A lot has been said and written about the infamous boycotts of Israel by the British NATFHE and the Canadian CUPE, and I appreciated very much the following commentary from Dutchblog Israel
Karin Kloosterman, a Canadian-Israeli freelance journalist living in Tel Aviv, sent me an opinion article about a vote by the Ontario division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees - Canada's largest union - to boycott Israel. In the article she points out that those who voted for the boycott should also stop using:
* all those cellphones that use technology developed by Motorola Israel;
* computers that use Intel's Centrino chips or Intel's new multi-core processors, both of which were largely developed at the company's facilities in Israel ( several parents in our children's school and kindergarten, and at least one friend of ours work for Intel R&D here in Haifa );
* AOL Instant Messenger: the technology behind this was developed by four young Israelis ten years ago;
* water taps: according to Karin Kloosterman "almost every town and city on the grid in Ontario distributes water through valves developed by Israelis";
* Skype: VOIP, the technology that made Skype possible and enables us to talk for free over the internet services, was Pioneered in Israel;
* Several drugs that save lives or make lives more livable and that were developed by Israeli companies and/or researchers: Copaxone and Rebif ( drugs for multiple sclerosis ), Exelon ( used against Alzheimer's disease ), Doxil ( an anti-cancer drug );
* OHIP: covered camera-in-a-capsule technology of Given Imaging ( where one of our neighbors works, according to the company car that she drives ), which eliminated the need for painful colonoscopies.
As you see - and as the blinkered 'idealists' of the so-called Left in many western countries fail to notice - Israel did contribute a little more to humanity than only that damned occupation. For some reason I believe that the Jewish state has contributed and continues to contribute much, much more to mankind than all those regimes that will never have to fear a boycott by CUPE, NATFHE, and other organizations and individuals who claim to care for the wellbeing of the Palestinian people. Unless of course you consider Hama rules and suicide terror in its ultimate form to be laudable contributions.
Probably all those who voted in favor simply did and do not have any idea what the Jewish state is all about, and that the occupation is something that many of those Israelis who in a more normal world would be their natural allies would like to get rid of as soon as possible, if not sooner. In the meantime, many of the public employees in the Ontario area will stop using what they know to be Israeli products, unaware of the Israeli origins of so many things that will continue to make their lives easier and more pleasant. As Karin Kloosterman told the teachers of Ontario before they were about to vote on the boycott ( unfortunately her advice did not have the result she hoped for ): "...perhaps you should think about reneging on your vote, and be reminded of something my grade 4 teacher used to teach us about searching for the truth, no matter what the consequences, lest you all be like the type of vegetarians that no one likes- the ones who sneak meat when nobody is looking."
What particularly upsets me about these Israel boycotts is the arrogance of the perpetrators. We are right, you are wrong, is what the self appointed judges are saying. It doesn't matter what their own governments are doing or did in the past (What about Canada's treatment of the indigenous people of the country? Isn't Canada a 'colonialist Apartheid state' that deprived the First Nations of their rights and land?), and they apparently don't mind cooperating or cutting deals with (scientists from) human rights champions like China, Russia, Iran or Syria.
Israel was attacked on its first day of existence, and has had a bloody conflict with its neighbors since that very day, of which the occupation is a result, not the cause. Israel made a lot of mistakes and is cruel at times, but I honestly doubt if other countries, including Great Britain and Canada, would have behaved much differently and more humane in the same situation. I cannot say the Palestinians are behaving always so 'humane' either. Celebrating a successful suicide attack by throwing out sweets, putting kids in harm's way to get explosives across a checkpoint, glorifying the 'martyrs' who give their blood for the country... The violence comes from both sides.
It is much easier and comforting however to divide the world in good and evil, and ignore everything that does not fit into that image. It is all the more comforting to side with the good guys and to fight the bad ones, and to DO something about (perceived) injustice so that others cannot say that one just let it pass by while looking on. That is why a lot of well meaning people join these boycott initiatives. David Hirsh describes this very well
As well as punishing Israelis, the boycott has the added bonus of exonorating 'us'. It is a 'not in my name' policy. It appeals to people who have an impossible need to feel themselves to be morally pure even though they live in a dirty world of complexity, conflict and injustice. They want to be able to feel that the corruption of the existing world is not their responsibility. Choosing to punish Israeli academics does not commit them to doing the hard work of changing the world, of building bridges, of making links; it does not take up any time or effort; it saves them from a feeling of complicity in the bad things that go on in the world. The fact that it does worse than nothing for Palestine is neither here nor there.
Maybe Hirsh is wrong however about the assertion that the boycott doesn't take up any time or effort. Actually, the advocates of Israel boycotts spend quite some time and effort in promoting their ideas, and do so successfully. Promoting bad ideas and proposals also takes time, money and effort, and we should not belittle the harm these people are doing not only to Israel, but also to peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.Ratna Pelle
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I wonder if the need of the modern economy for hi-tech capabilities had become so deep and essential it can rival oil?
Dvar Dea, Sunday, June 4th
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