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Boycott Israel?

Naomi Klein has an interesting article in The Nation, January 7: "Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction". The idea just reiterates what has been said for years - that if the policy worked in South Africa, it could work here. Klein deals in the article with the main reasons for boycott and the main objections. She doesn't go very much into the psychology; about how this might affect Arab-Jewish relations, for instance, or how Jews react to what they see as a contemporary example of age-old antisemitism.

Perhaps, in order to be effective, boycott and sanctions could be more enthusiastically adopted by Jewish and Palestinian peace organizations, working together. That sounds like a contradiction in terms, but doesn't have to be. Klein does give the example, in her article of the Free Gaza Movement, which also has a letter calling for sanctions and signed by Israelis. Gush Shalom, the Israeli "peace block" has long advocated a boycott of produce from Israeli settlements. Today I received an email from Juliano Merr Khamis (dramatist and co-director of Arna's Children) an invitation to sign an open letter to Mira Awad. Awad has been chosen to represent Israel together with Noa (Ahinoam Nini) in this year's Eurovision Song Contest. The letter calls upon Awad to rescind her decision because "The Israeli government is sending the two of you to Moscow in order to propagate a false image of Israeli-Arab "co-existence" and obfuscate its daily massacre of Palestinian civilians." (for more, see the letter itself). Mira Awad is a Christian Palestinian with Israeli citizenship. On the other side of the Green Line, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has long been active, with partial success. In 2006, the organization was responsible for persuading ex-Pink Floyd artist Roger Waters to move his performance from Tel Aviv to Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom. That Waters made the concession of moving the concert to the Arab - Jewish peace village satisfied Palestinians at the time. Would it today?

By converting Gaza into a blood bath, Israel has convinced the whole world that when it comes to "self-defence" it means business. Today the body count stood at 914 Palestinians for 13 Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens. The world needs to show Israel that it too means business, if it wants to reverse a pattern of steadily escalating regional violence. And unfortunately there may be a need for some form of sanctions.