Boycott and Holding Israel Responsible

In October  2016, The New York Review of Books published a statement calling for an Economic screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-2-33-05-pmBoycott and Political Nonrecognition of the Israeli Settlements. Over 70  American intellectuals signed the  statement, which endorses the politics of boycott in response to Israeli settlement policy in the Occupied Territories.  But the statement stops with the settlements and does not address Israel’s responsibility for the settlements or the draconian measures used by Israel to control, police and punish the Palestinian population in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and Israel. Writing for The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah noted  that “This is precisely the kind of attempt to co-opt the success of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that Columbia University professor Joseph Massad cautions about in a 2014 article for The Electronic Intifada: liberal Zionists aim to redefine and redirect the movement’s strength and efforts towards preserving, instead of challenging, Israel as a racist, apartheid and colonial state.” 

In a letter to the editor which appeared in the NYRB (included below),  another group of American intellectuals committed to Palestinian solidarity have challenged  the limited statement supporting a boycott of only the settlements, and reasserted the Palestinian call for Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS).

November 10, 2016 issue of the New York Review of Books
In response to:

For an Economic Boycott and Political Nonrecognition of the Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories from the October 13, 2016 issue

To the Editors:

A statement recently published in The New York Review of Books calls for “an Economic Boycott and Political Nonrecognition of the Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories” [Letters, October 13].

We welcome the statement’s shattering of the taboo against boycotting Israeli entities that are complicit in—at least selective—violations of Palestinian human rights.

Defying common sense, however, the statement calls for boycotting settlements while letting Israel, the state that has illegally built and maintained those settlements for decades, off the hook.

Moreover, shouldn’t Israeli banks that are not based in settlements but finance their construction be targeted as well? This is what the United Methodist Church and the massive Dutch pension fund PGGM have done.

By omitting Israel’s other serious violations of international law, the statement fails the moral consistency test. Aren’t Palestinian refugees, the majority of Palestinians, entitled to their UN-stipulated rights? Shouldn’t Palestinian citizens of Israel enjoy equal rights by repealing Israel’s dozens of laws that racially discriminate against them?

Palestinian civil society has called for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against all entities, Israeli or international, that are complicit in denying Palestinians everywhere their rights. As the apartheid South Africa boycott shows, this is the most effective, nonviolent way to achieve freedom, justice, and equality for all.

Angela Y. Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, University of California Santa Cruz, California; Chandler Davis, Professor of Mathematics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada; Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton, Santa Barbara; Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, Columbia University, New York City; Alice Rothchild, MD, Retired Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Harvard University, Seattle; Joan W. Scott, Professor Emerita, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; Alice Walker, Writer, New York City; Roger Waters, Musician, New York City;
and 117 others


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