The anti-Israel boycott rebounds upon itself

Buycott, not boycott!

The New York Times today published a great article calling for an end to the Arab boycott of Israel. That in itself is excellent news. What is even more gratifying and certainly most surprising is that the article is written by Ed Husain, a Muslim man, albeit an American who is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

I recently visited Israel and the West Bank for the first time. I am Muslim and in Muslim communities around the world to visit Israel is to support “the Zionist entity” and therefore risk social isolation. Not only is this mind-set outdated, it is self-defeating.

The Arab League began its boycott of Zionist goods back in 1945 and later created a Central Boycott Office to ensure minimal Arab contact with Israel. In reality, the Gulf states and others circumvent this policy, but the Arab and Muslim masses have yet to break free from the mind-set of boycotting all things Israeli.

A prominent cleric, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in addition to justifying suicide bombings against Israelis, regularly upholds his fatwas urging Muslims to avoid contact with Israel from his Al Jazeera podium. Recent attempts by European Marxist academics to boycott Israel have given support to this counterproductive attitude.

[…]

Many people condemn Israeli settlements and call for an economic boycott of their produce, but I saw that it was Arab builders, plumbers, taxi drivers and other workers who maintained Israeli lifestyles. Separatism in the Holy Land has not worked and it is time to end it. How much longer will we punish Palestinians to create a free Palestine?

I abandoned Muslim groupthink and went to Israel because there is a new momentum in the region. Egypt’s former grand mufti, Ali Gomaa, and the prominent scholar Habib Ali al-Jifri, broke ranks with Qaradawi and went to Jerusalem last April. They justified their visit on scriptural grounds, citing the Prophet Muhammad’s encouragement for believers to visit the Holy Land. Their trip was facilitated by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan, the principal religious adviser to King Abdullah II.

[…]

… Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for all his faults, is correct in identifying a wider strain of intolerance of Israel. The nations of the Arab Spring cannot be serious about wanting democracy when they are banning their citizens from visiting Muslim (and Jewish and Christian) holy sites.

The voice of the Palestinian imams who want to see an end to the boycott needs to be amplified.

[…]

Without a shift in attitudes, Israel’s security concerns will never be allayed. Humanizing Israel to Arabs — by bringing together America’s Muslim allies, by addressing anti-Semitism in school textbooks and in sermons at mosques, by permitting Arab citizens to visit and trade with Israel — are requisite first steps.

To be credible in Muslim eyes, any peace agreement requires backing from major Sunni powers, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt. With Islamist organizations of various hues in power in Ankara, Tunis, Gaza, Cairo and on the rise in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Jordan, the West cannot continue to ignore religious dimensions to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Unless we tame the Islamist tiger, a decade from now we will look back and lament.

Ed Husain very astutely points out the self-defeating result of the Arab boycott and how it turns into a vicious circle of anti-Israel hatred which in turn exacerbates Israel’s security concerns (a subject that I have addressed before).  He is to be commended for his courage in going against the stream in Muslim society, and also for possibly risking his physical safety.

Husain’s article is very timely indeed considering that Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) is upon us once more. In fact there seems to be so much Israeli Apartheid that the week has inflated to almost a whole month (from February 25th in Europe to March 17th in south Africa. And no, I won’t provide a link for those dates. I don’t want to bring more traffic to those bigots).  It won’t be long before IAW will last the whole year long.

In relation to this subject, David Hirsh of  Engage Online (the British anti-racist site fighting anti-Semitism), wrote a wonderfully pointed refusal to an invitation to debate whether Israel is an apartheid state or not. (h/t Harry’s Place). Hirsh accurately calls Israel Apartheid Week “Don’t buy from the Jews week” and writes:

I was invited to debate the question “Is Israel an Apartheid State” by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at a university in England as part of “Israel Apartheid Week”.  The email mentioned that I had previously represented a pro-Israel state position. I replied as follows:

Dear Xxxx,

You have been mis-informed. I did not present “pro-Israel” views in Birmingham. I presented an anti-nationalist and pro-peace position. I am an anti-racist, and therefore am reluctant to participate in your Don’t buy from the Jews week. I am saddened to be invited to an event of this kind on a university campus. […] efforts to educate students in Leicester to believe that Israelis, uniquely, are racists who deserve to be excluded from the global community of arts, sports, academia and trade, are entirely counter-productive to that goal.

When Hirsh was reassured by the PSC that there had been a misunderstanding and that the PSC are not racist, he replied:

No, this is not a misunderstanding. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s primary focus is not constructive solidarity with democratic Palestinians, it is to make propaganda in Britain for an exclusion of Israelis from the global community. There is nothing new about the drive to exclude Jews from the community. The point of characterising Israel as “apartheid” is to make a thought-free path to the boycott conclusion; it isn’t an open effort to do comparative analysis or illuminative analogy. Israel is the only state which you say is “apartheid” and it is the only state which you want to boycott; Israelis are the only people who you want collectively to punish for the actions of their state. PSC does not aim to open a dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians but to exclude Israelis from having their voices heard by boycotting them. PSC supports antisemitic organisations like Hamas, which seek to destroy Israel and to kill Israelis. PSC is for war against Israel, not for peace between Israel and Palestine. Perhaps if there is a misunderstanding here it is that you misunderstand the aims and the culture of the PSC, the organisation to which you are affiliated.

I received no further response.

SodaStream carbonated drinks system

A perfect example proving that the boycott is counter-productive occurred when it was announced this week that SodaStream, an Israeli company that has been the target of a vicious propaganda and boycott campaign, reported a huge jump in sales this year:

It has been a break out year for SodaStream, a fact that can be reflected in a 51% increase in full year revenue, to 436.3 million, reported by the company last month. The numbers were positive all-around in fact: fourth-quarter revenue increased 55% to $132.9 million, and the company sees 2013 revenue and adjusted net income improving by 25 percent, with half of the sales growth coming from the U.S.

[…]

Not bad for a company that has been demonized by such anti-Israel organizations as CodePink and the BDS movement — this despite the fact that it employs 500 West Bank Arabs and 400 Palestinian Arabs living in east Jerusalem.

Common sense, not to mention common decency, would tell these people that the anti-Israel boycott has long been ineffective, and as shown here, is even counter-productive. But Israel’s haters do not like the facts to get in the way of their prejudice.

And to all you supporters of Israel, I say “Buycott, not boycott“.

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11 Responses to The anti-Israel boycott rebounds upon itself

  1. Brian Goldfarb says:

    With reference to your link to David Hirsh’s article on Engage (which link is posted there), the comment by “Chris L.” (about 5 or 6 down) is fascinating. He takes the usual anti-Zionist/BDS line of “this is what I’m concerned about (i.e., the Middle East/Palestinian”. However, he adds a faux innocent gloss to it. He asks whether the PSC students are expected to visit (we all know he doesn’t mean this literally) all potential so-called “apartheid states”. After all, he implies, their time is limited.

    A few comments further on, I provide a long answer which boils down to “yes, they are.” Even if they’re only baby intellectuals, they need to us the appropriate intellectual tools.

    Please read the article, the comments, and add your own. The debate needs to be wider and there are most definitely people in the UK who need convincing.

    • anneinpt says:

      Hi Brian, sorry, I was going to respond yesterday but it got late. I went to the Engage article and I see a very lively discussion taking place with a great many put-downs of the idiot Chris L. – including your own excellent comment.

      However, I added my 2 cents, both a reply to your comment and a reply to Chris L. (Both comments are still awaiting moderation). I don’t think Chris L comes across as faux innocent. To me he sounds passive-aggressive. It completely grates on my nerves.

      If the debate – and Engage in general – needs wider broadcasting, you should try sending articles to places like the JC or the JTA. You could even try sending to the Times of Israel blogs. I see they have a Twitter account which I have now followed. They should open a Facebook page too, and any other social media accounts they can find.

      I really hope Engage gets wider coverage. Even if I don’t agree with all its politics, its message and pro-Israel stance are extremely important.

  2. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Anne, thanks for the suggestion as to posting/linking elsewhere. I’ll certainly bear that in mind.

  3. Aridog says:

    Is US President Obama’s pending visit [20 March 2013] to the **Palestinian World Heritage” site [Spit!], otherwise known as Bethlehem, coincidently timed with wrapping up Israel Apartheid Week?

    PS: Those reading this should double click on the grocery shopping photo embedded…it opens a vast array of images that mock the very idea of Israeli apartheid.

    • anneinpt says:

      Hiya Aridog, long time no see. Hope all is well with you.

      I doubt very much that Obama’s visit is timed for IAW – on the contrary, by visiting Israel he’s giving the BDS brigade an epic FAIL. But I do see what you mean about the Palestinian World Heritage site. Was it ever actually acknowledged as such? I know they gave it a good try. I don’t think I ever followed up on their effort.

      Re the “apartheid” supermarket, when I read what the haters say about Israel I am afflicted by severe cognitive dissonance. I do not recognize the country that they write about and I very much doubt many of them have ever been here. And if they have, i doubt they set foot outside of Palestinian towns or were allowed to wander around without their Palestinian minders. Anyone with eyes in their heads can see that the picture is the exact opposite.

      PS – that grocery store (assuming it’s the one I’m thinking of) is about 5 minutes from my younger daughter and it’s where she does her shopping.

      • anneinpt says:

        OK, a moment’s googling led me to the news that the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (not the town itself) is a UNESCO heritage site, under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority. Israel and the US slammed the decision calling it politically motivated.

        UNESCO wanted Israel to remove Rachel’s Tomb, near Bethlehem, from its own list of heritage sites, and they designated it a mosque. That fits with the Arab tradition of taking over any and every religious site and calling it a Muslim religious site. But Rachel has no Muslim history at all. She was one of the Jewish 4 Mothers from the Bible, mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Her tomb has nothing to do with Arabs and/or Muslims at all, and is a Jewish holy site. UNESCO can take a running jump. Hateful idiots.

      • Aridog says:

        Hiya Aridog, long time no see. Hope all is well with you.

        I’m fine in every aspect except attitude lately. We lost our beloved dog “Ari” recently….and my reaction is not good…seemss like I just don’t care about much anymore. I am very close to being ashamed of my country, top to bottom….how else to feel when we’ve just anointed Kerry, Hagel and now Brennan. Don’t believe anyone who says Brennan wasn’t a done deal…he was and Randy Paulie boy’s charade was pure Kabuki donkey dung. What I say these days tends to virulent not rational. I am tired of being rational…so make that all done with being rational. So I zip my lip where I respect the host and other commenters more often than not lately.

        I doubt very much that Obama’s visit is timed for IAW – on the contrary, by visiting Israel he’s giving the BDS brigade an epic FAIL….

        I’m sure that is how he wants all y’all to think. What it really means depends upon what he says. He will lie to you and not blink. He ought not be welcome in Israel, but in realpolitik that’s not possible I suppose.

        • anneinpt says:

          Oh Aridog, I’m so sorry about your Ari! From the pictures I’ve seen and the stories you’ve told, this must be a very great loss for you. You have my sincere condolences. Losing a pet can be like losing a relative.

          As for Kerry, Hagel and Brennan, a lot of Israelis have come to think of them as the 3 horsemen of the apocalypse. We’re just hunkering down, waiting for the storm to break and then to pass.

          And as for Obama, well, his visit is pure political theatre, from both sides. From his side it’s obvious, but from our side too. Netanyahu will have to make nice in public, lots of photo-ops, and we just have to pray that raised expectations won’t lead to renewed violence from the Palestinians.

          Interestingly, Barry Rubin had a fascinating and counter-intuitive piece on Obama and his Admin just last week: Why as President, Obama is a disaster, and why Israel as a country should applaud him. I think you’ll enjoy the article for a different angle on the Administration.

  4. Rob Harris says:

    An interesting and positive development for SodaStream! There is an excellent online video folks might like to share called “SodaStream – Building Bridges, Not Walls” https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zl85AL1l0H0 which illustrates SodaStream’s efforts in helping its Arab employees and its efforts in helping bring this fractured region closer together. Its truly appalling that such an altruistic company could be the subject of boycott and demonisation not only in the US but also in Europe.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thanks for the wonderful video Rob. SodaStream are to be highly commended for their bridge-building efforts. It is absolutely typical of the European BDS brigade that they would prefer to cut off the nose of the Palestinians in order to spite the Israelis’ face (to mangle a metaphor).

      Sodastream are particularly helpful to their Palestinian workers but they’re not the only Israeli company who brings employment to Palestinians, much to the anger of the BDS brigade. Every industrial park situated over the “Green Line” employs Palestinians as well as Israelis, and boycotting those factories just makes more unemployment for the locals, but the boycotters don’t care about minor details like that. They don’t want to improve anyone’s lot, they don’t want to build – they want to destroy Israel by any means possible. And if the Palestinians end up being collateral damage, as far as they’re concerned that’s a win-win situation because that can be blamed on the Israelis too.

  5. Rob Harris says:

    Indeed Anne, the Arab-Palestinians have always been the ones who have to pay for the designs of anti-Zionists, whether they be those of other Arab states or Western pro-Palestinians. Of course thats not to say that very many Arab-Palestinians don’t agree with that stance (clearly very many do) but it is highly interesting that of those living in Israel presently, polls over the years have repeatedly shown that a majority wish to stay in that state rather than to live in under a “Palestinian” regime simply because they know they would live better in a primarily Jewish state!

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