[Marxism] Boycott Israel?
Jscotlive at aol.com
Jscotlive at aol.com
Thu Aug 9 06:43:56 MDT 2007
In the latest issue of the British SWP's monthly magazine, Socialist Review,
leading member of the SWP, Chris Harman, questions the efficacy of the
international campaign to boycott Israel. Below I've pasted his article. Below the
link I've also pasted a letter that I wrote to Socialist Review in response.
Solidarity With Palestine by CHRIS HARMAN - Socialist Review July/August
Supporters of Israel want to undermine union support for the Palestinians.
The left must be clear about imperialism's role in the region, and about how to
maximise solidarity, writes Chris Harman.
A big debate has broken out after the annual congress of the lecturers' UCU
union voted to hold discussions in branches around the country on how best to
show solidarity with the Palestinian people. This has come just as the plight
of the Palestinians has gone from bad to worse, with civil war between the
elected Hamas administration which controls the Gaza Strip and the Fatah
regime based in the West Bank.
Although the motion passed by UCU merely called for discussion over forms of
support for the Palestinians, including debating the possibility of some sort
of boycott of Israeli institutions, it has caused a furore. The journalists'
NUJ union has also faced criticism after its annual conference passed a
motion in favour of boycotting Israeli goods. A three to one vote at Unison's
conference, in favour of a motion that talked about boycotting and putting
sanctions on Israel caused far less controversy.
A very powerful pro-Israel lobby has gone to work to denounce these decisions
with the support of the pro-war "left". Meanwhile arch Zionist and Harvard
lawyer Alan Dershowitz has threatened to "devastate and bankrupt" any
organisation which commits to a boycott of Israel. These figures want to block
discussion of Israel's actions. We must defend the right of trade unions to
democratically pass resolutions and hold political debates without being subjected
to such threats.
Letter To Socialist Review
Dear Socialist Review,
Chris Harman's piece in Socialist Review (building solidarity with
Palestine, July/August issue) gives succour to Israeli apologists and supporters
everywhere, and in effect aids their attempt to weaken a growing international
movement to isolate Israel and provide meaningful and active solidarity with the
long suffering Palestinians, who continue to endure and resist the most
prolonged, barbaric and savage occupation in modern history.
Not only does he suggest that a boycott is not the way forward, he
provides no alternative, which suggests a complete abandonment of the Palestinians
and their struggle at a time when it has reached probably the most critical
stage in its entire history.
His attempt to suggest that a boycott would actually play into the hands
of Israel's supporters, that it would undermine efforts to solidarise with
the Palestinians, is merely more of the same weakness that has plagued sections
of the Left when it comes to the issue of Palestine, a section which time
and again succumbs to the huge Zionist propaganda machine that equates support
for Palestinian human rights with anti-Semitism, conjuring up in the process
the history of the Holocaust, which has been and continues to be manipulated
in order to justify the expropriation of Palestinian land and resources.
Yes, there may be confusion among some trade union members within the
various unions that have passed resolutions calling for a boycott. What of it?
Surely the task of socialists now is to provide leadership on the issue by
explaining to those people, to all people, why a boycott of Israel is absolutely
necessary and not to allow that confusion, resulting from a lack of
consciousness, to hold it back.
Chris Harman also states that 'hardcore supporters of Israel' are
bombarding the UCU with calls for a referendum on the issue of a boycott because
they see an opportunity to take advantage of the confusion that exists among
their members. This is absolute nonsense. The reason the UCU have been bombarded
with calls for a referendum by supporter of Israel is because the UCU
resolution undermines the moral legitimacy which is absolutely essential to
Israel's continuing occupation of Palestinian land. This is why Israel's
supporters, and members of the Israeli government, are so exercised, and this is why we
must put all our weight, all or our collective muscle and mind, behind an
international campaign to boycott Israel.
Destroy this foundation of moral legitimacy which underpins the
occupation and the occupation collapses. Not only would this be a great victory for
the Palestinians, it would be victory for human progress.
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