I do not support boycotting the State of Israel. On the contrary, I believe those of us who care about Israelis and Palestinians should support those brave Israelis (B'tselem, Peace Now, Rabbis for Human Rights, Gush Shalom, Machsom Watch, Gisha, Israelis Against Home Demolitions, etc. ) who fight the occupation with everything they have. These Israelis (I particularly think of Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis For Human Rights) actually put their bodies on the line to fight settlers and soldiers when the need arises. I think of Uri Avney, the old Haganah fighter, who has struggled against the occupation from the beginning. I think of Emil Grunzweig and Yitzhak Rabin who were both murdered by the Jewish right for supporting an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
Boycotting Israel would mean boycotting people like them and other like-minded Israelis (as in liberal, secular North Tel Aviv) who hate the occupation and try to end it.
But I do favor boycotting West Bank settlements for obvious reasons. The settlement movement is, in its results, profoundly anti-Israel and anti-Palestinian. That is because it is the most powerful obstacle to ending the occupation and achieving peace with the Palestinians. And that means, ultimately, the end of the Jewish state.
That is why progressives need to make sure we do nothing to support the settlements. And that means not buying any products manufactured in settlements. (Here is a list of products from the settlements. Buy their American, European or Israeli equivalents but not these.)
Now progressive Israeli are boycotting a theater in the Ariel settlement, one of the largest settlement towns built smack in the middle of the West Bank. The boycotters include the most prominent Israeli writers, Amos Oz and David Grossman, and some 150 others. The Israeli right is threatening to destroy the careers of any Israeli artist who refuses to perform or have their works performed in the West Bank. But the boycott is going ahead anyway. Actually, the threats of the crazed right has energized it.
And now Hollywood and Broadway are joining the boycott. The American effort to support the Israeli artists is organized by Jewish Voice for Peace. JVP has put together an impressive list, but there are some missing names that should be there. The list needs George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie (to make up for her dad, Jon Voight, who is a deranged Muslim hater) and big Jewish artists like James Franco, Drake, Larry David, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, the Coen Brothers, Barbra Streisand, Sasha Baron Cohen, and Scarlett Johannson.
I don't know if these artists are aware of the boycott. But I fear that they might think that supporting their Israeli colleagues might be construed as anti-Israel. It would be, but only by the tiny Jewish and Israeli far right which these stars can afford to write off. (The crazy right tends to insulate themselves from the modern world and non-Jewish culture, so they don't go to movies anyway).
Hollywood progressives should do the right thing, which is supporting the boycott of the settlements. That is not only the pro-Israel thing to do; it is also supporting the end of the oppression of Palestinians, who are routinely brutalized by these same settlers. Yes to Israel. No to settlements.
Stars, have your people contact JVP's people.
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