Boycotting Israel, boycotting Burma

Where I work, you are confronted with demands that you boycott Israel very frequently. This is the most recent contribution to an ongoing attempt to vilify Israel, on a toilet door.

By what measure is Israel “the most barbaric occupation of our time”? Is Israel conducting an occupation? Yes. Why? It’s complicated. Partly because it tells itself it is doing a bad thing to avoid a worse thing. Partly because it estimates it has less to lose by occupying Palestinians and blighting their freedom than it has by not doing so with the threat from Hamas, Hesbollah, Islamic Jihad, Al Asqa Martyrs, and Hizb ut Tahrir whose stated aim is to obliterate Israel and – this is important – eradicate Jews from the region. Partly because its ridiculously pure proportional representation system enslaves it to its expansionists (and who else but Israel is responsible for its own political system?) Partly because it lacks the creativity to find a way out of the cul-de-sac of laying responsibility for ending the violence on the parties who are wedded to violence. Partly because some politically influential Palestinians are so quick to use or threaten violence as a way of grabbing and keeping political power. Partly because, in Abbas, Israel has failed to recognise and work with the most moderate Palestinian political leadership to date. Is the occupation barbaric? No, although it is often violent and it is intrinsically racist. The most famous claims to barbarism – the massacre at Jenin and the death of Mohammed al Dura – were fabricated (they were blood libels). Barbarism to me looks like this lynching. Israel doesn’t do anything like this (and I don’t think Palestinians are either systematically or intrinsically barbaric either).

A pro-boycott attitude is an excellent predictor of profound ignorance about the Israel-Palestine conflict, and I feel very confident that there is more to this conflict than any boycotter understands.

From what I can gather, the Israel boycott isn’t spreading. Because most people can’t see how it will help Palestinians, only people who think Israel it detestable are joining it. In order for boycotting to grow, boycotters have to make as many people as possible hate Israel. And that’s how they work.

Compare with Burma, a regime which relies on forced labour, denies its people any democratic power whatsoever, fails to protect them after an earthquake, and suppresses all political dissent with terrifying violence. A targetted campaign to get Cotton Traders to stop sourcing clothes from Burma works in days. The reason for this is that, if we want to get into league tables, it’s hard to think of a state that treats its people with more contempt than Burma.¬† Unlike Israel, there’s a good case for boycotting Burma: the reinstatement of democracy is entirely in the power of the regime. You don’t have to hate anybody to boycott Burma – you just have to be satisfied that the boycott will work to lever political power.

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3 thoughts on “Boycotting Israel, boycotting Burma

  1. http://maof.rjews.net/content/view/5284/14/

    Arab racism & Islamic bigotry (the real “causes” of the M.E. conflict) against Israel villifies Israel only for daring to fight for its survival against Islamo Arab campaign of genocide.
    The mythical term “occupation” has thre parts of propaganda goals: 1- Justifying massamurder of Jews by Islamic Arab bigots massmurderers *”freedom fighters”…)
    2- Potraying the aggressor – Arab ‘Palestinian’ attacker – as a “victim”.
    3)- Mobilizing hatred all around the world against Israel. thus serving well in Islamofascism’s demonization of its “favorite” infidel to dispise, the Jews.

  2. L.A. you are wrong. So wrong it’s worrying and I should probably censor you off my blog. There have been acts on all sides of the conflict which have complicated and prolonged it. Building the separation wall which outside the Green Line and carrying on settlement activity are two Israeli acts. Ignoring the Arab Peace Initiative was a US act.

    The occupation is not a myth – the occupation is a living insult to Palestinians which requires a multilateral solution.

    Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims are not genocidal, not fascists, and not bigots – no more than English, or Russians, or Christians, or Jews are. You’re wrong about that. The jihadi Pan-Islamists are to be resisted but they are a minority and they will be defeated by other Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians, not by people with views like yours.

  3. So much ignorance about Israel and the Arabs. I’ll just mention a few odds and ends and you can see if you had any idea they were possible.

    The 91st Armoured Division of the IDF (based in my home region of Galilee) is commanded by an Arab IDF general–who the BBC would call a Palestiian.

    The High Court of Israel has had Muslim Arab justices.

    Arab and Jewish doctors serve Arab and Jewish patients in the same hospitals in Israel.

    Ariel Sharon had long-time Arab supporters in Israel–and out.

    Arabs did not care to be called Palestinians until after the rebirth of independent Israel. They regarded themselves as Syrians!

    Yitzkhaak Rabin was so disgusted with Arafat’s dishonesty that he was close to breaking off with him at the time he was assasinated.

    The US refused to help Israel in 1948, and in fact was not much of an ally until AFTER the 1967 6-Day War. Since then Israel has found much duplicity on the part of the US government against Israel. The aid for defense is 2.5 billion, a very small part of Israel’s 180 billion-dollar GDP. Most of the “help” is purchasing credits, and Israel actually pays for the vast majority of all its weapons. (I would love to severe ties with the US government myself!)

    Arabs are not Isreal’s big problem–we understand the truth about each other, which liberal Americans and Europeans most emphatically do NOT. There are many good Arab-Jewish relationships. One million Israel Arab citizens know us for what we are–normal. I am not sure why the BBC and CNN and NPR and Guardian and other media outlets have it so wrong. I am a Jew of Israel, and aside from the media villifying me, they also make the Arabs seems like stupid, violent children.

    And by the way, the level of violence between Arabs and Jews in the middle east is much less than the domestic American violence rate. Before Hamas and the PLO came to power, Palestinians were a fairly peaceful people, aside from a sad traditional violence toward their own women. All told, neither Jew nor Arab comes close to causing the level of vilence and abuse as the Euro-American West.

    Sorry!

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