I Swear I Won’t Boycott the Israeli Settlements

How is it possible to harm Jewish communities that bring us, year after year, the World Cup in international protest and condemnation?

Akiva Eldar
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Ariel UniversityCredit: AP
Akiva Eldar

I promise I will not propose to anyone to boycott goods produced on occupied land, refuse to recognize Israeli institutions of higher education that operate over the Green Line, or to keep away from cultural institutions established on non-Israeli territory.

From now on I will only say the following things: It is forbidden to harm Jews who work night and day to transform Israel into a binational state, or an apartheid regime. It is forbidden to encourage a boycott against the settlements and unauthorized outposts which were established through land theft, forgery of documents and paying bribes to collaborators, as well as through the gross trampling of the planning and building laws.

We must file away the reports of the state comptroller that describe the injustices of Israeli rule in the West Bank and the report on the unauthorized outposts. It is completely and totally forbidden to say that the settlements are a violation of international law – someone could very well understand that as a call for law-abiding nations to boycott their products. And in addition, how is it possible to harm Jewish communities that bring us, year after year, the World Cup in international protest and condemnation?

It is forbidden to harm the source of the sustenance for Israeli pioneers, who in their spare time harass Palestinian shepherds and vandalize the vineyards of their helpless neighbors. Far be it from a respectable citizen to deviate from those Jews who interpret the saying “You have chosen us from among all the nations” as a license to deprive another people of their freedom, honor and rights.

We must not harm the young men and women who declare that the only command they honor is the divine one. We must shut up and open our wallets, in order to finance guarding them and to send the finest of our sons to the Israel Defense Forces, in order to be spat on by them.

It is forbidden to boycott a project without which the Settlement Department of the World Zionist Organization – the national carrier for public funds to the settlement enterprise, and, it is also suspected, to the pockets of public officials – has no right to exist.

It is forbidden to propose to academic institutions to avoid any connections with a college that an organization belonging to the mechanism of the occupation (The Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria) has granted the status of a university and the Israeli Education Ministry supplies its budgets.

It is forbidden to criticize artists who appear in the hall surrounded by Arab villages whose residents need a special permit from the occupation authorities to participate in the wedding of a relative in an Arab village in Israel.

From now on, whenever a European diplomat asks me if I support his government declaring a boycott against the settlements, I will say: “God forbid! How can anti-Semitic Europe even think about boycotting Jews, who the State of Israel has been sending for 48 years to settle the land of their ancestors.”

And what will I answer to that very same goy if he wants to know why then the time has not come for Europe to impose a boycott against the State of Israel? I will tell him that in the only democracy in the Middle East, it is forbidden to answer such questions.

Akiva Eldar is a columnist on and the author of the book “Lords of the Land: The War for Israel’s Settlements in the Occupied Territories, 1967-2007” (with Idith Zertal) on the settlers and the State of Israel.

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