As well as not working very well (especially when they’re vague and don’t have realistic aims, as in the case of our embarrassing and hate-inspiring Motion C05), boycotting a country causes that country to turn in on itself. It’s worth noting, since there’s a tendency to mis-compare Israel with South Africa, that the end of apartheid was achieved through popular uprising and the political acumen of anti-apartheid activists like Nelson Mandela, and the role of the boycott, which had the side-effect of making apartheid-supporting South Africans – the holders of power – defiantly hunker down, is contested.
Israelis understand that the intention of their boycotters is to cancel Israel – by referring to it as an ‘apartheid state’ as if Israel and Palestine were a single country, by proposing to starve it of weapons despite the avowed obliterationist intentions of powerful regional factions like Hesbollah and Hamas, or by claiming that all Palestinians have the right to live in Israel. Understandable if they feel a tiny bit alienated and insecure.
After all, Israel has been boycotted and under attack since its inception, a circumstance which, in the consciousness of many Jews, is merely a continuation of age-old attacks on, boycotts of, discrimination against, and explusion of Jews. British Greens should care more.
This Jerusalem Post article on an Israeli bill to introduce a 1NIS charge for each plastic bag used in supermarkets, makes a few points that Green Boycotters should note. One is to do with the fact that states who feel under attack relegate environmentalism down their list of priorities. Another is the impact of Israelis who have travelled and return with stories about how other countries are handling their environmental problems. I doubt if many Israelis are looking to Boycotting Britannia right now. Greens Stop the Boycott would like to change that.
Yehuda Olander, manager of the Sharon District Regional Division for the Quality of the Environment, attributes Israel’s lack of progress on environment preservation to its constant occupation with survival. “Survival here is not only talking about the environment, it’s talking about security,” he explains. “Ten to 20 years ago, when the rest of the world began caring for the environment, Israel was focused on surviving as a country.
“But it works to Israel’s advantage,” Olander continues. Through other countries’ successes and failures, Israel can learn how to be more environmentally responsible.
“[Israelis] come back from Europe and [other parts of the world] and say ‘Wow, look what they have done – how they recycle and how they avoid traveling too much in their cars.'”