Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Different boycotts, different standards

Kauft nicht bei Juden – “Don’t buy from Jews” – was the Nazi call to boycott Jewish businesses. It is also the phrase used by former British MP Denis MacShane to describe the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to isolate Israel for its crimes against the Palestinians. Claims MacShane:

Once again, as the tsunami of hate against Israel rolls out from the Right and the Left, from Islamist ideologues to Europe’s cultural elites, the demand is to punish the Jews.

This gentleman is bluntly stating that it is antisemitism, and no other factor, that is driving people to support BDS. He then goes on to indulge in unadulterated whataboutery, describing the many countries that behave worse than Israel does. Since Israel is the self-described Jewish state, this would mean that BDS proponents are antisemites.

MacShane's only problem is Apartheid South Africa. The Apartheid regime was subjected to international sanctions like no other country was at that time. Of course, there existed far worse human-rights offenders, like Mozambique. I'd like to ask Mr. MacShane: would he have supported sanctions against Mozambique, not South Africa, even if they weren't likely to improve a single bit the human-rights situation there? Would he be contented with a situation in which South Africa is still under Apartheid and Mozambique is still undemocratic, but subjected to sanctions -- for the sake of a "worse offenders first" approach to sanction-imposing? On another note, does he believe that the sanctions against South Africa, and only South Africa, reflected a visceral hate against Afrikaners?

MacShane seems to believe that calls for sanctions must be based first and foremost on moral considerations. This politician (does the phrase "the art of the possible" ring a bell?) rules out any possibility of a reality-based approach, in which only those boycotts that are likely to have an effect are advocated for. If a country is irrational and doesn't care for its economy, or for the well-being of at least part of its citizens, sanctions and boycotts are useless. But Israel is rational, and cares for the well-being of its Jewish citizens, so that BDS has a chance, however slim at present, of pressuring the country into becoming a democracy for all people under its control.

But while we're at it -- what about other boycotts that, unlike BDS, have involved physical violence against certain people? Case in point, the many boycotts decreed by -- ehm, uhm -- how to say this -- Jews. Very prominent Israeli rabbis --i.e., State-paid servants-- have called on their flocks to boycott Arab stores or deny lodging to Arab students. In the latest instance, chief Safed Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and other prominent rabbis called not to rent or sell apartments to non-Jews. Spurred by the ruling, local Jews gathered in front of a building where a number of Arab students dwelt. Reports Haaretz:

The mass group of Jewish youths began shouting "death to Arabs", "stinking Muslims" and "a Jew has a soul and an Arab is a son-of-a-bitch" at the house. They began throwing bottles and stones at the student housing.

One of the bottles soared through an open window, shattering glass in an apartment where a number of students were sitting at the time.

This is a certainly frightening episode, yet Denis MacShane, in a glaring case of double standards, does not deem it fit to denounce these boycotts decreed by Israeli state employees that involve violence and calls for genocide. Instead, he describes the rise of several marginal neo-Nazi parties in Europe and, making a completely unwarranted association, gravely warns:

And now Europeans, of all people, once again cry Kauft nicht bei Juden. (...) As Europeans we must reject the old language of boycott and economic campaigns against Jews.

Nazi analogies should never be made unless a genocide is involved, like in Rwanda. But since MacShane himself brings up the subject, allow me to ask: between a peaceful call for BDS that hurts no one and a residential boycott that results in mobs calling for the death of Arabs and glasses in their buildings being shattered, which is more reminiscent of Kristallnacht?


Gert said...

Oh, Dennis the Menace, going by some comments outside of the Ziosphere, he’s a complete twit. He’d find anti-Semitism in an empty cookie jar. These people don’t seem to understand that BDS isn’t targeting Jews: the two biggest successes so far are Veolia and Caterpillar (AFAIK): neither are Jewish owned, Jewish lead or have many Jews work for them.

Here’s a little conundrum: if for some reason or other (hypothetically) I wasn’t fond of an Israeli, say supermarket chain, would that make me anti-Jewish? To Dennis probably…

Ernie Halfdram said...

Even if I thought there was some basis for assessing the rationality of a state, Ibrahim, I doubt I could confidently ascribe that to Israel, particularly in the immediate wake of the fire. Planting pine trees in an arid climate and failing to prepare for fire doesn't strike me as rational.

As for the wellbeing of Jewish Israeli citizens, the Israeli state doesn't seem to be doing very well for the most vulnerable, with a third of Holocaust survivors living in poverty (http://bureauofcounterpropaganda.blogspot.com/2007/04/sole-address.html) and a similar proportion of children going to bed hungry, according to Meir Panim, et al. (http://bureauofcounterpropaganda.blogspot.com/2007/01/welcome-to-blood-bank.html).

Ernie Halfdram said...

Anyway, whatever we may think of the efficacy of BDS as a set of tactics, what is decisive for me is that organisations of Palestinian civil society have called for it. That's why I support BDS against Israel. When Saudi, or Egyptian, or US civil society call for a boycott, I'll support that, too. http://bureauofcounterpropaganda.blogspot.com/2006/12/too-smart.html

andrew r said...

הסברה באסטר, מזל טוב

Anonymous said...

andrew r hebrew?

andrew r said...

אין, אבל אני לומד
no, but I'm learning

Utpal said...

I love this line particularly:

More rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza than V1 or V2 rockets at London in 1944. (... cont. No one blamed Winston Churchill for responding with all the force he could, as cities like Hamburg or Dresden faced the wrath of the RAF. But if Israel takes the slightest action against the Jew-killers of Hamas, all the hate of the world falls on its head=.

Does he think his audience is that stupid?

JO said...

"Nazi analogies should never be made unless a genocide is involved, like in Rwanda. But since MacShane himself brings up the subject, allow me to ask: between a peaceful call for BDS that hurts no one and a residential boycott that results in mobs calling for the death of Arabs and glasses in their buildings being shattered, which is more reminiscent of Kristallnacht?"

Wasn't Kristallnacht a Nazi action? So you're using a Nazi analogy. Why?

Anonymous said...

Mocking the Holocaust is all the pathetic POS who runs this blog does. He even pretends to be an Arab “Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf” but his real name is:
Alberto J. Miyara, Facultad de Ingeniería - Universidad Nacional de Entre Ríos
Note he’s a teaching assistant without a phone number
There are 2 addresses for that name in Rosario, Argentina and they both look like slums.
So does Facultad de Ingeniería - Universidad Nacional de Entre Ríos.