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Why not boycott Iran?

The fact that there are human rights abusers worse than Israel should not obscure the fact that the Palestinian-led BDS movement is asking for one thing: solidarity.

Graffiti on the Israeli separation barrier dividing East Jerusalem neighborhoods reads, "Boycott Israel", March 26, 2012. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Belier/Activestills.org)

Graffiti on the Israeli separation barrier dividing East Jerusalem neighborhoods reads, “Boycott Israel”, March 26, 2012. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Belier/Activestills.org)

One of the most common claims one hears against the BDS movement is that it is hypocritical. “Why don’t they boycott Iran/Syria/Hamas/ISIS?” is a question that comes up quite often.

The answer? We actually do boycott other countries and groups. Iran and Syria are facing a harsh sanctions regime. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization across Europe and the United States, and the Gaza Strip is under siege by Israel and Egypt. Nearly every country in the West, the Mediterranean and the Arab world are fighting against the Islamic State. There are sanctions and boycotts on North Korea and Sudan, Cuba was under a U.S. embargo for decades, Russia is now being placed under sanctions, the list goes on.

Israel, on the other hand, is considered a Western, democratic country that is a signatory to major trade agreements, enjoys the status of a European country (in trade, academic relationships, Eurovision, etc.), received enormous, unprecedented sums of money and weapons from the United States, is a member of the OECD, etc.

Boycott activists claim that the same country that contravenes international law and holds millions of people under a military regime with no civil rights should not enjoy all the privileges of belonging to the developed world.

If Israel’s starting point was akin to that of Sudan, Syria, Iran or Somalia’s, it would have been impossible to launch a boycott campaign like BDS, simply because the country would have already been boycotted, its goods would not be sold in the West, artists would not come perform here, foreign banks would not invest in its economy, tourists would not come visit, etc.

Interview: The man behind the BDS movement

“But what about the U.S.? It sends its soldiers to occupy countries across the world, kills many more citizens than Israel, and maintains its rule on at least half of the world. So why don’t we boycott the U.S.?”

Why? Because it is the U.S. Because political activism ought to strive to be practical and realistic. Since there is no practical way to boycott the U.S., there is no way to win enough support for this kind of project — whether by citizens or by states who would sanction the U.S. — in order for it to succeed. The United States may be responsible for heinous crimes, but realistically, neither sanctions nor boycotts are going to change that.

All these comparisons ignore one simple truth: the BDS movement is Palestinian-based. The Palestinians, who have tried pretty much every way to cause Israel to end the occupation — from stone-throwing to the murder of civilians to popular protests to diplomacy — have decided to use the tool of boycott, and now they are the ones asking the world for help. Palestinians, who are struggling for their freedom, are not required to be objective. They do not need to prove that they are boycotting ISIS or the U.S.

The Palestinians are asking for solidarity in their struggle — people around the world will choose whether or not to support them. That is all there is to it. You can agree or disagree with the boycott movement, but these are the reasons Israel is being targeted.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. Pedro X

      BDS is all about violence and hatred. It seeks to harm Israelis in the belief that somehow if enough harm and hatred is brought to bear on Israelis, Israelis will accept Palestinian demands, such as an unlimited wrong of return, and commit national suicide. Some Palestinians support BDS because it fits in with their culture of hatred and desire to see the Jewish state destroyed and replaced with another majority Arab state as the leader of the Palestinian BDS movement promotes.

      BDS is simply racist.

      As Bigcat posted:

      “QUESTION: What IS BDS?

      “Boycott is act of hate, not peace”

      – Shimon Peres

      “The BDS movement is anti-Semitic terror of a new type.”

      – Yitzhak Herzog.

      “BDS leaders are ‘out and out anti-Semites’”

      – Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid party leader)

      “All who join the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel “are effectively promoting the dissolution of the Jewish state whether or not that is their intention.”

      – Cary Nelson (Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor of English at the University of Illinois)

      The BDS-movement against Israel is a “CULT”, a “GHETTO”, “dishonest”, “silly”, “disingenuous” and “a whole lot of leftist posturing”, whose goal is to destroy Israel, says Norman G. Finkelstein.
      “They don’t want Israel. They think they are being very clever. They call their three-tier: we want the end of occupation, we want the right of return; we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever because they know the result of implementing all three is WHAT? What’s the result? YOU KNOW AND I KNOW – WHAT’S THE RESULT?! THERE IS NO ISRAEL. THERE IS NO ISRAEL – FULL STOP!”

      – Norman G. Finkelstein, who is also a virulent anti-Israel critic!


      Reply to Comment
      • Giora Me'ir

        Putting the rest of your tirade aside, violence?

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          Yes, violence

          Roberta Seid, PhD,
          January 16, 2014

          “Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), is on the road again with his anti-Israel show and its pack of bigotry and lies. On January 15th, UCLA’s Students for Justice in Palestine [SJP] hosted him at UCLA for his talk, entitled “International Solidarity with Palestine: Towards a Global Intifada.” An apt title: though he piously insists his movement is non-violent, he banged the drum for more bloodshed against Israeli Jews, for a fight to the finish that would undo the results of the 1948 War and be Zionism’s death knell. Nothing else would do.

          For Barghouti, compromises that bring peace are unacceptable. As he said, if peace did not include the right of an allegedly 8 million diaspora Palestinians and Palestinian refugees living across the Middle East and elsewhere to “return” to Israel (a euphemism since 1949 for destroying Israel by turning Jews into a minority) , peace would merely signify the “end of resistance to injustice,” and “contentment” with a “slave situation.” ….

          He justified terrorism against Israelis, defending the Palestinians’ right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance.”

          Reply to Comment
          • Giora Me'ir

            He may use aggressive and confrontational language, but in no way has he advocated violence as part of BDS.

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Brian alias “Ben” alias “MuslimJew” alias “Giora Me’ir” alias etc. we have had this argument about “BDS being a form of violence” here: http://972mag.com/bds-is-being-used-to-stifle-dissent-in-israel/107554/ Why do you want to rehash the same argument all over again while posing as “Giora Me’ir”?

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            The Omar Barghouti calls for “Euthanasia” against Jews ans supports violence!

            “[Palestinians have a right to] resistance by any means, including armed resistance. [Jews] aren’t indigenous just because you say you are….[Jews] are not a people…the UN’s principle of the right to self-determination applies only to colonized people who want to acquire their rights.” – Omar Bargouti

            “International law does give people under occupation the right to resist in any way, including armed resistance.” – Omar Bargouti

            Going back to the two-state solution, besides having passed its expiry date, it was never a moral solution to start with.We are witnessing the rapid demise of Zionism, and nothing can be done to save it, for Zionism is intent on killing itself. I, for one, support euthanasia.“ – Omar Bargouti

            “Good riddance! The two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is finally dead. But someone has to issue an official death certificate before the rotting corpse is given a proper burial and we can all move on and explore the more just, moral and therefore enduring alternative for peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Mandate Palestine: the one-state solution.” – Omar Bargouti

            There is more to come. Stay tuned….

            Reply to Comment
    2. David

      Indeed, boycotts must possess a viable possibility of success. They must have targeted aims. And typically they are implemented when there is not state action. Boycotting South Africa took place when the United States was sending tools of destruction. I boycott, as much as is possible, non-Union shops. And a boycott against Israel is appropriate when world powers do nothing.
      And Israel is not opposed to boycotts. Look at their support of the boycott against Cuba until very recently. There’s a whole lot of hypocrisy around.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Bruce Gould

      The South African apartheid government also claimed that the anti-apartheid movement was trying to destroy South Africa. But when apartheid ended South Africa continued to exist, it just continued in a form in which one ethnic group didn’t have a monopoly on power.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        Watch. And Weep!


        The crude, vulgar lies you, Mr. Bruce Gould, spread against Israel re “apartheid” are gratuitous and designed to smear and demonize Israelis. What reasons do you have to hate so much? What have Jews done to you? Where is this deranged, brutish hate hatred of Jews coming from, Mr. Bruce Gould?

        Reply to Comment
    4. Giora Me'ir

      I’m still waiting for someone to tell me how to boycott ISIL.

      The hoary argument is just a tiresome effort to distract and deflect. In other words, hasbara. You boycott where it can do the most good. And you are not required to boycott everywhere, or where injustices are greater, in order to boycott. That’s essentially an argument for doing nothing, which is what those making the argument want. It’s the same argument that was made by South Africa in the 80’s and the Jim Crow U.S. south in the 50s and 60s.

      Reply to Comment
      • Whiplash

        How to boycott ISIL? Stop buying oil and gasoline which is the main source of revenue for ISIS. Do not buy any articles from countries which deal with ISIS. Boycott Iran and Russia for supporting Assad which made the rise of ISIS possible. Boycott Turkey for allowing ISIS fighters to get to Iraq and Syria. Boycott yourself for supporting BDS which helps ISIS like Hamas and other fundamentalist organizations in their quest to violently destroy Israel.

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Thank you Giora for putting this so clearly and simply. It’s re-orienting. It often gets lost in the incessant barrage of emotional distraction techniques and personal attacks. Are there some attached to BDS who have the wrong motives or unproductively extreme positions? I definitely think so. In any broad movement that will happen but it is not therefore an invalidator of the concept of boycott or those of good will participating in enacting that concept. But there is still a lot to be desired in how this has come about and how it could be improved. Personally I agree with Dmitri Shumsky that the boycott weapon needs to be better focused:

        Focusing the boycott weapon
        How BDS is actually perpetuating the occupation
        By obscuring the uniqueness of the Israeli colonialist regime, BDS is giving Israel an escape hatch; instead, boycott movement must focus on occupation and settlements, stop blurring lines between Israel and Territories.

        Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          “Giora Me’ir” huh? Lol….

          Anyways, Brian alias “Ben” alias “MuslimJew” alias “David T.” alias “Dekkers” alias etc., you said:

          “Personally I agree with Dmitri Shumsky that the boycott weapon needs to be better focused:”

          Maybe you should start “focusing” on YOURSELF – FIRST, by actually finding a job and paying your own bills and quit your manic fixation on- and obsession with Jews and Israel, none of which is in any way shape or form any of your business. It beggars belief that someone from Seattle WA with no job and not looking for a job will incessantly fixate on- and obsess about Jews and Israel 24/7 and gets all riled up and hysterical about Jewish affairs that are no way no how any of his business, while neither knowing nor caring about what goes on in his own country or elsewhere! What is the problem with you Benny? Your obsession with Jews and Israel is destroying what is left of your empty life, don’t ya think, Benny?

          Maybe you should start “focusing” on YOUR OWN country FIRST that have bigger and more serious social/human rights problems than Israel? Why are you not doing that, Benny?

          Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            “Giora-Me’ir”? Sheesh, Brian! First you post with one of your aliases e.g. “Giora Me’ir” and then you come back as “Ben” to congratulate yourself and pat yourself on the back? It seems also that you have developed special taste for Jewish sounding names as well? Ooh ooh, Brian. I don’t think that Haggai Matar appreciates that at all – ask him if you wish and seek professional help as you have been advised.

            Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          I’ve appended here my colleague BigCat’s contributions on this subject as a very helpful example of just what Haggai Matar is talking about. Nothing like concrete examples. LOL!

          Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Obviously, Brian, you are nervous after being caught! First you post with one of your aliases e.g. “Giora Me’ir” and then you come back as “Ben” to congratulate yourself and pat yourself on the back? It seems also that you have developed special taste for Jewish sounding names as well? Ooh ooh, Brian. I don’t think that Haggai Matar appreciates that at all – ask him if you wish.

            Reply to Comment
          • Giora Me'ir

            While I appreciate Ben’s comments, I am not him. Nor do I have any idea who he is.

            Is that the best you can do?

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Brian alias “Ben” alias “MuslimJew” alias “Giora Me’ir” alias etc. talking to himself, defending himself, “appreciating” himself and parting himself on the back. Go take your meds, psychotic moron!

            Reply to Comment
    5. Arieh

      sometimes +972 puts out some pretty incoherent stuff.

      Sanctions and economic boycotts are not the same thing.

      I believe strongly in government capacity and responsibility to have effective policy that influences consumer behavior.

      I don’t believe in consumer behavior as being responsible for dictating morality. I think that Slavoj Zizek and his (ex) partner Renata Saleci have very astute comments on how such ‘semantic overburdening’ of the consumer leads to a perpetuation of immorality by any given system rather than an effective change in it.

      Or just read Oscar Wilde ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism.’

      Reply to Comment
    6. BOOZ

      “Show solidarity” ?

      There’s something blind with showing, as you put it, unconditional solidarity.

      Were the goals of the Palestinian boycott movement to just end the occupation, I might have considered to adhere. Alas, this is not the case. Whenever Omar Barghouti refers to the fact the organization he chairs is “agnostic” about a 2-state solution, or endorses the Arab supremacist narrative, my immediate reaction is defiance.

      Remember that occupation cannot come to an end without the consent of a majority of the Jewish Israeli public opinion, and that the post- and anti-zionist extreme left has so far done exactly the opposite of what is needed to garner such majority. On the contrary, they have re-inforced the average Israeli John Doe in the -more or less- justified feeling that “kol ha-olam negdeinu”.

      Palestinians need solidarity for their plight-not for their nationalist goals.

      Israeli need to be convinced by reason, not coerced by demonization.

      As long as this is not the case, I will oppose claws and teeth to the BDS movement as managed by Barghouti and his ilk-all the more as boycotting has shown as of late its loathsome features:

      -Daniel Barenboim and his Diwan orchestra being boycotted,
      -Israeli TAU students in fine arts being denied a visit to the Louvre and the Sainte Chapelle in Paris ( most likely by a biased underling civil servant-the Paris public prosecutor is investigating the case)

      Reply to Comment
    7. Richard

      People are scared of BDS, mainly because it’s non-violent. When there’s violence, they can say this, that or the other and retaliate with violence. But with non-violent protest, they can do nothing. So they resort to calling it Anti-semitic. Which is fine if that were the case. Only that’s stupidity in itself, seeing as Palestinians are Semitic. They then say it’s racist. Well again, that’s stupidity, because Israel is not a race of people, it is a religion of people. Jewish people are not a race, anymore than Christian people are. Also, promoting hype that BDS is trying to dissolve Israel is just fear mongering. There is no proof of that. That’s like me saying that if Israel were to continue in their current vain, you could say that there objective is to wipe out all other races from the Middle East. Do you want the world to think that? Because that is what I think. Until Israel changes its policy towards other people, loses this ridiculous thinking that it is the chosen race of God and starts treating others with respect, it will always face these kind of issues.

      Reply to Comment
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