Why Israel and not... - Comment - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper
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    • Aaron Levitt
    • 03.08.10 | 00:38 (IDT)

    I've noticed a large number of people posting this question, generally followed by accusations of anti-Semitism. As a strongly identifying Jew, and a strong supporter of BDS, I thought I'd give some of my own reasons and those I've heard from other BDS supporters on this point: 1) Many, probably most, of the nations with the worst human rights records are dictatorships. In these situations, boycotts are likely to harm powerless citizens more than the leaders who are the real targets. Aside from the ethical issues, citizens have no way to hold their leaders accountable, so boycotts are unlikely to achieve anything. 2) The land of Israel is, for better or worse, of special significance for a whole lot of people. For many, conflict and human rights violations in 'the Holy Land' resonate in a way that others do not. 3) Israel works very hard to identify themselves with 'the West' in a way that regimes with extensive records of human rights abuses in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East generally do not. Because of this, Israel's actions strike many as particularly hypocritical. For many activists, they also look like a last, retro gasp of (now much-despised) European colonialism. 4) In many people's minds, Israel was created (or at least recognized) by the international community as a moral response to the Holocaust. For people with this view, the idea that a well-meaning response to the genocide of one people has been perverted into the exile and subjugation of another is particularly galling. 5) At least some European activists see their countries' atrocities against the Jews as indirectly responsible for the Palestinians' plight, and feel an obligation to do something about the once-removed victims of their own peoples' crimes. 6) The United States, for all its faults, is not (to my knowledge) presently engaged in ethnic cleansing or colonial expansion. The war in Iraq, however ill-advised, was not and is not a war of conquest, and the U.S. would love nothing better than to get out and leave beyond a stable Iraqi democracy. Even Bush had no desire to drive out Iraqis and replace them with American homesteaders. The war in Afghanistan was (arguably) justified, and, once again, was not and is not a war of conquest. Obama is hardly going to cleanse Pashtuns and move in suburbanites from Evanston, or wherever. That doesn't mean one can't make a case for boycotting the U.S., and I'm sure some people are boycotting, but there are plenty of salient differences between the situations. 7) There is no question that U.S. settlers were guilty of ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population, and that many of us living here are in various ways the beneficiaries of those crimes. Today, however, no Native American is told that he/she is a second-class citizen of a "white state", or is banished by law to return from his/her ancestral home to ensure the hegemony of the white vote. When Palestinians have the same rights in their ancestral lands that Native Americans have in the U.S., I will joyfully stop boycotting. 8) The U.S. funnels massive assistance to Israel, and many U.S. activists feel responsible for the uses to which that assistance (their tax dollars!) is put. 9) Most importantly, at least for me: I am a Jew, and I have a special responsibility to act when my people are pursuing evil on a grand scale. That responsibility is not only (maybe not even primarily) to our victims, but also to our heritage, and our G-d. I boycott Israel because, while many nations can harm the body of the Jewish people, only Israel threatens to destroy our very soul.

    from the article: A Special Place in Hell / Rethinking Israel boycotts, the ADL and a N.Y. mosque
    First published 15:11 02.08.10 | Last updated 15:11 02.08.10
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