is therefore equivalent, homogenous and entirely undifferentiated? Or, to put it another way, that there is no qualitative difference between boycotting Israeli goods and boycotting, say, birthdays. This is plainly ludicrous. What it does is trivialise Palestinian suffering: the very root and cause of the call to boycott Israeli goods. And this, of course, is what the gnome is attempting to obfuscate.

    The gnome is a reactionary creature because what s/he is really objecting to is the BDS campaign’s attempt to politicise people and raise awareness of Palestinian suffering. Knowledge, as a wiser head once said, can only widen its horizons by abiding so insistently with the particular that its isolation is dispelled. Everywhere, making everything alike, is a sign of weak eyesight. The gnome, as the picture so clearly shows, is an eyeless one who deals in pathetic innuendos and sleights of hand.

    Kairos: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10943.shtml

  9. modernityblog says:

    Owen,

    It was a simple enough question.

    But it is slightly surprising that someone, such as yourself, who has been through academia can’t engage with a question or 2.

    It is a rather apolitical approach.

  10. ben says:

    of course there is no mention of how women have few rights in other countries in the middle east, how juvenile gays face the death penalty in iran http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4725959.stm . There is little context given about the 7,000 rockets fired into southern israel by hamas and how they used the ceasefire to acquire more deadly longer range missiles.There is little talk of how Hamas don’t consider the west bank and east jerusalem as occupied land, but consider the whole of israel as occupied. how they believe: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” http://www.mideastweb.org/hamas.htm
    No mention of how israel unilaterally withdrew from gaza. No mention of rockets being fired from Hamas before there was an economic blockade on Gaza, before they had even won the elections there. Of course, there is no mention of how the israeli-arab community have rights to vote in free and fair elections,political representation in the israeli parliament,access to a health system and more rights than jews have in any arab country etc etc. No mention of how the security fence did not exist until after the second intifada in which there were suicide bombings every other week. http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_current_security_fence.php .What has happened to parts of the left in this country? Moral clarity is what is needed. Not moral relativistic nonsense.

  11. Owen Holland says:

    Ben,

    Thanks for your response.

    I had hoped you would at least attempt a defence of TUFI. Given that you have instead opted for the obfuscating tactic of copying out a list of ‘facts’ from a Zionist crib-sheet, you have obliged me to set about problematising those ‘facts’ as well. I will do so on a point-by-point basis. My response is necessarily long given that your crib-sheet evidently contains a number of sensational(ised) bullet-points.

    First off: Iran. It is a somewhat odd, if not uncommon, argumentative strategy to come to Tel Aviv via Tehran. If you think that those who support boycotting Israel are therefore unequivocally committed supporters of the Iranian regime, you have sadly mistaken your man. More to the point, I do not see how my failure to mention Iran means that my post lacked sufficient ‘context’ given that we are discussing the BDS campaign against the state of Israel. Since you have brought it up though, do you not think it at least mildly interesting that the mainstream media constantly bombards us with news of the apparent ‘threat’ posed by the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions – remember Saddam’s WMD? – when, in fact, the only regime in the Middle East to actually possess such weapons is… Israel? The Jerusalem Post even has a whole section devoted to the ‘Iranian threat’ – lest its readers should forget. Meanwhile, Israel’s entire military apparatus is funded by US military aid. Given your claim, which I will come back to later, that Israel is a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, do you not also find it strange that when Mordechai Vanunu blew the whistle on Israel’s ‘secret’ nuclear arsenal, he was slung unceremoniously into a solitary gulag? Having finished his eighteen-year sentence, he is hardly what you would call a ‘free man’: he is now under house arrest for having breached his ban on communicating with foreigners. Israel is not a beacon of democracy in the Middle East; it is a redoubt of Western imperialism. Mentioning Iran is a diversionary tactic at best, a smokescreen to cover your lack of response at worst.

    Hamas. There is an incisive essay here, which goes some way towards correcting the myths you remain content to perpetuate. It is worth reading all the way through, particularly the section dealing with the source of the missiles fired from Gaza. These ‘terrorists’, I hasten to add, are acting in exactly the same spirit as such Zionist groups as the Stern Gang, Haganah, and the Irgun.
    The passage you quote from the Charter is actually a quotation which Sahih Muslim (b.202-d.261 A.H.) reports the prophet Mohammad to have said. It is perhaps too obvious to state that this hadith and the Charter (1988) – an old document, as you might want to take into account – are separate texts. Jewish and Christian religious texts are hardly exempt from similarly odious passages. Israel Shahak makes this point in the early pages of his book Jewish History, Jewish Religion, citing some offending examples from the Talmud – including the claim that Jesus’ punishment in hell is to be immersed in boiling excrement. He discusses the issue at greater length in chapter 5. The Talmud and the hadith are not the Torah and the Qur’an – both the Talmud and the hadith are, however, frequently used to bear a kind of false witness (qawl al-zur).
    If you still wish to pick a quarrel over these lines, then your quarrel must, perforce, be with Islam, rather than Hamas. I do not know whether this is a quarrel you would wish to pick given the already frightening levels of Islamophobia in the West.
    It was the conservative political philosopher Samuel Huntingdon who first drafted the reactionary hypothesis about a Clash of Civilisations between ‘Islam’ and ‘the West’ – rather apocalyptic in its language and pessimistic about the possibility of harmonious co-existence, no? – and it is this hypothesis which Israel and its apologists do their level best to perpetuate in order to ward off the threat of a lasting peace; it suits Israel rather well to be constantly at war. Edward Said ends the article I link to with the following: “‘The Clash of Civilizations’ thesis is a gimmick like ‘The War of the Worlds,’ better for reinforcing defensive self-pride than for critical understanding of the bewildering interdependence of our time.” But it is easy enough to see why the harder core Zionist ideologues might like such an idea: if one’s neighbour is perpetually construed as a violent terrorist, one needn’t worry about the said neighbour claiming the right of return to their historic homeland, because the possibility of such co-habitation in a single, secular state is simply unthinkable.

    The Hamas Charter can be read in full here. Article eight contains the offending quotation from the “prophet, prayer and peace be upon him”. It should be noted that at any point where the Charter makes reference to an enemy, that ‘enemy’ is identified as Zionist. Hamas spokesperson Basim Naim has re-iterated this point writing in the Guardian.
    I do not find it particularly strange that the Charter quotes a warlike passage from the prophet Mohammad given Hamas are a resistance organisation. At least, I find it no more surprising or reprehensible than the IDF’s decision to embed rabbis in combat units during Operation Cast Lead. The racist graffiti left behind by IDF soldiers has been well-documented by Haaretz, Amnesty, the Independent, the Guardian, even the Telegraph. And there was me thinking that allowing a nuclear weapon into the hands of crazy fundamentalists was supposed to be dangerous.
    If you want a more nuanced assessment of Hamas than that offered up by the Zionist crib-sheet version, Khaled Hroub’s Hamas: A Beginner’s Guide is worth a look. Likewise, here or here.
    It is also worth noting that some years ago Hamas actually got some degree of funding from the state of Israel – back when Israel viewed the PLO as the main threat and attempted to divide and rule their opponents by encouraging Hamas as an Islamist counterweight to the secular PLO. This does not, of course, mean that Israel are solely responsible for the relatively recent emergence of Hamas onto the political stage – there are a whole number of complex, inter-related factors: Fatah corruption and co-optation high amongst them – but it should give one pause for thought when faced with the next double-dealing tirade against the ‘new’ enemy.

    Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. This was masterminded by the very same Ariel Sharon who precipitated the Second Intifada with his controversial visit to Haram As Sharif or the Temple Mount. So if you are content to identify the Second Intifada as the cause of the apartheid wall – if it is a ‘security’ wall, as you put it, why does it take up so much of the West Bank? – you might also like to delve a little further and look for the causes of the Second Intifada. This, of course, depends on how far back in history you are willing to go. One can, if one is inclined to be naïve, take Israel’s calculated strategic withdrawal from Gaza at face value – as a genuine gesture towards peace and reconciliation. Or one can see it as another one of those smokescreens which Israel and its apologists are so often keen to deploy (cf. the hasbara that the PGFTU don’t support the boycott…). While basking in the attentions of the ‘international community’ for their magnanimous withdrawal, Israel was blithely able to continue expanding its settlements in the West Bank. Withdrawing from Gaza was little more than a stalking horse to provide cover for and divert attention away from the increasing pace at which the West Bank and East Jerusalem are being annexed.

    Do the voting rights of the 20% Israeli-Arab minority within Israel really make it a beacon of democracy as Israel’s apologists like to claim? No. Perhaps re-read Ben White’s post on this blog. Or perhaps look at Avigdor Lieberman’s recent attempt to ban Arab parties from standing at all. For Israel to have Avi Lierberman as its Foreign Minister would be a bit like the next Tory government choosing to swear Nick Griffin into the Cabinet, if only to keep the pogrom-prone racists in the settlements inside the tent. As Robert Fisk laments, Avigdor Lieberman is the Israeli Foreign Minister: like Nick Griffin, who publicly fantasised about drowning boatloads of immigrants, Lieberman is a man who publicly ‘jokes’ about drowning Palestinians in the Dead Sea. This is the same man who has previously called for the execution of Arab members of the Knesset who dared speak with Hamas. Needless to say, I am not talking about Avi Liberman the stand-up comedian.
    To more fully rebut your point about Israeli ‘democracy’, I might gesture towards Jonathan Cook’s excellent book Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State. The mask is slipping further and further from Israel’s public face these days, so much so, that I have been able to quote a welter of links – some even from the comparatively quietist mainstream media – detailing Israel’s continued abuses of international law. The inability to tolerate dissent is a sign of an increasingly Stalinist polity inside Israel: any human rights groups within Israel that dare Break the Silence and criticise the state, or even hold it to basic humanitarian standards, find themselves increasingly vilified and ostracised; the Israeli state’s response is to try and ensure that the silence continues to resound by clamping down on dissenting groups within Israel. Lieberman’s most successful ‘joke’ during the election campaign was that he wanted all Israeli Arabs to swear an oath of loyalty to Israel, or lose the right to vote. It got him elected. His Foreign Office has since moved on to targeting another vulnerable group: migrant workers. The hypocrisy of his racist rhetoric is best demonstrated by the fact that Lieberman himself, Moldovan by birth, immigrated to Israel from the USSR in 1978.

    To hear Ben ending his post with a rallying cry for moral clarity in the face of moral relativism would be amusing if it were not so saddening. It is perhaps not a surprising call, though, given that the language of moral superiority – the traditional ground of the reactionary right – infests the lexicon of more and more Israeli politicians.

  12. Owen Holland says:

    Gnome,

    Of course I am refusing the bad choice offered up by your questions, because they are not real questions. The gnome, I suspect, knows this, but please allow me to explain my reasoning.

    The gnome is persisting in asking *me*, as an autonomous individual, which other countries *I* would boycott, thereby demonstrating that s/he has fundamentally misunderstood the very nature and ethics of a boycott campaign. Not to put too fine a point on it, it is of no relevance to the BDS Israel campaign which other countries I – as an individual – would or wouldn’t boycott. Why so?

    Allow me to take a list of so-called Bad Countries from the Gnome’s own foul and pestilent congregation of vapours:

    Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Algeria, Sierra Leone,
    Egypt, North Korea (is already under international sanctions), Sudan,
    Indonesia (and see below), Yugoslavia [sic, 2009!], Pakistan, China,
    Libya, Burma (US/EU already impose sanctions), Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran,
    Yemen, Chad.

    Here are a number of solidarity campaigns and websites of trade unionists in the affected countries. What unites them? They are not calling for boycotts. Indonesia proves to be an exception, with a small campaign based in Australia to do with the case of the imprisoned Australian Schapelle Corby for drug-smuggling. The campaign advocates a tourism boycott. There are a few other odds and ends. None of the campaigns are being called for by Indonesians. Then there’s the US protectionist Boycott China site.

    Admittedly, there has been a sizeable and partially successful campaign to boycott the Burmese junta, so successful that even Tony Blair and sundry celebrities jumped on board a tourism boycott – the ever-enterprising Blair stayed at Silvio Berlusconi’s place instead. The same British TUC now boycotting Israeli settlement goods also supported the campaign. Israel, meanwhile, has been implicated in supplying military hardware to the junta: the ultimate source is a report from Jane’s Intelligence Review – an allegation backed up by Burmese solidarity campaigners in Tel Aviv. There are indications, however, that the boycott and sanctions campaign is no longer supported by Aung San Suu Kyi – who would really need to be in the vanguard of such a campaign for it to have any serious credibility. The Free Burma Coalition have similarly reversed their stance.

    There is an IFT campaign to boycott Pakistan airlines, not the state.

    If the gnome had gone to the trouble of looking into the solidarity campaigns which already exist in support of these countries, s/he would have realised that these campaigns do not advocate boycotts. Why is this? A boycott must originate from within the ranks of the people who will be first affected by it. Those who take it upon themselves to organise and advocate a boycott outside of the affected region are doing so in a response to a call for solidarity from the oppressed and suffering people in the region. In the case of the countries the gnome has cared to mention, the call has palpably not come.

    A country which is notable by its absence from the Gnome’s list is Sri Lanka. There is a growing campaign called for by Tamils to boycott Sri Lanka. There is a good, short article on the relationship between the UK-based Palestinian and Tamil movements here. The Say No to Sri Lanka website even cites Gaza as a source of inspiration for their boycott: “ If Gazans could boycott Israel, a similar regime must be employed here.” It’s also worth pointing out the history of mutual solidarity and support between the Tamil Tigers and the PLO.

    Given the Gnome is playing at being an internationalist with this list, s/he might also like to take note of the Palestinian solidarity campaigns active in these countries.

    Algeria, Egypt, Korea, Sudan, Indonesia, [Former Yugoslavia:] Bosnia (and
    here), Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Pakistan, (don’t expect much from
    China
    ), Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen. There is also a Pan-
    African Palestinian solidarity
    campaign. There is a good international
    round-up here or here. COSATU, in South Africa, stand firm in their
    commitment not to handle Israeli goods.

    Why, Gnome, do you think these people – from survivors of the Bosnian genocide to South African trade unionists who fought apartheid – feel kinship with the Palestinians? Gnome?

    In the case of the BDS Israel campaign, please allow me to refer back to the link provided in my original article which gives a list of Palestinian organisations who are calling for the boycott:

    Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO); Occupied
    Palestine and Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI); Grassroots
    Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall); Palestinian
    Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI); Council
    of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine; Palestinian General
    Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU); General Union of Palestinian Workers;
    Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition; Federation of Unions of
    Palestinian Universities’ Professors and Employees; General Union of
    Palestinian Women (GUPW); Charitable Organizations Union; Independent
    Federation of Unions – Palestine (IFU); Palestinian Farmers Union (PFU);
    National Committee for the Commemoration of the Nakba; Civil Coalition
    for Defending the Palestinians’ Rights in Jerusalem; Coalition for
    Jerusalem; Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations; Palestinian
    Economic Monitor; Union of Youth Activity Centers – Palestinian Refugee
    Camps (UYAC).

    The full list of international organisations which endorse the boycott (too long to include) can be viewed here. Three of them are based in Israel. Another good round-up of recent activity here.

    The Israeli government knows this campaign to be a threat to the apartheid state’s economic security, hence the existence of such well-oiled propagandist fronts as our TUFI interlopers, who are trying to destabilise and disorientate the boycott campaign by, quite simply, lying. If the PGFTU and others really didn’t support the boycott, then it would indeed be rather odd for socialists and solidarity activists in the UK to be organising a boycott. But the fact is that the PGFTU do support the boycott. And they would be the first to suffer the economic consequences of such a boycott. Nonetheless they deem their situation to be desperate enough to go ahead and call for it anyway.

    Instead of trying to engage with the political arguments for BDS, the gnome instead adopts the more underhand strategy of going for the necks of those individuals who ‘dare’ to support the campaign. Our friendly garden gnome is rapidly turning into a frothing wee vampire.

    What did Marx have to say about vampires? He likened capital to “dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks”. Our gnome – in repeatedly asking me, as an individual, which countries I would boycott – certainly seems to have fallen into the trap of a vampirically bourgeois ethical stance: s/he only has eyes to see the sociological poem of the autonomous ego.

    Those who claim – as the gnome implies – that boycotting is the choice of the individual consumer miss something important: individual ‘ethically-minded’ consumers cannot simply subtract themselves from the political context of the occupation. The Israeli occupying power systematically prevents export of Palestinian goods as part of their attempted economic strangulation of a viable Palestinian state – before one even exists! So to suggest that individuals – pricked on by their own consciences – can simply choose to boycott Israeli goods, Buying Palestinian Instead, misses the extent to which the Israeli occupation forecloses the possibility of such a choice even presenting itself. It is only through organising a boycott on a collective basis that we can hope to have an impact.

    In other words, it is not the task of isolated, gnomish monads to decide, each time they walk into a supermarket, whether or not to leave the Israeli goods (or Congolese, or Iranian – you’d be lucky to find any in the first place) out of their baskets. This is because boycotting is about something more than isolated individuals making lonely choices in an anonymous market place; boycotting is about making a collective gesture of political solidarity. It is easy to see why a gnome, who rarely peers beyond the walls of his or her own garden, might fail to recognise that.

    There is not world enough, or time to keep on responding at this length to the gnome’s inane posts. Doubtless this response will not have satisfied the gnome’s thirst, but I hope it has explained to interested readers why I am not answering the gnome’s questions: they are not real questions.

    [Exit, pursued by a gnome].

  13. modernityblog says:

    Owen,

    Yes, I am asking *you*.

    Because it is **you** who are making the arguments, and I’m very well aware of the Solidarity campaigns, having participated in the number of them.

    However, that wasn’t the question, it was whether or not you felt some other country should be boycotted.

    I can understand why you have a great difficulty with this question, you never really thought about it before, but it is a fairly obvious continuation of your arguments above.

    And that is the problem as I see it nowadays, the pro-boycotters in Britain are essentially a conservative thinking bunch, who parrot arguments that someone else has prepared and are largely incapable of analysing their own views with logic and reason.

    But never mind, originally I wondered if you could produce an honest answer, but you can’t.

    Owen, you are very good at ranting, monologues come easy to you, but the world is about dialogues and ranting at people isn’t very convincing.

    It is a pity that someone with your obvious education can’t argue in a civil fashion on this important issue, but having run across a number of pro-boycotters I am not entirely surprised by your attitude.

  14. Josh Jones says:

    Owen, your comments almost outshine your article, which is thoughtful and well-researched. Thankyou for sharing this.

  15. adam says:

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/12/16/the-myth-of-jewish-colonialism-2/

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1140956.html

    I may write an article in the badger next term about the moral bankruptcy of parts of the far left. The anti-war coalition on the whole have a shocking record as Hitchens explains.

  16. speegster says:

    Have you ever been to Israel, Owen?

  17. Danny says:

    Owen thank you for this. Whatabouttery is the best the likes of Ben, Mordernityblog can come up with.

    Speegster – I cant speak for Owen but I have and whats your point?

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