Jewish Voice for Peace on the Boycott of Israeli Goods | 2003
Jewish Voice for Peace opposes the Israeli government’s illegal and immoral occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. JVP also stands strongly for the civil and human rights of all people in the Middle East. We support all ethical actions designed to achieve the goal of ending the occupation and securing and protecting the rights of Israelis and Palestinians.
A Jewish Voice for Peace calls for the boycott of Israeli products manufactured in the occupied territories, or distributed by Israeli companies based there, such as Ahava cosmetics. (While Ahava products are manufactured near the Dead Sea, the company is headquartered in Kedumim, an illegal settlement on the West Bank.)
JVP does not now endorse a boycott of all Israeli products, but we disagree with claims made by some members of the Jewish community that such a boycott would necessarily be anti-Semitic.
* It is not anti-Semitic to oppose the large and growing number of well-documented human rights violations by the Sharon government. In fact, opposition to Sharon and the crimes of the Israeli occupation is in the best tradition of Jewish solidarity with those who are oppressed. Information on these violations can be found on the web site of B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights: http://www.btselem.org/
* It is not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel even though there are other violators of human rights. Indeed, it is legitimate to challenge human rights violations wherever they occur without having to simultaneously take on every offense on the planet. Furthermore, because Israel gets far more financial support from our government than any other country, our responsibility there as Americans is greatest. A Jewish Voice for Peace opposes human rights violations anywhere, but as Jews we are especially concerned about the situation in Palestine-Israel, especially the thousands of Israeli and Palestinian deaths which are the direct and indirect result of the occupation. We encourage shoppers and retailers to listen to their conscience on this issue and not be swayed by bogus charges of anti-Semitism. As Jews, we have no tolerance for anti-Semitism, but we also find it offensive when the historical suffering and persecution of the Jewish people is used as a shield for the crimes of the Israeli occupation.
The boycott of products from the settlements of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem (which was initiated by Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc) is an effective educational tool. It puts the spotlight on a main obstacle to peace: the existence of the settlements, which violates the Geneva Conventions and numerous UN resolutions. Despite assurances from numerous Israeli governments that settlement activity would cease or slow down and despite massive opposition to settlements by the Israeli public and the international community, this illegal land grab has increased in recent years.
JVP is also continuing with its campaign to suspend US military aid to Israel until the end of the occupation. In addition, we have joined with others in marketing Palestinian olive oil, as a way to support Palestinian farmers whose income has been devastated by the Israeli government’s policies of closures, economic strangulation, and war. In addition to supporting the Palestinian economy, portions of the proceeds from each bottle will benefit Ta’ayush, an Arab-Jewish partnership in Israel (http://www.taayush.org/), and the International Solidarity Movement (http://www.palsolidarity.org). Both groups work for a just peace and offer direct support to the Palestinian people living under occupation.
We encourage all Americans and, in particular, all Jews to act for peace and justice and not to be intimidated by the apologists for the Israeli government’s policies. We urge everyone to remember the historical crimes committed against the Jewish people, but not to allow those crimes to become justifications for crimes against the Palestinians.