16 August 2013 | Al Jazeera | Ben White
As governments and civil society groups around the world increase their efforts to target goods produced in Israel’s illegal settlements, the Israeli government and BDS critics are stepping up the propaganda counter offensive.
One of the main tactics adopted by those seeking to stem the boycott tide is to state that these measures actually harm Palestinians. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has been pushing back against a boycott along such lines for some time, but given recent developments in South Africa and the European Union, there has been a renewed emphasis on the supposed counterproductive effect of such tactics.
There have been joint Israeli government-settler propaganda initiatives, and even an official, MFA-circulated document on “the effects of labelling settlement products on the Palestinian economy”. “Should Europeans be successful in banning Israeli products from the West Bank”, Israel’s ambassador to the UN said in June, “this will bring about the loss of jobs of several thousands of Palestinians”.
Interestingly, there are parallels here with arguments used against the international boycott campaign during the time of Apartheid South Africa, with ANC activists having to confront claims “that Non-White people will be the first to be hit by external boycotts”. Those comparisons aside, the argument is flawed for four reasons. …
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