LibLink: Tessa Munt – Why I’m boycotting Israeli goods and services

Tessa Munt photo by Keith EdkinsTessa Munt, Lib Dem MP for Wells in Somerset, has explained over at her own website why she’s taken the decision to boycott Israeli goods and services:

This summer, the majority of people I meet out and about are disturbed, upset and angry. It’s clear that Israel has crossed a line. It’s not ok to drop bombs on civilians and the sight of parents carrying the remains of their small children in plastic bags is sickening. Bombed hospitals and schools, an entire population stunned and damaged is criminal. It simply cannot be justified.

When civilians are targeted, a crime is committed against us all. By staying silent, governments allow these crimes to become the ‘norm’, thereby failing the public and future generations. We cannot allow the scenes we are witnessing to become the ‘norm’. They are not normal.

In the meantime, there is something that can be done on an individual level. I’m a huge believer in ‘people power’ and whereas modern history has repeatedly proven violence to be not only ugly but useless, non-violent actions can be hugely effective. The use of a boycotts is one example of non-violent action and whilst a protest march is effective in raising awareness and publicity, a boycott hits states and organisations where it hurts most – the wallet. Israel exports all sorts all sorts of things from food to financial services into the UK and we all have a choice about how we spend our money.

You can read Tessa’s post in full here.

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74 Comments

  • Although I am a Conservative supporter I have always enjoyed listening to you on television and during HoC debates.

    It is your choice to boycott Israeli products – however, I do hope you do not cherry pick.
    Hence I look forward to your discarding any devices which include Israeli technology such as your mobile phone, computer etc.
    Also, should you unfortunately have to go to hospital or require any medication please ensure that you do not receive any treatment or medication that is used by the medical practitioners in situ. I believe that 1 in 6 meds used by the NHS is Israeli? Do take care.

  • “The majority of people I meet ‘out and about’ ” Really?

    What about the pot holes?

    Oh I get it, people you meet at party functions and on marches.

    Meanwhile, those out canvassing the public, continue their titanic, eternal struggle against potholes and dog dirt, which never seem to get fixed, no matter how many Lib Dems are elected.

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Aug '14 - 4:48pm

    If you boycott Israel you take the side of Hamas. We need to be quite hard headed over this.

    I don’t like Zionism, but I don’t like Islamism dressed up as “Save Gaza” either.

  • Simon McGrath 10th Aug '14 - 4:51pm

    ” It’s not ok to drop bombs on civilians ” Will Tessa be boycotting US goods because of their drone strikes ?

    “modern history has repeatedly proven violence to be not only ugly but useless”
    Well apart from WW2 I suppose .

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Aug '14 - 4:51pm

    Regardless of the Islamism factor, there is also the broad “anti self-defence” aspect of the left, which I don’t identify with either. I’m trying to take the middle way.

  • Israel has one of the most advanced defence forces and secret services in the entire world, if the Israeli leadership was serious about removing Hamas then they had far more effective means at their disposal. The majority of their attacks appeared to be entirely indiscriminate.
    Israel even withdrew from peace talks due to the Hamas-Fatah agreement, a statement of intent if ever I saw one.

    ‘If you boycott Israel you take the side of Hamas.’
    How’d you work that out?

    ‘I don’t like Zionism, but I don’t like Islamism dressed up as “Save Gaza” either.’
    I’m confused, are you saying Tessa Munt is an Islamist?

    Even disregarding the latest round of conflict, there are plenty of good reasons to boycott Israeli goods, not least the building of illegal settlements on the West Bank.

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Aug '14 - 5:21pm

    Hi Iain, people boycotting Israel look like they are taking the side of Hamas. If Israel ends the restrictions on Gaza then we’ll just have members of Hamas walking around Israeli shopping malls and villages blowing things up. If it was as simple as ending the restrictions then they would do it. Even Israel’s main centre-left party is supporting the offensive.

    It would be different if Palestine had reasonable leaders who could be trusted, but these people can’t.

    Regards

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Aug '14 - 5:23pm

    By the way, I know people don’t like Hamas, but it’s not just as simple as “end the suffering” because of who is on the other side.

  • Damien Smith 10th Aug '14 - 5:28pm

    Massive credit to Tessa for taking this stand. Boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) is exactly what the world did to South Africa to force the end of apartheid there, it is absolutely right to apply BDS to Israel too. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Aug '14 - 5:38pm

    Israel needs to take more risks for peace, so don’t put me on the side of the Israel cheerleaders, I’m just criticising action that looks like gives advantage to Hamas.

  • It’s possible to boycott Israeli goods and services because Israel still has a functioning economy. Gaza does not and whatever else Hamas has done, they aren’t the ones who destroyed it.

  • Tony Harwood 10th Aug '14 - 6:08pm

    In the 1980s another nuclear-armed regional superpower oppressed and exiled its indigenous population, assassinated opponents, and de-stabilised and occupied its neighbours – all with the strong backing of the Western powers. I remember too the partisan support this state received in much of the UK print media, and the abject failure of the broadcast media to provide any meaningful historic context. This state was of course apartheid South Africa, and by 1994 what once seemed impossible became reality.

    Yesterday, I joined some 150,000 people marching in London to demonstrate solidarity with the people of Gaza and Palestine standing alone against ethnic cleansing, occupation and a Medieval siege. On Friday a DEC appeal for Gaza generated pledges of £4.5 million in a few hours. The disconect between the British establishment and the people over the plight of the Palestinians is now a yawning chasm.

    Our party and its progenitor’s long history of principled opposition to injustice and military folly, from Home Rule to the invasion of Iraq, makes the Liberal Democrats the natural movement to challenge prevailing UK and EU establishment orthodoxy on Palestine, and give the lie to the Western powers’ narrative that Israel is somehow different to apartheid South Africa or colonial Rhodesia or Algeria.

  • Hey is there anyway of boycotting Saudi Arabia for their spread of religious poison. Or china for its suppression in Tibet or do we only boycott if it is received chattering class dogma coz it on the telly.

  • Glenn – I think you should give most of the people who comment on here a bit more credit for being able to think for themselves and not just go along with “chattering class dogma” as you put it. Having said that, you raise a serious point: Israel is certainly not the only country in the world whose actions liberals take exception to. As individuals we have very little power, but I don’t wish what little money I spend to help sustain the economies of countries which oppress their citizens, so wherever possible I will not buy goods that are made in China, Israel, or Russia. I’m under no illusion that one can avoid economic discourse with these countries, but sometimes a gesture is all that is possible.

  • David Evershed 10th Aug '14 - 8:07pm

    Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualities.

    Hamas is targeting civilians.

  • Little Jackie Paper 10th Aug '14 - 8:10pm

    tonyhill – You are right of course in that these are basically individual decisions. I personally avoid anything from one particular EU country – but these are my preferences, my choices and my reasons. I don’t think I have any right to push my political world-view onto others. As ever, the right to speak is one thing, the right to be heard is quite another. I can explain my displeasure, I have no right to have others agree or to make a similar gesture.

    For my part whilst I do think that the comparisons of Israel and South Africa are OTT to say the least in view of the number of Arab citizens of Israel, I can at least see why some might be rankled by the sense that Israel is engaged in collective punishment. But there is much, much more to it than that as all sorts of (essentially) identity hobby horses are ridden over the Israel/Palestine conflict.

    If apartheid South Africa had happened in an internet age I suspect we would have seen just as much empty talkboard rancour generated as is generated by I/P. The world has moved on since apartheid South Africa and in an ever more interconnected world the gesture becomes ever more meaningless. I hope that the myth that a more interconnected world is a more peaceable world is soon laid to rest.

    People’s personal politics are their own. If anyone wishes to gesture their displeasure of anywhere it is their right to do so. Those people however have no right to assume everyone else will agree, nor do they have any right to tell others what benchmarks to use to form views. Someone else says that they would like to boycott Saudi – they are quite at liberty to do so, they just don’t get to compel me to join them.

  • Jayne Mansfield 10th Aug '14 - 8:15pm

    Good for Tessa.

    As someone who boycotted South African goods during the apartheid era, and Nestle products because of the way it marketed breast milk substitutes in developing countries, this is one thing that we as individuals can do.

  • Stephen Hesketh 10th Aug '14 - 8:20pm

    David Evershed 10th Aug ’14 – 8:07pm

    “Hamas is targeting civilians.” Yes.
    “Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualities.” No, absolutely garbage.

    As many have pointed out previously … The question of proportionality is important here. Also regarding truth being the first casualty of war. Your second point demonstrably falls into the second category.

    A very dark Disney remake of the David and Goliath tale springs to mind.

  • Damien Smith 10th Aug '14 - 8:31pm

    @ Glenn: “Hey is there anyway of boycotting Saudi Arabia for their spread of religious poison. Or china for its suppression in Tibet or do we only boycott if it is received chattering class dogma coz it on the telly.”

    If Israel is going to pride itself as “the only democracy in the Middle East”, then it must up live up to those standards too, rather than the standards of despotic regimes such as Saudi Arabia or China.

    PS. On a side note, inaccurate to say Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East- what about Lebanon and Tunisia?

  • Little Jackie Paper 10th Aug '14 - 8:38pm

    Stephen Hesketh – ‘The question of proportionality is important here.’

    Out of interest, what do you think is proportionate?

  • Meral Hussein Ece 10th Aug '14 - 9:55pm

    I want to congratulate Tessa Munt on her stance, and for being one of the few Lib Dem MPs, to put her head above the parapet in condemning the terrible mass killings of civilians in Gaza. The vast majority of the UK population have been righty shocked & sickened by Israel’s force, ( I don’t call it disproportionate – how many deaths are ‘proportionate?’) & destruction of schools, hospitals, homes, & water & power supplies, mosques & churches, in a 7 mile strip of land that’s been occupied & starved for nearly a decade. And before I’m asked about ISIS – as far as I know, the UK/EU/US don’t sell them weapons.

  • Richard Dean 10th Aug '14 - 10:14pm

    What’s important here is presumably the message it sends. mainly to the UK government, rather than the probably trivial economic effect of boycotting Israeli products? Would the US is ever let the Israeli economy collapse?

    In my view the Israeli and South African situations are quite different. Le Clerk’s South Africans had two options, survive by doing right (end apartheid) or have the country destroyed in a civil war in which whites were far outnumbered and bound to lose. By contrast, Israel appears to perceive their options as to either survive by doing wrong (settlements, blockade, invade) or have the country destroyed by Palestinians. Hamas appears to perceive their options as either survive by doing wrong (rockets, militarize/suppress the population) or have the country destroyed by Israel.

    I doubt anything much will change until other options and other perceptions appear.

  • Are you also boycotting products and services from Sunni led states that provide assistance to ISIS?

  • In an article in The Independent (10/08/14) Baroness Warsi states “In the previous weeks leading up to her departure, she felt increasingly isolated in Government, and revealed that even Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, had remained silent at a key meeting on the need for an arms embargo against Israel.
    “I felt like a lone voice,” she says. “The Lib Dems on this are being quite disingenuous. At the big meeting on this, where were the Lib Dems? Danny Alexander turned up and said nothing. It would have been helpful if I’d had two or three Lib Dem voices giving support to me. The fact is that they didn’t.”

    Is anyone surprised at this? They say one thing in public but in cabinet where it matters, they remain silent.
    Then Ed Davy has the nerve to say “Warsi did not have to quit as the Lib Dems are winning coalition argument on Gaza”. What a joke, not only does he stab Baroness Warsi in the back, but makes a claim that is patently untrue. It is good that Baroness Warsi has now highlighted this hypocrisy.

  • I am both surprised and disappointed by many of the comments above. If readers would like “balance” they should perhaps read –
    http://www.ldfp.eu/2014/07/31/gaza-myths-and-facts-what-american-jewish-leaders-wont-tell-you/
    for background on the history of negotiations.

  • David Evershed 10th Aug ’14 – 8:07pm. “Israel is trying to avoid civilian causalities”.
    Really, so that is why so far they have killed over 1900 Palestinians and over 400 children. Yes, bombing hospitals and schools is usually a good way to avoid civilian casualties!

  • Richard Dean 11th Aug '14 - 1:16am

    Here’s an interesting contrast:

    Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel: (http://ldfi.org.uk/)
    “We exist to support and promote policies which lead to peace and security for Israel in the context of a comprehensive and lasting Middle East peace settlement”.

    Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine: (http://www.ldfp.eu/about/)
    [We] “exist to fight for the rights of the Palestinian People through the medium of the Liberal Democrat Party”

    Any chance of the two groups working together?

  • DAMIEN SMITH
    Point to the bit in my post where I said Israel was the only democracy in the middle east! However. look at the civilian death rate from our various conflicts in comparison with Israel. and then ask why is no one boycotting us. I seem to remember reading somewhere that the last time rockets at Britain it was called World War II!
    I will boycott Israel when,
    Fruity groups like Hamas
    Allow people the freedom to change religion;
    Thirty per cent of the Arab world is openly atheist’
    They have gay pride marches.
    They stop killing Christians, other Muslims they don’t think are Muslim enough
    When their hideous fellow Soldiers of Islam stop posting vile propaganda on the internet.
    And just generally when they stop blaming everyone for their barbarism except themselves.
    An so fourth.
    I think in fact we judging Israel by standards the West does not follow and never has followed. I think we judge their neighbours through the rose tinted glasses of failed despotic imperialists..

  • Meral Hussein-Ece 11th Aug '14 - 7:18am

    @Richard Dean The EMLD have initiated efforts for both LDFoI and LDFoP to meet and work together. I hope these discussions are fruitful, and can lead to a position that is compatible with the Liberal Democrats principles on equality, human rights, and internationalism.

  • The trouble with boycotts, apart from the fact that they don’t seem to work, is that they then open you up to accusations that you aren’t boycotting products from countries with even worse records of conduct. Just looking at Israel’s neighbours, that includes Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey & Libya. Why aren’t you calling for a boycott of these countries? What makes Israel special? You need to spell this out.

  • Tony Dawson 11th Aug '14 - 7:59am

    @Eddie Sammon:

    If Israel ends the restrictions on Gaza then we’ll just have members of Hamas walking around Israeli shopping malls and villages blowing things up.”

    You mean like the Zionist terrorists did when they forced the British out in 1946-48 to allow them to take the Palestinian land?

    Actually, there are other much easier ways of protecting themselves from the threats of tunnels. Starting with withdrawal of all settlements and most troops from a large demilitarised zone within the occupied lands near Gaza.
    Tunnels can be identified these days by underground scanning systems. Does anyone really believe the recent action had anything at all to do with tunnels, just as it had nothing at all to do with the three Israeli lads who went missing.

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Aug '14 - 8:28am

    @ Meral Hussein- Ece,
    Is there any way that support can be given to Combatants for Peace?

  • We do have a special reason to expect higher standards from Israel than from neighbouring countries. It enjoys an Association Agreement with the EU and claims, inaccurately as others have pointed out, that it is the only democracy in the Middle East. It has been Party policy since Cast Lead in 2008 that this Association Agreement should be suspended until Israel lifts the blockade in Gaza. It’s time to push harder for that.

    The BDS movement is more than just about Gaza. It is equally concerned about the West Bank and East Jerusalem where Israel continues to pursue policies of oppression that are illegal under international law and that have been constantly criticised by our own government (William Hague especially) and by the more enlightened pro-Israel groups in the Jewish community in the UK. I particularly commend Yachad in this regard and its enlightened Director Hannah Weisfeld who, while being unswervingly pro-Israel, nonetheless has become a regular spokesperson in the media during the current conflict for peace and open negotiation.
    Some of those who comment on this issue on Lib Dem Voice who show little humanity towards the victims of Gaza could do with paying a bit more attention to people like this rather than those who are unswerving in their support for everything that Israel does -= whether it is good or bad.

  • John Roffey 11th Aug '14 - 9:28am

    I think before Hamas is too widely condemned or Israel too widely supported this article from the Independent needs to be read – which does provide a context from which the conflict can be judged more objectively:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/06/gaza-crime-washington-jerusalem-carnage-western-support

  • peter tyzack 11th Aug '14 - 10:32am

    the idea of boycotting products is excellent, and I already do boycott those from certain sources, but when the product labelling system is so slack in globalised commerce that horse meat comes here labelled as beef, and our markets are swamped with pretty convincing counterfeit goods too, then I wonder whether I can rely on any label atall.. but it won’t stop me checking, Tess. Well done for your leadership..

  • Stephen Donnelly 11th Aug '14 - 11:00am

    Re: Danny Alexander. Probably he felt he needed to agree a position with his colleagues before supporting it within government. It is very easy to believe that Baroness Warsi suddenly introduced this idea into a meeting without any time for thought and consideration. I think it would be perfectly reasonable for Danny to decided to think about it before commenting. I would like him to clarify his position now though.

  • Tony Harwood 11th Aug '14 - 11:21am

    The concept of democracy within a settler state is an interesting one.

    The mathematics are stark. 1.8 million Palestinians are imprisoned within the besieged Gaza Strip, 2.4 million Palestinians live in the sub-Bantustan of the occupied West Bank, 5.5 million Palestinian refugees receive support from the UN across the region and 1.45 million arabs live within Israel. The overwhelmingly colonist Israeli population (many enjoying dual nationality with their home countries) numbers just over 6 million.

    Though, putting the situation in Palestine/Israel into a historic context we must of course remember that the most profound catastrophe visited upon native peoples were those inflicted relatively recently by Europeans upon the indigenous populations of the Americas and Australasia.

  • @Stephen Donnelly:

    “Re: Danny Alexander. Probably he felt he needed to agree a position with his colleagues before supporting it within government”

    That would imply pre-meetings of Lib Dems before Cabinet and even Lib Dems taking ‘Time Out’ when they are bounced with subjects and need to agree a position privately before sharing it with the Cabinet. I’m pretty sure this does not happens which is a major failure of the Clegg idea of ‘Coalition Cabinet’ which appears to be one of ‘all going in as equal individuals’.

    One would honestly have expected Gaza to come up one way or another – indeed, one would have hoped the Lib Dems would have been the ones to raise it. Whether the calibre of all our present Cabinet members to address these issues is sufficient is another issue.

  • David Allen 11th Aug '14 - 1:03pm

    Matthew Harris, Yougov asked the British public if it thought whether Hamas and whether Israel were guilty of war crimes. The majority of the public answered Yes in both cases. Yougov didn’t ask the public to judge which carried the greater guilt.

    If however we go by the simple judgment which Yougov asked people to make, then the popular judgment puts Israel, an avowed “Western” democracy, on a par with Hamas, an avowed terrorist organisation. Do you think Israel should be happy with that judgment?

  • The British public are rightly fed up with wars. That’s what the polls really reflect.

  • Julian Tisi 11th Aug '14 - 1:52pm

    @ Hugh
    Thank you so much for that link – a very inciteful article, first published in Haaretz.
    http://www.ldfp.eu/2014/07/31/gaza-myths-and-facts-what-american-jewish-leaders-wont-tell-you/

    @ John Roffey
    Thanks for your CIF Guradian link too, but I’m rather less enamoured with it, as it’s more an anti-Israel and anti-Western rant.

    @ David Allen
    “If however we go by the simple judgment which Yougov asked people to make, then the popular judgment puts Israel, an avowed “Western” democracy, on a par with Hamas, an avowed terrorist organisation. Do you think Israel should be happy with that judgment?”
    Absolutely right.

    In the meantime, well done Tessa for your principled stance.

  • A Social Liberal 11th Aug '14 - 2:05pm

    I do find it funny that the general public have a view on war crimes when they haven’t bothered to even glimpse the cover of the UN publications on the Geneva Conventions. And that, I warrant, includes many people on this forum.

  • AC Trussell:
    “I would love to boycott the I[sraeli]/J[ew]s stuff but I imagine they don’t put their name on a lot. Has anyone a list of products from there?”

    I can see your difficulty. It would certainly help if Israeli/Jew goods were more easily identifiable. Perhaps some sort of symbol could be put on such goods to make them simple to spot – a yellow star of David perhaps?

    Actually the real problem with these kinds of boycott or other sanctions is that they will simply harm people who have nothing whatsoever to do with the troubles in Gaza, both in Israel and here as futile tit-for-tat reactions kick in. This morning I read about a Scottish fish exporting business that has just lost half its turnover thanks to Russian retaliation for the sanctions we’ve imposed on them. This does nobody any good – the people responsible will hardly notice the effect of the sanctions, while ordinary people are made to suffer.

  • John Roffey 11th Aug '14 - 4:39pm

    @ Julian Tisi

    “Thanks for your CIF Guradian link too, but I’m rather less enamoured with it, as it’s more an anti-Israel and anti-Western rant.’

    Whereas I do agree with you that Hugh’s link does provide a practical approach to resolving the conflict – along with a great deal of background information which is needed if the Party is going to steer a safe passage through this very delicte issue – I don’t think ‘rant’ is a reasonable description of the Guardian article. If you want to see ‘rants’ read the Daily Mail or some of the other right wing papers on the subject.

    The truth is that our MSM is hugely influenced by the Israeli lobby and hardly, or at all, by Muslim interests – so what we are fed is generally hugely biased in favour of Israel. I wanted to point out that the formation of Israel was controversial and that this does explain why Hamas would wish for an end of the State – and not because they are madmen. This section of the article explains why:

    “Ten days earlier, a British foreign secretary had signed the Balfour declaration, which on behalf of one people promised to a second the land of a third. Palestine would be a “home for the Jewish people” provided that nothing would prejudice the rights of the “existing non-Jewish communities”, as the Palestinians were described.”

    What this does make clear is that if the Israelis do want to have a long lasting and peaceful state – they need to work through all of the issues very carefully to ensure that the majority of the Palestinian complaints are resolved by agreement and not to resort to the use of force.

  • Nom de Plume 11th Aug '14 - 6:02pm

    The cycle of violence will simply continue. The Holy Land is Hell.

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Aug '14 - 7:17pm

    @g,
    Even those of us who boycott goods recognise that there are other regimes that act is ways that we find hard to stomach. I suppose the choice is made because there is hope that there might be a greater chance of success, it is a way of indicating to those people who one might hope are receptive, the strength of feeling one has about its government’s actions.

  • Jayne Mansfield,

    Even those of us who boycott goods recognise that there are other regimes that act is ways that we find hard to stomach. I suppose the choice is made because there is hope that there might be a greater chance of success, it is a way of indicating to those people who one might hope are receptive, the strength of feeling one has about its government’s actions.

    Could you expand on this? Why, for example, do you consider Israeli citizens more receptive to listening to the arguments of boycotters than those of Syria?

  • The article is missing the link at the end : http://www.tessamunt.org.uk .

    I agree with Tessa and my family is boycotting Israeli goods. There are several lists around, here’s a couple to start with :
    http://www.inminds.co.uk/shopping-can-kill.php
    http://www.boycottisrael.org.uk

  • South Africa’s ex-President Thabo Mbeki has called for a boycott of Israeli goods to show solidarity with Palestinians http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-28755081

    Mr Mbeki, in an address to students at the University of South Africa, rejected calls for the government to recall its ambassador to Tel Aviv, saying South Africa needed to “engage” with Israel to find a “just solution” to the conflict.

    At the same time, South Africa’s political parties, trade unions and religious groups should mobilise for a boycott of Israeli goods and “divesting” from Israeli companies, he said.

    “It is not the responsibility of government to mobilise people. We must mobilise ourselves.”

  • Jayne Mansfield 12th Aug '14 - 5:10pm

    @ g,
    I don’t think that they will be more receptive to listening,g. I hope that they would have more power to influence their government, even get rid of it. We have all seen the way Assad cracked down on his people when they opposed him.

    I would be in favour of boycotting many countries such as Saudi Arabia but it isn’t going to happen because our own government and other western governments are driven by national interests not moral considerations.

  • A Social Liberal 12th Aug '14 - 6:10pm

    @ Joebourke
    A leader in one terrorist organisation supporting another

  • Jayne Mansfield,

    I don’t think that they will be more receptive to listening,g. I hope that they would have more power to influence their government, even get rid of it. We have all seen the way Assad cracked down on his people when they opposed him.

    I would be in favour of boycotting many countries such as Saudi Arabia but it isn’t going to happen because our own government and other western governments are driven by national interests not moral considerations.

    If our government are supporting bad regimes why don’t you boycott British produce until the British people see the error of their ways and change their government? After all, you expect it to work for Israel.

  • @g

    You seem to think boycotts don’t work, even though there is clear evidence to the contrary : http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/boycotts/successfulboycotts.aspx

    Boycotting goods has been proven time and time again to have an impact on socio-political outcomes, and is considered one of the main methods change was brought about in South Africa. It’s surely not a good idea to give money to companies or states that you feel are morally bankrupt and care little about the value of human life?

    >why don’t you boycott British produce until the British people
    >see the error of their ways and change their government?

    Like the 1791 Sugar Boycott that was part of the movement that led to the abolition of slavery? It was the British people boycotting British produce that led to us seeing the error of our ways and changing government. Or, Ghandi’s boycott of British cloth which aided the downfall of the British Empire in India and made us question why we were there in the first place (cheap cloth!). Greenpeace’s 95 Shell boycott, the ongoing Hillsborough Sun boycott, the 02 NAHC John Lewis boycott, there are many such examples of economic sanctions, embargos and boycotts proving an effective means of changing the nature and trajectory of regimes.

    You seem genuinely uneducated regarding the history, logic and effectiveness of boycotts on business and states. A good primer is Brayden King’s papers on the subject, he’s done a lot of research as to effective methods and you can see from his work what sort of factors are involved in successful boycotts, which should provide more thorough answers to your earlier questions. Hopefully you’ll join us and realise that who you spend your money with is one of the most effective democratic tools you have at your disposal!

  • Jayne Mansfield 13th Aug '14 - 2:33pm

    @g,
    Because my shopping basket already contains a sparcity of products. If you have ever tried boycotting a multi national like Nestle over their marketing of milk products in developing countries, one soon realises how difficult it is when one is dealing with global corporations.

    However, that doesn’t mean that because there are many countries that abuse human rights or cause unnecessary suffering to its people , I should sink into a slough of despond at the magnitude of the problem rather than make a personal decision as to where or on what to spend my money.

    Do I expect that it will make a difference? Perhaps not, but I can hope. I would rather that both sides in the conflict accept that tit for tat violence will never succeed in bringing about peace and security for either side.

    Combatants for Peace recognised that violence is futile if peace and security are long term aims, and I admire those from both sides who have renounced violent means despite losing family members including children . It is something that I hope that I could do, but am far from certain that I would have the strength of belief and character to do so if I had been tested in the way that some of them have been.

  • So Jayne, you are boycotting Israel because you can, not because it is any more deserving of a boycott than its neighbours, or indeed the UK?

  • The Arabs have long had a boycott of Israeli goods. When I lived in a Gulf Arab state I often bought potatoes that were from Lebanon. They were relabeled of course.

  • Jayne Mansfield 13th Aug '14 - 7:47pm

    @ g,

    Precisely so.

  • Jayne, given that Jews have suffered centuries of discrimination and atrocity, have been constantly picked on, made an exception of and vilified over and above other ethnic groups time and time again.

    How do you think many Jews might feel if you told them that the only reason you are boycotting Israel is because you can, not because it is any more deserving of a boycott than dozens of other countries?

  • @g,
    Israel and Jews aren’t synonymous. You can be anti-Zionist and not anti-Semetic, and vice versa; your logic is appalling. What about all the Jews that think Israel is an anti-Jewish movement?

  • ChrisB, Israel was very specifically established as a safe place for Jews given the Holocaust and centuries of prejudice. A minority might object to this, the majority certainly do not and still consider it as such. It is them I am asking Jayne and now you to empathise with when understanding why specific criticism and boycotts of Israel, over and above worse offenders, provokes such strong feelings amongst Jews and many others.

  • Also ChrisB, you say you ‘can be anti-Zionist and not anti-Semetic’. Given that Zionism means support for the idea of a Jewish homeland in Israel, and nothing more, can I assume that self declared anti-Zionists do not believe that such a homeland should exist?

    What is your position on the existence of the state of Israel?

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 14th Aug '14 - 11:19am

    Whilst people become sadly entrench defending the perceived line of LDFoI and LDFoP people in Palstine and Israel are being killed and the ‘armchair warriors’ seem to be oblivious to this fact, so I commend Tessa for making a stand.

    This current situation and debates are inflaming both Islamophobia and Anti-semitism and some people are happily espousing and promoting terms that clearly they really do not understand and in doing so are causing greater confusion.

    Only recently in a discussion I was told that “all Jews think…” well with a religiously practising Jewess as a mother, I am not aware that as a result of biology that I automatically think a particular way, in fact I am pretty sure that I do not follow either my mothers faith or politics. We are also constantly hearing the term ‘Zionist’ defined in the most negative of ways, which is strange because the original term that was coined by in the 19th Century referred to the establishment of some form of Jewish national autonomy, and this has subsequently been defined in differing manners to include ‘Political Zionism’, ‘Religious Zionism’, ‘Socialist Zionism’ and ‘Territorial Zionism’ some of which were aspirational and not all of which required the establishment of the State of Israel where it is today.

    Although I fully support Tessa’s stand, which brings back memories from my youth when my family was always boycotting the goods of at least one country because of their politics and/or intolerance, I would commend everyone to join the ‘Friends for Peace’ and seek a peaceful resolution to this current crisis as well as the others that are plaguing our world at this time.

    Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera

    Liberal Democrat English Party Diversity Champion
    Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrat (EMLD) – Vice Chair

  • Jayne Mansfield 14th Aug '14 - 3:27pm

    @ g,
    I loathe anti- semitism, as much as I loathe any other form of racism. I know the history of the Jews. I am fervently anti Nazi, just as I am fervently anti-racist. We must never forget the holocaust and how a seemingly civilised nation can so quickly sink into murderous barbarism by scapegoating people for a nation’s ills.

    However, there is a difference between anti-semitism and being angry about the behaviour of a bunch of right wingers in the Israeli government. When one starts to justify occupying illegal settlements, blockading imports of foodstuffs or justifying the deaths of innocent children, my reaction is how could they? If anyone should know about the way our humanity can so easily be stripped from us, it should be those leaders.

    I think that you will find that there are many western Jews who think just like me and who are appalled by the behaviour of the Israeli leaders. I know that there are Israeli Jews who are also opposed to the violence taking place.

    We can learn from the past, but the past has gone, there is nothing one can do to alter it. What is important is the present and the future, and for me bombing that maims and kills innocent children , whatever their ethnicity, is something that I find unbearable and I believe makes the chance of a future negotiated peace more not less difficult to achieve. A poster on one of these threads argued that Hamas can be more or less bombed into submission. Is that a strategy that has historically proved to be a successful way of achieving compromise and peace? I would be genuinely interested to know.

  • Jayne Mansfield 14th Aug '14 - 3:36pm

    @g,
    And please tell me what Palestinian produce there is available for me to boycott. As someone who believes in ethical buying, I have yet to see a product in my local shops that says ‘Produce of Gaza’.

  • Jayne, my point is simply to try and make you understand why many Jews find specific boycotts of Israel, which is also a collective punishment against all Israelis, uncomfortable.

    If you want to continue boycotting Israel, because you can, while not boycotting equivalent or worse countries, then that is your choice, but you shouldn’t be surprised when people accuse you of making a specific example of Jews. Especially when you say this
    We must never forget the holocaust and how a seemingly civilised nation can so quickly sink into murderous barbarism by scapegoating people for a nation’s ills.

    without irony. Because you are making a specific example of Israeli Jews, as you admit, simply because you can.

    I would also take issue with this statement

    When one starts to justify occupying illegal settlements, blockading imports of foodstuffs or justifying the deaths of innocent children, my reaction is how could they? If anyone should know about the way our humanity can so easily be stripped from us, it should be those leaders.

    What makes Jews unique in their general human response, one found in almost all conflict situations (although one which is deservedly criticised), that it be held against past atrocities they or their ancestors have suffered despite all human populations having suffered profoundly at some point in their history?

    I say nothing, it only goes to show that none of us are unique in not learning from history.

    What for you is it that makes Israeli Jews a unique target of your criticisms?

    And if you want to boycott something to show solidarity with the Palestinians, why not boycott the produce of nations that fund Hamas. No more Iranian fruit or nuts, no more Iranian oil?

  • Jayne Mansfield 14th Aug '14 - 6:56pm

    @g,
    But I don’t just criticise Israeli Jews, I am critical of the governments of both sides. The fact is that because of damage to the Gaza economy there are no products of Gaza that I can boycott. There are some Fair Trade products sold by organisations like Solidarity for Gaza , but I am not showing solidarity for Gaza,any more than I am showing solidarity for Israel.

    I believe that the people of Gaza have no control over Hamas and its supporters and that is what I see as the difference between the population of Gaza and the population of Israel. I am sure that there are Israeli Jews who are critical of their governments’s tactics and want lasting peace and security who are more than happy that individual’s like myself are showing solidarity with them rather than the government. I would have been happy if someone had shown solidarity with me and other like- minded people by boycotting British products in an attempt to stop the Iraq war.

    I disagree with you, I believe that the Jews have suffered in a way that no other demographic has suffered, genocidal mass slaughter, torture and evil experimentation by a so called civilised European country and within the lifetime of many who are still living. That is why I believe that its leaders should feel a particular empathy for their fellow human beings who now seem to be treated as less than human by some of them.

    I think that if you re-read my posts, I do not make Israeli Jews a unique target of my criticisms. I criticise a bunch of right wingers who are currently in power.

    I felt sick when I read of the three boys who were murdered. I felt sick when a young boy was burnt alive in reprisal. Both sides need to take stock and decide whether they want this to continue or whether they will make concessions,, compromise and seek lasting peace and security.

    You mention empathy. One of the strategies might be for the two sides to undertake some role play where they place themselves in the position of the other. I am not joking, neither side seems capable to seeing the point of view of the other and that is a necessary starting point for any meaningful dialogue.

  • I disagree with you, I believe that the Jews have suffered in a way that no other demographic has suffered, genocidal mass slaughter, torture and evil experimentation by a so called civilised European country and within the lifetime of many who are still living. That is why I believe that its leaders should feel a particular empathy for their fellow human beings who now seem to be treated as less than human by some of them.

    Jayne, so you’re boycotting Israel, not only because you can, but because Jews have suffered uniquely and they should know better.

    Punishing people because they were victims in an earlier generation is not what I would call either sympathetic or empathetic.

    The fact is you are uniquely discriminating against Israel, you are making an exception of Jews because of their past in demanding higher standards of behaviour than you do your own, or other nations, and you are collectively punishing all Israeli Jews for the actions of their government.

    That is a combination which readily gives ammunition to those who insist objections to Israel are anti-Semitic.

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th Aug '14 - 2:57pm

    @ g,
    Antisemites do not need any ammunition to become more anti-semitic. They have an irrational hatred that is beyond any reason.

    I’m sorry but I will not be diverted from acting in accordance with my conscience by people who use the antisemitic card. If something is, in my opinion, morally wrong, I reserve the right to protest in peaceful, lawful ways. I cannot stand by and see children slaughtered and maimed in the numbers that we see as a result of Israeli bombing, especially when we are implicated in the supply of those weapons.

    If anyone is demeaning the viciousness of antisemitism, it is those who use the description inappropriately and thereby weaken the power of the term to shock and revolt.

    I can understand your fears, but no one is above criticism when they behave badly, and that includes the right wingers in the Israeli government. Why do you dismiss the fact that there are Jewish people who are saying’ Not in my Name’?

  • Jayne, you may not be an anti-Semite, but you are making a specific example of Israel and Israeli Jews and as such you are leaving yourself, and those who share your argument, open to the charge.

    On the specific point

    Why do you dismiss the fact that there are Jewish people who are saying’ Not in my Name’?

    Israeli Jews? Non-Israeli Jews? Why should the fact they are Jews be so important to you? Do you think that because some Jews share your views then you are free to criticise other Jews who don’t? You are of course, but to focus on the fact that they are Jews would leave yourself open to suggestions that something causes you to care so much about what they do, over and above other groups.

  • I hope you are fully aware of the fact thay civilian casualties are much much higher in every NATO attack, than current war in Gaza. Are you boycotting NATO countries as well?

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