Reporting from Israel: Ran Bar-Yoshafat
There is nothing more ignorant to me than people who call for the boycott of Israel, saying it is in the name of human rights and or the pursuit of peace. Boycotting Israel is not a new concept by any means. The Arab League boycotted the Jews who lived in Israel in the beginning of the 1900’s. The same Arab League then renewed the decision in the 1950’s, calling for an official boycott against the State of Israel. It continues today. While the Arab League purports to boycott Israel for many reasons, the truth of the matter is that these boycotts where always anti-Semitic in nature. Today, the boycott comes also from the exact opposite side of the map – from the people who should be supporting freedom, liberty and liberal values – The radical left.
Some people say Israel is like South Africa. In South Africa, an apartheid regime separated black people from white people. In Israel, an apartheid regime supposedly separates Arabs and Jews. In the case of South Africa, the boycott took down the regime. I don’t mean to destroy this interesting comparison with fact, but I’d like to point out that Israel, a Jewish state, is the ONLY place in the Middle East where Arab citizens have full and equal rights. That is not true of any of Israel’s neighbors, all Arab countries. Israeli Arabs serve in the Parliament, in the Government, in the Army, in the Supreme Court and in any other part of the Israeli society they desire.
The people Israel is supposedly not treating equally amongst its citizens, are not in fact, Israeli Arab citizens. They are Palestinians, who are not citizens of Israel – nor do they want to be. If they did, there wouldn’t be a conflict amongst other things, and they would have the same rights as every other Israeli citizen, Jews or Arab alike.
Palestinians, of their own choosing, have their own government, army, municipality and everything else an independent people needs to run itself. I hate to point out the obvious, but I don’t know any other people of the world other than the Palestinians, who can declare a country not its own, of not treating them like the country’s citizens. Can French citizens demand America grant them the rights of American citizens? Can Canadian citizens demand China grant Canadians the same rights as a Chinese citizen? Has there ever been a call for a boycott of any other country besides Israel, by the French, Chinese or whoever feels this way, based on fictitious rights due them?
It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Yet the boycott continues and is picking up speed in some places.
Some people say “it is the right thing to do”. Based on what? They think it will promote peace – by pressuring Israelis which will result in the Israeli government eventually changing its policies on non citizens wanting the same rights as Israeli citizens?
This is where the plot thickens: There are all kinds of boycott approaches: some like to boycott only parts of Israel, some like to boycott all of Israel, and some are even willing to boycott people who are not even directly connected to Israel but perhaps sell some Israeli products in their store outside Israel or sell Israeli style food in the US, for example.
The first group is the group that calls for boycotting products that were made in the Judea and Samaria area (what some people call “the West Bank” – even though the only thing it is west of is Jordan). This is an excuse. No one is boycotting the “area”. Israeli products are being boycotted because they are made by Jews.
Think about it – the same factory with the same employees making the same product, only with a Palestinian owner – would that factory be boycotted? No, they’d call the goods Palestinian made and promote them. When the owner is Jewish, it does not matter if he likes Israel or not, if he would like to live under Palestinian government (oh, that’s right, he could not – it is against the Palestinian laws to allow Jews to live in that territory), or if he is just working at the same factory his great grandfather owned before the reestablishment of the state of Israel because his family has been there for centuries.
The second group, which makes less sense than boycotting just an area of Israel, is boycotting all of Israel.
Are we really to believe that in the world of mistreatment, cruelty and quite frankly countries where leaders slaughter their own people, Israel stands out in any way shape or form? Why not China, Russia, or Syria where people are murdered on a daily basis? If the reasoning for the boycott is the inner policies, it seems a bit strange to boycott the only country in the Middle East that is a democracy and has its citizens living in the best conditions, unless the true nature of the boycott is not what is being stated as the reason.
The third group is the most absurd as it endorses the boycotting of Israeli goods, no matter where they are produced or sold. Some products sold in Israel are not actually made in Israel so Israel is not the only one affected. That is simple. Boycotting establishments outside of Israel that make Israeli style food or sell a few Israeli products is for a person endorsing kindness and fair treatment, the equivalent of being a bully in a school yard. There is no point or value. It is pure bullying and adversely affecting an individual’s livelihood for no reason, particularly because it doesn’t hurt Israel financially at all, if that is the goal.
The excuse for all 3 of these groups is that Israel is so bad: Its policies regarding the Palestinians should be opposed and Israel will use force if necessary, to secure itself. Am I missing something? Doesn’t every country do that and have that right? Perhaps the only difference is that Israel must secure itself on a regular and sometimes daily basis because rockets are being hurled into civilian areas within Israel. Name one other country, besides Israel, who would tolerate its citizens from being threatened on a regular basis and even remotely use the restraint Israel has. Remember, Israel is being attacked from a close proximity.
These groups also say they believe that Israel practices collective punishment (Israel doesn’t – but for the sake of this discussion, let’s not confuse ourselves with facts), and if you are against collective punishment, what better way to act against it than to collectively punish all Israelis and anyone connected directly or indirectly with Israel – right wing, left wing, regardless of their position, socioeconomic situation, etc, as long as all of Israel is suffering.
While telling the world to boycott Israel, most boycott activists would not openly say what the boycott is really about. We know it is not really about apartheid because there is no apartheid if one party is not a citizen of the country. We know it is not really about finding Israeli government policy offensive. If the Israeli government is so offensive, please tell me how come Gaza, which is governed by Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for the death of any and all Jews inside and outside of Israel, is not being boycotted?
The boycott is about actively hurting the Jews financially and otherwise. How else can one explain anti-Israel activists trying to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel while ignoring the fact that by following the same rhetoric they use when discussing Israel, they should be spending their time boycotting many of Israel’s neighbors, and not Israel. At the very least, if they are going to persist with this ridiculous, fictitious argument, why are they not simultaneously boycotting any other country?
The irony is that the Palestinians themselves do not boycott Israeli products and the people that are immediately affected by many of the boycotts are the Palestinians. For example, when a Hummus company is being boycotted, the owner will start to lose money and eventually need to let employees go so she does not go out of business. Her employees will most likely be Palestinian farmers.
I was boycotted many times when I visited the USA to lecture. People said me: “I don’t talk to Israelis!” It did not make any sense to me. I am not a big fan of Ahmadinajad, the Iranian president, but I would not protest in front of a Persian restaurant. I fail to see the connection and have no issue with any individual who happens to share a faith or nationality with Ahmadinajad.
People hated me, without even knowing me. They boycotted me because I have a connection to Israel. Under the guise of human rights activism, we are seeing a new kind of racism as well as a familiar kind of anti semitism. Some are based on nationality, and some, well, are just racist and anti semitic and it is time we called them out on it.