Yachad’s continued support for calls to boycott Israeli settlements is dangerous.

Hannah Weisfeld, the director of Yachad, has written a piece for this week’s Jewish News stating that:

“Yachad is giving voice to a large number of British Jews. When the Knesset passed the anti-boycott bill a few weeks ago (primarily for the purpose of targeting those that make a political statement by calling for boycotts of West Bank settlement produce), Yachad released a statement explaining that while we don’t support boycotts, we support the democratic right of Israelis to make a political stand through their purchasing power. That statement; reprinted on the front pages of Ha’aretz in Hebrew and English, reflected the concerns of a swathe of UK Jews, including the editor of this paper.”

But there is a very fine line between supporting the right to call for boycotts of settlements and actually supporting boycotts. In fact calling for boycotts is far worse than the boycotting itself.

I have no problem with someone taking a private decision to boycott the settlements.

But what goes along with the calling for boycotts is a demonisation of settlers, which contributes to continued Palestinian violence against them.

Weisfeld’s mindset is one of “democracy trumps everything”. She is supported in this view by LibDem Friend of Israel’s Matthew Harris who says that “Freedom of speech must allow Israelis to call for a boycott of settlement goods.”

But we don’t have unlimited freedom of speech in the UK where, for example, you wouldn’t get away with gratuitously screaming “Fire!” in a crowded cinema. It would put lives at risk as people ran for the exits.

Meanwhile, Weisfeld is putting lives at risk by wanting to allow the settlements and settlers to be demonised via calls to boycott them.

And anti-settlement rhetoric quickly spills over into anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric, as we regularly see in the UK.

But if Weisfeld is so keen on fixing Israel it’s Israel where she needs to live, not the UK, so she can persuade more Israelis to vote for anti-settlement parties. She could even set up her own political party.

Israelis are not going to be persuaded by Weisfeld while she is sat in her relatively safe and secure UK surroundings, however many British Jews she thinks might back her. Most Israelis are not interested in what relatively safe British Jews think.

In her article she names David Grossman, Meir Dagan, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and “countless other military firgures” who back Yachad, but imagine the list of names who think that what Yachad is doing is dangerous.

If Weisfeld, and those who support Yachad, really want to make a difference to Israel then they should consider making Aliyah and put their money where their mouths are for once.

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13 responses to “Yachad’s continued support for calls to boycott Israeli settlements is dangerous.

  1. Thanks, Richard. I don’t know whether or not Hannah Weisfeld believes that “democracy trumps everything”; that is a matter for her. I certainly do not believe that “democracy trumps everything”; nor am I a believer in unrestricted freedom of speech (http://matthewfharris.blogspot.com/2011/07/harold-pinters-ice-cream-and-free.html). You’ve linked from your post to my post on the Boycott Bill (http://matthewfharris.blogspot.com/2011/07/ps-on-boycott-bill.html), for which thanks. Anyone reading that will see that I am not a supporter of boycotts – far from it. However, as well as not being a supporter of boycotts, I am not a supporter of making it illegal (albeit only as a civil offence) for an Israeli citizen to call for another Israeli citizen not to buy particular goods. Hence my opposition to the Boycott Bill.

    • However, as well as not being a supporter of boycotts, I am not a supporter of making it illegal (albeit only as a civil offence) for an Israeli citizen to call for another Israeli citizen not to buy particular goods. Hence my opposition to the Boycott Bill.

      Do you vote in Israel? No? Then it’s none of your bloody business what laws Israel passes democratically.

  2. This woman speaks for about 8 UK Jews, 4 people who pretend they are Jews just so they can slag off Israel whilst claiming an “insider’s” perspective, 3 people who once watched a sitcom written by a British Jew, and a bloke who hates all Jews cos he once bought a fishball from Blooms and when he got home with it, he found that it wasn’t the Scotch egg he had been expecting.

  3. Daniel Marks

    My daughter was a youth leader this year in a pre-army preparation course very close to where the attack took place. Naturally, she was relieved that none of her colleagues and none of the youth she was in charge of were hurt.

    She wrote a short note before Shabbat, which I just noticed on my computer. Dina said that she was happy that they are all safe, but then remembered that the eight dead Israeli victims also have friends, loved ones and youth leaders who miss them. I too mourned once again people I’ve never known and now never will, but love with a passion. That is our secret and our strength. On the same say as the Muslims kill their own brothers in Syria Iraq and Afghanistan, we cry for ours.

    Today, in a few minutes, begins the second Shabbat of comfort. We shall read:

    The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

    Shabbat shalom

  4. Janet Clifford

    Yachad is UK JStreet they are definitely not supporters of Israel, they are subversive and dangerous. They do not speak for any Jew that I have ever met.

  5. Attilathecricketer

    I understand the point that she lives in a relatively safe place but having read a couple of articles (JP, DT) I do not understand how the bill benefits Israel. You cannot shut down debate nowadays. The hardline settlers are an equivalent of the BNP and it is a political decision to support their claims so criticism is valid. Ending the settlements (or reducing them) is the way to end the increase in anti-Israel sentiment (and the consequent rise in anti-Semitism).

    • Has any of previous Israeli actions that were recommended for decreasing tension ever done the job?

      How many times do you expect Hope to convince Experience that another turning of the screw will have the desired effect?

      Who are the “hardline” settlers exactly? Could you be a bit more specific? Netwise I’ve “met” several living in Judea and/or Samaria. I found nothing that struck me as “hardline”.

      • attilathecricketer

        Correct if I am wrong but there are settlers who want to settle but obey instructions by the Israeli state to leave when it asks and then there are those do not even listen to the Israeli state and have had to be evicted by force.

    • Ending the settlements (or reducing them) is the way to end the increase in anti-Israel sentiment (and the consequent rise in anti-Semitism).

      And the moon is made of camembert. The settlements are an excuse, a figleaf. Israel left the Gaza strip, resulting in MORE violence, not less; MORE antisemitism, not less.
      Are you another one of those advocating that J&S should be Judenrein? Sounds rather racist to me.

  6. Since when is self-determination “hardline”?
    Just because the Arab world wants to keep inventing new nationalities in order to deny the Jews their ancestral homelands, in which they have maintained a presence for thousands of years? Sorry, not good enough.

  7. Harry | August 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Reply
    Harry – you say:-“Just because the Arab world wants to keep inventing new nationalities in order to deny the Jews their ancestral homelands, in which they have maintained a presence for thousands of years? ”
    You could equally say “Just because the Jewish world wants to keep inventing new biblical stories in order to deny the Palestinians their ancestral homelands, in which they have maintained a presence for at least hundreds of years “.
    Think about it Harry – if you’re capable of honest thought.

    • What rubbish. ‘Palestinians’ were invented in 1964. Jewish national presence is documented going back 3000 years.