Sunday, December 2, 2018

The BDS Movement

The BDS Movement  (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) might not have been noticed quite as much if there weren't concerted efforts to make it illegal.  The goal is for Israel to withdraw from occupied territories, removal of the barriers at the West Bank, full equality of Arabs in Israel and to promote the right of return by the Palestinian refugees.  Israel claims Arabs enjoy equality in Israel and that the movement is anti-Semitic.  Both Israel and the United States have made efforts to make the BDS illegal or use national resources to restrict. 

The cause is known and for most people who consider themselves progressive liberals it is admirable enough.  Like a lot of people when I hear and believe negative things about individuals and companies I try to make a conscious decision not to support.  Other people want to take a strong stand and some of them are organizers and others looking for an organized effort.

Up until past my university years I would tell anyone who asked, that "Exodus" was my favorite movie.  I barely knew any Jews, but somehow came to admire them and how they had overcome the Holocaust.  I still grapple to understand the horror of  their ordeal.  I have watched several movies that focused on the Holocaust from many different angles.  It is horrifying to read about people who deny the Holocaust.  It not only is anti-Semitic, but also indicates rationalization (guilt feelings) for expressing hatred.

A few things happened over my adult years to change my perspective  At work I remember talking to a secretary at work about Hallowe'en.  I was telling her that I had to get home early to protect my home from tricksters.  She surprised me by saying as a born again Christian they could not celebrate Hallowe'en.  I have always considered myself secular, but Lynn was someone I liked working with and accepted her offer to read a book about Armagedden.  There seemed to be a lot of logic, but really twisting the meaning of Biblical words which I just could not accept.  But I came to understand and more frequently heard or read references to the second coming of Christ.  I kept a few details in mind such as there would be the anti-Christ who would seem to have the answers (could that be Donald Trump?), Israel would have to be run by Jews again and there was something about ten tribes that would play a role and that the true believers would ascend to heaven.

I gradually became aware of the role this belief played in American politics and other nations.  They seemed very protectionist of Israel, but at the same time saw Jews only as necessary for the prophesy.  The Palestinians were in the way and needed to be stomped down.  The fact that they resorted to terrorism only proved how undeserving they were.  Arab states and Muslims were suspect as they always seemed to be using the supposed Palestinian injustices to inflict terror on the rest of us.  Many Christians just wanted to protect the holy sites. 

The Arab oil boycott of the west was mostly seen as inconvenient.  One good thing that came out of it was a movement in part led by Jimmy Carter (who is my most admired president) who preached conservation.  Of course Ronald Reagan ridiculed the idea and reversed course.

Another factor emerged when my sister, Rebecca married a Muslim from Morocco.  She was actually married in an inter denomination ceremony.  It was over ten years and two daughters later that she decided to convert.  She is one of the people who I both love and admire.  I had come to admire Ali as well and he gave a different view of Palestinians.  He was careful not to speak against Jews and in fact pointed out to me that he would seek kosher food when halal food was not available.

My reading convinced me that the Palestinians had been taken advantage of.  While I could still admire what the Zionists had accomplished against heavy odds I began to realize they did so at the expense of the Palestinians. And the more I heard and read the more it seemed the Palestinians were being dismissed and discriminated against.  The media in my neck of the woods was almost totally picturing Palestinians as backward, dishonest, violent and undeserving.  The Israelis are pictured as besieged, but very innovative.  Perhaps there is an element of guilt from many Western countries that had allowed anti semitism to prosper and helped set the events of the Holocaust.

After a television appearance I read a book by Peter Beinart.  It made me realize there is a lot of politics behind the support of Israel.  Check out

By now you realize I am sympathetic to the Palestinians, but there is more to it than that.    I am not much of a boycott participant.   I have completed two books by Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli and have started his most recent book.  He has the best understanding of what it means to be a human of any one I am familiar with.  I am not willing to give up that.  An investment counselor was recommending a mutual fund and thought one of its highlights was that they included Israeli stocks--although like anyone else I wanted to make the most money for the least risk,  passed on it.  I watched and appreciated many movies from Israel  particularly the ones that seemed balanced.

My experiences with boycotts are very limited.  As a Canadian one example was when Heinz decided to stop processing tomatoes from their Simcoe, Ontario plant.  I had driven through Simcoe numerous times as part of my sales job.  I remember consciously actually driving by the plant with a distinct, but not unpleasant smell of the ketchup plant.  French's, better known for mustard, picked up the slack and I have made it a point of buying their ketchup (which happens to taste pretty good).

I was too young or disinterested to think about the anti apartheid boycott.  I am proud that Canada did participate unlike United States and the United Kingdom.  Thinking what would I buy from South Africa?  Never thought of diamonds or gold.  A little later did enjoy eating Granny Smith apples  and have since enjoyed South African wines, but think of them as post Mandela (one of my very favorite heroes).

If we don't want people to settle their differences with violence we have to accept alternatives.  Every person who has a dime to spend has some power.  Once they spend that money they have lost some of their power, but the choice should be theirs.  Yes, there should be exceptions--we should not be able to physically harm someone or denigrate them. 

Israel is forgetting its values.  They have suffered at the hands of degenerates, but now they are causing great suffering that to me is counter productive.  I know there are significant elements that want to bridge the gap, but they don't seem to dominate.  Hatred and ignorance are very difficult to deal with, but others have found ways

Critics are welcome to do a counter boycott if they really want, but they have absolutely no right to impose legal restrictions on people who  feel the merits of the cause.  I think what needs to happen is more effort to reconcile the Jews and Palestinians.  Biblical prophesies can be interpreted any way that suits someone else.  The Qu'ran is interpreted very widely.  To me the boycott and such efforts to encourage Israel to take a fairer treatment of the Palestinians is a worthy cause and those that want to delegitimize it are the immoral ones.  Politics and money are a big part of the problem.

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