Mike Pompeo chose to end his term as secretary of state with a tour of solidarity with Israel’s extreme right, while spitting on decades of pre-Trump U.S. foreign policy, on the norms of international law and on justice. On Wednesday he came across more like an extremist leader of the Yesha Council of settlements than as the foreign minister of the superpower. It’s a good thing that this will presumably be his last official visit. It’s a good thing that he will soon leave office.
On Thursday morning, after his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pompeo announced that the State Department will regard the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement as antisemitic and called the movement a “cancer.” With that, the secretary of state embraced the false propaganda of the Israeli government, according to which anyone who supports a boycott of the settlements or of Israel over the occupation is an antisemite. This dangerous position constitutes an anti-democratic silencing of free speech.
One need not support BDS or ignore the antisemitic circles that may make use of the movement in order to recognize that calling for a boycott of an illegal occupation that is not recognized by the international community is legitimate, nonviolent and certainly not necessarily antisemitic. Sanctions and boycotts are internationally accepted tools against unjust regimes, and so long as the Israeli occupation persists and the Palestinian people is not free, there will be more and more calls to use these tools against Israel as well as the settlements.
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Pompeo continued on to the Psagot Winery, in the Sha’ar Binyamin industrial zone, where he was presented with the wine that it named for him. The wine was made from grapes grown on privately owned land that was stolen from its Palestinian owners, most of whom live in the adjacent city of El Bireh. The winery’s founder and CEO, who hosted Pompeo, lives in an estate that he built for himself, also on stolen, privately owned land.
The secretary of state gave the State Department’s imprimatur to the following sins: He visited settlements, drank from the poisoned chalice, sanctioned dispossession and later also announced that the State Department will permit goods produced in settlements to be marked as Israeli when they are exported to the United States. It would seem that the only thing that still remains for Pompeo to do during his visit is to approve Israel’s annexation to the Yesha Council.
These are the last days of Pompeo. How good it is that this is the case.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.