Blogs Jul 18, 2011 at 7:10 am


I'm astounded, nay, shocked that a country that bases citizenship on shady ethnic/religious grounds, does not allow nonreligious marriage (effectively banning same-sex, civil and interfaith marriage) would have less than stellar respect for the free speech of it's citizens.

@Dominic: I don't know why you think boycotting a nation is a silly idea; If they're wasn't such a strong boycott and divestment movement against South Africa there might still be apartheid. Either way, this law goes farther, making it illegal to boycott the West Bank. It means that touring academics and artists, for example, can be sued for choosing not to speak or perform in the occupied territory for political reasons.
@1, I may not support your improper apostrophe, but I'll defend to the death your right to punctuate.
What's so silly about boycotting nations? I actively participated in boycotts against Chile and South Africa - was that just me being silly?

Hell, no.

That was me being deadly serious, Dominic. Me, and a whole Helluva lot of other people. Or would you have preferred that people simply clucked their tongues and bitched while stocking up on Granny Smith apples?

@3, I hang my head in corrected shame.
Yeah, that's most unfortunate. I just read the NY Times editorial. Clearly, free speech is at stake. Seems the country is veering Reactionary Rightward. Their Foreign Minister, Leiberman is quite the Nationalist, some have even called him racist for his anti-Arabic rhetoric. And, hopes for any Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement are essentially nil. Some tough times lie ahead for all parties. But, the Palestinians will bear the brunt of those.
Or trying to bully people out of their homeland simply because your little storybooks say your people lived there too.
Perhaps, instead of boycotting the country, we could ask our congressmen to stop sending them billions of dollars in aid.
@2 and 4) There's a time for boycotts--when a critical mass of boycotters can make a difference. South Africa is a probably a good example. But half-assed boycotts of corporations or countries don't do much; they can be disempowering for the people boycotting and empowering for the company that thrives without a dent. I'm also concerned that the people who could bear the brunt of boycotts are the workers behind the commodities--poor and middle-income people who have no dog in the fight but lose jobs--and not the decision makers you're trying to influence.
"Actually, boycotting a nation is a silly idea. But it's not as sillidiotic as laws trying bully people into silence."

Then whats the purpose of Economic Sanctions against Iran?

At first I felt it was important to boycott goods made in the West Bank, now I feel the entire country should.
@10, well-played.

And Dominic, the whole point of national boycotts is specifically TO make an impact on those middle-and-low income people in order to foment policy change from WITHIN the boycotted nation.

Wake up.
Fascistic, reactionary policies come about when people are motivated by fear.
It's a shame when the government of a nation treats others as though they have no right to be there. God knows we did so, and still do, to the American Indians who've been here for thousands of years, when we only got here several hundred years ago. But it's a relief, isn't it, to look away from what we have done and still do here at "home", to a small country across the world, and get righteously angry about what it does.
The thing with guilt trips, @14, is that they tend to freeze those who are susceptible to being sent on guilt trips in their tracks, stymied from working towards resolution. That may be the goal of those who want to hand out tickets to guilt trips, and that is insidiously evil on their part.

Shame and blame is not productive.
Dominic, I really don't see any logic in your stance. You write "when a critical mass can make a difference." Using that reasoning, boycotts never begin. The one against RSA, against GE, they began when it didn't make a difference. A boycott only works via it's longevity.

The main point of a boycott is to draw attention to a specific moral issue. No one gave a damn where blacks had to ride on the buses in Alabama. It took a boycott to bring attention to the practice, and why the boycotters felt it was morally reprehensible. It allows the disempowered to have a voice.

Do you feel the same sympathy for the bus drivers in Selma who lost wages because of the boycott? From the viewpoint of the boycotters, those who participate in the morally reprehensible act, no matter how far removed, are still participants, and thus must be held accountable.

Now, if you disagree w/ the moral stance of the boycott, that's a very important aspect of any critique. But to dismiss boycotts in toto of being "a silly idea,' I find that a very hard idea to defend. It reeks of one who is more concerned w/ external images than true substance.

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