Lawrence Grossman (Feb. 13, 2014) argues that boycotting Israeli companies on the West Bank is anti-Israel. I have a different view.
Boycotting settlement products is anti-Israeli settlements. I oppose academic boycotts of any kind but I support an economic boycott of the West Bank, as do increasing numbers of liberal Jews and Israelis, including Zahava Gal-On, a member of the Israeli Knesset. The continued construction of settlements is undermining the prospect of a Jewish and democratic future for Israel. It also suggests that the Israeli government is insincere about a two-state solution.
Boycotts are an important non-violent tool to pressure an intransigeant government to change its policies. Boycott movements take their playbook from Caesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, and the movement to divest from South Africa. Jews clearly appreciate the usefulness of the boycott tool when it comes to sanctions on Iran (what boycotts are called when they are applied by states).
It is sad that Israeli companies have become the target of boycotts. Companies on the West Bank are complicit in the occupation, however. It is even sadder that the Israeli government continues to pursue an immoral occupation policy that is squandering Israel’s many achievements and its future as a Jewish and democratic state.
Nina Tannenwald teaches international relations at Brown