The Rational Response to Israel's State Terror: Boycott

People from Western countries whose taxes are being used as hush money for Israel are beginning to fight back.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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A Palestinian boy standing in the rubble of a northern Gaza house destroyed during the 2014 Israel-Gaza war, April 1, 2015.
A Palestinian boy standing in the rubble of a northern Gaza house destroyed during the 2014 Israel-Gaza war, April 1, 2015.Credit: AFP
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

We’re not there yet. The big bang has yet to happen and most Israelis – plus their representatives in the media – have yet to make the connection between threats of boycott (token or real) and their day-to-day conduct as the supreme people. The Orange CEO’s prompt capitulation has boosted their morale – until the next “surprise,” that is.

The government has thousands of soldiers (both in uniform and otherwise) carrying out its routine tasks of violence. Mother’s sweet boys are demolishing shacks and breaking into homes, and father’s sweet children are shooting at fisherman. And the beloved fathers decided that certain people don’t need to stay where they were born, on their lands, but there’s no problem for the superior people to live there.

And there’s the brave, heroic father who signs the order that will destroy the livelihood of thousands of people, and there are other very nice uncles and big brothers among the Israelis who are the jailers of 1.8 million people, and the high-techies, with rings in their ears, who are involved in deadly military innovations, and there are the sweet children who aren’t tormented by the children and the women they kill with the push of a button or the 1.8 million prisoners. Not being tormented and not wanting to know are also routine missions in the service of the state – the plaster that binds the bricks of our everlasting rule.

Aside from the sumud, Palestinian regular resilience, the ways that Palestinians and a handful of Israelis oppose the violence are individual, case by case: They protest, hire lawyers, write reports and Facebook posts, build new shacks, plant in their fields, go on hunger strikes in prison, donate money. Then the government gets its soldiers to arrest the Facebook posters, shoot the protestors, arrest children in the dead of night, confiscate tractors, punish the hunger-strikers, and publish lies in response to the reports and smash the lawyers. In this war of attrition, the violent government always has more soldiers and resources.

As opposed to Israelis, there are citizens in other countries who take notice of the routine acts of violence committed by Israel and the thousands of soldiers on its behalf, and they are horrified. They cannot take indivdual action against each one of these acts, so they lump them all together. When summed up, it’s state terror, which naturally leads to focused calls for boycott. That is a more effective and rational action and its reverberations continue longer. There is thought involved, eloquence (in many languages), social media literacy, protests, a lot of youthful energy, feelings of disgust and rage, devotion and much less money and human resources than the individual acts of resistance.

Israel has outsourced the occupation – it has turned the nations of the worlds into active participants. How? American citizens’ tax money funds the generous U.S. security aid to Israel and the close military cooperation with Israel. Their taxes, and taxes from other European and Western states, fund the partial reparations for the material and health damage caused by Israel’s rule and artificially resuscitates the existing order of violence. Gaza has not completely collapsed, because Western states and Qatar provide charity to the hundreds of thousands of people there whom Israel forbids to make a dignified living.

Western donations are not a safety net for the Palestinians, but rather a safety net for Israel’s prohibitions, restrictions and onslaughts. The donations, in their current form, come in lieu of clear and decisive political action against Israeli policy, which every World Bank report describes as a reason for economic disaster. And surely for more existential disasters to come. It is easier for these countries to spend their taxpayers’ money on expensive water tanks for villages without infrastructure. It’s easier for them to rebuild destroyed buildings for the third or fourth time than to order Israel to stop.

Why is it surprising, then, that people whose taxes are being used for hush money are beginning to enlist as guerilla fighters in the counter-offensive and boycotting? As unwilling sponsors, they are involved anyway, and it’s their democratic right to express their opinion about the illegitimate use of their money.

Correct, it’s unpleasant to encounter the hatred of protesters in France, England, Germany and Italy. It’s embarrassing to hear Canadians, Australians and American citizens, who continue to benefit from their privilege as settlers and the descendants of colonists and slave owners, determine that the solution is dissolving Israel, not just the ending the 1967 occupation and democratization. But Israel brings it upon itself when it stubbornly insists on proving that there is a direct connection, similarity and continuity from the expulsion of 1948 to its current policy. And Israelis are bringing it upon themselves, with their sweet soldier’s loyalty to their government’s every violent task.

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