Dr. Dawg

Boycotting West Bank settlements

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West Bank Settlement1.jpg

I’ve always been a little soft-line on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. I far prefer active engagement to isolation, especially in the academic and cultural fields.

But a boycott of goods produced in the Jewish enclaves in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem is a subset of BDS that I can support without equivocation. The settlements, a form of annexation, are a violation of international law and an obstacle to peace—indeed, the resettlement of Israeli citizens in occupied territory is a war crime as defined in Section 8 of the Rome Treaty of 1998-2002:

(b) Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:

…(viii) The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory;

It would seem entirely possible to build a wall, then, around this question. There is no ambiguity involved here: it is an entirely bona fide case of refusing to permit the criminal to profit from his crime. Hence the United Church of Canada, following in the footsteps of the US Presbyterian chruch, is presently considering a proposal to support the boycott of goods produced in the settlements.

But—quelle surprise—the same shopworn arguments against this relatively moderate move are being trotted out.

Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Toronto-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, called the United Church proposal an affront to Israel and the Canadian Jewish community.

Opposing the illegal, expanding annexation of the West Bank is an “affront to the Canadian Jewish community?” So much for the notion of a two-state peace: the mask has indeed slipped.

Not everyone, thank goodness, has such supple morality. Here is Abigail Disney on the theft of West Bank natural resources by Ahava cosmetics:

“Recent evidence from the Israeli Civil Administration documents that Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories sources mud used in its products from the Occupied shores of the Dead Sea, which is in direct contravention to provisions in The Hague Regulations and the Geneva Conventions forbidding the exploitation of occupied natural resources. While I will always hold my colleagues and coworkers in the highest regard, I cannot in good conscience profit from what is technically the ‘plunder’ or ‘pillage’ of occupied natural resources and the company’s situating its factory in an Israeli settlement in the Occupied West Bank. Because of complicated legal and financial constraints I am unable to withdraw my investment at this time, but will donate the corpus of the investment as well as the profits accrued to me during the term of my involvement to organizations working to end this illegal exploitation.”

Disney’s decision has actually been well-covered by the world media. And it was this outrageous example of illegality that appears to have led the American Presbyterians to take the (somewhat reserved) position on BDS that they did.

Perhaps it is now time to put some hard questions to those defenders of Israeli state policy who appear on the surface to concede that the settlements are some kind of bargaining chip for a lasting peace in the Middle East. I can see no real concession after all: the settlements continue to expand, making them virtually impossible to give up in order for that hypothetical peace to be achieved. And now we are told that opposition to that appropriation itself, and to the current exploitation of West Bank resources that rightfully belong to the Palestinians, is an “affront.” There seems something not a little hypocritical here.

Comments, as always, are welcome.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on July 25, 2012 11:07 AM.

King Canute needed in North Carolina was the previous entry in this blog.

Mayor Rob Ford: palling around with Nazis [updated] is the next entry in this blog.

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