Aug 21, 2010

Isolate Israelis and let them pay for their endless aggression

Relations between Israel and several Western states have been strained since January. The United Kingdom and Australia both expelled Israeli diplomats in reaction to the illegal use by Mossad agents of their passports in Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s killing in Dubai. The Polish authorities arrested a Mossad agent accused of involvement. The UK, France, Spain and Italy have demanded firm action over the flotilla attack. On June 14, Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, cancelled a trip to the Paris Arms Show, having been warned that pro-Palestinian groups would seek his arrest.
Meanwhile, the boycott movement against Israel, already active, has gained astonishing momentum. Israeli officials are now frequently targeted at universities in Europe and America, forcing them to cancel lectures. This week 76 distinguished Indian academics, including the writer Arundhati Roy, signed a call for the cultural and academic boycott of Israel. They have joined the well-established British academic boycott of Israel movement, BRICUP, and a growing US academic boycott group.
A cultural boycott of Israel movement is also developing; the Pixies, Klaxons and Gorillaz recently cancelled concerts in Israel. Prominent writers Alice Walker and Iain Banks are also boycotting Israel. Banks has refused to have his books translated into Hebrew, as has Jordan’s Queen Rania whose book for children has just been published.
Dockworkers in Sweden, Norway, India and South Africa are refusing to handle Israeli ships. In San Francisco, bay dockworkers delayed Israeli ships for 24 hours, unheard of in the United States. Britain’s Unite union has resolved to boycott Israeli companies, and there is a mounting movement in Europe and the US for divestment from companies such as Caterpillar, which work to support Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Individually none of these acts is likely to threaten Israel. It is their collectivity and the speed with which they are spreading and increasing that is important. Beneath the official level of Western governmental support for Israel, there is private disquiet about Israeli conduct. And at the popular level, there is a sea change in opinion: where Israel was once seen as the victim, it has now become the bully. In the UK, for example, the strength of popular sympathy for Palestinians is striking. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the same is happening elsewhere.

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