Israel’s Collective Punishment of Palestinians One of Many Reasons to Boycott, Divest and Sanction
Three Israeli teenagers were taken by unknown assailants and killed. In a normal country, this crime would be investigated to determine who was involved. Israel is not a normal country. Instead of investigating, Israel goes straight to collective punishment within hours of the bodies being discovered, hitting over 2 dozen targets:
Israel has bombed more than 30 targets across Gaza and shot dead at least one Palestinian just hours after the bodies of three missing Israeli teenagers were found in the West Bank. The teens went missing 19 days ago, sparking a crackdown that has seen hundreds of Palestinians arrested and seven killed. On Monday, the teens were found dead near the city of Hebron; they had apparently been shot dead shortly after their capture. Israel has blamed Hamas, identifying two suspects it says are tied to the group. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed “Hamas will pay.” Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev also blamed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Also, the suspected revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager:
The discovery of a body in a Jerusalem forest on Wednesday raised suspicions that a missing Palestinian youth had been killed by Israelis avenging the deaths of three abducted Jewish teens.
Rock-throwing Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces in Jerusalem after the news, but no serious injuries were reported.
One way to approach the deranged actions of the apartheid state of Israel is divestment, something the Presbyterian church recently voted to impose:
The Presbyterian Church on Friday became the most prominent religious group in the United States to endorse divestment as a protest against Israeli policies toward Palestinians, voting to sell church stock in three companies whose products Israel uses in the occupied territories.
The General Assembly voted by a razor-thin margin — 310-303 — to sell stock in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. Two years ago, the General Assembly rejected a similar divestment proposal by two votes.
I ran across this Huffington Post article about why this move is oh so wrong:
Divestment is a terrible idea for Israel. That’s why, at its General Assembly in Detroit this June 14-21, Presbyterians should vote down any measure which contemplates divestment from companies doing business in Israel.
Why? History. Context.
The laws I helped get passed into law in two U.S. states were designed not just to address the problem of anti-Catholic discrimination; they were meant to attack the very structure of the province within which that discrimination flourished. The entity “Northern Ireland” had been maintained over decades by so-called “emergency” laws which, among other things, had allowed some of its citizens to be detained without charge or right to counsel and stripped of the right to a jury trial for certain charges. Inequality was built into its structure: in voting, employment, housing.
The MacBride Principles campaign of the 1980s helped lead to a dramatic shift: a peace process which began in the 1990s and culminated in the signing of peace agreements on Good Friday, 1998. Those agreements, one among political parties in Northern Ireland and the other between the British and Irish governments, contained sweeping provisions which ended direct British rule of Northern Ireland and changed Northern Ireland’s system of government, creating new governmental institutions, allowing greater political participation and guaranteeing certain civil rights. Today, Martin McGuinness, an Irish Republican who once spent time in a British prison, is the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.
The Sullivan Principles for South Africa had a similar dual purpose. They weren’t meant just to remedy the unequal position of blacks in the country; they were designed to help do away with the apartheid government itself. The divestment campaign worked: the apartheid government fell in 1994. Nelson Mandela was inaugurated South Africa’s President on May 10 of that year.
Seen in that context, using the same blunt tool against the State of Israel makes no sense. Do we really want to subvert the nation of Israel?
The modern State of Israel came into being shortly after the end of WWII, when Hitler’s mass murder of six million Jews left the world aghast. One of the pastors of my church, the late John Boyle, was a 19-year-old sergeant in the U.S. Army when his unit helped liberate the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. What John saw there led him to become a Presbyterian minister; he vowed to be on the side of whatever was against the forces that had led to the carnage he had witnessed. He never forgot it. We should not either.
Many Presbyterians of good will are rightly concerned with the plight of Palestinians. I am one of them. But divestment is not the way to help.
There is another way: engage. Reach out. Travel, listen, learn, meet, speak, write, lobby, donate, invest, pray, press for change. We can, with God’s help, change the world, without wielding the weapon of divestment in a place it does not belong.
Sorry, but this argument is a bunch of crap. It’s the same manipulative emotional appeal exploiting the atrocities committed by Nazis (and enabled by what other countries?) to justify Israeli atrocities against Palestinians.
The Presbyterian church made the right call—boycott, divest, sanction.