I wrote several weeks ago on this blog about the BDS movement and its essentially anti-Israel and anti-Semitic delegitimization back-drop. (see “There You Go Again – The BDS Movement and Israel Apartheid Week – The Truth Can Set You Free” – February 24, 2012).
Since then the journalist Peter Beinart has called for a boycott of West Bank settlement products in an op-ed piece in the NY Times on March 18 (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/opinion/to-save-israel-boycott-the-settlements.html?pagewanted=all).
While I agree with Beinart’s analysis that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, as opposed to democratic Israel, is non-democratic and often brutally oppressive on Palestinian residents of the West Bank, I do not agree that we should support a boycott of Israeli West Bank settlement products as doing so feeds anti-Israel sentiment and is fodder for anti-Semitic voices around the world.
Having said this, ad hominem attacks on all progressive Zionists (i.e. J Street, Israeli NGOs and human rights organizations) claiming that we all support boycotts of Israel is grossly inaccurate and unfair. Such attacks make sincere and intelligent debate and dialogue about what is ultimately in Israel’s own best security interests and long-term viability as a Jewish and democratic state much more difficult.
For the record, J Street, as articulated clearly by J Street’s President, Jeremy Ben Ami, in interviews preceding the recent J Street Conference in Washington, DC and reported widely in the American and Israeli press, said clearly that Beinart’s boycott call of west bank settlements is ill-advised. Beinart, by the way, was a featured and honored speaker at the J Street Conference. He is a long-time Zionist and supporter of Israel, and his voice is critically important whether one agrees with him or not.