Boycotting the boycott: The problem with the BDS movement

July 21, 2015
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Militarized Caterpillar D9 by the West Bank barrier. Photo by joeskillet via Creative Commons license.

A Muslim organization in Chi­ca­go recently invited Israel’s consul general to participate in a “Friends in Faith” series—and then rescinded the invitation. The Niagara Foundation denied that it had succumbed to pressure from Palestinian groups, but it was hard to draw any other conclusion.

The silencing of conversation is one of the most disturbing aspects of the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement against Israel, which is designed to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. The United Church of Christ recently jumped into this movement, voting overwhelmingly at its General Synod in June to divest from corporations involved in the business of occupation. The financial impact of the UCC’s action on Caterpillar or Hewlett Packard may be negligible, but the symbolic impact remains.

The deep message of BDS is that interaction with Israel is tantamount to collaboration with the oppressor. Though this approach has mostly symbolic meaning in the West, it has tangible effects in Israel-Palestine, where it discourages Palestinians from everyday cooperation with Israelis on education, commerce, political administration, and the management of natural resources. The movement posits that a just future for Palestinians lies first of all in disengagement from and resistance to Israel.

But does it? The BDS movement operates with a fundamental assumption: those with power never give it up voluntarily. Because Israel can be ex­pected to change its policies of occupation only under pressure, pressure must be applied. And because Palestinians have little leverage on the ground, pressure on Israel must come from the international community and the court of public opinion.

This argument is reasonable on the surface, and it fits both Christian liberationist and Christian realist analyses of politics. There’s no question that Pal­estinians living under Israeli occupation endure daily restrictions on travel, political activity, and economic opportunity. Whereas Jewish settlers on the West Bank are Israeli citizens and benefit from Israeli tax dollars and the Israeli military, Palestinians in the territory are stateless, and subject ultimately to Israeli policy and control.

In the context of Israel-Palestine, Israelis appear to be the Goliath while the Palestinians are the David. Israelis have a vaunted military and one of the most technologically advanced economies in the world, and they are backed by the United States, the world’s only superpower. The Palestinians, on the other hand, seem only to have rocks (and, in Gaza, Kat­yusha rockets) to fling at the oppressor. There is a natural urge, given this account, to sympathize with the David figure.

But Israelis, even those who sympathize with the average Palestinian, view the situation differently, and for some very good reasons. In fact, Israelis see themselves as being in the position of David, surrounded by a Goliath of nations and terrorist groups that have made no secret of their wish to see Israel destroyed and have acted on that wish many times before.

The rising power of Iran, whose leaders talk openly of destroying Israel, heightens the concern. Iran’s influence, direct or by proxy, now reaches into Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, and Iran has renewed ties with Hamas in Gaza. Meanwhile, extremist ISIS forces have established their own beachheads throughout the region, including in Egypt’s Sinai, on Israel’s southern border. While so far ISIS has focused on attacking fellow Muslims whom it regards as apostate, it also targets Chris­tians and Jews. ISIS is also threatening Jordan and therefore Israel’s eastern border.

Given these realities, it’s myopic to view the Israel-Palestinian conflict simply in terms of oppressor and oppressed. The “oppressor” in this case also has sensible reasons to feel oppressed and vulnerable.

The most promising solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is of course the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank that peacefully coexists with Israel. The sticking points in negotiating such a state—the location of borders, the governance of Jerusalem, the right of return for refugees—are well known, but the basic outline is clear: the Israelis give up land for peace.

Polls consistently show that most Israelis are willing to do just that. These same polls also show, however, that most Israelis don’t think that such a swap is possible under current conditions. Israelis are not willing to give up the land in exchange for no peace. They worry, and with good reason, that a Pales­tinian state on its doorstep would turn out to be either a state like Gaza, ruled by Hamas and explicitly devoted to Israel’s destruction, or a failed state, unable or unwilling to control terrorists who would use the territory to strike at Israel.

Boycotts appear in the West to be a normal political tool. They’ve been used on behalf of farmworkers in California and blacks in South Africa, so why not use them on behalf of beleaguered Palestinians?

Here’s why not: first, boycotts have enormous resonance for Israelis. The Nazis started turning Jews into pariahs by boycotting Jewish businesses. The historical reference is not misplaced: the aim of BDS is to make Israelis pariahs on the international scene.

Second, the boycott movement could indeed turn out to have real economic consequences for Israel. One can imagine corporations eventually deciding that doing business with Israel is more trouble than it’s worth. A contract that would have gone to an Israeli firm goes instead to a European one. Top researchers decide to live and work elsewhere. The economic viability of Israel, which depends on high-tech skills in a global market, would be undermined. All this, of course, is what the BDS movement devoutly hopes will happen, thereby pushing Israel at last to make concessions to Palestinians.

But this BDS scenario contains two miscalculations. First, Israelis are not likely to be coerced into relinquishing fundamental security concerns. The effect of the boycott would likely be to make Israelis more isolated and fearful—and less likely to compromise or take risks for peace.

Second, and most decisively, such a result would be entirely unfair. It would punish Israel for seeking, as any nation would under similar circumstances, to protect its citizens and preserve its viability as a state.

Mainline Protestants are understandably frustrated by the lack of progress toward a Palestinian state. But Palestin­ians as well as Israelis bear responsibility for that lack of progress; Israel is not the only actor in the region.

The BDS movement is overly simple and not realist enough in its analysis. And by implicitly or explicitly encouraging disengagement from Israel, it precludes the work that many Israelis and Palestinians are doing on the ground to build trust and foster cooperation—work that provides some real basis for hope that their people can live and prosper side by side.

Comments

boycotting the boycott

During the Second Intifada when bombs were going off in Israel the language was clear, and rightfully so: Palestine could not expect anything realistic in regard to the dismantling of a 25 year occupation if it could not stop the violence being thrust upon Israelis by suicide bombers.

In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for non-violent resistance in the form of BDS--boycott, divestment and sanctions. In 2009, the leaders of all the Palestinian Christian churches signed the Kairos Palestine Document, calling for BDS and grounding it in the non-violence of Christ's life and ministry.

We are now coming upon 50 years of occupation. Netanyahu is not even pretending there will ever be a Palestinian state anymore. Opponents of BDS cannot have it both ways: you cannot tell the occupied to refrain from violent resistance and then when they do tell them that their non-violent strategies are not permitted.

BDS

Helm's assumption that BDS is all about persuading Israel misses the point. Faith regards participating in violence as contrary to our response to the call of Christ. Piety is an inner transformation, expressed with consequence toward our neighbors, far and near.

How can I care for my neighbor when I send D9 Caterpillars to destroy homes, along with the historical existence of a people? How can I say I love my neighbor while being complicit in the uprooting of trees which provided livelihood, as well as a legacy of hospitality and dignity since the time of Christ.

How dare I not withhold my investment in systems that monitor, intimidate and oppress? Am I taking sides by choosing not to encourage the imprisonment of children without legal rights or family visits? As an American, I have done enough harm and choose to, as best as I am able, undo my participation in ethnic cleansing.

Please don't sidetrack my desire to defend the weak as myopic! To call the 4th largest military in the world, with the only nuclear arms in the Middle East as the David, however, just might be.

BDS

I differ that the solution is a Pal state of some sort or other

Regarding 'occupied' territories - these were in Arab hands from1947 through 1967 and the war against Israelis was in full force - 'occupation; has caused nothing to give Pals grievance, they had full plate, of self-inflicted wounds and self-created hardship long before

Pals, then Arabs, were offered a State in 1947 and chose War instead, exterminationist, racist, and expulsionist rhetoric abundantly

Nothing has changed since them except three lost generations of Arab children and thousands dead

Gazans were offered a partial State by Israeli withdrawal, leaving economic opportunities behind and responded with 10,000 rockets, and got 2000 dead and 20,000 wounded in response

Pals can make peace any time, by abandoning war

This they will never do

BDS et al have short memories or elective outrage

The green (Muslim) on green butchery in that part of that world and green butchery of Christians, also, is lost - 'Christians' are quite silent on the lethal and homicidal and genocidal persecution and extermination of their co-religionists - for this we BDS THEM !

Their outrage is selective - we have a name or two for selective outrage, bias, or stupidity

Some call it liberation theology

WHAT we may do?, is pressure Arabs to abandon victory and exterminationist rhetoric, modify their education of their children and prepare their people for peace

This will take a generation or two, if they are serious , which we doubt, their 1300 year sense of historical inevitability will not be derailed by a 100 -year blip of temporary Ottoman and Caliphate reversal , also known as WW1 along with modern political territorial and nationalistic Israel/ Zionism

BDS yes

I suppose none of us should be surprised by how many times and in how many different ways people choose to minimize, mis-characterize and dissemble, the way David Heim has done in his article. Israel deserves to live in peace and security, yes. So do the Palestinians, but at every turn, the Israeli regime prevaricates and mucks up any serious attempt to simply allow the building of a real State of Palestine. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement was given birth by Israel herself. The settlements are a naked land-grab. The continuing illegal and immoral military occupation of Palestine is about five decades old. Houses have been demolished, groves uprooted. Movement restricted. The whole picture is heinous. You cannot assert that all of the violations by Israel of Palestinians' basic human rights is necessary for Israel's own security. You might as well set fire to a home, just in order to kill a housefly inside it. THAT'S what's being done to Palestinians. It's not a matter of inconveniences or minor delays. A certain fellow from Nazareth with whom we are all familiar ran into this kind of deliberate blindness, too. And if hearing about the ongoing Israeli abuses from Palestinians themselves will not open your eyes, maybe you should read about what happened to an innocent American Jew who wanted to get across the Einab Junction. Her name is Anna Baltzer. She wrote-up her own report of the experience, here: https://electronicintifada.net/content/einab-junction-inside-israels-new-terminals/7820. Note that this report is 10 years old. In the interim, things have only become WORSE, not better, for Palestinians. Next, may I suggest that David Heim have an enlightening conversation with any of the hospital administrators anywhere in Gaza?

Boycotting the Boycott

The author’s piece Boycotting the Boycott is an excellent example of the Israel lobby’s ongoing effort to control the narrative, both the Israeli and Palestinian. If you want to discuss the issues regarding the Israel Palestinian conflict, here is the paradigm for that discussion: Israel is interested in conversation about cooperation, but the leaders of the BDS movement are not – any one critical of the policies of the Israeli government is seeking to delegitimize the existence of the state of Israel,, criticism is not to be part of the conversation; Israel has to be seen as the David in the context of Goliath that is made up of the Arab countries of the Middle East, and now on the horizon is the possible re-emergence of Iran – thus Israel security always has to be a main focus of the discussion --a different conclusion from that of Max Blumenthal, who details Israel as the Goliath in his book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel; the Holocaust has to be taken into consideration especially when talking about the possible impact of a successful BDS movement; we need to keep talking about a two state solution, even though it is quite clear that the only interest that Israel has in the two state solution is to keep talking about it while more and more land is confiscated and settlements built on the stolen land; and finally do not use the word "justice" in the context of this discussion, peace maybe, but not justice.

Additionally, since the author is interested in contexts,. some context for the author’s initial comment about the cancelation of the Niagara Foundation: the author does not identify the Muslim organization as a Turkish Muslim organization, thus assuming that all Muslim organizations have similar sensitivities; the event was scheduled on the first day of Ramadan and on the first anniversary of Israel’s bombing of five sites in Gaza; and the conference’s emphasis implied that the source of tension in the conflict is religion, not politics. Perhaps there was sufficient reason for its cancellation.

Conversation and Action

Many thanks to the editor of The Christian Century Magazine, David Heim, for initiating this conversation after both the decisions of the Presbyterian Church in 2012 to boycott products from settlements, and again in 2014, to divest from American firms that profit from businesses within the Israeli occupied territories of Palestine, and by the United Church of Christ to do the same more recently at its General Meeting. No doubt there will be more such proposals in other Churches as well as when the Presbyterian Church convenes in Portland, Oregon in the summer of 2016. It is a time for conversations, but also action.

I will not respond to the attempt by some to equate the two entities as the biblical figures of David and Goliath, which minimizes the struggle, and negates the human costs to both the people of Israel and it’s occupied people of Palestine. I am more concerned about opponents of Boycott and Divestment who conflate anti-Semitism and actions toward the Israeli people, with protests against the Israeli government’s colonial practices in their occupied territories. I will not address this diversion in my response to the Heim article, for that position has long lost its support by both sides, and is one based upon fear not love.

Nor will I answer to the suggestion that Israel as the “David” of the region is under attack by the IS forces, and neighboring Arab states, and therefore, perhaps the suggestion that we should not hold the Israeli government fully responsible for its actions within Palestine. General Petraeus in a speech in 2010 said, “The conflict (Israel/Palestine) foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world.” (the total context may be read:http://www.lobelog.com/petraeus-confirms-link-between-israel-palestine-a...) Even if the characterization of Israel by Zionists as victims were true, holding the Palestinian peoples under a 50 year occupation is not justifiable.

As for the negative impact of BDS movement on the Palestinian people, I will remind us all, that the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment movement originated in the Palestinian Christian Community in 2011calling for Christians around the world to join the BDS effort, not from here in the U.S. (“S” for Sanctions can only be carried about by States). No doubt such a bold action by the Palestinian
Christian community has its costs. It is a price that many are willing to pay.

In 2012, the PCUSA, overwhelmingly voted to not only boycott the two major products recommended in its Israel/Palestine committee, but All products produced in the illegal Israeli settlements. And in 2014, the Israel/Palestine committee also voted nearly three to one, to support divestment from three major American Companies profiting from the occupation. While the vote was much closer in the Plenary session, within that body which hadn’t the benefit of several days of prayer and study together that it had in committee, nevertheless, the Church indicated in its decisions that Presbyterian funds would not be used in the support of such profiting activities. It elected not to join the growing world wide movement.

The Church has clearly begun to move now, as in other eras when the human rights of individuals were at issue, by boycotting products, and divesting Church resources from companies that continue to promote the inhumane acts between both the captives and captors. King’s call during the early Civil Rights movement to the Church to be the “headlights, not the brakes, and the voice not the echo” is still relevant today. There should be as much concern about the impact of such oppression witnessed in Palestine for the Israeli people as we do for Palestinian captives. What Israel is presently doing is not Jewish. It is losing its soul. For that we should all be concerned.

Finally, on several occasions, I have invited David Heim to travel with me on a trip within Israel to visit communities that are concerned about the struggle of Palestinians not only in the West Bank Territories, but also the racism within the State itself to: witness also the treatment of minorities there as well as in the camps, and Palestinian cities and, visit places on the other side of the wall such as where Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals come together on a 100 acre family farm to hear each other’s stories and plant olive trees. To“come and see” will bring light, not darkness; hope not fear. It is again a time for action.
BP

BDS

Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction

Naomi Klein, six years ago, eloquently answered those who object to BDS. I quote some of her relevant points: - "The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa...The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves.… This international backing must stop."

"Economic sanctions are the most effective tools in the nonviolent arsenal. Surrendering them verges on active complicity. Here are a few of the top objections to the BDS strategy, followed by counterarguments...
Punitive measures will alienate rather than persuade Israelis. The world has tried what used to be called "constructive engagement." It has failed utterly." To keep using the same ineffective delaying approach is simply crazy.

" Israel is not South Africa. 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, back-room lobbying) have failed. And there are indeed deeply distressing echoes of South African apartheid in the occupied territories: the color-coded IDs and travel permits, the bulldozed homes and forced displacement, the settler-only roads. Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, said that the architecture of segregation that he saw in the West Bank and Gaza was "infinitely worse than apartheid." That was in 2007, before Israel began its full-scale war against the open-air prison that is Gaza." "Boycotts sever communication; we need more dialogue, not less. : as soon as you start implementing a boycott strategy, dialogue increases dramatically...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." By the way, how does repeatedly bombing Gaza work to increase communication?

BDS

Thank you David Heim for provoking a debate on BDS, and in fact, for utilizing most of the standard arguments in your editorial.. Your unfortunate resort to the familiar anti-Semitism critique of BDS, or that it might undermine Israel's security, and that "hope lies in the "two-state" solution, are,all now moribund. Simply consider the "two state" argument alongside statements by the current Prime Minister of Israel and many in his Cabinet who not only publicly reject it, but their daily pronouncements of more land confiscation and construction of illegal settlements betray their goal of a single Jewish Zionist state over all of historic Palestine. However, for many of us, the core issues are justice and the option of faith-based resistance to injustice. BDS is consistent with our Judeo-Christian-Islamic values in that we do not wish to profit from the suffering of others-- in this case, a brutal military occupation that has also unleashed violent settlers who kill children, torch places of worship, and to this point have immunity from the rule of law. In such a situation, violence is no match to the highly militarized state of Israel so most Palestinians, joined by some Israelis several churches, and a growing movement among Jews world-wide, and take our cues from the Hebrew Prophets, or Jesus, or Muhammad, who were moved to action by the cries of the poor. The 2005 call from Palestinian civil society and the 2009 Kairos-Palestine document, supported by the majority of Palestinian churches, offer what theologian Walter Wink calls "the Third Way" alternative to violence and undignified surrender to the "powers that be." It is the path many of us followed during the civil rights and farm workers' movements, the struggle against the white Apartheid regime in South Africa, or even with Gandhi's use of boycotts, divestment, and strikes in the struggle for India's independence. To dismiss these same methods and principles as anti-Semitic and raising the Nazi threat when applied to Israel is both illogical and resorts to a form of political and theological exceptionalism. It seems that you do not think these same principles should apply to the case of Israel. I do not think I am alone in expressing my growing disappointment with the editorial policy of the "Christian Century" on this and other issues, where you continue to publish one side of this issue, even to the extent of issuing anti-BDS articles on the eve of the Presbyterian Church's votes on divestment.. Why not facilitate open debate, side by side in the same issue. Clearly, BDS is growing in its support and significance in the churches, the academy, and society at large, but the "Century".. After more than 30 years as a subscriber, I regret to say that I've been forced to look elsewhere for the cutting edge theological and political analysis that I once found in your pages, not only on the Israel and Palestine issue, but several others,

“Boycotting the boycott”

David Heim’s language of “giving up” land for peace alludes to a Zionist narrative according to which Israeli Jews have a right to the Occupied Palestinian Territories—and, in its more extreme version, to the whole of what was ancient Israel. The BDS movement rejects that narrative and its claim. In spite of religious Zionism’s narrative and claim, the Geneva Conventions, UN, and International Court of Justice agree that Israel’s occupation of land seized during war is illegal. For Palestinians whose ancestral lands Israelis seized during war and other means, “the Israelis give up land for peace” is a non-starter, because it presupposes a narrative that erases Palestinian ancestors. The issue is the return of land seized during war. Giving back or returning illegally occupied Palestinian land is the basis for a just peace. Language matters!
Heim’s article invokes another narrative: the Holocaust. Put in the context of that narrative, Heim implies, even nonviolent political actions against Israel mirror, repeat, or are tantamount to the Nazis’ treatment of Jews. For some Zionists, the Jewish Holocaust (Shoah) is the historical context for thinking about and justifying seizing and occupying Palestinian lands. The BDS movement, on the other hand, arises from a different historical context: the Israeli Jews’ seizure of ancestral lands and the Israeli Jews’ treatment of Palestinians (the Nakba). Heim seems to be sensitive to that narrative but, in the end, for him the Jewish Holocaust has higher moral authority insofar as he invokes the Nazis’ treatment of Jews as a parallel to the BDS movement. The comparison is structurally flawed:
For one thing, the BDS movement is not the action of a nation-state, national police, or national military. It is a grassroots movement involving individuals of many nationalities, religious and nonreligious traditions, and political perspectives.
For another thing, the invocation of the Nazis as a parallel implies that the BDS movement’s goal is the same as that of the Nazis: namely, the extermination of Jews or Israel. That is patently false. Its organizers hope the BDS movement will save Israel from self-destruction by bringing about change in Israel’s behavior toward Palestinians. Moreover, even if some BDS activists should wish to make Israel and/or Israelis and/or Jews “pariahs,” Heim’s implication that that is the goal of the BDS movement itself is a gross misrepresentation. If that is the unintended consequence of the BDS movement, it is fair to ask if the fault lies with the BDS movement or with Israel’s intransigence and obstructionism in the history of the peace process, its continued expansion of settlements, and its violation of Palestinian human rights. The point, however, is that the goal of BDS is analogous to divestment from tobacco, alcohol, guns, and military industries, which is standard in socially responsible investment policies, and boycotts by socially responsible consumers. The BDS movement encourages individuals, institutions, and nations to make analogous morally responsible decisions.

Thank you for a cogent argument

Thank you Mr. Heim for the courage to write against the stream, offering a cogent argument that if followed would advance peace in the region for Palestinians and Israelis.

Letter from Gerald Solt

This article contains the hyperbolic statement: “The deep message of BDS is that interaction with Israel is tantamount to collaboration with the oppressor” and says this approach “discourages Pales­tinians from everyday cooperation with Israelis on education, commerce, political administration, and management of natural resources.” This implies that because nations have public disagreements, there can be no people-to-people cooperation. The BDS movement does not disparage Israel or the Israeli people, nor does it discourage mutually beneficial interactions, but it does seek to raise world consciousness of the Palestinians’ economic plight.

Heim’s discussion of BDS quickly morphs into an argument in favor of Israel’s expanding control of the West Bank. Israel, we are told, must be wary of relinquishing political (and I assume economic) control because of all the enemies they have in the area. This skirts the fact that Israel’s current behavior toward the Palestinians is already making enemies, and not just in that region but around the world. Heim holds that Israel surrounded by enemies and terrorists is David facing Goliaths. It is hard to see Israel as a shrinking violet. It has a world-class army, air force, and intelligence agency and is the only nuclear-armed country in the Middle East. Such power, it could be argued, calls for more noblesse oblige.

Gerald Solt
Walnut Creek, Calif.

Letter from Cotton Fite

Heim’s article is so filled with flawed assumptions that it’s difficult to choose which to comment on. His listing of the hardships Palestinians suffer is so thin it makes me wonder if he has ever actually spent time with West Bank Palestinians. He fails to mention housing demolitions, midnight arrests, detention of Palestin­ian children, or the humiliation so many experience at Israeli checkpoints.

He writes that “the silencing of conversation is one of the most disturbing aspect of BDS.” On the contrary, it encourages conversation about the realities BDS is intended to highlight. He maintains that the “deep message of BDS is that interaction with Israel is tantamount to collaboration with the oppressor.” If interaction means investing in those companies that profit from occupation, he is correct—that amounts to collaboration with the oppressor.

Heim is also correct that Israelis have reason to feel “vulnerable” in the face of Iranian, Hamas, and Hezbollah threats. But I suspect there are few in the Middle East today who do not feel vulnerable. Israel’s conventional forces, nuclear arsenal, and U.S. backing should provide Israelis some reassurance.

When Heim discusses “sticking points” in negotiations he asserts that Israelis must “give up land for peace.” More correctly he should say: “Israelis must return land they have confiscated.” He claims “the aim of BDS is to make Israelis pariahs on the international scene.” The aim of BDS has nothing to do with making Israel a pariah state; Israelis do that well enough by themselves. The aim of BDS is to restore justice to the Palestinian people.

Cotton Fite
Wilmette, Ill.

Letter from Darrell W. Yeaney

Heim is either ignorant of the history and facts on the ground or a conscious and deliberate propagandist for the American Zionist lobby. He is blinded by close association with prominent American Jewish leaders who themselves have transferred their allegiance from the God of Abraham to the gods of Zionist nationalism.

The commentary misrepresents the BDS movement, falsifies the Palestinian commitment to it, and spreads the colossal propaganda that the David and Goliath roles between Palestine and Israel have been switched. In the American political divide on this issue, he is clearly on the winning side. How does he stand with the God of truth, justice, and compassion?

Darrell W. Yeaney
Scotts Valley, Calif.

Letter from Ed Crouch

Heim states that Palestinians living under the Israeli occupation “en­dure daily restrictions on travel, political activity, and economic opportunity.” This glosses the truth. Since 1947, Israel has confiscated 31 percent more of Palestine than the UN intended. Last year 1,177 Palestinian homes were demolished to extend more illegal settlements.

The brutality of the Israeli military toward Palestinians is evident everywhere. Pregnant mothers and their babies die at checkpoints seeking medical care. Children are harassed and injured by settlers and the Israeli military. The Institute for Middle East Understanding reports that 94 percent of charges against Israeli soldiers are closed without an indictment.

America is complicit in this behavior. We annually provide $3 billion a year in foreign aid and an equal amount in military assistance. The United States has vetoed over 80 resolutions in the UN condemning Israeli policies. After decades of dialogue it’s time for nonviolent action seeking justice for Palestinians.

Ed Crouch
Seattle, Wash.

Letter from Craig Schaub

The arguments Heim shared can go a long way in opening dialogue among members of local faith communities in light of recent Protestant resolutions that include BDS actions. As one who honors both the discussion at the United Church of Christ General Synod and the concerns and disappointment of Jewish colleagues, the article renews a sense of possible common ground. Heim’s article serves the other key element of recent resolutions: continued dialogue on the local level among people of Abrahamic faiths. That element can easily be lost in the headlines.

Craig Schaub
Winston-Salem, N.C.

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