The Logic Of A Settlement Boycott


Hussein Ibish defends a settlement boycott against charges that it would be counterproductive:

[A] boycott need not seek to have a devastating economic impact on the settlement economy. The settlement project is heavily subsidized and is not conceived of as a moneymaking venture. Rather, it is an ideological program. With the exception of the Jewish settlements in the Golan Heights and a few others in the West Bank, what we have is historical irredentism at work, not entrepreneurship. The boycott is a political and symbolic statement. It should be conceptualized as expressing profound political objections, and a refusal to cooperate, whether or not it can make any real dent in the settlement economy. Moreover, the idea that the economic activities connected with more than 500,000 Israeli settlers are immune from pressure is simply silly. … The boycott led by the Palestinian Authority has reportedly led to the closure of numerous factories in several settlements.

And there's something truly surreal about how many who argue that pressuring the fanatics and subsidized poor on the West Bank can only backfire nonetheless favor crippling sanctions on … the religious fanatics in Tehran. Here's J Street founder, Jeremy Ben-Ami, on the settlement boycott idea:

"…I don't think that it makes any sense to put negative pressure on people whose behavior you hope to change … I think if you begin to do things that say, "We're not really with you, we're against you, we're putting pressure on you," I think that causes people to pull more into a shell and pull back."

And here he is, on Iranian sanctions:

There’s no question that the sanctions ultimately do hurt people. This is also important in putting a real squeeze on the government. The petroleum sector is vital to the economy of the country as a whole. And so this is going to put pressure on the government and its going to put constraints on their economic growth generally. And it’s maybe one more incentive to them hopefully, to abandon this [nuclear] course and to come back to the table and accept what, in our opinion, is a very fair offer related to the fair enrichment.

As Andrew Sprung notes, the full context of the last quote muddies it somewhat. But not much. Once again, the rules that apply everywhere else don't apply to Israel. Because … it's Israel.

(Photo: An Israeli soldier fires tear gas during clashes with Palestinian and foreign protestors in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, on March 23, 2012, following a protest against Palestinian land confiscation to build the Jewish settlement Hallamish nearby. By Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images.)