Bring on the Boycott

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Sometimes there is no choice. Sometimes the body is too sick and weak to heal itself without outside help. It would be better if Israeli society would force itself to be free of the occupation and the post-Zionist settlement enterprise, but this has not happened. There were opportunities. Most Israeli governments since 1967 have failed to take advantage of them. The two prime ministers who did display leadership and courage, Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon, were stopped short.

The sickness and distortion of reality have become so pervasive that even some good souls on the Israeli left say that the issue is no longer relevant. But guess what? The monster is still here. And without protesting it out in the open there won’t be a revolution and there won’t be a State of Israel.

The single question is how do we ensure this will happen? Israelis understand just three things: force, an explicit order and losing money. The deaths of 3,000 in the Yom Kippur War led to a separation of forces agreement and a peace treaty with Egypt. An explicit instruction from the great powers led to the withdrawal from the occupied Sinai Peninsula after the Sinai Campaign in 1956.

But the most interesting strategy is hitting Israelis in their wallets. There is something degrading about it because it means that high-minded ideology, hollow values and pretty words aren’t doing the job. But I also suspect that it is the most effective means of them all. Certainly, it is the fastest. When the American administration of George Bush Sr. threatened to revoke Israel’s loan guarantees for integrating the large wave of immigrants reaching the country in the early ‘90s, even the hawkish Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was pushed toward the unprecedented recognition of the Palestinian people and the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991 that laid the groundwork for the Oslo Accords.

Consequently, it is clear to every intelligent person that the foolishness of the occupation and the settlements could end tomorrow if the Americans wanted it so. No attempts at shuttle diplomacy by the U.S. secretary of state would be needed. An unequivocal order from the White House backed by the freezing of U.S. foreign aid − and everything would end. Not tomorrow, but today. But the American administrations are paralyzed by the Jewish lobby in Congress, who are indebted to Jewish donors and are held captive by the American military industrial complex. Either they want to but cannot, or they don’t want it enough.

Therefore, in the interim we, and apparently they, are left to rely on the European Union. Since it is a federation, everything there works slowly. Since they are Europeans, everything there works in an orderly fashion. Consequently, there were clarifications, notices and warnings, but in the end the lot was cast. The EU intends to begin officially levying sweeping sanctions on everything Israeli located beyond the Green Line.

In practice, this is a first step in a campaign that threatens to eventually lead to an international boycott along the lines of the one enacted against apartheid-era South Africa, including separate visas for settlers who seek to enter through Europe’s gates. On the ground, a large share of the cooperation and agreements between Israel and the Europeans are de facto already structured this way. As is known, the Europeans don’t love the occupation and settlement enterprise. What is revolutionary here actually lies on the declarative level. From now on, the wording of agreements that Israel will want to sign with the European Union and its members will include official Israeli recognition that the settlements are not part of the State of Israel but are situated in army-occupied territory.

One way or the other, it is interesting to examine the reactions as well as the lack of reactions. Senior Netanyahu government officials are keeping quiet for the time being. Israel does not have a functioning Foreign Ministry in any event. The position of foreign minister is patiently awaiting for Avigdor Lieberman to wrap up his personal matters, while Foreign Ministry employees have been striking for four months now. As Barak Ravid put it, the complete disconnect with reality has been expressed in the declarations made by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. Just last week, Bennett called the signs of Israel’s international isolation as “concoctions,” and said, “No one on earth is interested in the Palestinian issue.”

I want to ask the midgets of the post-Zionist right and in particular their leaders a simple question. Let’s assume the Europeans really are hypocritical anti-Semites and you are the epitome of humanity. What will you do now? Will you declare war on the EU? When the day comes, will you declare war on the United States as well?

We tried to do things nicely. We explained to you again and again that it was not going well− that the overwhelming majority of the Israeli people, along with most of the world, were not interested in continuing the occupation and the settlement enterprise. You scoffed at us − and justly so. We deserve it. We were too weak. But you also derided the entire world and now the world is starting to show its contempt for you. Judgment Day has come.

Protesters burn goods manufactured in West Bank settlementsCredit: Archive

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