New feature: A selection of Larry Derfner's sociopolitical outbursts on Facebook (and one email) for the week ending Saturday, April 5. WHAT HAVE THEY DONE FOR US LATELY? FB reaction to commenter who asks, “What have the Palestinians done to advance peace recently?" (Sunday, March 30): Close, daily security cooperation with the IDF and Shin Bet for 10 full years. They've arrested thousands of Hamasniks. It's a key reason why terror is so low, and the only reason why you don't see massive anti-Israeli demonstrations. Palestinian forces are policing the Palestinian population areas - the cities, the villages, the…Read More... | 46 Comments
In all other contexts, the Jewish people have demonstrated that we understand boycotts, divestments, and sanctions to be effective, non-violent tools for political change. So why do we deem them violent and illegitimate when it comes to Israel? By Alice Mishkin My introduction to divestment as a tool for activism came in 2005. I was a staff member at the Save Darfur Coalition (SDC) from 2005-2006, during the peak of the movement. With the help of our board members who represented organizations like the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, the Religious Action Center, American Jewish World Service, the United States…Read More... | 25 Comments
Politically, this is a moment of opportunity, but it carries a painful human price. The Palestinians have “won” the Kerry peace initiative: the Obama administration is blaming both sides for its likely failure, not just the Palestinian side, which is the most they could have expected. The New York Times editorial goes one better: it points the finger pretty squarely at Netanyahu, which is radical for a Times editorial. So the Palestinians, having the clear sympathy of Europe and the rest of the world as the aggrieved party, can go to the UN after the talks run out on April…Read More... | 64 Comments
Few of the people accused of boycotting Israel actually advocate or adhere to the central demands of the Palestinian boycott call. Ironically, those same people may be in the best position to help end the occupation. By Ran Greenstein Opposition to the BDS movement has become a crucial test of loyalty to the pro-Israel cause in the U.S. Jewish community in recent months. It has not replaced the Iranian nuclear program as the most prominent cause for alarm raised by the Israel lobby and its allies, but it is moving in that direction. Naturally enough, this heightened publicity is being…Read More... | 18 Comments
Four notes on what could be tipping points for -- or against -- the boycott movement. A week without a major boycott development in Israel is beginning to seem like a rarity. With a string of celebrity, corporate, cultural and professional threats or actions, the atmosphere is jittery; minor rumors like boycott pressure on Beyoncé are making momentary headlines in Israeli news. The hot question is what impact will all this have? The peace and anti-occupation camp wonders if such actions will break Israel’s stubborn commitment to its policies (even if many don’t support BDS themselves). Pro-occupation* figures believe the boycott…Read More... | 20 Comments
By stating that the illegality of settlements is 'very easily debatable' and that there is no 'right or wrong side,' the actress has proven she is not naive at all - but is rather choosing money over humanitarian concerns. By default, she is enabling the occupation. In her first explicit response since the Sodastream-Oxfam controversy, actress Scarlett Johansson told The Guardian Sunday that she stands by her decision to sign as brand ambassador with the Israeli company that has a factory in a West Bank settlement, stating, "I was aware of that particular factory before I signed it." Reiterating her original defense…Read More... | 42 Comments
Over the past three months Israel has seen a surge in European firms adjusting their business ties with the Jewish State. The knee-jerk response of its politicians is telling: the point of no return has been reached. There’s been a lot of talk lately about how the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against Israel is gaining traction. It’s pretty much a fact no one can dispute - those three letters are seen more and more in just about every news item about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But there has also been some speculation about a certain “tipping point” concerning the campaign,…Read More... | 43 Comments
As Israel faces international isolation and an uncertain future, one Palestinian offers some empathy: 'I know how you feel.' By Amer Zahr Israel, I know how you feel. It’s been a tough year. And it’s only just started. Your world seems like it’s crumbling around you. Everything you knew is no longer true. The comfortable circumstances to which you have become accustomed are rapidly changing around you. And worse yet, it seems you can do nothing about it. I know how you feel. Your so-called “friends” are turning on you. They said they would all always stand by you, no…Read More... | 21 Comments
Civil rights organizations argue the 'anti-boycott law' has created a chilling effect, stifling debate on one of the most divisive issues facing Israeli society. If that's the case, the state counters, then how has BDS grown so much in recent years? In a hearing that felt at times like the political boycott itself was on trial, an extended panel of nine justices from Israel’s High Court of Justice heard arguments for and against legislation targeting calls to boycott Israel on Sunday. It was the second such session following petitions by civil rights groups asking the court to strike down the…Read More... | 16 Comments
An expanded panel of nine justices of the Israeli High Court of Justice will hear a petition against the "anti-boycott law" Sunday morning, which several NGOs are arguing silences debate on one of the most important and divisive issues in Israeli society. Passed by the Knesset in 2011, the law, formally known as the "Law for Prevention of Damage to State of Israel through Boycott," allows those who feel they have been harmed by a boycott - whether against Israel or an Israeli institution or territory (i.e. the settlements in the West Bank) - to sue the person or organization who…Read More... | 13 Comments
It does not have to bring the Israeli economy to its knees, or even close, to force an end to the occupation. Now that it’s a very common, almost consensus view that Israel faces isolation and serious economic pain if it does not end the occupation, the skeptics are weighing in. They’re saying that the BDS movement, academic boycott and Europe’s anti-settlement policy toward Israeli businesses, even though they are intensifying, have hardly made a dent in this country’s material quality of life. (Here, here, here and here.) Deals are still being made, rock stars are still coming to perform,…Read More... | 38 Comments
As a rule, Palestinians working for Israelis in the West Bank hate the settlements and the occupation. But they have to feed their families, so they swallow their pride. Supporters of the occupation have found a new set of spokesmen: the Palestinian workers at the West Bank factory owned by the Israeli company SodaStream, of BDS and Scarlett Johansson fame. Reporters from The Christian Science Monitor, The Telegraph and other media outlets talked to some of the 500 Palestinians employed at the Mishor Adumim plant, and quoted them saying they were against the boycott. It was threatening their livelihood. They…Read More... | 23 Comments
The Scarlett Johansson/Sodastream affair appears to be over. The American movie star left relief group Oxfam citing differences of opinion over boycott and will continue to represent Israeli company Sodastream, which has a factory in a West Bank settlement. The Israeli media declared victory with the weekend papers cheering Johansson’s decision to quit Oxfam. “Scarlett for Israel” was the headline in Yedioth Ahronoth, whose Friday edition is the most widely read paper in Israel. The editors placed the story on page 1, above the fold. International coverage of the affair, however, told a slightly different story, repeatedly referring to the settlements…Read More... | 23 Comments
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