Response to Julie Burchill: British AUT getting 'down wiv the kidz'

From the archive (legacy material)

S. Leibowitz | Haaretz | 1 May 2005

As an Israeli who still lives in Israel, I support this boycott. Precisely because I love the people who live here, and preciely because I still believe in the Jewish values of freedom, justice and equality, I want to congratulate the British associaton for taking this courageous step, and hope it will have a “snowball effect”.
Come to think of it, boycott and excommunication are age-old Jewish concepts. Many sources in Judaism teach us that these are legitimate tools to be used against evil and iniquitous regimes.
The failure of the (small) Israeli and international human rights community to end Israel`s 38-year systematic persecution, oppression and brutalization of the Palestinian people in the WB and Gaza – and the tragic deaths of so many innocent Jews and Palestinians due to that failure – make it necessary to start using the ago-old Jewish traditions of boycott and excommunication. The failure of Western countries to hold Israeli governments accountable for massive gross human rights violations and war crimes – can lead to only one logical conclusion: it`s high time that civil society around the world takes steps to render the Occupation untenable.
But this must be part of a broader boycott directed, mainly, at arms sales to Israel, multi-national corporations who – directly or indirectly – support the occupation, and cultural and sports events involving Israeli athletes, musicians, judges and other members of highly-valued professions.
Not because Israelis themselves are bad. Indeed, most Israelis are decent human beings, and have made great accomplishments in science, business, music, art and law. But because the majority of Israelis are in a deep coma. While their country is carrying out an atrocious policy of persecution, ethnic cleansing and legalized apartheid – they are in a vegetative state. And they continue to sleep while their government is turning Gaza into the largest prison in the world. And while their government is carrying out a plan which will annex 50% of the West Bank to Israel, and drive the Palestinians into isolated surrouned enclaves.
And so they need to be woken up. They must understand that unless they stop this large-scale oppression, land theft, and total dehumanization – they will be persona-non-grata around the world. Not just in academia, but in business, law, sports, music and arts.
My fellow Israelis: In biblical times, God had to send Jonah, with the whole story of the whale, to wake up a city from committing evil over a prolonged period of time. Now, the AUT has sent us the same message, albeit with a different kind of messenger. And if we don`t wake up and join hands in non-violent direct action against the occupation – other unions, countries, cities will, justly, do the same.
And to AUT and other potential boycotters: Keep up the pressure. There is a leviathan out there called pro-Israel lobby. This leviathan, under the guise of “defending” Israel, seeks to promote apartheid and racism, by threatening and intimidating fair-minded citizens of the world like you. This article in Haaretz is just one example. Ignore it. You are doing the right thing.