War on want – you’ve lost me

Out of all the want in all the world, War on Want have decided to… push for a suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Unlike UCU boycotters, they have an endpoint for their boycott – ‘the wall must fall’.

But that’s silly. Meaningless. Come on, what’s the real endpoint?

OK, I’ve found it in one of their copy and paste letters for our MEPs – the end of the occupation. Do they mean that the occupation is the same as the wall?

So, what’s the reasoning? It’s a familiar morass of well-meaning and poorly-channelled indignation.

“Increases in poverty are a direct result of Israel’s Occupation of the Palestinian Territories and its intensification of action against the Palestinian people over the past four years.”
Israel’s policies are a large factor in a lot of the evils which beset Palestinians. But they are not the only factor. Iran, Hamas, Hizballah are also factors. Fatah is a factor. Islamic Jihad is a factor. If you think that Israel has a right to security, what are we going to do about those other factors outside Israel’s control? How are you, War on Want, going to distinguish between Israel’s security excuses and its genuine security concerns?

“Confiscation of Palestinian lands.”
Any engagement with Israel’s rationale for this? Surely that would strengthen the boycott campaign, move the debate on? No engagement. Hey, don’t worry though – just take War on Want’s word for it. Actually I can’t and have to inclination to excuse the confiscation of Palestinian lands, and I detest the settlement project. Netanyahu and Sharon can both go to hell. But this boycott is cheap and shoddy. And the wall (which for a proportion of its length is a modest fence), controversial as it is within Israel, has been credited with stopping the suicide attacks in Israel.

“The wall exists”.
Suicide bombings have stopped in Israel. Isn’t that worth something?

“The wall is very long.”
So? Nobody seems to be scrutinising the length of walls in Belfast or India.

“Checkpoints are blighting Palestians’ lives”
An excellent reason to protest. The occupation has to end. But there are many worse situations in the world – why punish Israel like this now? It should be enough to monitor, point out and criticise. Boycotting produce from the occupied territories would even be understandable – but isn’t proposed.

“The EU gives Israel preferential trading treatment.”
Israel has been officially boycotted by its nearest neighbours since its inception. Another way to think of the preferential treatment is a levelling of the playing field for Israel. For the same reason (regional boycott) Israel plays football in the European league. That said, Israel is an excellent trading partner with Europe. Europe benefits.

“Suspension of EU aid to the PA”
I thought this had been reinstated (obviously not to Hamas just now, right?) and what’s this got to do with Israel anyway? Could there be just a tiny bit of kicking the cat going on here?

The War on Want campaigns page is deranged. Where the hell are Ethiopia, Mozambique, India, with their particular problems?

And I traipsed up to Edinburgh in white for the G8 Summit. Better find a sounder anti-poverty charity to support.

I’d recommend using their handy Find My MEP service to identify your MEP, paste WoW’s text into an email, make the required changes to request that your MEP ignores their demands but persists in encouraging the EU, as a member of the Quartet, to hold Israel to the commitments it made in previous peace plans and do everything it can to return political process to the Gaza strip and sustain it in the West Bank.

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