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August 30, 2002 - Image 38

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-08-30

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Boycotts Rule Out Dialogue






Boycotts Are Effective Tools

or some time, Dr.
that there are increasing calls
hat is it with
Historical Boycotts
.Eitan Galun, the head
for boycotts within the
Jewish organiza-
But boycotts are very effective
of Hadassah Medical
American Jewish communi-
tions that they
political tactics that, inciden-
ty. To decry the actions of
have such a prob-
tally, have been supported
Goldyne Savad Gene Therapy
those who would willfully
lem with boycotts?
historically by Jews.
Institute, has been engaged in
bring economic harm to
Why is it that when the
The Civil Rights
research to cure a genetic dis-
Israel while mimicking them word is mentioned, these
Movement in the 1950s
ease prevalent in the Palestinian
against other targets —
organizations shudder and
found its impetus from boy-
community. He recently
media outlets, fast food
run for cover. Some can't even
cotts of the bus systems and
requested genetic material from
chains, auto manufacturers,
bring themselves to use the
businesses in the South. That
a Norwegian scientist and was
entire nations — is to
word, and the Forward news-
Counterpoint movement, along with the
employ an insupportable
paper, picking up on this
boycotts, was Jewish-sup-
"Due to the present situation
double standard. The wis-
reluctance, reported on the
ported. _
in the Middle East, I will not deliver
dom from Pirkei Avot of "Do unto
"b" word.
The entire labor movement was
any material to an Israelitic [sic] uni-
others ..." still rings true even — or
Recently, two major organizations
organized based on the principle of
versity," the scientist responded by e-
especially — in our very dangerous
have expressed their opposition to
strikes, and strikes are economic boy-
mail. With this statement, she
any kind of boycott: The Anti-
cotts. And, of course, the key strate-
engaged in nothing less than a boy-
From a practical standpoint, too,
Defamation League(ADL), through
gists in many cases were Jews.
cott of Israel and its scientists. By her
boycotts present major strategic limi-
its executive director Abraham
As to their effectiveness, boycotts
actions, which confuse science with
tations. An editorial published in the
Foxman, said boycotts are bad; and
probably are the most effective polit-
politics, the Palestinian population
May 2, 2002, issue of the prestigious
Hadassah called for an end to all
ical tactic, along with picketing, sit-
will needlessly continue to suffer from
British journal Nature, reacting to the
boycotts in a resolution adopted at its
ins, etc. — tactics also generally
a disease that could be cured through
spate of European boycotts against
national convention this summer in
shunned by Jewish organizations
scientific cooperation. This irony
Israeli scientists, stated: "...the con-
that usually prefer a letter to the edi-
seems to have escaped the Norwegian
cept of a research boycott restricts
Bonnie Lipton, national president
tor or an op-ed article. [These tac-
channels that are better
of Hadassah, the
tics] certainly are less confrontation-
This is only the latest example of
kept open ... Such boy-
Women's Zionist
al, but totally useless in achieving
how some sectors of the international
cotts are misguided and
Organization of America,
political ends.
community are singling out Israel and
should be opposed in
defended the resolution,
If the ADL, Hadassah and other
the Jewish people for boycott and
favour of constructive ini-
saying: "It's not demo-
Jewish organizations have doubts
tiatives." In the end, boy-
cratic ..."
about the effectiveness of boycotts,
Israel has long and consistently
cotts effectively isolate
Not only is her obser-
Jews use
they might ask black political strate-
been a prime target of international
their targets and withdraw
vation fuzzy, at best, but
gists or, better yet, those who have
boycotts. Since 1948, the Arab
boycotts as
the boycotter from the
boycotts are very demo-
been targeted for boycotts, such as
League has enforced a triple-level
opportunity for future dia-
cratic, falling under the
when its executives were
a tactic?
boycott aimed at isolating the Jewish
Constitution's First
caught on tape using racist remarks.
state. Through economic warfare, it
Amendment's protection
Jews, given their liberal politics,
has targeted Israel and Israeli busi-
of the right to protest.
generally do not cross picket lines;
Spurring Communication
nesses in a primary boycott, compa-
Let's make some distinctions —
therefore, they are supporting boy-
nies that did business with Israel or
For instance, if we do not like the way
very important distinctions — that
Israeli companies in a secondary boy-
that Israel is portrayed in the media,
seem to escape the ADL and
One doubts that the next time Ms.
cott, and finally companies that deal
initiating a conversation with the news- Hadassah and most other Jewish
Lipton encounters a picket line, she
with businesses on the secondary boy-
paper, radio station or magazine is the
organizations that boycott boycotts.
will tell the strikers: "This is not
cott list. Since October 2000, the
most constructive avenue for change.
Boycotts based on religion, sexual
democratic and I am crossing this
Arab League has re-invigorated its
Hadassah did just that to some stiff
orientation, nationality, etc., indeed,
picket line."
boycott of Israel.
criticism recently — when we invited
should be condemned and banned.
Blanket condemnation of boycotts
The Arab League boycott of Israel
the president of National Public Radio
Jews have been the targets of boycotts
is — to put it somewhat diplomati-
is illegal under U.S. law. The Export
(NPR) to participate on a panel discus-
simply because they were Jews and
cally — not very smart.
Administration Act of 1977, the pri-
sion at our national convention that
thus we should not support those
One would hope that the ADL and
mary anti-boycott law, prohibits any
analyzed media bias against Israel.
based on bigotry.
Hadassah would join a boycott of a
U.S. citizen or company from com-
There were many in the audience
Further, some boycotts may be ill
company that financially supported
plying with a boycott against a coun-
who think NPR does not treat Israel
advised. Much can be said in opposi-
terrorists in the Middle East.
try friendly with the United States. -
fairly in its coverage of the conflict.
tion to the proposed boycott, for
One would hope that the ADL and
Any requests received by an individ-
They forcefully stated so. They lis-
instance, of the New York Times, as
Hadassah would join a boycott of
ual or company for boycott informa-
tened and they were heard. There
recommended by some.
businesses that are complicit with
tion must be reported to the Office of were those who disagreed with the
This is not to say that a boycott
Anti-Boycott Compliance in the
speaker's conclusions, and those who
would be "undemocratic," but strate-
One would hope that the ADL and
Department of Commerce. Fihes
did not. Yet, no one - left the session
gically it may be counterproductive
Hadassah would support boycotts of
have been imposed on U.S. compa-
without feeling that an open, free-
and, frankly, given the power of the
companies that had financial and
nies that acquiesce to the Arab boy-
wheeling and important discussion
New York Times, hardly effective and
business alliances with Nazis during
cott of Israel.
had taken place — that this dialogue
a general waste of time.
World War II.
Within this context, it is distressing
was a starting point that holds great
If it were possible, a boycott of oil
promise for change.
Bed Falbaum, a Farmington Hills-
emanating from Saudi Arabia would
Bonnie Lipton is the national president
The concept of dialogue is sacred to
based author-playwright, public relations change the entire political landscape
The Talmud is written in the executive and former political reporter,
of Hadassah, the New York City-based
of Middle East politics and, probably,
form of a dialogue with several
Women's Zionist Organization of
teaches journalism part time at Wayne
make the Arab world much more
LIPTON on page 40
State University in Detroit.
FALBAUM on page 40

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