The Boycott Of Israel Just Got A Major Helping Hand – From President Obama
by Kerry-Anne –
President Obama made a change in policy this week that has added weight to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel.
Moving forward, goods produced in the Occupied West Bank and sent for sale in the U.S can no longer be marked ‘Made in Israel’. They must state their place of origin as the ‘West Bank’. This will mean that, for the first time, Americans will be able to boycott Israeli goods produced in the West Bank. This option was not possible before the change, as consumers would have no idea whether the product was made in Tel Aviv or Ramallah. The clarification makes actions against Israeli companies that are occupying the West Bank much easier to target.
The law itself has existed since the Clinton administration, but is rarely, if ever, enforced. As Forward notes:
According to an April 1995 U.S. Customs and Border Protection notification, products made in the West Bank or Gaza “shall be marked as ‘West Bank,’ ‘Gaza,’ or ‘Gaza Strip’… and shall not contain the words ‘Israel,’ ‘Made in Israel,’ ‘Occupied Territories-Israel’ or words of similar meaning.” Moreover, it states, “Failure to mark an article in accordance with the requirements…shall result in the levy of a duty of 10 percent” of the product’s value.
However, the Obama administration has issued a memo stating that from now on, this rule is not optional for Israel. Now it’s mandatory.
Why the change? Obama has been notably opposed to the boycott movement since its inception.
One contributing factor may be that US-Israel bonds are at their weakest after a number of mendacious moves by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
First, Netanyahu had Israeli security services spy on private nuclear deal talks between the US and Iran, and sold the secrets to Republican lawmakers in Washington.
Then, Netanyahu worked out a deal to deliver a speech in the U.S congress, just two weeks before the Israeli elections, in which he railed against Obama’s deal with Iran. A foreign leader, undermining the foreign policy of America’s president, from the floor of its own Congress, was unprecedented.
Aside from these huge spats, the Israeli leadership have thwarted all attempts at bringing a just and peaceful solution to the Occupation of Palestine. Most notably, ordering the expansion of the illegal settlement program on the very days the John Kerry and Joe Biden flew in for peace talks. This total intransigence has meant that the situation for Palestinians is now markedly worse than at any time in the history of the conflict.
The West Bank has been broken up into a series of open-air prisons, around which Israel has built its giant Apartheid Wall. The wall is higher and longer than the Berlin wall, and cuts across the West Bank, shutting off city, town and village from one another. The wall is controlled by Israel, meaning Palestinians are imprisoned in their own towns. Unable to travel to work, or see friends or family members cut off by the wall.
Meanwhile Gaza on the west coast is penned in by a wall of its own, again controlled by Israel. In the last decade, Israel has launched no fewer than five large-scale military offensives against those living in Gaza. The Summer of 2014 saw Israel launch a 51-day air, ground and sea assault on the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces killed 2,104 Palestinians, of whom 1,462 have been identified as civilians, including 495 children. They destroyed the homes of more than 108,000 people and over 10,000 people (a third of them children) were left with life-altering injuries. I was reporting on the ground from Gaza during this period and what I saw amounted to nothing short of a massacre.
If the world community is uncomfortable with Palestinians using the rudimentary armed response to these aggressions with which they are equipped – home-made rockets, or suicide attacks – then it is imperative that they support non-violent resistance such as the Palestinian-led, global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS Movement).
The BDS Movement seeks to put economic and diplomatic pressure on Israel’s apartheid state in a similar way to that applied against South Africa’s apartheid state in the 1980s – only with aims to be more systematic and specific than its predecessor. It is starting to have a tangible impact that is being felt within Israel.
Individual performers like Lauryn Hill, over 100 UK artists including film legends Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters have announced and supported a cultural boycott of Israel.
The economic boycott by the BDS Movement has cost Veolia, a company which profits from illegal Israeli settlements, billions of dollars of lost contracts across Europe, the US and Kuwait.
Divestment pressure to have companies and organization withdraw from Israel has also had huge success. Most recently with telecom giant Orange looking to pull out of the state. They were preceded by the Bill Gates Foundation, and the entire U.S. Presbyterian Church.
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared war against the BDS Movement. Last year, Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan’s office was given the task of fighting BDS, and awarded 10 additional ministers and an NIS100 million ($26.4m) budget increase to fulfil its mission. The propaganda efforts seem focused on branding all external BDS Movement support as “anti-Semitic,” while deeming internal critics as “the enemy within.”
Israel’s greatest threat is not the BDS movement, Obama or the Palestinians. The greatest threat to Israel is Zionism, and the rising fascism promoted by this ideology; an ideology which says Jewish people alone have the right to live in freedom, peace and dignity in a land which has been a melting pot of several religions and ethnicities for thousands of years.
In order to preserve itself as a Jewish state, Israel must import Jews and exile non-Jews – and such conditions make democracy impossible. This is what anti-Zionist Israelis know in their hearts, and why they support the Palestinian-led BDS Movement despite such opposition at home – because they’re consciences will not permit them to do otherwise.
Reprinted with permission from Addicting Info