I was asked by more than one person the other night at the University of Chicago about the impact of the boycott movement. One person in particular, who was very active in the movement against apartheid South Africa, was surprised to hear that there was an active movement now in place against Israel for its ongoing occupation and attacks on Palestinians. Today the UK’s Guardian newspaper published a very interesting article measuring the impact of the boycott in Europe:
Israeli companies are feeling the impact of boycott moves in Europe, according to surveys, amid growing concern within the Israeli business sector over organised campaigns following the recent attack on Gaza.
Last week, the Israel Manufacturers Association reported that 21% of 90 local exporters who were questioned had felt a drop in demand due to boycotts, mostly from the UK and Scandinavian countries. Last month, a report from the Israel Export Institute reported that 10% of 400 polled exporters received order cancellation notices this year, because of Israel’s assault on Gaza.
Before yesterday Israeli society was already right-wing (in a world spectrum that since WWII supposedly is no longer cool with colonization) supporting settlements, checkpoints, walls aka apartheid, 90% also supported the recent attacks on Gaza that killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, including almost 450 defenseless children. However yesterday, Avigdor Lieberman, who was only years ago seen as a loon in Israeli politics for his extremist statements, has entered the mainstream as leader of the third largest party in Israel. Even CNN’s Octavia Nasser yesterday used the word “fascist” to describe Lieberman, in all fairness to the incredibly “objective” (read: biased) CNN, she was quoting many in the Arab world who have more courage than the West to expose fascism.
In the United States an equivalent would be a politician who says that Native Americans or Blacks in the US who speak out against the system that stole their land, slaughtered their ancestors or forced them into slavery should have their American citizenship revoked and should be forced to leave the US.
It is easy to see how Israelis could support Lieberman, of all the Israeli politicians he is the truest Zionist (believer that historical Palestine should be “cleansed” of its majority non-Jewish inhabitants to make way for a state exclusively for Jewish people). He still stands for many of the same things (ethnic cleansing) that Zionist leaders stood for in 1948 when 750,000 indigenous Palestinians were forced to leave their land. Not that Netanyahu, Livni or Barak, aren’t hardcore right-wing Zionists as well, but they have a better PR team and choose language usually disguised as the need for “self-defense” to make sure world media and world leaders will stand behind them. It will be interesting however to see how Obama and others deal with Lieberman in the years ahead.
Lieberman was able to immigrate from the USSR to Israel in the 1970s. Now he’s demanding that non-Jewish Palestinians who have lived on the land for centuries have to support the racist policies of the “Jewish state” or else they gotta go.