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Boycott Israel?

August 3, 2010

Boycotting Israel is certainly a better alternative than bombing. Yet, it is hypocritical for those who believe in liberty not to speak out against fanatic violence in the Islamic world while condemning Israel as a purveyor of “war crimes and ethnic cleansing.” Boycotts may not severely damage Israel but the message that boycotts send are blots against the only truly free democracy in the Middle East.

 

South African Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu recently declared his support for the Olympia (Washington) Food Co-op's boycott of Israeli products. He also encouraged other cooperatives, grocers and businesses to boycott Israeli goods.

            Tutu is not alone. If you Google “Boycotting Israel,” you will notice boycott websites, many maintained by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, including JBIG, “Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.” In its sample letter urging people to stop buying Israeli goods and not visit Israel, here are some of its inflammatory arguments: “Israel operates an entrenched system of racial Apartheid against it own non-Jewish inhabitants and has been illegally occupying Palestinian land in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights since 1967” and “The daily brutality of the Israeli army in Gaza and the West Bank continues; Palestinian land is being stolen, houses demolished and crops destroyed. For several months now the state of Israel has been carrying out a slow genocide in the Gaza Strip, maintaining a tight blockade over its inhabitants.”

The letter warns that if you buy Israeli goods or visit Israel, “you will be implicitly supporting war crimes, ethnic cleansing, dispossession, and continued oppression of the Palestinian people, a people seeking to end the silence of the international community and achieve a just peace.” (Boycott Divestment Sanctions, www.bigcampaign.org) If you believe this propaganda, you might turn against Israel the way British Prime Minister, David Cameron, did when he called Gaza a “prison camp.”

Not everyone is convinced of the poisonous words against Israel. Pilar Rahola, Spanish journalist, writer, former politician, and admitted “leftist,” asks her fellow Europeans, “Why is a tiny country which struggles to survive criminalized? Why does manipulated information triumph so easily?” The “present-day imbecility of anti-Israelism,” she argues, “is the new form of anti-Semitism,” (“Pilar Rahola Speaks: Jews with Six Arms,” www.aish.com).

“Why does a renewed intolerance surge with such virulence,” Rahola asks, “centered now, not against the Jewish people, but against the Jewish state?” She wonders why there aren’t demonstrations against Islamic dictatorships in such places as Yemen, Iran, and Sudan. Why aren’t there demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of women who live without legal protection or against the use of children as human bombs? And why, she questions, “Is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed against Israel?” (“Confronting Europe’s War on the Jews,” Pilar Rahola, June 9, 2010, http://www.frontpagemag.com).

It is rare to find courageous non-Jews fighting for Israel’s rights in a world that highlights every controversy in Israel. It takes great courage to speak out about powerful Islamic fundamentalism which pervades much of the Muslim world. On her own continent, Pilar is one of the few questioning the predominant anti-Semitic, anti-Israel cultures in Spain and Europe. She writes that Israel has been “orphaned and forgotten” by the left and by “serious journalism,” belittled by the U.N. and rejected by even “tolerant” Islam. Rahola eloquently writes, “As a non-Jew, journalist, and lefty, I have a triple moral duty with Israel, because if Israel is destroyed, liberty, modernity, and culture will be destroyed too.”

Boycotting Israel is certainly a better alternative than bombing. Yet, it is hypocritical for those who believe in liberty not to speak out against fanatic violence in the Islamic world while condemning Israel as a purveyor of “war crimes and ethnic cleansing.” Boycotts may not severely damage Israel but the message that boycotts send are blots against the only truly free democracy in the Middle East.

I am left to wonder, why don’t more American Jews demonstrate some of Rahola’s eloquent passion in defending Israel’s existence?  “As a person from the left who loves progress,” Rahola writes, “I am obligated to defend liberty, culture, civic education for children, coexistence and the laws that the Tablets of the Covenant made into universal principles.”

Desmond Tutu may use his honored status to stain Israel’s reputation but it is the courage of one woman fighting “Europe’s War on the Jews” who truly deserves praise. “The struggle of Israel,” Pilar Rahola concludes, “even if the world doesn’t want to accept it, is the struggle of the world.” Amen.

 

 

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