In praise of AJDS

I can only praise AJDS. I think it has done well, and has adopted a very honourable and principled position. It has come out swinging in defence of its targetted boycott. We can only cheer. Here, they write:
“The AJDS has decided that it does not wish to give financial support to those who produce and export from the settlements, and wishes to discourage others from doing so.”

Other highlights:

We agree with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria that a full BDS is likely to be counter-productive, however it is not clear whether the JCCV position is an in principle opposition to all boycotts, as the JCCV and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry have supported boycotts and blockades targeted at Iran and Gaza.

If it is considered that the AJDS is on the fringe of the Australian Jewish community, could we draw attention to one of the findings of the community survey undertaken last year by Monash University? Using a liberal definition of Zionism it found that 20 per cent of Australian Jewish respondents self-defined as non-Zionists. We suggest that this puts us well and truly within the mainstream. But seemingly some would prefer the JCCV to not represent Melbournians of our persuasion at all, let alone those to our left.

And in their attachment

Searle contends that boycotts, divestment and sanctions are counterproductive. But perhaps he
thinks that they are only counterproductive when he disapproves of the target? For only a fortnight
earlier, he was part of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry that lauded Australian sanctions on
Iran. There may well be an argument for sanctions against Iran, but there is an inescapable
contradiction between arguing that sanctions are ineffective and wholeheartedly supporting
sanctions almost in the same breath.
The JCCV suggests that boycotting settlements is reminiscent of the 1930s, when various fascist
movements undertook such actions in order to demonise Jews. We find it difficult to equate wellarmed
settlers protected by one of the strongest military forces in the world and who are not averse
to uprooting Palestinian trees with defenceless Jews facing hostile crowds and indifferent or hostile
police forces.

It interesting to note that while the suggestion is made that support for any BDS measures will
harden those who have declared themselves as opponents of a two-state solution on the Palestinian
side, no mention is made of the corollary. Doing nothing about the Occupation only strengthens
those who want to continue it and expand the settlements.
We would argue that every day that
nothing is done about settlements is another day in which more Palestinians can be convinced that
taking the peaceful road is not going to work. Doing nothing supports those who are determined to
undermine any attempts at a peaceful solution.

And Larry Stillman has another article in Galus Australis. It begins

I’d like to argue the moral case for supporting a selective boycott of products from the Occupied West Bank. I take the view that it is illegally held territory in which its prior and current non-Jewish inhabitants (Palestinians, whatever their citizenship) live under a form of military rule and control system which completely privileges Jewish settlers and Israeli businesses and abuses human rights.

I care deeply about the future security of Israel, but I know that its future cannot be linked to a continuation of 43 of its 60 years as an occupier and thief of another’s birthright.  Saying that putting a ‘Made in Israel’ label on something from the West Bank is morally wrong and asserting that we should not buy such products is the right thing to do.

I think this is a major achievement, and a very positive development. I think as sympathy for Palestinians living under occupation swings from the radical left to the progressive mainstream, we need to keep our eyes on this very simple formula. There must be an end to the occupation, there must be a just two-state agreement, and it must be based on justice for both peoples, whilst realising that the chief rejectionist is Israel, and there can be no peace whilst Israel colonises Palestinian land.


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