Rebuff the Boycott

Published in The Jerusalem Post on January 4, 1998

Beware! Lurking in your neighborhood supermarket is dangerous produce: wines, meats, cat food, plastic-ware and other sundry goods manufactured in the……settlements! Oy vey! What should you do when confronted at the check-out counter with this “menace to peace”? According to ‘Gush Shalom’, a motley collection of leftists spearheaded by Uri Avneri and Shulamit Aloni, you should “warn away your friends, your neighbors and the other people in the shop – loudly”.


Yes, Avneri and friends are going to battle against settlers and settlements by launching a boycott of these “hotbeds of fanaticism” and their “warlike” goods. They’ll even provide you with a quick-reference pocket shopping list, so that you’ll know what milk products to avoid!


So what’s so terrible, you ask, about all this? Why shouldn’t like-minded political activists have the right to purchase only those oranges that conform to their political diet?


To begin with, we ought to have a deep-rooted aversion to boycotts. The boycott, after all, has been an odious tool employed by anti-Semites against Jews throughout the ages, right up to Hitler. In fact, some of the Gush Shalom ads, if you’ve seen them — listing boycottable settler sweater stores and hi-tech factories — read like the National Socialist posters of 1933 urging the boycott of mongrel Jewish businesses.


The boycott also was a key Arab League tool in isolating Israel worldwide for much of our first forty years of existence. Many of us spent years fighting the Arab primary, secondary, even tertiary boycotts at every corner. Boycotts have stinky associations, and somehow a group called ‘Gush Shalom’ should know better than to apply one against brothers.


Moreover, the boycott attempt is immoral, whatever your politics. Israelis live and work in Judea and Samaria, the Jordan Valley and the Golan by government sanction, even encouragement. So, fine, Shulamit and Uri don’t like Mr. Netanyahu’s policy on settlements. But why take it out on the Jordan Valley farmer who was sent by Labor to grow tomatoes along the border?


The answer is that intemperate Avneri, whose hatred of nationalist and religious Jews has long since knocked his political compass out of kilter, wants to * punish * those horrible ‘settlers’. Consequently, demonstrations against the government aren’t good enough. He had to write all European Community countries asking them to join the boycott of ‘settlement produce’ and demanding that they deny factories over the Green Line any benefits accruing from Israel’s free trade agreements with Europe. Sic the goyim on us. Nasty.


Literature distributed by the boycotters outrageously describes the settlers as parasites. “Most of the settlers (nearly 60%) are not productive at all. That is how they could afford to participate in the endless demonstrations that lead to the assassination of prime minister Rabin”, ‘Gush Shalom’ intones.


What a load of malicious rubbish and nonsensical illogic! Firstly, if settlers don’t produce anything, what’s there to boycott? Second of all, Yesha and Golan businesses are a respectable part of our economy. And third, most business and industry over the Green Line is centered in areas which by near-national consensus will remain part of Israel in any permanent settlement with the Palestinians: Barkan (near Ariel), Mishor Adumim (east of Jerusalem), Atarot (northern Jerusalem) and Maale Efraim (Jordan Valley). Yet, make no mistake about it, Avneri’s boycott includes all these zones.


Barkan, for example, is home to more than 100 factories, including many brand-name companies, whose diapers, canned goods and ceramic tiles are hard to peg as ‘fanatic’. The industrial zone is fully-integrated with the Gush Dan economy, employing 4,000 Israelis who live in Petach Tikva and Herzliyah as well as in Samaria. (Barkan also provides jobs for 1,000 Palestinians. Did you know * that *, Uri?).


“150,000 unemployed in Israel suffer unfair competition from the industrial settlements”, ‘Gush Shalom’ idiotically asserts. Really? Perhaps they should ask big-time industrialist and fellow peacenik Dov Lautmann about this. He’s opened three large, labor-intensive factories recently in .…Jordan. So is it the settlements, or is it the peace, that’s hoarding the jobs that rightfully belong in Ofakim?


The deliberate dissembling and chicanery by ‘Gush Shalom’ lays bare the campaign of demonization underway here. Forget the fact that the vast majority of people who live over the ’67 border are law-abiding, hard-working, economically-productive and morally-upstanding Jews. Nah…. say the radical leftists – boycott’em! Disregard the reality that major blocs of settlement are central to our security and water interests, even on what was the Rabin-Peres map for Oslo III and IV. Nah……isolate them! As for our national-religious claim to these historic areas…….well, that’s obviously not of any interest to the ‘Gush Shalom’ types. Settlers are pariahs and completely expendable.


You know it’s funny. I never heard Mr. Avneri and friends call for a boycott of Palestinian Authority goods when Arafat participated in the naming of Yihye Ayyash Square in Jericho. Nor did he write the EC when Yasser gave Hamas a green light to go on a bombing spree in Jerusalem.


So, don’t take too much political guidance from Uri Avneri or his so-called ‘Gush Shalom’. And when you go to the market – buy Jewish; boycotts are part of our anti-Semitic past.

David M. Weinberg is a think tank director, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »
A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker

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