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Boycott law proves Israel's one-state vision

More than anti-democratic, the boycott law is indicative of Israel’s de facto annexation of the West Bank

Everyone who is up in arms about the passing of the boycott law this week has been emphasizing the severity of its violation of freedom of expression and dialogue. While this is of course true, what is even more alarming about the law, which has gone largely unmentioned in the press or by organizations opposing it, is what it says about the State’s relation to the territory under its control: The boycott law makes no distinction between Israel and the Occupied Territories and thus is in effect a legalization and normalization of the occupation, the total erasure of the Green Line and the moratorium on the two-state solution (in case this was not already clear).

No one should be alarmed that the boycott law passed because it is merely retroactive legislation for an already existing, de facto reality, just as the government’s recent expropriation of uncultivated Palestinian land was simply a formal approval of the daily reality of the settlement project.

The boycott law, like other laws, such as the Citizenship Loyalty Law that passed last March, as well as other imminent bills and remarks by government committee heads – such as Danny Danon’s recent demand that birthright trips “stop boycotting Judea and Samaria” –  is the government’s way of taking advantage of its power to formally cement its hold on the West Bank, and with it the Palestinian people.

If Israel were in any way interested in a two-state solution, it would be legislating laws geared at diminishing Israel’s institutional presence in the West Bank, not further deepening it. Instead of the principles of democracy and the desire to remain a Jewish state dictating its actions in the West Bank, what we see is the discriminatory, militant practices of how Israel runs the West Bank seeping into Israel proper, turning the whole area into one giant mold of apartheid jello.

Instead of crying out about the violations of freedom of speech and the antidemocratic nature of the law, concerned entities, and first and foremost the US government,  should be explicitly pointing out the message such a law clearly sends to the world about Israel’s intentions vis-a-vis the two-state solution: primarily that it has none.

The US State Department is incorrect in its assessment that the boycott law is an internal Israeli matter – how could a law that defines a civil offense from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River be an “internal matter?”

More than anything else, the boycott law is a clear indication of Israel’s diligent work at erasing the distinction between Israel’s 1948 and 1967 borders, so anyone under the illusion that there is a chance for a two-state solution should take note.

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    1. Eitan

      Thanks, Mairav, for one of the best discussions of the recent law.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Tactical Nuclear Housecat

      Having lived in South Africa I can tell you Israel is a million times worse. I would rather be a black man in Soweto in 1980 than an Arab in the zionist state.

      Reply to Comment
    3. RichardNYC

      Title a bit of an overreach. Also, you should reconsider the following: “If Israel were in any way interested in a two-state solution, it would be legislating laws geared at diminishing Israel’s institutional presence in the West Bank, not further deepening it.” I think its pretty clear from the existence of a large opposition that Israel is, at the very least “in any way interested” in diminishing Israel’s institution presence in the WB.

      Outside the landswap margin (which includes the majority of settlers), the ratio of Arabs:Jews is increasing (from 2.5m:100,000 at the moment). Look at Btselems figures. The symbolic signifiance of the boycott law does not mean much compared to the demographics.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Hebrew Slave

      You DO understand there’s many many many Black South Africans who bitterly oppose your use of their term Apartheid to cover this scenario, don’t you? It’s not at all the same thing.

      Reply to Comment
    5. max

      Mairav, this is a civil law and addresses citizens. It defines its scope as defending the interests of Israelis in Israel and the territories under its control – a clear separation. The inclusion of the Israelis in the territories is natural, as is the implicit exclusion of Israelis living under other civil laws.
      Obviously, some MKs would like to see the territories annexed, but that has nothing to do with the law, which is meant to also protect those Israelis living where ALL Israeli governments allowed them to settle.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Deïr Yassin

      @ Hebrew slave
      If you could link to some serious articles about Black South Africans who ‘oppose bitterly the use of their term Apartheid’ concerning Israel, I would appreciate.

      In the meantime – and I think we’ll have to wait a while – here’s some prominents Black South Africans who have compared SA Apartheid and Israel:
      Desmond Tutu:

      Kgalema Motlanthe, the Deputy President of SA and the ANC expressed on June 6th 2008 that he had been to the West Bank and Gaza and that ‘conditions for Palestinians under occupation were worse than conditions were for Blacks under the Apartheid regime’.

      Willie Madisha, the president of COSATU, the ANC-affiliated Trade Union, has expressed: “As someone who lived in SA during Apartheid and who have visited Palestine, I say with confidence that Israel is an apartheid state. In fact, I believe that some of the atrocities committed by the erstwhile apartheid regime in SA pale in comparison to those committed against Palestinians”.

      21 Human Rights activists from SA visited Israel. Here’s what they think:

      “Israel like SA is an apartheid state”
      Former SA president Hendrich Verwoerd, November 1963.
      Not to forget prominent SA Jews as Ronnie Kasrils saying the same thing.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Jan

      Any one with even a quarter of a brain should have realized long ago that Israel has absolutely no interest in a Palestinian state let alone a viable and contiguous state. If Israel were interested in the Palestinians having a state they would not have built all the settlements, each and every one illegal under international law, and continued the land theft while lying every time they talked about a “two state solution.” The Israelis have been very good at lying over the years and talking about a Palestinian state is just another lie on their part.

      I clearly remember when during the Oslo “negotiation” when now comatose war criminal and then Housing Minister Ariel Sharon proudly announced that Israel was creating “facts on the ground” and would be doubling the number of settlements. If I, as an American Jew, knew it was all over for peace certainly the Palestinians had to know that as well.

      Both Israel and their lackeys in the US demand that the Palestinians return to the negotiating table without putting forth any preconditions. But we have the war criminal Bibi Netanyahu putting out Israeli preconditions: no division of Jerusalem, Israeli retention of all large settlement bloc, indefinite Israeli military occupation of the Jordan Valley, and any Palestinian “state” to be demilitarized. I guess that would make it easy for the aggressor state of Israel to attack the puny Palestinian state with no fear of reprisal.

      Sadly, I am afraid that the only “state” that the racist state of Israel will permit is a series of apartheid South Africa- like bantustans completely controlled by Israel.

      Does Israel make me furious? Damn right.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Apa

      Max – I am wondering one thing. Why is it natural that two persons occupying the same territory should be under two different codes of law? Could you give me an explanation as to why settlers in the west bank should not be under the same law as Palestinians in the west bank?

      Reply to Comment
    9. max

      Apa, it’s international law: an occupying power isn’t allowed to impose its own law on occupied people.

      Reply to Comment
    10. lidia

      Nice try, Max, the only little problem – the same international law also forbids the occupying state to house its population in the occupied territory 🙂

      Next time, try something less clever – for ex, simple say that there is NO occupation, or something like this

      Reply to Comment
    11. lidia

      BI, why Palestinians should agree to live in bantustans and call it “2 states”?

      Reply to Comment
    12. max

      Lidia, both your statments are false and I doubt that you’re not aware of it.
      1. Israel doesn’t ‘house’ its population in the territories – it allows them to do so. The law itself is very clear about it and uses the term ‘transfer’.
      Most of the world expanded the meaning of the law to also include Israel’s settlements, but that doesn’t make it into international law, and US presidents argued both sides.
      2. You either didn’t follow BI’s link, or have a problem in understanding English.
      Here’re a few lines from it:
      Sixty-six percent said the Palestinians’ real goal should be to start with a two-state solution but then move to it all being one Palestinian state.

      Asked about the fate of Jerusalem, 92% said it should be the capital of Palestine, 1% said the capital of Israel, 3% the capital of both, and 4% a neutral international city.

      Seventy-two percent backed denying the thousands of years of Jewish history in Jerusalem, 62% supported kidnapping IDF soldiers and holding them hostage, and 53% were in favor or teaching songs about hating Jews in Palestinian schools.

      When given a quote from the Hamas Charter … Seventy-three percent agreed with a quote from the charter (and a hadith, or tradition ascribed to the prophet Muhammad) about the need to kill Jews hiding behind stones and trees.
      In short: they wouldn’t even grant Jews their own Bantustan

      Reply to Comment
    13. lidia

      1) no amount of word tricks is going to cower the very real colonization (not mentioning NOW that the whole Zionist project has been the colonization from the beginning)
      What USA prezes say is of no interest of mine, because last time I have checked they are NOT “international law”. So, try to invent something else, or just admit that you are a colonizer – it will be at least honest – not that I expect much out of Zionist
      2)Palestinians are right – they have rights to ALL of Palestine, but I suppose there are place for Jews as well – as there were BEFORE Zionism, which turned mostly peaceful co-existence of different “Arabs” – Jewish, Muslim, Christian and others into colonialism and aparteid. The Jews before Zionism in Palestine were not behaving as “master race”, it is as simple as this.

      IOF (Israel occupation force) is the foe of Palestinians by default. By the same “international law” Palestinians are fully entitled to fight against IOF. If somebody does not want to be POW he/she should refuse to be a part of IOF.

      And about songs and “Jews” – I have been in the occupied territory, and Palestinians were well aware me being a Jew, but I was there not as a settler or a member of IOF, so I was greeted and treated way better than my humble efforts of solidarity merited.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Apa

      You answered why Palestinians don’t live under Israeli law. However, why should the settlers who freely choose to go live in the occupied territories live under Israeli law? Is there any logical reason you see why Israelis in the territories should not live under the law of the people living in the territories when they started moving there?

      Reply to Comment
    15. max

      @Lidia, thanks for clarifying your views.
      I apologize, but I never managed to conduct a discussion with radicals of either side, as they relegate the human and legal issues to an auxiliary role behind their personal ideology.
      I don’t have a ‘legal’ answer. However, the context in the territories is interesting: the “native” law there is that of the previous occupier – Jordan, and prior was the British mandate’s. I doubt that it’d make sense to require the Israelis to live under the laws of yet another occupier…
      Ottoman law, British law, Jordanian WB law (like Israel’s – actually 2 laws), and now Israel’s 2 laws for 2 people…
      I hope there’ll soon be the first ever Palestinian law, and hope it’ll be better than the laws in most other Arab countries… Can you think of a compromise based on Hamas’ Sharia law?

      Reply to Comment
    16. lidia

      1) I do not need apology from the Zionist settler who pretends that he is “centrist”, as if there is a possibility of “center” between colonizer and colonized.

      2) I like the gall of a person who uses words like “international law” for defending Zionist colonization while accusing me (and others) of using “legal issues” for their ideology. I was NOT citing “international law” as an argument, unlike Max, I simply pointed on his abuse of the term, of course, Max is doing it for some higher goal, way higher than the mere lives, dignity and rights of Palestinians, not mentioning Jews.
      3) Max was not able to refute my facts regarding Palestinians and “2states”, so he preferred to “end discussion”, as if I was discussing with a Zionist. It would be< of course, impossible, I was simply pointing on his abuse of facts and "international law"

      Reply to Comment
    17. Ido

      It’s important not to lose sight of important facts here. Whether or not it “makes sense” for Jews to live under Israeli law while Palestinians live under military rule (I don’t think it is a matter of sense, but rather of justice — it is unjust that Jews were settled there by Israeli governments), there is deep, deep discrimination practiced on both sides of the Green Line. You have laws that are themselves discriminatory, laws that are not by nature so but are applied in a discriminatory fashion, and pervasive discrimination at an everyday level in the bureaucracies. Palestinians are subject to strong restrictions regarding their movement, which has a negative impact on their ability to work, seek medical services, educate themselves and their children, and more. This cannot be whitewashed by any argument about international law: the reality in which Palestinians live is insufferable, and any moral person should be up in arms about it. Palestinians, like every other people, have basic rights which must be upheld. One of them is self-determination.

      And Max, don’t play innocent: if you read the news in Israel, you know that the present government has expressed very strongly its belief that the territories are part of Israel, and that Jewish settlements are Israel for all intents and purposes. If you live in Israel, you know that a Palestinian state is not viable, given the path of the separation wall. How can such a state function, when Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem are cut off from each other, and the entire West Bank cut off from Gaza?

      Personally, I’m in favor of a single, democratic state, and have no commitment to a Jewish state. But if you want two states, and some people do, expanding the occupation is not a good way to do it.

      Reply to Comment
    18. ginger

      smart writing, great article

      Reply to Comment
    19. max

      I agree with many of your statements, but not your conclusions.
      I disagree with your statement about the discrimination in the legal system (within Israel!), and the self-determination being a basic right – it isn’t. But the latter is academic, as I agree that Palestinians have the right for self-determination, due to the historic context.
      I also disagree with your statement about the current government: besides its rhetoric, the current government hasn’t done anything not done by all previous governments; in fact, it’s the only one that froze construction.
      I fully agree that in practice there’s flagrant discrimination and abuse.
      I don’t believe in a single state. The regional context tells me that this idea is a dream for another area, maybe another era. The mob cheering the hands red with the blood of the lynched soldiers tells me what too many of them want.
      I believe that the radicalization process the Israeli society is going through now, in fact many times more, is what too many Arabs – Palestinians included – have been living for close to 100 years, since the Mufti times. I believe that the old woman, on Hamas’ TV on ‘Nakba Day’, wishing the Hebron massacre she still remembers to happen again and again.
      I believe that Israel’s role as a Jewish Home is as important as it ever was, as important as when it was accepted by the powers of that time.
      The latest survey reinforces my view: how do you understand it?
      I in no way think that Netanyahu’s offer is a viable solution. I don’t see why anyone would view it as anything more than a bargaining position; yes, he wishes it were possible, but he knows it isn’t. And after all, if you read Palestinian blogs, you’ll learn that even they agree that the Palestinian side hasn’t given up on any point since 2002.
      The process is stuck by both parties.
      But all these are irrelevant details, as you, for reasons I cannot fathom, don’t believe in what Hamas and its supporters tell you openly; you believe in universal human kindness, by all but Israelis.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Jan

      Max, are you not aware that under international law, each and every settlement build by Israel in the West Bank is illegal? Unfortunately Israel’s American water boys, while noting that these settlements are an impediment to peace have refused to outrightly condemn them because they would get kicked in the backside by the all-powerful Israeli lobbies, all of which put Israeli interests ahead of American interests.

      Succeeding Israeli governments have whined about the settlers but have continued to provide these illegal colonists with electricity, roads, water and IDF protection. The Israeli government has long lied about the settlements but you know that they have pushed settlement growth primarily to impede any Palestinian state.. Oh Max, they are so damned good about lying about one thing or another that it makes one’s head spin.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Excellent article!
      About the comments I just want to state the obvious. Arguing with a Zionist is like banging your head against a wall, it feels so good when you stop.

      Reply to Comment
    22. max

      “under international law, each and every settlement build by Israel in the West Bank is illegal”
      Legality is a matter for courts, not politicians or people with a political agenda. Of course laws are also crafted according to political motivation, and of course, legal or not, if enough countries act as if it was the law, Israel will have to act upon; who knows, maybe this precedence will help the Kurds, the Tibetans… (I assume these will be your next targets, right?)
      I have no doubt that international bodies could, and maybe will, define the Israeli settlements do this they will interpret one law or another – the international law is after all, defined by a majority of countries you wouldn’t want to live in or abide by their internal laws; the Arab states to start with.
      And yet, this hasn’t been done yet so your statement is false.
      Why is it that despite not being able to show this ‘international law’ you push your claim forward?

      Reply to Comment
    23. The Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

      There is nothing wrong with ‘one-state’. That state will be an Islamic republic underneath a modernized western tourist friendly spin on sharia.

      Reply to Comment
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