May 19, 2012

Boycott bites - official!

Here's veteran Irish civil rights activist, Eamonn McCann in yesterday's Belfast Telegraph, commenting on the state of panic that BDS is inspiring among Israeli officialdom:
Is it kosher to boycott Israeli goods? More and more people say yes. And it is becoming more and more difficult to dismiss all of them as anti-semitic. The boycott campaign has gone mainstream and it is beginning to bite.
Thus, President Shimon Peres marked Israel's 64th Independence Day last month by telling the newspaper Maariv: "Israel has been blessed with a lot of talent that manufactures many excellent products.
"In order to export, you need good products, but you also need good relations.
"So why make peace? Because, if Israel's image gets worse, it will begin to suffer boycotts. There is already an artistic boycott against us - they won't let Habimah Theatre enter London - and signs of an undeclared financial boycott are beginning to emerge."
Shimon Peres somewhat overestimates the success of the boycott campaign in relation to the Israeli National Theatre. But he is right to recognise its significance.
I've got a bit of a quibble over this snippet:
Supporters of Israel might reasonably make a distinction between calling for a boycott of Israel full stop and calling for a boycott of Israel targeted on activities associated with the illegal settlements.

A distinction might reasonably be made between arguing against a welcome for Habimah to London and appealing to the traditional Irish music group Dervish not to play in Israel proper.
However, this is not a distinction which the pro-Israel lobby believes it can afford to make. Zionism - the official ideology of the Israeli state - holds that the Jewish people have an unfettered and literally God-given right to all of the 'Holy Land' - including those small areas recognised in international law as belonging to the indigenous Palestinian people.
Actually, possibly more than one quibble.  I'm not sure how many zionists see their settlement project as a "God-given right" and I'm not sure how relevant it is. But I do have an issue with this "international law" business.  I don't accept that Israel exists by virtue of international law.  The partition of Palestine was illegal, the ethnic cleansing was and is illegal and the settlement rights for Jews are illegal. That doesn't leave much in the way of legality.

But the main point of the article is a correct one about the impact of BDS and I certainly can't quibble of McCann's conclusion that "President Peres is right to be worried".


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