Adonis Diaries

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Best strategy to get Israel in line with world community: Boycott, Divest, Sanction… and Naomi Klein

It’s long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation in Palestine is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.

In July 2005, a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that.

They called on “people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.” The campaign Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) was born. 

This is an extract from The Case for Sanctions Against Israel bNaomi Klein

Published on Nov. 23, 2012 under “Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction”

Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause, and talk of ceasefires is doing little to slow the momentum.

Support is even emerging among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault, roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel. It calls for “the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions,” and draws a clear parallel with the anti-apartheid struggle.

“The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves … This international backing must stop.”

Yet many still can’t go there.

The reasons are complex, emotional, and understandable. And they simply aren’t good enough. Economic sanctions are the most effective tools in the nonviolent arsenal. Surrendering them verges on active complicity.

(There are many objections to BDS strategy, and they do not stand on close scrutiny and are not founded on reality).

Here are the top 4 objections to the BDS strategy, followed by counter arguments.


The world has tried what used to be called “constructive engagement.” It has failed. Since 2006, Israel has been steadily escalating its criminality: expanding settlements, launching an outrageous war against Lebanon, and imposing collective punishment on Gaza through the brutal blockade.

Despite this escalation, Israel has not faced punitive measures—quite the opposite. The weapons and $3 billion in annual aid that the US sends to Israel is only the beginning.

Throughout this key period, Israel has enjoyed a dramatic improvement in its diplomatic, cultural, and trade relations with a variety of other allies.

For instance, in 2007 Israel became the first non– Latin American country to sign a free-trade deal with Mercosur. In the first nine months of 2008, Israeli exports to Canada went up 45 percent.

A new trade deal with the European Union is set to double Israel’s exports of processed food. And on December 8, 2008, European ministers “upgraded” the EU–Israel Association Agreement, a reward long sought by Jerusalem.

It is in this context that Israeli leaders started their latest war: confident they would face no meaningful costs.

It is remarkable that over 7 days of wartime trading, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s flagship index actually went up by 10.7 percent. When carrots do not work, sticks are needed.


Of course it isn’t. The relevance of the South African model is that it proves that BDS tactics can be effective when weaker measures (protests, petitions, backroom lobbying) have failed.

And there are indeed deeply distressing echoes: the color-coded IDs and travel permits, the bulldozed homes and forced displacement, the settler-only roads.

Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, has said that the architecture of segregation that he saw in the West Bank and Gaza in 2007 was “infinitely worse than apartheid.”


Boycott is not a dogma; it is a tactic. The reason the BDS strategy should be tried against Israel is practical: in a country so small and trade-dependent, it could actually work.


This one I will answer with a personal story.

For eight years, my books have been published in Israel by a commercial house called Babel. But when I published The Shock Doctrine, I wanted to respect the boycott. On the advice of BDS activists, I contacted a small publisher called Andalus.

Andalus is an activist press, deeply involved in the anti-occupation movement, and the only Israeli publisher devoted exclusively to translating Arabic writing into Hebrew. We drafted a contract that guarantees that all proceeds go to Andalus’s work, and none to me. In other words, I am boycotting the Israeli economy but not Israelis.

Coming up with this plan required dozens of phone calls, emails, and instant messages, stretching from Tel Aviv to Ramallah to Paris to Toronto to Gaza City.

My point is this: as soon as you start implementing a boycott strategy, dialogue increases dramatically.

And why wouldn’t it?

Building a movement requires endless communicating, as many in the anti-apartheid struggle well recall. The argument that supporting boycotts will cut us off from one another is particularly specious given the array of cheap information technologies at our fingertips.

We are drowning in ways to rant at one another across national boundaries. No boycott can stop us. 

Just about now, many a proud Zionist is gearing up for major point- scoring: Don’t I know that many of those very high-tech toys come from Israeli research parks, world leaders in infotech?

True enough, but not all of them. Several days into Israel’s Gaza assault, Richard Ramsey, the managing director of a British telecom company, sent an email to the Israeli tech firm MobileMax.

Ramsey wrote: “As a result of the Israeli government action in the last few days we will no longer be in a position to consider doing business with yourself or any other Israeli company.” 

When contacted by the Nation, Ramsey said his decision wasn’t political. “We can’t afford to lose any of our clients, so it was purely commercially defensive.” 

It was this kind of cold business calculation that led many companies to pull out of South Africa two decades ago. And it is precisely the kind of calculation that is our most realistic hope of bringing justice, so long denied, to Palestine.

Recently mentioned books

“The Obsession for State Borders” by Michel Foucher (January 7, 2009)

I have written on State borders problems in two previous articles; this one is on a happy realization in several parts on earth.

There is this concept that is taking effect on a large scale for resolving border problems:  reserving delimiting zones as natural preserves and void of any military presence.

Up to now, it seems that 10% of the total area of natural conservation projects is of this nature.

For example:

1. Along the borders of Poland and Byelorussia we have this primary forest of Bialowieza.  T

2. he tri-national park of Prespa delimits the borders among Albania, Greece, and Macedonia.

3. The Trifinio natural reserve among the three Central American States of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador is inhabited by 700,000 people managed by 45 communes. 

4. In south of Africa the “Park for Peace“, large as Italy, delimit the frontiers of the States of Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Zambia, and Bostwana.

It seems that between 2004 and 2006, at least 8 secret meetings between the Syrians and Israelis negotiated borders resolution by creating natural reserves on Lake Tiberiade; the Israelis would have access to two snow skiing resorts in the Golan without visa requirements.

Brazil has borders with all States in South America except Chili and Equator.  Brazil resolved the problems of its 17,000 km borders using aerial cartography of OrbiSat that can produce carts covering 250,000 square km in two months.  Brazil and Venezuela have opened a trans-Amazonian route from Manaus to Caracas; and gas pipeline through the Amazon Forest to Bolivia.

There are 12 trans-oceanic routes or corridor under consideration with a budget of $50 billions in a 10-year plan by Mercosur (economic union of the South American States).  These corridors are meant to “vanquish barriers of physical, normative, and social natures”

rmative, and social natures”




November 2021

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