Monday, November 30, 2009

Anti-Israel Boycott Fails Again - This Time Mountain Equipment Co-op

This passed weekend saw another attempt at expanding boycott efforts directed at Israel across Canada. The latest target was Mountain Equipment Co-op for having an Israeli supplier of under garments and water bottles. The boycotters felt this was in violation of their ethical purchasing standards. A boycott was called for Saturday with the Jewish community responding on Sunday with a buycott. Leading up to the week end the only major publicity was a few newspapers condeming the boycott.

The boycott got no attetion what so ever. It has been reported that the biggest turn out was in Vancouver with 20 supporters. Organizers didn't even bother to set up a protest in Toronto. Considering the amount of attention devoted to boycotting Israel at CUPE and other institutions, why was the campaign such a miserable failure?

One explanation is the protesters carefully examined what they were boycotting. They found that MEC carefully examines their suppliers and have already addressed concerns about the treatment of Palestinians. They realize that the boycott would hurt the incomes of Palestinians more than it will cause any shifts in Israeli government policy. Perhaps they have learned that every boycott rallies the Jewish community and it's supporters. The targeted victims come out ahead by support from the buycott campaign.

The simpler and most likely explanation is that Canadians really don't care that much about the Palestinians issues. There are number of reports from attendees at the boycotts that indicated even the people who showed up giving out pamphlets really didn't understand the issues. They were not interested in engaging in discussions with people with a different perspective.

Israel has a long history even before it became a state. There was a continuous Jewish community living in Hevron before a French flag was ever planted in the New World until they were expelled by the British in 1933. Jewish communities in East Jerusalem and Gush were expelled when they found themselves outside of Israel after the 1948 war of Independence. The demands of a Palestinian State are to have these communities once again free of Jews, while Palestinians can settle anywhere in Israel outside of a Palestinian State.

The Boycott campaign completely ignores the valid goals and concerns Israel is facing. At the same time it hits the Palestinian they are pretending to help the hardest with zero political benefit. It is time for the boycotts to stop and those who really care about the long term interests of the region start pushing solutions that are mutually beneficial to Palestinians and Israelis. Anything less is a waste of time.

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