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The BDS Error
There are mistakes being made by people at both ends of the political spectrum regarding the Ben & Jerry's action.
I saw a post from someone who seems to consider himself an enlightened liberal Zionist, declaring a Gotcha! on those who are opposed to B&J. The argument was as follows: If you consider the B&J withdrawal from Judea & Samaria to be BDS, the same as a withdrawal from Israel, then you're saying that Judea & Samaria are properly part of Israel - in which case you're admitting that there is apartheid, because the Palestinians can't vote!
It's a foolish argument, but some people are getting the reason wrong as to why it's a foolish argument. (And it's entirely separate from the fact that even if Israel was claiming that Judea & Samaria are part of Israel, the situation still wouldn't be one of apartheid; not every human rights inequality is apartheid.)
Judea & Samaria are historically part of the Jewish homeland (just like Lebanon is and Eilat isn't). But, contrary to what some people on the right claim, they are not part of the State of Israel. Israel has not annexed these areas, and Israeli law does not apply there. You're not allowed to keep a pet king cobra in Beit Shemesh, but you are allowed to keep one in Efrat, though I would most definitely not recommend it.
This is basically obvious and agreed upon by everyone (at least, as soon as they give it thought). And so boycotting trade in Judea & Samaria is obviously not exactly the same as boycotting trade in Israel proper. (Technically speaking, it might not even be BDS. As my friend Rabbi Scott Kahn has pointed out, BDS refers specifically to boycotting Israel. If someone were to boycott trade in Jaffa, due to claiming that it was stolen from Palestinians, that might not be BDS.)
Nevertheless, although the B&J boycott of Judea & Samaria is not the same as a boycott of Israel proper, it must still be opposed and it is still wrong (and perhaps more insidiously so). Because (A) it comes from the people who want to boycott all Israel, (B) it is a precursor to a boycott of all Israel, and (C) it is wrong for the very same reason as boycotting Israel is wrong.
Regarding point A, by now it is fairly well known that B&J wanted to actually boycott all Israel, and were only reined in by Unilever. The board is headed by Anuradha Mittal, who has posted over 100 anti-Israel tweets, including one describing the creation of Israel as a "catastrophe." This action was not about Israel pulling back to the 1948 borders.
Even more significant is point B. As Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein of the Simon Wiesenthal Center has written:
BDS is an irritant, a mostly failed attempt to harm Israel economically which has not put a dent in the growth, B”H, of the Israeli economy. The B&J/Unilever gambit is more dangerous. It takes a large, well-liked company with name recognition in practically every US family, and associates that good name with a finding that Israel is a huge human rights violator – perhaps the worst in the world. Making that horrific label stick, possibly in the minds of tens of millions of Americans, can indeed wreak havoc with Israel’s standing in the world community. If it goes unchallenged, it makes it that much easier to heap all the other epithets on Israel: apartheid, brutal, inhumane, Nazi-like. It would make it so much easier for the next business to do the same. And the next. And the one after. It will make it easier for school curricula (beyond the college campuses, which have been lost for years) to lump Israel together with the truly brutal regimes of the world. It can put every Jew on the defensive for being on the wrong side of history. The fact that a true corporate giant – Unilever – would not cry foul at this misstep will greatly solidify the impression that Zionists/Israelis/Jews are evil and expendable.
And finally, the B&J boycott of trade in Judea & Samaria is wrong for the very same reason as boycotting Israel is wrong. It places all the blame on Israel for the creation and/or perpetuation of a situation which is at least as much the fault of the Palestinians, if not much more so (and which further disincentives them from seeking compromise). And it obsesses over a purported terrible crime against the Palestinians while ignoring vastly greater injustices elsewhere in the world, not to mention the far greater suffering caused to Palestinians by other regimes. The fact is that the vast majority of people only get fired up about Palestinian suffering if they can blame the Jews for it.
It's perfectly legitimate to be upset about various deficiencies in human rights suffered by Palestinians. It's perfectly legitimate (although possibly mistaken) to think that Israel made a huge mistake by not relinquishing control of Judea & Samaria. It's perfectly legitimate (albeit probably futile) to try to pressure the Israeli government as well as the Palestinian Authority to try to reach an agreement. But joining an antisemitic campaign is antisemitic.
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