Israel: The boycott question

Published August 17, 2015 by godshope1971

Another important point on which the authors’ opinions clearly diverge is the question of boycotting Israel. Their focus in this context is on the BDS campaign, which has meet with approval from many around the world in recent years and is supported by numerous politicians, academics and activists of diverse origins.

BDS stands for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions”. Activists, including Ilan Pappe, believe that such strict sanctions are the only way to put effective pressure on the Israeli government to end its constantly repeated violations of international law. Here again, the “South African model” serves as an orientation, the old regime having been brought to its knees using similar methods. Chomsky, however, counters that Israel will maintain the status quo for as long as it has the USA’s support – a key factor in the case of apartheid South Africa.

Instead, Chomsky hopes for a radical change in public opinion resulting from alternative media and social networks. This alteration of perceptions could also help reach the point where the USA no longer provides unconditional support to Israel. One problem with this, however, is the fact that both political players, in other words Israelis and Palestinians, are portrayed in the mainstream media as being equally strong and equally responsible.

According to Chomsky, constantly repeated phrases such as “Israel is only defending itself” or “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East” partly result in a role reversal between victims and perpetrators, giving certain players – like Hamas – the sole blame for the conflict’s escalation and entirely ignoring factors such as the ongoing deprivation of rights for Palestinians living in Israel.

In this context, Pappe emphasises that even terms such as “Israeli–Palestinian conflict” are misplaced, as the imbalance between the two states with regard to the real balance of power could not be more obvious. The alleged complexity of the subject, Pappe argues, is cited only by those who want to continue justifying the Israeli government’s violations.

Only Pappe favours a complete boycott – including on the academic level. Chomsky, for his part, criticises that the BDS campaign has not defined its goals clearly. He says that among other things, the main problem is the fact that the campaign is only aimed against Israel, whereas no pressure is placed on the US government at all. Furthermore, he writes, there is a risk that many people in Europe or the USA, who are scarcely aware of the political realities on the ground, might associate the BDS movement with a kind of “boycott of Jews”. This false perception, he writes, could then also harm the oppressed Palestinians’ case.

Chomsky considers a boycott limited to the occupied territories to be a far more effective and useful tool. As most people are now familiar with Israel’s programme of building illegal settlements, he thinks that many more people would understand such an appeal rather than a complete boycott. ∞∞∞∞∞ MORE »»»»


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