Normally I write things and people agree which is dull as fucking ditchwater. So I'm pleased to announce that I've miffed someone but instead of bombarding me with mad emails they've left a comment. My intention was to reply in the box but my answer got too big. That doesn't mean it's clever but I've done my best(ish) and that's all the Lord can ask of any of us.
This 'racist Israel' and 'Apartheid state' stuff rips my knitting. Being a minority in any country sucks. Laws, institutions and the mainstream culture is usually geared towards the majority or rather those in power because I've yet to see a nation set up to benefit women despite our numerical advantage. Arabs within Israel have equal voting rights, Arabic is an official language,they have political representation. As far as I can tell the sole legal distinction between Arabs and the Jewish majority is that Arabs are exempt from national service.
That doesn't mean that Israeli Arabs don't face appalling discrimination. Just like our anti racism laws don't alter the fact I'm currently assisting a young Pakistani girl get rehoused as a result of her neighbours charming habits like stabbing her, setting fire to her front door, putting excrement through the letterbox and festooning the landing with swastikas. Nor do our laws the alter the fact that the police cannot get their heads out their arses for long enough to go wild and arrest someone or give a fuck. Does that make Scotland racist or an apartheid state?
Enshrining equality in law doesn't sound like racism or apartheid to me. I'd be entirely unsurprised to learn that Israel failed to live up tothe standards it sets in law, after all segregation ended in the USA some time ago but you'll still find the various ethnic groups living separate lives. Nothing can make racism acceptable so if there is a legal fund one can donate to which assists Arabs hold the Israeli authorities to account for any instance of discrimination then put me down for a regular donation.
As for Israel not wanting a settlement. Their rejection of the Arab plan hardly proves that. Unless of course you are arguing that the Palestinian rejection of the 2000 Camp David plan proves that the Palestinians do not want a settlement which I don't think you are. In addition to Israel recognising borders I'd like to see the Arab nations do so, not only to ameliorate the suffering in cramped Palestine but to pressure the Israelis into reciprocation. Not being a resident I don't have a horse in this race and would support any map that didn't cut through my flat and had the support of the majority on both sides.
I have no doubt the Israeli government commits war crimes. Britain certainly did in Northern Ireland and more recently Iraq. Are we to boycott every nation that commits war crimes? If so, dig tunnels and store grain because you're in for lean times. I can also recommend a subscription to 'Grow Your Own' magazine.
I think the boycott of Israel is very different indeed to the boycott of South Africa. Let me declare upfront that I'm very uncomfortable about completely boycotting nations, selective boycotts I'm a little more open to. I did boycott South African goods during apartheid. At that time as a staunch ANC supporter I would have accepted anything the ANC said. Maybe no bad thing but I was also a staunch and uncritical supporter of the Provisional IRA at the time, so you can assess my judgement accordingly.
What I will say is that I remember the 'Boycott South Africa' folk outside my local supermarket. They used to hand you a leaflet listing products they wanted you to boycott rather than request you boycott an entire chain for selling products from a country that all it's competitors were selling. Why should I boycott Tesco but not Sainsburys? Both sell Israeli products. What's the difference? I did ask the fellow I know in the campaign the very same question and sincerely hope the answer he gave does reflect the prejudices of the entire movement he's part of.
However let's compare the two boycotts. In boycotting South Africa, whilst harming the meagre economic interests of black workers we were doing far more harm to minority white rule. In boycotting South Africa we were upholding democratic principles in that we backed the majority. In boycotting Israel we undemocratically boycott the majority of that nation which I believe would have the effect of uniting the Israelis behind their government. I only think how I felt at the prospect of an American boycott at the release of Megrahi. Even if I'd opposed it I'd have resented the outside interference and got behind my government. Back to Israel, 'Kauft nicht bei Juden!' just might have a wee bit of resonance in that neck of the woods. Is that more likely to bring Israel to the negotiating table or have them use it as a barricade?
In any case America has deep pockets and could probably afford to slip the middle east's only friendly democracy a quid or two on top of the usual. Now if a boycott of the illegal settlements was proposed I'd be all for it. But that isnt what is being proposed is it?
The idea that I was being anything other than silly and flippant in my mild irritation at not getting an Irn Bru is quite offensive. In particular when it's used to imply I feel that my passing fancies are more important than the lives of people or children. Palestinian, Jewish or whatever.
I'm sorry but I find comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany downright offensive. There's a whole lot injustice to go before you get to holocaust. When the Israelis propose the 'final solution' and start loading folk onto trains I'll start screaming holocaust but until then I'll just see a nation with a heavy handed defence policy that does itself no favours.
Quite apart from anything else I'd like to see evidence that Israel is the nation with the worst human rights record at present. For some reason no one can show me that. I seem to remember opposing the Iraq war and being (rightly) told that we can't invade every nation with a dodgy human rights record.
A quick strut though any supermarket will show you how hard it is to boycott nations and eat an adequate diet. So why is Israel top of the list? Is it the world's No1 human rights abuser? If not why are we not boycotting the other chart toppers?