Thursday, January 19, 2006

Gunships up the Fjords

Norman Finklestein writes about the economic boycott of Israel (found via jews sans frontieres, which has links to some boycott sites):

"Apart from the sheer magnitude of its human rights violations, the uniqueness of Israeli policies merits notice. 'Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality,' B'Tselem has concluded. 'This regime is the only one of its kind in the world, and is reminiscent of distasteful regimes from the past, such as the apartheid regime in South Africa.' If singling out South Africa for an international economic boycott was defensible, it would seem equally defensible to single out Israel's occupation, which uniquely resembles the apartheid regime."


"The moral burden to avert the impending catastrophe must now be borne by individual states that are prepared to respect their obligations under international law and by individual men and women of conscience. In a courageous initiative American-based Human Rights Watch recently called on the U.S. government to reduce significantly its financial aid to Israel until Israel terminates its illegal policies in the West Bank. An economic boycott would seem to be an equally judicious undertaking. A nonviolent tactic the purpose of which is to achieve a just and lasting settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict cannot legitimately be called
anti-Semitic. Indeed, the real enemies of Jews are those who cheapen the memory of Jewish suffering by equating principled opposition to Israel's illegal and immoral policies with anti-Semitism."

The strange relationship between the United States and Israel probably reached its strangest point when Condi Rice threatened American ally - NATO member and a country that, although not formally part of the American attack, put troops at harm's way in Iraq, leading to threats from al Qaeda - Norway with unspecified mayhem for the musings from one Norwegian politician about supporting international law by boycotting Israel. This led to an unfortunate (and rather craven) retreat for a nation that probably used to think it was a sovereign country that could make its own decisions. This is getting embarrassing for the Americans as well. If one of Israel and the United States is the tail and one is the dog, who is wagging whom? You can get an inkling of how important a boycott would be by the fact that Israel ordered Rice to make a fool of herself and bully an American ally - shades of gunships up the fjords - for even thinking about the idea.