Yes to a Boycott

When Yuval Steinitz demands NIS 100 million to confront an international boycott, he ought to take into account a local boycott, too, that will be even more costly and will cause internal bleeding.

Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid
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Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid

Did somebody say “boycott” and the only one to hear was Benjamin Netanyahu? It’s not Israel, but rather its stepchild state that’s being threatened with a boycott. For 47 years, the rebellious irredenta has worked to erase the line, and that’s what happens when you’re in a frenzy to erase – the line is smeared, you get a messy blotch, and no trick of law, language or diplomacy can fix it.

Even the “boycott law” debated this week by the High Court of Justice would never have come into being without the magic phrase “area under its control.”

In other words, the wily legislature was referring not to Israel itself but to those areas that were never annexed to it but tagged along with it.

What haven’t we tried, over the decades – we asked nicely, we asked not nicely, we asked just one thing: Don’t go for the two birds in the bush, we don’t even have the one in hand yet and it needs help to survive. But they didn’t listen to us. We called out in the wilderness, and now the wilderness is stirring.

Once I flew El Al to Tunis via Rome. I was environment minister (now called environmental protection) at the time, and I’d been invited to meet with colleagues from around the Mediterranean Basin. Along the way, I was offered a glass of wine. I happened to look at the bottle and what did I see: Made in Hebron. I didn’t drink, because wine is really a matter of taste: I’m no Ahab; wine from Naboth’s vineyard stings my palate. After returning to Israel, I wrote to the head of the airline, which in those days was a “national” one: You may not cause a passenger to sin with yayin nesekh, “libational wine,” even if it is made by Jews. I have my own kashrut rules.

Much wine has been spilled since then, and last year, as my birthday approached, I began dropping hints: Grandpa Yossi, who really likes to drink homemade bubbles, would love to receive a SodaStream machine, with all the flavoring syrups. Until I suddenly learned that the SodaStream factory is in Ma’ale Adumim. I canceled my order, and even Scarlett Johansson couldn’t make me change my mind.

You be the judge of me, before they come to put me on trial: If I oppose, with all my heart and soul, the settlements that jeopardize our peace and well-being, then why should I support their businesses of my own free will? Isn’t it bad enough that my legally paid taxes are now going to help 35 isolated settlements – outside the “blocs” – thanks to the “new politics” of Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett? So what if I say I’ve had it with their wine and their carbonated water?

Recently I was interviewed on a radio station whose main listenership is in the territories. They wanted to talk about John Kerry’s statements which are perceived here as a threat. I let them down: I didn’t get all filled with patriotic spirit, and I didn’t express solidarity with that view. How could I object to his warning when we’ve been saying the same thing ourselves for so long?

When Yuval Steinitz demands NIS 100 million to confront an international boycott, he ought to take into account a local boycott, too, that will be even more costly and will cause internal bleeding.

No longer will there be false shows of reconciliation. Rather, we shall take up positions and prepare to fight for our home; no longer shall we be one head anointed with pure olive oil, when olive trees are being burned and uprooted.

A boycott is better than fine oil; no more will “brothers sit together,” for my definition of brotherhood derives from values, not blood. The government has noticed the change that is afoot. That’s why it is scrambling for rearguard legislation.

Delegitimization, my foot. Netanyahu tried to prop up that scarecrow yet again this week. Israel is legitimate. About that there is no debate. Only its occupation is illegitimate. So yes to a boycott, in order to remove the gangrene and save the healthy tissue.

Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus burn boxes of Israeli produce during a protest calling for a boycott of Israeli products . Credit: AP

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