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Divestment from peace

IMO Blog, 2006

Left-wing people want to put principles and moral values above opportunity and power-games. I speak out of my own experience and don't aim to bash the left here. When I was younger and more naive than I am now (I am still no old lady and naive sometimes) I made lists of all kinds of companies that were involved in dirty politics, and drove my parents crazy by insisting to not buy anything from them. The lists became longer and longer and I found out that it became quite impossible to go shopping or simply buy food, and convenience won out over my noble principles. But there was more. I found out that boycotts only make sense if you do them in an organized way and a large number of people join in, so the company really suffers from it. Also it is important to make clear to the company why you boycott them and put forward demands about what they have to change. As one can't do that for all firms that are involved in dirty things, we targeted some 'symbols' of the policy and morality we despised so much, like MacDonald's and Shell. Insofar that we were successful, people went to Burger King or Kentucky Fried Chicken instead, and fuelled at Texaco instead. One can seriously question if that is a big achievement for our goals, namely a better and more just world and less environmental pollution.

These problems and objections are all the more true regarding the boycotts of countries. South Africa is the number one example of a successful boycott that brought about the regime change that was desired. Many other boycotts brought about more misery for the population while the bad regime was hardly affected. The boycott of Iraq under Saddam Hussein is just one example.

Perhaps those are the kinds of moral considerations that have lead to a very strange (if not so sad, it would be ironical) situation: the country targeted more and more in recent years by boycott actions is a democracy where people are free to voice their opinion, worship in their faith and an independent judiciary and anti-discrimination laws protect the citizens against arbitrariness and persecution: Israel. So at least the citizens are responsible for their government and one can target them without a bad conscience, the advocates of such a boycott must think. How great. How moral! The most important question is, what is the aim of this boycott? Is it to make the people vote for another government, or to isolate and weaken Israel, with the aim of bringing about its disappearance? The latter seems to be the case, as the people engaged in the boycott and divestment campaigns don't relate to left-wing parties in Israel, support them, or organize exchange programs. Labour and even Meretz/Yahad are evil Zionists in their eyes, who support an 'evil ideology based on the superiority of the Jews'. The people and organizations these people relate to are on the radical left, like Gush Shalom, the Alternative Information Center, Woman in Black, the Committee against House Demolitions. They are marginal within Israeli society and will never represent more than a few percent of the population because of their radical rejection of so much that Israel stands for, and their siding openly with the Palestinians.
The demands of most supporters of boycotts/divestment go beyond a two-state solution and the end of the occupation alongside with Arab/Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. In the best case they demand that Israel withdraw from all occupied territories, which includes East Jerusalem, and take in at least some hundreds of thousands of refugees. All this without any demands on the Palestinians to reign in terror and dismantle the terrorist factions. Terrorism will stop if justice is done, is their credo. And anyway, the Palestinians have a right to 'resistance' against the occupation and in fact, it is Israel that commits 'state terrorism' against the Palestinians. But what justice? Some Palestinians, radical 'peace' organizations like the Palestine Solidarity Movement and parts of the organizations mentioned above favour a one-state solution, and thus the dismantling of Israel as a Jewish state, a racist concept according to them. They will not be satisfied by a compromise that provides for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, as all of Israel is occupied territory according to them.

Some quotes from the Palestinian Badil organization and PSM make this very clear:

We must understand that occupation will end only after, or simultaneously with, de-Zionization. Doing away with the old dichotomy will also mean fusing together the struggle to end the occupation and the struggle for return
...
We must turn the one-state solution into a relevant political agenda, in Israel, the 1967 OPT, in the camps in Lebanon, among Palestinian exile communities in Detroit, everywhere. The task is to transform an intellectual discourse or exercise into a concrete platform. And we must know that all lines with Jewish society will be cut, when a call for sanctions/boycott is raised. But we must also remember that no power from within that can change the current reality, neither from within Jewish society, nor from within Palestinian society in the 1967 OPT.


From a recent PSM meeting at Georgetown:
Divestment and Boycott have a successful precedent in South Africa. Isolation of cultural spheres in the intellectual community will help isolate Israel. Jews must be prepared for a future in Palestine. There will be no division of the land...


Not all organizations are that clear in their rejection of Israel and thus Jewish self determination, and many organizations that adopted boycotts as a means to 'solve' the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians claim that they support a two-state solution. One cannot however at the same time demand that Israel should withdraw from the territories and claim it has nothing to fear, as Palestinian terror will then stop automatically, and also claim that Israel as a Jewish state is racist and all the refugees and their descendants should be able to return before there can be peace, and the Palestinians have a right to 'resistance' until that happens. One cannot at the same time say 'we recognize you, you don't need to fear anything' and also 'you have to agree to dismantle yourself and we have the right to fight you as long you don't agree'. Organizations and people that insist that the Palestinians have a right to resistance against the occupation and 'Israeli crimes', until all their demands are met, show exactly why Israel cannot withdraw from the territories before the Palestinians and Arab states are willing to recognize it as a Jewish state and act accordingly.

A two state solution means painful compromises on both sides. It means recognizing that both the occupation, and Palestinian terrorism and Arab incitement and anti-Semitism need to stop. It means both parties acknowledge their part in the conflict, and their black pages. This is a painful process, that the Israelis started over 20 years ago, as the so called 'new historians' started publishing books that challenged the Zionist narrative and Peace Now organized big rallies against the Lebanon war and the occupation. Although some Palestinians and Arabs speak out against terrorism and call for non violent protests against the occupation, this process of looking inside and being deeply self critical is not reciprocal. Even Palestinians who oppose terrorism, mostly blame Israel alone for the conflict and the bad situation they are in. By affirming the Palestinians in their narrative of being the only victims, instead of confronting them with their wrongs and the grievances of the other side, the radical peace organizations and advocates of boycotts and divestment don't contribute to a solution of the conflict, but are part of the problem.

The sad and unpleasant fact is that full justice for one party is not possible because it denies the right to exist or live in freedom of the other party. For Palestinians, the right of return of the refugees is fair, as their ancestors fled or were expelled from there. For Israelis, the right to live in the places of their ancient homeland, after being shattered around for 2000 years, seems most reasonable, especially because they weren't able to even visit these places when they were under Jordanian rule. Both parties claim sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem, a tiny space, with Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites. But whereas Christians and Muslims have sovereignty over their most holy places elsewhere (the Vatican and Mecca and Medina), that are not challenged by anybody, the right of the Jews to have sovereignty over their most holy place, the Wailing Wall, is still challenged by much of the Arab world.

The people who pursue boycott and divestment campaigns, like the Palestine Solidarity Movement, the Badil refugee organization, Susan Blackwell, Mazin Qumsieh and Sabeel are clearly not seeking peace, compromise and reconciliation, but victory for the Palestinians. They support a one state solution.

'Justice' means for them conceding to all Palestinian demands. This will not lead to peace, but on the contrary, will turn people who share their opposition to the occupation, but not to the state of Israel, against them, and enlarge the contrast between both parties. People who want not peace but victory of one party, should not disguise themselves as peace seekers, and so besmear the real peace movement.


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IMO Blog (IsraŽl & Midden-Oosten) bevat mijn opinies over het IsraŽlisch-Palestijnse conflict, het Joodse recht op zelfbeschikking (ook bekend als Zionisme) en het Palestijnse recht op zelfbeschikking. Ik ben een academica uit Nederland. Ik ben actief geweest in diverse linkse bewegingen voor vrede, milieu en derde wereld. Ik ben noch Joods noch Palestijns noch IsraŽlisch noch Arabisch.

© Alle teksten op deze blogs zijn eigendom van de schrijver, en dienen niet zonder toestemming gekopieerd te worden naar andere websites.



IMO Blog contains my thoughts on the Israel - Palestine conflict, the Jewish right to self determination (aka Zionism) and the Palestinian right to self determination, and especially the involvement of Europe with the conflict in the light of it's own history. I am an academic from the Netherlands who has been active in several leftist movements for peace, environment and third world. I am neither Jewish nor Palestinian nor Israeli nor Arab.

© All blogs posted here are copyright by the author, and should not be copied without permission.


BLOGS NL-ISRAEL:
* Ratna.NL - Over IsraŽl en de Palestijnen 2005-2006
* Israel & Palestijnen Nieuws Blog
* Laatste nieuws uit Israel
* Dutchblog Israel (NL/EN)
* Simon Soesan (tot 2013)
* The Crethi and the Plethi (NL/EN)
* Loor Schreef
* Israel in de Media
* Trouw Israel Monitor

AMI ISSEROFF & CO:
* MidEastWeb Log on Middle East peace (2002-2011)
* ZioNation - Progressive Zionism & Israel Web Log (2006-2010)
* Israel: Like this, as if (2007-2009)
* Middle East Analysis (2007-2011)

OTHER BLOGS ISRAEL:
* AP Israel Watch (2010)
* Blue Truth (2007-2015)
* UK Media Watch/
* Daled Amos
* Dry Bones cartoons
* Dvar Dea from Israel
* Elder of Ziyon
* FresnoZionism (2006-2014), now Abu Yehuda
* Haifa Diary
* Israel Proud (2009-2012)
* A Liberal Defence of Israel (2006-2015)
* Neville Teller's A Mid-East Journal
* Normblog (2013)
* Philosemitism (2007-2013)
* Point of no return (Middle East's forgotten Jewish refugees)
* Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers
* Ray Cook (Israel, Zionism and the Media)
* Simply Jews
* Unplugged Mike (2003-2011)
* Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

WEBSITES ISRAEL:
* CIDI
* Cijo - Voor Israel, Voor Vrede
* Christenen voor Israel
* Engage (GB)
* Etsel over Jodendom & IsraŽl
* Israel Facts (NL)
* IsraŽl-Informatie linkpagina (NL/EN)
* IsraŽl-Palestina Info (NL/EN)
* Likoed Nederland
* MidEastWeb - Middle East News/Views
* Maurice Ostroff - Second Thoughts
* Missing Peace (NL)
* Peace With Realism
* VECIP - Vrije Encyclopedie Conflict IsraŽl-Palestina
* WAAR media werkgroep Israel
* Zionism & Israel
* Zionism On the Web

DIVERSE ONDERWERPEN:
* Brassť Sittard - Van linkse politiek tot Joodse genealogie
* Sittard Web Log - "politieke, sociale en groene berichten"
* At the back of the hill
* The Euston Manifesto
* The IgNoble Experiment
* Jeff Weintraub, Commentaries and Controversies
* Keesjemaduraatje
* Het Verraad van Links (Carel Brendel)
* Verbal Jam (NL)
* Zin en Rede
* SEO - Search Engine Optimization

NIET MEER GEUPDATE:
* Christians Standing With Israel - Blog
* IreneLancaster's Diary (on Aliyah, Judaism, Zionism and Politics)
* Jewish State
* Octogenarian
* Ratna's Review on Israel, Zionism and Peace (2005-2006)
* Sanda & Israel
* Z-Word Blog, Views on Zionism

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