Crazy Country is Adam Keller’s blog from Israel in which he regularly takes stock. As he shows here, a week can be an even longer time in Israeli politics than usual. His report ranges from the Israeli reaction to Reykjavik’s call for a boycott of Israeli goods, to a delegation of former Israeli diplomats calling on the Brazilian embassy not to recognise the appointment of settler leader Danny Dayan as the new Israeli ambassador to Brazil, from the simmering fires on the ground as daily incidents – confrontations, shooting and the hurling of stones and Molotov cocktails – continue under occupation, to Netanyahu’s proposals to deal with the discontent by shooting stone throwers and fining their parents…
Crazy country, indeed…
We reprint this article not because there is anything particularly new in it, nor because we agree with all its protagonist says. But for a mass circulation Israeli newspaper/website, Yedioth Ahronoth/Ynetnews, to devote over 4 thousand words to a broadly sympathetic portrait of a BDS activist is an extraordinary event.
Perhaps something is stirring in the Israeli conscience?
It is common for Israeli opponents of the occupation to be questioned by Shin Bet. As the internal security agency’s remit does not run abroad the work of identifying and ‘delegitimising’ foreign BDS activists, writes Asa WInstanley, falls to the military intelligence unit, Aman.
Daniel Birnbaum, the CEO of Sodastream – which isn’t doing too well at the moment – wants us to believe (perhaps he believes it himself) that the boycott of the settlement-produced fizzer was due to antisemitism. Not the brightest bubble in the bottle.
The EU regards Israeli settlements as outside the law; it cannot trade with them. Israel-EU trading ties are ‘thickening’ says this briefing from the ECFR. Its recommendation is rigorous ‘differentiation’ between settlement and Israeli goods – for Israel’s sake. A document worth keeping.
The US Congress has passed an amendment to its Trade Promotion bill which requires its trade representative to discourage EU countries from supporting any type of BDS activity against Israel AND the oPt . The State Department stepped in quickly to pull back from this position insisting it still regarded the settlements as illegal, and therefore boycotts or divestment – which are engaged in by companies and individuals rather than countries – will not bring penalties. The aim of the bill is to provide leaner, quicker routes to trade agreements with any region in the world.
American young people have been more reluctant to join demands for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel while it continues its occupation of Palestinian territory. But after decades of promises about peace deals, with absolutely no results, they are now taking up the demands, sure it is not driven by antisemites and drawing on a long history of opposition to colonialism.
Mitchell Plitnick here argues that the effects of BDS are hyped – by its supporters, for obvious reasons, and by the Israeli government for the (equally obvious) claim of enemies and security threats. But economic action must be applied to Israel for why would Israelis voluntarily renounce the benefits of Occupation?
The BDS campaign has suddenly appeared at the top of the agenda this week and this posting represents the range of arguments. For – it’s non-violent, it’s people power, it really upsets the Israeli government – and against – it’s ineffectual, it doesn’t target the occupation and Israeli colonialism, it can incite antisemitism.
Born into a Zionist, Jewish family in Dublin, signatory Brian Robinson here looks back on ready-made political identities such as support for Sinn Fein or Israel, the discomfort they cause and their conflict with the requirement on us for civil behaviour. To his surprise, he finds himself supporting BDS which he once thought antisemitic.
The end of any pretence of a peace process has given the movement for BDS more publicity, more energy and more traction in international politics. Here, the Wall Street Journal looks at its impact on settlement producers. As Europe is their main market, some are looking to their closest allies, American Christians, to replace EU countries.
Mega-millionaire Sheldon Adelson thinks he can buy anything he wants. That’s true of most of the objects of his desire and what he most wants is to stamp out the threat of BDS to Israel. For this purpose he has rallied fellow billionaires to his fantasy hotel in Vegas to organise how to funnel money to students who will oppose critics of Israel.
Stephane Richard, CEO of telecoms giant Orange is on damage-limitation duty after he said that the firm is pulling out of Israel (via franchise company Partner which operates in settlements). His decision was immediately interpreted as political – causing dismay, anger, embarrassment. Richard insists it was a business decision and that Orange is in Israel to stay. It’s the common interpretation that BDS had claimed another scalp that is interesting.
So far two American states have passed resolutions opposing any boycott against any product from Israel or its settlements and one state, Illinois, has passed an amendment prohibiting state agencies from entering into a contract with any agency that boycotts Israel (settlements included). This would prohibit trade with the EU if it continues with its policy of not trading with settlements.
The Supreme Court ruling that Israel’s anti-boycott law applied to the oPt, not just those living in Israel proper has, effectively obliterated the Green Line demarcating Palestinian land. As such BDS supporters will have no reason to confine their efforts to Israeli products from the oPt. Plus Gideon Levy assails the failure of Israel’s courts to uphold human rights and the rule of law.
Arthur Goodman, JfJfP’s diplomatic liaison officer, grew up as a conventional, Israel right-Arabs wrong, Jew. Then came the startling and courageous rebellion of the 1st intifada and the re-telling of Israel’s story by Israel’s new historians. After that, it was JfJfP and his work as an incessant campaigning diplomat in the EU and parliament.
Gush Shalom took the lead in responding to the Palestinian request for BDS against the Occupation. It led to a nasty new law forbidding anyone in Israel from calling for a boycott. Which led to “Avnery v. the State of Israel”. But, dangerous goods apart, a state cannot tell consumers what or what not to buy. Except in Israel with a newly supine Supreme Court.
In this strongly argued article, Mike Cushman responds in detail to the half-baked, ill-informed arguments from the Board of Deputies against BDS – obviously a fearsome movement to have prompted them to such expenditure of money if not time.
The Board of Deputies is supposedly the most – the only – representative body of British Jews. It has issued a condemnation of the BDS campaign. Robert Cohen writes directly to them reminding them of the Jewish heritage of standing with the oppressed – and asking why they do not once acknowledge that Israel perpetrates an illegal occupation of the West Bank (now in its 48th year) and an illegal blockade of Gaza. Again, subservience to Israel trumps a tradition of universal values.
‘Oslo’ is dead. Economic aid does nothing for political spirit. Bibi’s re-election means no negotiation. The 2-state solution is not viable. It’s time to start again and take the steps which would create a new political system for Palestinians says Alaa Tartir. A new political spirit and leadership are needed.