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The specter of world boycotts and sanctions hangs over Israel

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   1 comment
Message Michael Payne

While not widely publicized, a movement is underway as a growing number of nations are taking steps to counter Israel's aggressive military actions and suppression of the Palestinian people. Might such boycotts actually work; is there any precedent for such a world boycott against any nation in modern history? Yes, it happened when nations of the world finally had seen enough of South Africa's decades-long system of apartheid and suppression; a world boycott followed and, eventually, that nation was forced to change its out-dated policies.

For those unaware of that important historical event here, in a nutshell, is what took place. South Africa's system of apartheid involved the segregation and suppression of its black population. The world had watched the cruel and often violent actions by this government with great trepidation, disgust and sympathy for the oppressed and, after South Africa resisted all efforts to end the apartheid, the world responded with boycotts and sanctions.

This boycott movement began in the 1970's and ended in 1994; individuals, organizations, national governments, and the United Nations initiated sanctions and embargoes that involved military supplies, raw materials, cultural and sports restrictions against the government of South Africa. Both exports to and imports from that nation came into play.

What happened in South Africa back then and what is happening now with the Israel/Palestine situation differs somewhat. In the case of South Africa that government was suppressing black people within its own borders. With Israel the suppression involves its neighbors, the Palestinians. While blacks in South Africa were subjected to violent acts, often very brutal and deadly, the situation has been far more serious with extreme violence and many civilian deaths in Palestine, specifically in Gaza.

It is absolutely true that in each of these situations, the people under heavy duress used violence of their own against those they felt were harming them; Blacks, tired of the cruel tactics of the South African government, retaliated with their own violent acts. Israel has, indeed, been subject to rocket and suicide bomber attacks that have instilled fear in its population. While that kind of violence by any side cannot be justified and must be condemned, that is what happens when people are suppressed, penned in, blockaded and fear for their very existence.

The vast majority of world opinion indicates that the extreme military actions that Israel took against the people of Gaza amounted to war crimes and, in the opinion of some, crimes against humanity. Even in the aftermath of that terrible, destructive "war", Israel seems intent on literally suffocating the Palestinian people with blockades and boycotts involving building materials, essential goods, and medical supplies. UN human aid organizations have been prevented from delivering medicines, educational materials, various foodstuffs and all sorts of basic needs to Gaza. But can you believe this? Based on international pressure Israel has announced that it will allow a shipment of clothes and shoes into Gaza for the first time in the almost three-year blockade.

What are the chances that President Obama and his advisers could restart peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine and that those negotiations would bring about a two-state solution to that conflict? Minimal at best. In my opinion Israel and its government will never, of its own accord, deviate from their current policies of suppressing the people of Palestine and the last thing that they want is a Palestinian state that can enjoy the same freedoms that other nations of the world do.

Article from Haaretz.com, March 11: "When it comes to the Middle East and other areas of the world, a certain word seems to have taken over the current affairs agenda: sanctions. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using every possible platform to call for painful sanctions against Iran, Israel's ambassadors are busy contending with a movement that is calling for the imposition of a boycott and sanctions on Israel."

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