Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Israel boycotts democracy

As its occupation of Gaza and the West Bank has dragged on, Israel has faced growing calls for South African-style boycott, divestment, and sanctions in an effort to pressure it into changing its behaviour. These calls haven't just come from Palestinians and those outside Israel, but also from Israeli citizens concerned at the behaviour of their government. The Israeli response? Silence them.

This is a gross violation of freedom of expression. As the Association for Civil Rights in Israel points out, boycotts are a legitimate form of non-violent political protest. But the war mentality currently afflicting the Israeli right sees them as a threat to the existence of the state (and their political supporters in the illegal settlements). Its another example of how a policy of perpetual war is perverting Israel away from being a democratic state, and turning it into something rather different.

So, since Israelis of conscience are now banned from saying it themselves, I'll say it for them: don't buy from Israel, don't do business with Israel, don't travel to Israel until they end the occupation and comply with international law and human rights. It worked for South Africa. And hopefully it'll eventually work for Israel too.