For the sins of occupation, boycotts are a light punishment
Orange or SodaStream, academic or artistic boycott, the penalties will grow worse the longer Israel persists in settling, exploiting and stealing Palestinian land.
By Gideon Levy | Haaretz | Jun. 7, 2015 |
What are you defending? What are you fighting for? Over what are Israelis entrenching themselves now, with the assaults of the nationalist politicians and the populist media fulminating against the world. Why are they patriotically covering up the orange flags of Orange with the blue-and-white national flag? Has anybody asked why? Why is the boycott starting to gnaw at Israel now, and is this all worth it?
As usual, there are questions that are not even asked. Soul-searching, after all, is a clear sign of weakness. And so an explanation has been invented that absolves us of responsibility: The boycott fell out of the sky, an unavoidable force majeure of Israel hatred, and the only way to fight it is to fight right back at them. Israel always has an abundance of fitting (and sometimes violent) Zionist responses, but it’s always about the outcome, never about the reasons. That’s how was with terror, that’s how it was with the position of the world that Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac Herzog, of all Israeli ultranationalists, rushed to label with the ridiculous name “terror of a new kind” (referring to the statements by Orange SA CEO Stephane Richard). Never give in. That’s fine, but why? We are fighting the boycott, but why did it break out?
Israel is now defending the preservation of the status quo. It is fighting against the whole world to preserve its advanced school of brutality and cruelty, in which it is educating generations of young people to act brutishly toward human beings, old people and children, to tyrannize them, to bark at them, to crush and humiliate them, only because they are Palestinians.
Israel is defending the continuation of apartheid in the occupied territories, in which two peoples live, one of them without any rights. It is defending its entire system of justification for this — a combination of Bible stories, messianism and victimhood, accompanied by lies. It is defending “united Jerusalem,” which is nothing but a territorial monster where separation also exists. It is fighting for its right to destroy the Gaza Strip for as long as it cares to do so, to maintain it as a ghetto and to be the warden of the biggest prison in the world.
The Israelis are fighting for their right to persist in settling, exploiting and stealing land; to continue breaking international law that prohibits settlement, to continue to thumb its nose at the whole world, which does not recognize any settlements. They are now defending their right to shoot children who throw stones and helpless fishermen pursuing the crumbs of a livelihood in the sea off the coast of Gaza, their right to continue snatching people from their beds in the middle of the night in the West Bank; they are fighting for the right to detain hundreds of people without trial, to hold political prisoners, to abuse them.
That is what they are protecting, that is what they are fighting for — for an area that most of them have not been to for years, and don’t care what happens there, for conduct that is shameful even to some of them. These are the sins and this is the punishment. Does anyone think that Israel can go on without being punished? Without being ostracized? And to tell the truth, doesn’t Israel deserve to be punished? Hasn’t the world been unbelievably tolerant so far?
Orange or SodaStream, academic boycott or artistic boycott, these are light punishments. The penalties will grow worse the longer Israel avoids drawing the necessary conclusions. As opposed to attempts by Israel and the Jewish establishment to divert the discussion, at its heart is not anti-Semitism. At its heart is the occupation. That is the source of the delegitimization.
The nation can fight against the position of the whole world. It can stand up for its rights (which are not its rights) and think that it is fighting for its survival. But do the Israelis know what they are defending now? What they are not willing to surrender? Is all this worth it to them? That discussion has not even begun here.
Originally published at www.haaretz.com.