Economic and political boycotts of Israel

Economic and political boycotts of Israel

Boycotts of Israel are economic and political campaigns that seek a selective or total cutting of ties with the State of Israel. Such campaigns constitute one tactic used by those who challenge the legitimacy of Israel's existence, or oppose Israeli territorial claims in the West Bank and policies towards the Palestinians over the course of the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Arab boycotts of Zionist institutions and Jewish businesses began before Israel's founding as a state. An official boycott was adopted by the Arab League almost immediately after 1948, but is not fully implemented in practice.

Similar boycotts have been proposed outside the Arab world and the Muslim world. These boycotts comprise economic measures such as divestment; a consumer boycott of Israeli products or businesses that operate in Israel; proposed academic boycott of Israeli universities and scholars; and a proposed boycott of Israeli cultural institutions or Israeli sport venues. Many advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign use the 1980s era movement against South African apartheid as a model. [cite web|url= |publisher=Palestine BDS Campaign | title=Palestinian Civil Society Calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights |date=2005-07-09]

Under 1977 amendments to the Export Administration Act (EAA), it is illegal for US citizens to participate in boycotts imposed by foreign countries that are not sanctioned by the United States. Accordingly, the Arab League boycott of Israel is illegal for U.S. citizens.cite web |url= |publisher=U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security |title=Office of Antiboycott Compliance]

Critics have argued that singling out Israel is "outrageous and biased" [ [ ADL August 12, 2005] ] "lop-sided" and "unbalanced" cite news
url =
title= Israel Divestiture Spurs Clash
publisher= The Washington Post
location =
] as well as "deplorable and offensive." [ [
accessdate=2006-06-13 The Jerusalem Post

They have also been called "profoundly unjust" and relying on a "false" analogy with South Africa. One critical statement has said that the boycotters apply "different standards" to Israel than other countries, that the boycott is "counterproductive and retrograde" and that the campaign is antisemitic and comparable to Nazi boycotts of Jewish shops in the 1930s. [ [ ADL Slams British Academic Boycott Policy] , Anti-Defamation League, 26 May 2006, accessed 16 May 2008.] [ [ Lecturers call for Israel boycott] , British Broadcasting Corporation, 30 May 2006, accessed September 16 2006] Tamara Traubmann and Benjamin Joffe-Walt [,,1800987,00.html Israeli university boycott: how a campaign backfired] , The Guardian, June 20 2006, accessed September 17 2006] [ The New York Sun, May 6, 2005. [] ] [ Anthony Julius and Alan Dershowitz in The Times Online June 13, 2007 [] ] [ Times Higher Education, June 2, 2006 [] ]

Arab League boycott of Israel

Disinvestment campaigns and product boycotts

In July 2004, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA) voted to "initiate a process of phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel." [ [ Israel Divestiture Spurs Clash. Jewish Leaders Condemn Move by Presbyterian Church] by Alan Cooperman (Washington Post; Page A08) September 29, 2004] On June 19, 2006, the Committee on Peacemaking and International Issues of the PCUSA adopted a compromise resolution that calls for the Church to invest only in "peaceful pursuits" in Israel and Palestine. The new resolution does not include the word "divestment." [ [ Church adopts compromise resolution on Israel] by Nathan Guttman ("The Jerusalem Post") June 19, 2006]

On July 9, 2005, 171 Palestinian non-governmental organizations put out a call for an international economic campaign against Israel which has come to be referred to as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) after the resolution's call "... for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights." [ Palestine BDS Campaign] , accessed 22 May, 2007.] The three stated goals of the campaign are:
*1. An end to Israel's "occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;"
*2. Israeli recognition of the "fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality;" and,
*3. Israeli respect, protection, and promotion of "the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194."

In May 2006, the Ontario section of the Canadian Union of Public Employees approved a resolution to "support the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until that state recognizes the Palestinian right to self-determination" and to protest the Israeli West Bank barrier. [ [ CUPE Ontario delegates support campaign against Israeli "apartheid wall". Background on Resolution #50] (CUPE Ontario)] [ [ CUPE in Ontario votes to boycott Israel] (CBC News) May 27, 2006] [ [ Labour pains over Israel] by Jay Teitel (Maclean's Canada) June 13, 2006]

The Congress of South African Trade Unions published a letter expressing their support for the CUPE boycott of Israel. [ [,7340,L-3260201,00.html South African union joins boycott of Israel] by Ronen Bodoni (YnetNews) June 08, 2006]

The Toronto assembly of the United Church of Canada supports CUPE's boycott. In 2003, the Toronto assembly voted to boycott goods produced by Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. ["United Churches in Toronto to endorse boycott of Israel", "National Post", June 28, 2006]

The Church of England synod has voted for disinvestment from Israel, which was criticised by George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury as "inappropriate, offensive and highly damaging". [ [ Statement from Lord Carey] , April 19th, 2006, hosted on the Anglicans for Israel website]

Britain's National Union of Journalists called for a boycott on April 14, 2007. By a vote of 66 to 54, the annual delegate's meeting of Britain's largest trade union for journalists called for "a boycott of Israeli goods similar to those boycotts in the struggles against apartheid South Africa led by trade unions, and [for] the [Trades Union Congress] to demand sanctions be imposed on Israel by the British government." [ [ UK reporters union to boycott Israel] , Apr. 14, 2007, Jerusalem Post]

At its biennial delegate conference held in May 2008, IMPACT (the Irish Municipal, Public and Civil Trade Union), Ireland's largest public sector and services trade union, passed two resolutions criticising Israeli suppression of the Palestinians and endorsing a boycott of Israeli goods and services. The motions also supported divestment from those corporations engaged in or profiting from the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. []

Academic boycotts

In 2006, two of Britain's lecturers' unions, the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education and the Association of University Teachers, voted to support an academic boycott against Israel. cite news | url=,,1785634,00.html Lecturers back boycott of Israeli academics | author=Benjamin Joffe-Walt | publisher=the Guardian | date=2006-05-30] The AUT ban was overturned by members at an EGM a few weeks later, while the NATFHE boycott expired when a merger with AUT to form the University and College Union came into effect. [ [ British academic boycott expires after teaching unions merge] by Tamara Traubmann ("Haaretz") June 12, 2006] In May, 2007, the UCU congress passed Motion 30, which called on the members to circulate information and consider a boycott request by Palestinian trade unions.

Artistic boycotts

After a festival director pushed for a boycott of Israeli films at the San Diego Women Film Foundation and Festival, the Board of Directors announced on its website that "The San Diego Women Film Foundation and Festival would like to apologize to all in the community -- we are embarrassed and horrified to learn such a position was taken without our knowledge or consent. It is the personal view of the Festival Director and not the view of the San Diego Women Film Foundation and we in no way support, sponsor or condone their statements. ... For the record, the San Diego Women Film Foundation and Festival is NOT boycotting Israeli films. We are hopeful that filmmakers from the Israeli community will continue to submit films." [cite news|url=|title=Feminist film festival 'horrified' by Israel boycott|author=Thomas Lifson|publisher="The American Thinker"|date=2007-09-06]


Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called on the international community to treat Israel as it treated apartheid South Africa and supports the divestment campaign against Israel. [ [ Israel: Time to Divest] . Desmond Tutu, New Internationalist magazine, January / February 2003]

Archbishop K. G. Hammar, ambassador Carl Tham and a list of 71 others have supported a boycott of products from the occupied areas. [ [ DN: "Sluta att köpa israeliska varor"] ] [ [ Palestine Chronicle: Swedish Public Figures Urge Israeli Boycott] ] [ [ Episcopal News Service: Head of Swedish church's support for boycott of Israeli products stirs debate] ]


Critics of the proposals argue that making unilateral demands on Israel will not promote negotiation and a just peace. [ [ New British Israel boycott sparks more outrage] by Vanessa Bulkacz (JTA) June 2, 2006] [ [ Presbyterians' Shameful Boycott] by Alan Dershowitz ("Los Angeles Times") August 4, 2004] [ [ Scholars for Peace in the Middle East Strongly Condemns Actions of British Union to Boycott/Blacklist Israeli Scholars] (SPME press release) May 29, 2006] [ [ CUPE boycott of Israel won't help cause of peace] by Buzz Hargrove ("Toronto Star") June 5, 2006] Some opponents of a boycott claim similarities with the Nazi boycotts of Jews of the 1930s and claim this is a form of anti-Semitism. [For instance, see [ Richard Cohen, "Why Boycott Israel?"] , "Washington Post", 24 April 2007, A21, accessed 16 May 2008.]

The Economist contends that the boycott is "flimsy" and ineffective, that "blaming Israel alone for the impasse in the occupied territories will continue to strike many outsiders as unfair," and points out that the Palestinian leadership does not support the boycott. [cite news|url=|title=Boycotting Israel: New pariah on the block|publisher="The Economist"|date=2007-09-13]


ee also

*Israeli passport
*Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
*Constructive engagement

External links

* [ BYTOPIC: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] at [ The Electronic Intifada]
* [ An example of site calling for the boyocott of israeli products.]
* [ CUPE boycott of Israel won't help cause of peace]
* [ Report: Port firm's parent boycotts Israel] at UPI (accessed March 1, 2006)
* [ U.S. urges UAE to end its boycott of Israel] By David R. Sands and Shaun Waterman at "The Washington Times" March 2, 2006

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