“What exactly are we boycotting?” This should be the question on many pro-Palestinian supporters’ lips as the “inadvertently” use Israeli-made appliances, go to coffee shop chains that have trade links with Israel, use Israeli-created technology, and are treated with medical advances originating in Israel.
The position of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in Brighton, UK, (who are also members of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement) is a curious and certainly muddled one. One minute they want to boycott Jewish settlements in the Disputed Territories, the next minute they bawl, chant and screech that they want the whole of Israel boycotted, while holding up cameras and video recorders whose companies trade with Israel.
After the demonstrations outside Ecostream (the Israeli-based Sodastream store they want to boycott/picket in Brighton) they often go for a drink in a coffee chain, whose company has (wait for it) trade ties with Israel! In fact, the clothes they wear are often from companies which, yep, trade with Israel!
When discrepancies like this are pointed out to the PSC, and when asked if they choose which things to boycott, the general idea we get is that this is true.
To confuse things further, the PSC logo shows all of Israel as their “Palestine” to be “liberated”. Why, then, as a group, if they are so passionate about boycotting all of Israel, do they happily do the above?
While defending themselves, the PSC state these discrepancies are simply means an end. But what end? How are their actions going to achieve anything?
The only way the PSC can avoid looking like hypocrites, is to boycott Israel entirely. In Brighton, however, this is a hard task. Their water is regulated by an Israeli water meter. Their rubbish is disposed of by a company that has trade links with Israel. The majority of the store/supermarket/clothing chains have trade links with Israel. It requires imaginative ventures to find a way of not inadvertently coming across an Israeli connection. They could buy locally-sourced products, but if they became ill, or had to travel, or even connect efficiently with friends or family by any kind of modern technology, boycotting all things Israeli is an incredibly difficult, if not entirely impossible venture.
A boycotter could always simply pick and choose, like the Brighton PSC seem to do. However, their aims then suddenly become meaningless. Why are they protesting for the destruction of Israel, if they can choose to enjoy some of Israel’s benefits? Also, if they can apparently enjoy some of Israel’s benefits, how can they tell others to boycott Israel in it’s entirety.
Unless the boycott is really only about the Settlements. In that case, some PSC/BDS logos and policies need to be changed.
If it’s confusing, a boycotter can always help the Palestinians another way. They can listen to those in Palestinian society who reject boycotts which could seriously hurt them and their families through loss of jobs and co-operation, and who just want to get on with their lives without BDS interference.
Then the anti-Israel activists can give up the confused and tangled lines of boycotting.
That’s more straightforward.