It occurred to me that there might just be a solution to the problem of the Boycott. Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement: counter boycott. Why not? There are lots of us wrinklies remembering how we boycotted South Africa (if you want a real apartheid, there's one you youngsters out there should study). We might not have had the effect that we desired, but, by heck, we sure felt better!
Further, these days, Jewish communities in the West, especially, actually do have some real economic clout. This autumn, for those of you who missed it, the UK (for United Kingdom) Jewish Film Festival was due to show some of its films in a cinema/theatre complex called the Tricycle. situated in North London, in an area noted more for its Irish and Afro-Caribbean "immigrants" than those of any other ethnicity. The Tricycle had shown films for the Festival in previous years, but this year, for some unknown reason, they demanded to view the films due to be screened in advance, with a clear implication of potential censorship. Fortunately, the UKJFF Executive flatly refused.
So, the Tricycle Chief Executive and Board scrutinised the Festival's sources of finance and alighted on a grant of £1400 ($2100, or NIS8400, both approximate) from the Israeli Embassy (clearly an Arts Grant from the Israeli - for the Brits reading this - the equivalent of one from the UK Arts Council: government money but administered independently). They demanded that the Festival return this and they would replace it, pound for pound. Naturally, the Festival rejected this out of hand and withdrew their films.
The reaction among the London Jewish literati was immediate: lots of us (my wife and I and all our friends on their mailing list, etc) immediately wrote to them, telling them to delete our addresses from their lists and that we would not be returning until they changed their policy. It is notable that a significant number of Jewish sponsors/donors also withdrew their support. The Tricycle reaction was almost immediate: they promised to reinstate the Festival next year (2015). However, none of us going back until the Tricycle makes good on its promise.
They must have had a nasty shock when they lost the support of a significant number of their sponsors and mailing list members.
They forgot that Jews, these days, are, in the Diaspora, collectively pretty Middle Class +, with a significant spend available for the arts and entertainment sector.
The point of this preamble is to note that the Zim Line has decided to stop attempting to unload cargoes in Long Beach, California, following problems with BDS demonstrators at the port (see this Times of Israel article for details). Despite the efforts of the port authorities to play down the problems, one of them, Lee Peterson stating that "“At the time,...it did not affect the longshore workers and operations continued”, and despite a spokesperson for Zim Lines (apparently, the 10th largest sea-borne freight carrier in the world) suggested that this situation wasn't necessarily permanent, it would appear that Zim Lines will unload elsewhere on the West coast of the US for as long as it takes.
So, all of us supporters of Israel have purchasing power: we can buy or not buy where we like. Perhaps we should be making sure we buy in stores, etc, that are prepared to stock Israeli goods (even if that's not what we're buying today), and avoid stores that support BDS.Capitalist principles of the bottom line and profit margin will soon take over!
By Brian Goldfarb.
Update: Commenter Larry Sheldon is absolutely right, saying:
You make an error if you fail to include the Christian communities that feel and act more strongly FOR Israel [than] some Jewish communities do.Indeed, the same call applies to our Christian friends as well.