The boycott of Israel must be total

Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columist and author

Palestinian American journalist Ramzy Baroud argues that the boycott of Israel must be expanded to be truly effective.

Can we truly limit our boycott to few Israeli companies with links to West Bank settlements and expect to achieve tangible, long-term results? I say: not in a million years.

We boycotted the South African Apartheid government, all of its stooges and institutions. Over time, global solidarity – combined with the heroic resistance of the South African people – turned the Apartheid regime into a pariah state. Yes, there were other regional and international factors that played a role, but at the end of the day, the fate of the regime was sealed when it had very few friends, and certainly very few apologists (aside from Israel) left to stand by it as it began falling apart.

In the case of Palestine, the strategy should be altered for tactical or other reasons, but the principle is the same. Our boycott of Israel should target all Israeli institutions, governmental, corporate or otherwise, that contribute to the inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people (in the West Bank, Gaza, or anywhere else), Israel’s continued violations of internationally-recognized human rights and ongoing injustice in all of its forms. A criminal should be accountable for his crimes regardless of where they may take place.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

There is no proof that we can truly undermine the economy of the illegal settlements, and the fact is that the Israeli economy itself is thriving. Whatever financial loss that would be incurred will certainly be made up for by the Tel Aviv government, US and western financiers. For BDS to work, the boycott has to be uncompromisingly massive, decisive and sweeping to pay real political dividends. We are still a distance from achieving the needed critical mass, but it is essential that we proceed based on complete moral clarity.

Those who think that boycotting the occupation is enough, seem not to understand the nature of the relationship between West Bank setters and the Israeli government. Israel treats the settlements and its well-armed inhabitants as part and parcel of the Israeli state and economy. They are residents of Israel, even if they live near Ramallah. There is no separation whatsoever except of some imaginary “Green Lines” and such. And now with the Apartheid Wall, even that separation is being redefined.

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South African experience

Moreover, if we insist on that geographic separation while applying the boycott, then we make the South African experience largely irrelevant because we boycotted the Apartheid government, all of its institutions, benefactors, political and media peddlers, without issuing a thousand disclaimers to justify our actions. Then, we worried little about how racist politicians used the boycott in their propaganda to free themselves from the growing international solidarity with the people of South Africa.

Catering to Israel’s unfounded security “fears” and hasbara, is a waste of time, and it shows that some haven’t learned a thing about Israel’s mastery over false narratives. There is nothing that we can say or do that will please Israel, unless of course we join those who support Israel unconditionally, including its “right to defend itself” from Gaza to Lebanon, and as of late to Damascus.

Palestinians in Gaza and Nablus don’t see any difference between a soldier who lives in an illegal Jewish settlement or another who lives inside Israel. They are all capable of committing murder, unhampered by geography or borders. Nor should we.

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