Today, I joined the “Buycott”

I am not a great fan of consumer boycotts. They’re typically pretty blunt instruments, which often harm the very people who you’d most want to help.

I have to admit, however, that I try not to buy pistachios from Iran because I believe – rightly or wrongly – that the profits are likely to end up in the pockets of the politician and pistachio magnate, Rafsanjani. Yeah, he’s a ‘liberal’ in comparison with other members of the criminal gang that runs the Islamic Republic of Iran. But I don’t want to enrich him. Ditto, Saudi dates.

I also tend to favour produce from Israel.

I wouldn’t not buy food produced on the West Bank, because I can’t see a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict in which the emerging Palestinian agricultural industry is pauperised.

But to be frank, I really would rather not buy produce from Israeli settlements on the West Bank. I just don’t think they should be there. Neither, really, does Israel – despite the suposedly “moot” arguments about their status under international law, most Israeli politicians and most of the Israeli public know that most of those settlements will have to go.

So, until plans are put in place to separate Israel from Palestine, and to establish a Palestinian state, on which – as far as I’m concerned – Jews should remain as Palestinian citizens, I won’t be buying produce from Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

I will be joining the “Buycott” campaign, and I will be buying both Palestinian West Bank and Israeli produce. Yeah, the Israeli Government behaves badly, and Fatah is pretty venal and repressive. But I do want to see both economies flourish.

The British Government has made that choice possible:

UK food labels are set to distinguish between goods from Palestinians in the occupied territories and produce from Israeli settlements.

Food packaging guidelines advise a change from labels usually naming only Israel or West Bank as the source.

The government said it was opposed to a boycott of Israeli goods, but that the settlements posed an obstacle to peace.

The Palestinian general delegation to the UK welcomed the move, but Israel said it was “extremely disappointed”.

All Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

The new guidelines recommend that food labels in supermarkets should bear the phrases “Israeli settlement produce” or “Palestinian produce”.

Sure, It is predictable, and disappointing that it chose to kick start a diplomatic/political food labeling campaign with a focus on the Israel/Palestine dispute, rather than the China/Tibet or Morocco/Western Sahara disputes, or any other similar conflicts. I’d like to be able to distinguish between products produced there, too. That’s not going to happen. And. of course, this development is a symptom of the somewhat unhealthy Israel/Palestine focus of the bien pensant Left. I also realise that nutters like the SPSC or BRICUP or JBIG will continue to push for a boycott of all Israeli goods, and will grandstand around the issue until kingdom come. I also appreciate that there are arguments to be had about whether such a labeling change, at this time, makes good sense from a diplomatic or domestic political perspective. Argue about that all you’d like below.

But, from a personal point of view, I would much rather spend my money on goods produced by Israeli citizens in Israel, and Palestinian “citizens” in Palestine, than on the produce of settlements which, by and large, really ought to be dismantled sooner rather than later.

Venichka disagrees in the comments below

Compared with the utterly venal nature of (almost) all of the regimes whom “we” both individually and as a society purchase items of major economic importance such as petroleum products from (Norway are fine though), my thoughts are that this is all a bit navel- (or perhaps even, in some agricultural circumstances, I dunno, navel-orange-) -gazing, and unutterably trivial.

I mean, in comparison with giving money for oil to, say, the Saudi sheikhs (and the things that, in some cases, the things that this funding is pumped into, either domestically or internationally), and for all that I think that either the segregation between Israeli citizens and non-citizens in the occupied Palestinian territories, now, or the occupation itself should end, albeit when circumstances permit, which is clearly subject to more than one party, I really couldn’t care less about a few quid going to people for supplying a service or goods who live somewhere that is regarded by some as politically contentious.

Sorry, but my impression of people who support rather trivial little boycotts against Israeli Jaffa Oranges and so on is that they are self-righteous, obsessive, weird and nasty, and lacking charity in their hearts.

And I don’t see that making fine distinctions in this sense really helps matters, either. So, as far as I am concerned, worrying about whether something labelled as an Israeli product originates from somewhere that is located within what for sake of simplicity might be referred to as post-1948 boundaries, or post-1967 boundaries of Israeli-controlled territory, also strikes me as self-righteous, obsessive, weird and nasty.

I honestly can’t see that such a campaign would have any notable economic effect; but that it does add a further dose of poison to the political atmosphere that would inhibit yet further any vaguely amicable resolution of the conflict.