Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chocolate Chips, Microchips, and Palestinian Rights

from The Propagandist

So, what's the connection between chocolate chips, microchips, and Palestinian rights?

No, that's not a joke. Or: in another sense, it is.

Answer: nothing at all, and that's just the point.

This is the subject of my inaugural contribution for The Propagandist.

The anti-Israel "BDS" (Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment) movement reached new heights of inanity this summer, where, in Australia, it has made boycotting Israeli chocolate the centerpiece of its efforts.  No, I couldn't make this stuff up.

Their public enemy no. 1:  the chic "Max Brenner" chain of gourmet chocolate restaurants. Strident activists gather outside the stores to shout that the owner is a "murderer" and supporter of "genocide," and to chant for "Palestine from the river to the sea."

Founder Oded Brenner, who calls himself "a man of peace," has said, "Whether it is in Israel or not, anything to do with violence, aggressiveness or appearing at protests or boycotts seems silly (to me). But then again, I am just a chocolate-maker." He confesses to being "perplexed and dismayed" at all the controversy.

Can you blame him? The protests have gotten a lot of attention, almost all of it negative. Leading Australian politicians have condemned them.  Faced with the sight of screaming mobs harassing customers and trying to obstruct the operation of Jewish-owned stores, they have tried to point out: uh, folks, the Nazis tried this once before, and we don't think this is the best model for you to follow.  Even the head of the leading pro-Palestinian activist group in Australia, who supports BDS, as such, called these protests "indefensible and stupid."

The character of BDS has lately become even clearer, in case anyone was not paying attention. There is virtually universal agreement that the solution to the Arab-Israeli wars ultimately lies in the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and their mutual recognition that this division of the land puts a definitive end to their conflict. Indeed, that is at least the official position of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. How and when that will come about is another matter.

The Palestinian Authority is pressing ahead with its quest for a vote on statehood at the UN, and although there is quite some debate as to whether that move is an attempt to revive (1, 2) or circumvent (1, 2, 3) peace negotiations, it has focused world attention on the issue as rarely before.

You'd think the BDS folks would be pleased at this turn of events. Think again.

For them, even a return to the so-called "1967 borders" (actually: 1949 armistice lines) without adjustments would be inadequate. Anything short of the return of all refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel—which would of course in practice eliminate one of the two states—is treason and betrayal. One of the more vocal advocates of that view, "Electronic Intifada" co-founder Ali Abunimah, therefore argues that the "UN ‘Statehood’ Bid" actually "Endangers Palestinian Rights.”

Just last night, he foolishly picked a fight on Twitter with Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy, accusing her of not being sufficiently dedicated to the Palestinian cause because she would not state her support for BDS. She replied he was not woman enough to challenge her political credentials, and it was downhill from there. Anyone familiar with her work knows that she can be a harsh critic of Israel. But her refusal to play the BDS street cred game earned her a spot on the politically correct blacklist, causing her to say, "Thought police. I will not submit to your litmus test."

Yesterday, too, the demonstrators were out in force again in Sydney, and very proud of their achievement. Those actually trying to shop and eat were rather less enthusiastic about the result. (this video captures some of the flavor of the event)

There you have it: To many observers, Palestinian statehood seems at last within reach.  And meanwhile, more than 19,000 Arabs have died in the ongoing struggle against their own dictatorships in recent months.

And yet the BDS crew is convinced that (1) the possible creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel in the near future will be a betrayal and a disaster, but (2) persecuting a chocolatier and harassing Australian shoppers will bring about The Revolution.

So much for the chocolate chips. And the microchips? You'll just have to check out the whole thing in The Propagandist. (Hint: if you support BDS and used a popular search engine to get here, you'll have to change your habits. Better check that cell phone in your purse or pocket, too.)
Read the rest: "BDS Fail. Let the (Micro) Chips Fall Where They May"

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