Letters to the Editor: Boycotts and the Occupation, Nazis and Trump

Demonstrators hold placards outside the Spanish Government Delegation in Barcelona on October 20, 2015 during a protest demanding an end to the collaboration between Spanish and Israeli institutions and Israeli violations in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Albert Llop / Anadolu Agency

No boycott will end the occupation

In response to “Only a conditional boycott will lead to change” (July 8)

Daniel Blatman called for a conditional boycott of Israel as a means to pressure Israelis to end the occupation. He believes that if it worked with South Africa, it can work with Israel as well.

One has to wear ideological blinders to fail to see that the Palestinians are just as responsible as Israel for the failure of the peace process. Palestinian extremists decimated Israel’s left, with the complicity of Yasser Arafat – who pretended to oppose terrorism during the second intifada while he kept funding the terrorist activities of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. As a result, Israelis came to believe that pulling out of the West Bank would endanger their security. This fear is genuine and totally legitimate.

It is also worth noting that the Palestinians have rejected all peace offers that were made to them over the last 18 years. For many years, Blatman and others on the Israeli left kept telling us that if Israel had been slightly more generous, the Palestinians would have accepted Ehud Barak’s peace offer in 2001 or Ehud Olmert’s in 2008.

We now know for sure that this optimistic analysis was wrong, as Mahmoud Abbas rejected the Obama/Kerry peace plan in 2014.

Peace requires pressure both on Israel and the Palestinians, but there is no reason to vilify the former and pamper the latter. It is both childish and irresponsible.

Bernard Bohbot

Montreal

Straw men

In response to “How many times can U.S. liberal Jews cry ‘Nazi!’ at Trump?” (July 10, Haaretz.com)

It is telling that in his response to my op-ed (“America’s fear of incivility appeased Nazism. We can’t make the same mistake now,” June 28) Jonathan Tobin asserts incorrectly that I drew “Holocaust analogies” (my analysis was confined to the persecution of the Jews in 1930s, not genocide in the 1940s) and addressed not a single one of my substantive points. He merely used the article to launch a defense of Trump as “a conventional conservative,” who has done “things any Republican would have done.” (His most ardent supporters don’t believe that, which is why they are his ardent supporters.)

Indeed, Trump has done some things any Republican would have done, such as select a conservative nominee for the Supreme Court. (Of course, most Republican presidents haven’t shunned American Bar Association recommendations and nominated many patently unqualified lower court judges as Trump has done.) But he’s also done a great many things outside the bounds of American politics upon which his critics rightly focus.

Tobin describes what Trump hasn’t done (imposed legal limits on freedom of the press, for example) and ignores what he has – relentlessly and viciously attacked journalists and journalism. Even if, as Tobin asserts, “all border security measures – and not just the cruel ones – are demonized” by the left, “the cruel ones” are the point.

Significantly, Tobin doesn’t mention the policy that provoked “incivility” toward members of the Trump administration – the separation of children from their parents at the border. Instead, Tobin overlooks all the ways that Trump has demolished American political norms so that he can claim liberals are harassing people “whose only crime is to hold different political opinions.”

To take babies from their parents and not bother to keep track of them isn’t to pursue a different political position any more than to fire all Jews employed by the government isn’t to adopt a legitimate state policy. If Tobin wants to claim that it is, he needs to defend the policies that have led to the parallels to 1930s Germany. He didn’t and maybe he can’t.

Laurel Leff

Associate Professor, School of Journalism

Associate Director, Jewish Studies

Northeastern University

Boston, MA

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