Arkadi Mazin
Arkadi Mazin

Support for Settlements Is Hurting America’s Soul

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When even supposedly liberal states, such as New Jersey, begin swinging their anti-BDS laws at Unilever over Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop sales in West Bank settlements, it is safe to say: the settlement project, after having corrupted Israeli society almost to the point of no return (I am being optimistic here), is now corrupting America.

To be fair, this didn’t start with the anti-BDS legislation. America’s unwavering support for Israel has long been in contradiction with American values (like many other US actions, laws, and practices, but that’s another story). For instance, the US time and again parted ways with other democracies by exercising its veto power in the UN to shield Israel from criticism.

During Trump’s years, with the sociopath-in-charge gleefully running roughshod over long-established policies and norms, the erosion of the US’s international standing greatly intensified. The Trump administration was especially oblivious about international law and basic moral principles with regard to Israel.

With the anti-BDS legislation, the rot reached American soil. These laws have always been glaringly unconstitutional, but the reason for their implementation today makes matters even worse.

Ben & Jerry’s did well to restrict their boycott to the West Bank. After all, labeling a company’s unwillingness to sell its products in illegal settlements ‘discrimination’ or ‘antisemitism’ is sheer nonsense. Rather than being guilty of discrimination, Ben & Jerry’s are fighting it. If only Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever don’t cave in like AirBnB did, the absurdity of the situation will slowly seep into people’s minds, making them think.

Hopefully, many will realize that America is being used as a bludgeon against people and organizations that dare to protest, however feebly, what essentially is an apartheid regime. But why on earth America, a country that repented its own racist past, would do that?

Call me a hopeless idealist, but I still believe America should fight injustice rather than actively defend it, especially when it’s the only country that has a considerable influence over the perpetrator of the injustice.

A wise person once said to me that the Israeli Right is trying to save the settlement project by tying its fate to Israel’s. Since settlements are 100% illegitimate, the idea is to borrow Israel’s legitimacy. But this is a risky strategy, pouring a finite amount of water into a leaky bucket. The project is bound to fail, be it in 10 years or in 50. Apartheid has no future. The question is: when it finally sinks, will Israel sink with it?

The precariousness of the situation is not lost on Israeli politicians, left and right. The shadow of a boycott looms large. An avalanche can be triggered by a single stone. This quite rational fear is behind Israel’s disproportionate reaction to Ben & Jerry’s modest anti-settlement gesture. All must be done to nip the slightest hint at a corporate boycott in the bud. An example must be made to keep others from even thinking in that direction.

But Israel has little leverage over a foreign company. And so, the lobbying machine goes into high gear. Members of Congress and governors are recruited into the unholy fight to keep the apartheid out of harm’s way. The legitimate fear of anti-Semitism is being abused and devalued in the process. American citizens’ and companies’ rights are being trampled. American reputation is being tarnished.

This has to stop – for both countries’ sake. Instead of defending a lost unjust cause, both Israel and the US should disengage from the toxic settlement project as soon as possible, and since Israel has become dangerously addicted to it, America must lead the way.

About the Author
Arkadi Mazin began his career in journalism in the 1990s, joining the ranks of Vesti, the leading Israeli publication in Russian. As a freelancer, he collaborated with major Israeli media outlets, including Yedioth Aharonoth, Haaretz, and YNET. Today, he is a contributor to Re:Levant Israeli website in Russian and a staff science journalist at Lifespan.io, a leading source of news on longevity research.
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