donderdag 8 augustus 2013


Frankly, I do not get it, those outraged reactions from the Israeli government and other Jewish circles on the announcement by the EU of a boycott of products from the settlements. What I do not get particularly is the assertion that this boycot entails delegitimisation of Israel.

Delegitimization refers to statements by enemies of Israel who claim that the state of Israel has been founded on false grounds, thus has no right to exist and should actually disappear.

That you’re worried about that kind of statements, I get that. Here the raison d’être of one’s state is put into question, and you do not necessarily have to be Jewish to find that threatening. And also completely misplaced, because Israel is based on a decision of the United Nations and is therefore firmly established in international law as almost no other country.

But precisely this last observation makes those ‘deeply hurt’ sounds from Israel so incomprehensible. Because if you sincerely want to continue along in the international legal system you can not go shopping there and select your own favourites. You will have to play the game conform to the rules.

Fortunately, the rules are fairly nuanced: Israel’s legitimacy is not in question, but the occupation of the West Bank is illegal. The conclusions which are subsequently drawn on the basis of those principles are equally nuanced: boycott of Israeli products is not an issue, it is about products from the occupied territories.

By presenting boycott of the latter as an affront to Israel as a whole, Netanyahu turns it into an all-or-nothing game. This is dangerous: Israel therewith quits the legal arena and thus plays into the hands of the delegitimizators. It is no coincidence that the always somewhat anti-Semitic colored British academic circles choose for all: a total boycott of all Israeli academics from outside ánd inside the Green Line. And in the Dutch supermarket otherwise benevolent consumers may, to be sure, decide not to buy anything at all from Israel.

If you really want to prevent delegitimization you will have to comply with the legal system. Then you will constantly have to distinguish between what complies with international law and what does not. And also between products which according to international law are kosher and which are not.

But sometimes I’m afraid I might get it anyway. Namely, that the blunt all-or-nothing story has less to do with the fear of delegitimization, but comes from blind ideological fervor in Israeli government circles.

If so it is even more important to stay within the legal discourse which at the moment is practised by Europe in a pretty correct fashion.

Also see The Village of Norway and The Green Line and the Red Line