The Israel boycott: Why is it so popular?

The question is so complex that it has more than one answer. Photo: Associated Press

OCALA, Fla., October 21, 2013 — Few nations are of such great importance to the international community as Israel.

Since the Jewish state was founded during the years after World War II, it has often been regarded as a beacon of hope for the free world. Undoubtedly, this came about due to Israel being an outpost of Western values in a part of the world prone to ethno-religious tyranny.

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These days, however, many believe that Israel itself is promoting such tyranny.

This is publicly evidenced by the BDS movement, which calls for boycotts, disinvestments, and sanctions to be levied against Israel. Here in the United States, a great deal are unaware of what the impetus to BDS is, if they even know about the cause at all.

For quite awhile, Israel has been building settlements in the West Bank. Over the last several years, however, these settlements have grown rapidly in population. Despite the fact that young Israelis are increasingly leaving their country for economic purposes, they are being replaced by Diaspora Jews.  

No small number of Diaspora Jews who choose to make aliyah — immigration to Israel — fall in line with Orthodox traditions. Younger native-born Israelis tend to be more theo-conservative than older generations, harboring pronounced anti-Arab viewpoints.

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In short, there is little promise on the horizon for Israel to end its settlement policies. As these settlements are constructed on Palestinian land, already anti-Israeli locals are angered even further.

BDS supporters hope that by placing external pressure on Israel, the settlement operations will be drastically altered. The nature of such a demand strikes to the heart of not only Israel’s border arrangements, but its relations with Palestinians going back to the late 1940s.

Few journalists know about the Israel-Palestine situation as well as Jonathan Cook. British-born but currently living in Nazareth, he has much to report about life in the Holy Land. 

So, if Israel were to adopt its pre-1967 borders, would this contribute to the peace process?

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“Of course, it would,” Cook says to The Washington Times Communities. “If nothing else, it would show for the first time two things: one, that Israel is prepared to exhibit good faith towards the Palestinians and respect international law; and two, that it has finally decided to fix its borders. Those are also two reasons why I don’t think we will see Israel adopt such a position.

“There is a further, implicit question underlying this one. Can a Palestinian state on 22 per cent of historic Palestine, separated into two cantons with no access to the sea, be a viable state?

“No, I don’t think it can – at least not without remaining economically dependent on Israel and militarily vulnerable to it too. That, we should remember, also appears to have been the view of the international community when it tried to solve this problem more than 60 years ago. 

“The United Nations Partition Plan of 1947 gave the Jewish minority 55 per cent of historic Palestine to create a Jewish state, while the Palestinians, the majority of the population, received 45 per cent for an Arab state.

“One doesn’t have to believe the partition plan was fair – as most Palestinians don’t – to understand that even the Western-centric UN of that time didn’t imagine that a viable state could be created on 22 per cent of Palestine, or half of the ‘Arab state’ it conceived.

“That’s why I have long maintained that ultimately a solution to the conflict will only be found when the international community helps the two sides to find common ground and shared interests and to create joint institutions. That’s vaguely called the one-state solution but it could take many forms in practice.”

Needless to mention, not everybody feels this way. Some believe that Palestinians cannot, and should not, be reasoned with.

Doni Kandel is an American-born Israeli columnist who writes for TWTC. In a recent article titled “Israel should have less respect for Palestinians”, he said that “Palestine is not a country or a state, and being declared one by U.N. bodies does not make it one. The Palestinian Authority flag does not stand for a coungry or a state, but for an idea, and that idea has involved slaughtered Jews from the very beginning. 

“The PA flag does not belong next to Israel’s flag anywhere, let alone in the Knesset. The PA has done absolutely nothing to warrant the respect shown their flag in the seat of the Jewish state’s government.

“The Palestinian Authority has done nothing but call for, and work towards, the eradication of the State of Israel and the slaughter of the Jewish people. Mahmoud Abbas was the deputy of PLO President and arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat. Changing the militant party’s name from ‘The Palestine Liberation Organization’ to ‘The Palestinian Authority’ does nothing to wipe the gallons upon gallons of innocent Jewish blood off their hands.”

Many claim that Israel’s settlement policies directly encourage violence from Palestinian militants. Is this really the case?

“Yes, of course,” states Cook. “If you came armed with a gun to my house and took it from me, and then forced me and my family to live in the shed at the end of the garden, you could hardly be surprised if I started making trouble for you. If I called the police and they said they couldn’t help, you could hardly be surprised if I eventually decided to get a gun myself to threaten you back. 

“If, when you saw I had a gun too, you produced a missile-launcher and then built a wall around the shed to imprison me, you could hardly be surprised if I used the tools I had to make primitive grenades and started lobbing them towards the house. None of this would prove how unreasonable I was, or how inherently violent.”

In August, after news of Palestinians constructing a new city broke, Jonathan S. Tobin of Commentary wrote that “(c)ontrary to the claims of Israel’s critics, if both sides continue doing as they are now and building at the same pace, peace won’t be any easier or harder to reach in the future than it is now. 

“The same boundaries will be there to be drawn with Jews and Arabs on Israel’s side and Arabs only on the Palestinian side (as Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have repeatedly made clear), then as they are now. The building of new settlements, whether Jews or Arabs populate them, won’t stop peace if both peoples truly want it.”

Far-left? Far-right? Get realRead more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto 


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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