Israel/Palestine,  The Left

Why left-wing students should not support boycotts of Israel

The Alliance for Workers Liberty has produced a cogent argument for opposing the ‘Boycott Israel’ campaign from a Trotskyist-left-wing perspective. It supports a two-state solution as a means of guaranteeing self-determination for both nations. The argument calls for more constructive solidarity and the promotion of cooperation between the Palestinian and Israeli working class and progressive movements. It explains why the “apartheid” analogy is plain wrong when applied to Israel and explains the differences in outcomes and effects between the the current boycott call and past boycotts of South Africa. It concludes that a boycott of Israel will in fact be counter-productive, and profoundly damaging to the cause of Palestinian liberation.

While I’m sure that both the pro-boycott crowd and some supporters of Israel will find much to disagree with, it is well worth a read.

Boycotts will certainly weaken the left, internationalist, pro-Palestinian wing inside Israel, and strengthen the right, by making Israelis feel as if a hostile world is pressing down on them (of the course the history of the Holocaust and anti-semitism play a role here too). The more effective they are – for instance, the more Israelis lose their jobs or livelihoods as a result – the stronger this negative impact will be. Boycotts will harm, not help, the Palestinians.

There are good reasons why, in general, the left is sceptical about boycotts as a form of struggle. They promote ideas of consumer rather than workers’ power, power residing on people’s shopping lists rather than in their workplaces. They are often counterproductive. But Israel seems to be a special case. Why?

Read the full article here.