I’m glad Brooklyn’s Park Slope Food Coop voted down a resolution that could have led to boycotting Israeli products. Very glad.
Israel does discriminate against Palestinian Arabs within the green line, but at least it gives them citizenship (denied in Syria) and the right to own property (denied in Lebanon). And given that it has been in a state of near constant war since its creation, Israel remains a remarkably vibrant democracy. If there are products to boycott on the Coop’s shelves, products from Israel—at least democratic Israel—shouldn’t be near the top of the list.
But the BDS movement won this week, anyway. It won for the same reason it wins most weeks: because it has Benjamin Netanyahu’s government as its unwitting ally. Consider two items in this week’s Israeli press. In the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Akiva Eldar discovered documents showing that, “For years Israel’s Civil Administration has been covertly locating and mapping available land in the West Bank and naming the parcels after existing Jewish settlements, presumably with an eye toward expanding these communities.” In other words, for several years, the Israeli government appears to have been methodically planning the expansion of settlements, including deep in the West Bank.
Meanwhile, Israel’s News 1 reported that Benny Begin, a member of Netanyahu’s powerful inner cabinet, told students at Hebrew University that the prime minister’s 2009 speech endorsing a Palestinian state had been merely for international consumption, and that the Israeli government did not actually support the two-state solution at all.
In other words, at the same time the Netanyahu government is secretly subordinating the two-state solution, a key minister in that government is frankly admitting that the two-state solution was never its goal in the first place.
So don’t frown, BDS supporters. We two-staters may distrust you because we believe that your agenda would dismantle Israel as a Jewish state. But the more the Israeli government destroys the two-state solution, the less that will matter. Netanyahu and Begin are doing your work for you. They’re creating a one-state reality, thus disfiguring Israeli democracy. And in so doing, they’re virtually begging you to BDS the whole area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea until you dismantle the entire Jewish state.
So sure, you lost this week, but you’ll do better next time. You don’t need a savvier message or better organization. Just make sure this Israeli government stays in office a good long time.