Wednesday, March 28, 2012

In which I confuse BDS with BDSM

As I have probably told you, I am not a political person, nor do I see this blog as a suitable political venue or platform. Not that my opinions are well researched, thought out or formed (and, often, properly spelled) but that I don't think anyone cares about my opinions and no one should. I don't shout my thoughts about the world's politics because politics, in general, sickens me and it just gets me angry. But, occasionally, I find a subject which seems to me to be so inane and worth pointing out that I am moved to do so. If you think that you will disagree with my politics, then leave now. I'll go back to being apolitically brilliant in a couple of days. Today, I'm going to pontificate about the Middle East.

I'm an unapologetic Zionist. Deal with it. This does not mean that i support the Israeli government all the time but I do support Israel's right to exist and defend itself. And I happen to think that the policy of economic sanctions, on any level which is not geared specifically to the government's cash flow are useless.

The current move to boycott Israel is flat out wrong headed, and I'm gonna tell you why. But first, my position on a few key words and phrases.

Palestine: a city in Texas and, I think, Virginia. A term for a general geographic region of the mid-east, similar to the word "North America" in that it covers a geographic expanse but does not point to a particular country, nation or people. Even if we ignore its historical root as an attempt to de-judify the name of Israel, it has never been used as the name of a particular country.

Palestinian: this should refer to people who lived in the region called Palestine before 1948. Thus, you had the Palestine Post which became the Jerusalem Post. Could it refer to people who live in areas which some have slated for a future country to be called Palestine? That's nice but historically, unprecedented. A name indicates existence, not the potential for existence. Americans weren't American until America existed even if they planned to rebel against the British and declare independence.

Occupation: this is a technical term applied when one nation moves in and exerts military and governmental control over the land of another sovereign nation. As there is no sovereign nation of Palestine, areas like the West Bank cannot be said to be occupied, only disputed in ownership.

Apartheid: a political system in which separate laws keep groups from having identical rights and opportunities. Clearly in Israel this is not the case. People outside Israel (i.e. on the West Bank and Gaza) are not necessarily Israeli citizens and thus do not have the same rights. There's more about this but, simply put, the label doesn't apply.

Now, why is boycotting a bad idea? I'll sum it up:

1. Consistency -- there are other countries which actually occupy neighbors and we don't boycott them. Try not buying anything Made In China. The issue of Chinese "occupation" of Tibet is well discussed and explored (and argued) but no one has stopped buying everything made in China.

2. Self-Consistency -- if you don;t want to support Israel by buying anything Israeli, then be absolute and complete about it. There are loads of websites which list ALL the products made in or by Israelis or whose development was forged in Israel. Until a BDSer starts avoiding all of them, I cry "hypocrisy". Avoiding a brand of Hummus and bankrupting a farmer is meaningless if you continue to use a smartphone which was developed in Israel.

3. Fairness -- is there an intent in boycotting to harm Arabs? What about Arabs who live in the West Bank? If someone stops buying a product because it is "made" in Israel, he is harming the employees, many of whom are Arabs who work fields, or work in manufacturing. A boycott hurts a company less than it hurts people. Go ask an Arab who works at PeaceWorks. (from the NYT article about the Park Slope attempt at boycott and the PeaseWorks company which would be subject to the boycott, "Its line of tapenades and pestos uses olives grown in Palestinian villages, glass jars made in Egypt and sun-dried tomatoes from Turkey.")

4. Real influence -- does a potato farmer in Idaho have any influence on a congressman? Even if one were to boycott ALL the potato farmers in Idaho, would that make a difference in the decisions of the US government on the whole regarding foreign policy? The link is tenuous at best. All it does is hurt the individual meanwhile, which radicalizes the individual, polarizes the sides and decreses the chances for dialogue and change.

5. Boycotts against certain countries are illegal. http://www.bis.doc.gov/complianceandenforcement/antiboycottcompliance.htm


Again, I'm not in favor of everything Israel has done or does. I'm also not in favor of everything the US has done. But I find that boycotting is a particularly dumb way o get that message across. You want a better way? Follow the traditional path if you want to criticize Israel. Move to Israel and become a journalist.

1 comment:

  1. I am american now ,but in the past from Latvia, independent country occupied by filty USSR in 1940. If I would say to left activist, that my land was occupied by communist criminal state,exterminated at least 100,000 innocent people in 3 Baltik States he would tell me how I dare to say bad against communism and USSR. Its the same people from OWS and BDS. Few thousand dead palestinian(how mush combatant among they?) more important than 20-30 million dead, a victim of commy in USSR.

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