The Left Splits over How Much of Israel to Boycott

Nov. 15 2016

Some 300 professors and intellectuals—among them Peter Beinart and Todd Gitlin—signed an October open letter in the New York Review of Books, opposing a boycott of Israel within the pre-June 1967 armistice lines but endorsing a boycott of territories occupied after the Six-Day War. The letter provoked an indignant response, signed by Angela Davis, Richard Falk, Rashid Khalidi, Alice Walker, and some 120 others, arguing that the first letter, “by omitting Israel’s other serious violations of international law, . . . fails the moral-consistency test.” To the critics, the only reasonable approach is to boycott Israel altogether. Elliott Abrams takes a look at the first and ostensibly more “pro-Israel” of the two statements:

Note the tricky language in this letter, from people who no doubt think they are about the most honorable and principled folks in the land. At one point they refer to “entities [that is, settlements] in the West Bank.” But everywhere else in the letter they refer to Israel “as defined by its June 4, 1967 borders,” to the “Occupied Territories,” and to places “outside the 1949 Green Line.” The difference between those latter formulations and “the West Bank” is huge: it is Jerusalem. Fairly read, this letter calls for boycotts of goods and services from east Jerusalem, including the old Jewish Quarter. It calls for removing tax exemptions from any charity that, for example, spends money on the Western Wall, a synagogue in the Old City, or on archeology in the City of David digs—or any other place in what used to be Jordanian-occupied Jerusalem.

But of course they are all pro-Israel, you see; they “oppose an economic, political, or cultural boycott of Israel itself.” Small problem: their version of “Israel itself” does not include its historical and political capital, Jerusalem.

There is one other key point to make about this letter. In it, and in the view of the world apparently held by its signers, there are no Palestinians—or at least no Palestinians who are grown-ups, who can act, who are able to make decisions. . . . The letter suggests that a boycott may “help persuade the Israeli electorate to reject the costly and wrongheaded settlement enterprise and get serious about a two-state solution.” What’s to make the Palestinians “get serious about a two-state solution?” That thought never seems to strike the authors.

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More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Peter Beinart, Rashid Khalidi, West Bank

 

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror