No Rush to sign up for the boycott

The case of Israeli academic Oren Yiftachel (It’s water on stone – in the end the stone wears out, G2, December 12) is a good example of how the British left not only attacks the Sharon government, but actually aids it in victimising Israeli peace campaigners – many of whom are academics. The leadership of the Peace Now movement comes from Israeli academia, as did the initiators of the Oslo Accords in 1993. If it hadn’t been for Israeli academics, Arafat and Rabin would not have shaken hands and the peace process would never have got off the ground.The confused tactics of the boycott advocates are symptomatic of a wider malaise within the British left of refusing support for the Israeli peace movement, which wishes to end the occupation and secure a two-state solution. It is far easier to see the situation in black and white – and give a blank ideological cheque to the Palestinian cause.Arafat’s Fatah is currently trying to convince Hamas and the Islamists in Cairo that suicide bombing is counter-productive and that any atrocities during the Israeli election period will undermine Amram Mitzna, the dovish Labour candidate. The bombers serve as the Israeli right’s willing allies in increasing the number of seats for Sharon and re-electing him. If the Palestinians understand that the only group in Israel which can help to deliver a Palestinian state is the peace camp, why hasn’t this self-evident truth peculated into the blind righteousness of the boycott organisers?

Dr Colin Shindler
SOAS, University of London

Guardian 13 December 2002

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