Has the time come for a military embargo on the State of Israel?

Jody McIntyre
bilin1 300x210 Has the time come for a military embargo on the State of Israel?

Copyright Haitham al Katib

“[The government] must also halt Britain’s arms exports to Israel,” wrote Liberal Democrat leader and now Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on January 7th 2009, as the world watched Israeli shells destroying a UN school in Gaza.  The title of Clegg’s article was unambiguous; “We must stop arming Israel”.

On Friday, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee [BNC], a broad coalition encompassing all political factions, and a wealth of trade unions, NGOs and civil organisations, released a call for an immediate and comprehensive military embargo of Israel.  It is time for us to heed that call.

“A comprehensive military embargo on Israel is long overdue,” reads the statement.  “It forms a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and other peoples and states in the region, and it constitutes an effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law.”

The call was made on the anniversary of a 2004 International Court of Justice ruling on the legality of the Wall that Israel has constructed, which snakes through the West Bank, separating Palestinian communities from their land.  By a vote of 14 judges to 1, the court concluded that “Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built… including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated.”

In 2009, I spent six months living in Bil’in, a Palestinian village in the West Bank situated right on the route of the Wall, which had stolen over half of the people’s land.  Every Friday, we would demonstrate at the Wall, and demand to return to our land.  Despite the ICJ ruling, and an Israeli High Court decision for the route of the Wall to be changed, we were met with Israeli soldiers shooting at us with tear gas, sound grenades and live ammunition, every week.  Dozens of people were arrested at the demonstrations, and in nightly house raids, and many were injured in attacks.  A brother and sister, Bassem and Jawaher Abu Rahme, both died; Bassem in April 2009, and Jawaher on the first day of 2011. The army would often occupy the entire village, in the day or during the night, in an attempt to dissuade people from demonstrating.  Their attempts always failed.

The continued resistance of the people of Bil’in, and a growing international pressure, proved too much for the Israeli army to deal with.  The occupation of this village was not worth it.  On July 1st, for the first time in over six years, the people of the village did not demonstrate at the Wall.  The Wall had been removed.  But we cannot celebrate for too long.  The Wall, that symbol of Israeli apartheid, remains in the West Bank.  As do the checkpoints, and the illegal Israeli colonies sometimes referred to as “settlements”.  The people of Gaza remained besieged, and as we attempt to legitimise our arming of rebels in Libya, European citizens taking humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip are arrested and deported.

Stories like Bil’in continue to inspire us, and it is clear that the Palestinian people will be the ultimate catalyst of the liberation of Palestinian land.  But the only question for us is, how can we support them in their struggle?  At the very least, we must cut off the supply line to the state that oppresses them.  We must refuse to be complicit in the occupation of Palestine, a land that our own military once occupied, and we must desist in arming a rogue state.  That is why we must join those such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and Naomi Klein in supporting this call for a military embargo of Israel.  It is the least we can do.

  • matti81

    “If Israel does abuse human rights then what about countries like China
    who violate human rights left right and center? Why don’t the left try
    and delegitimise China?”—HORRIBLE logic. For one, China doesn’t claim to be a “bastion of democracy”, as Israel does. And in any case, when refusing to acknowledge the human rights abuses by Israel by saying, “well look at other countries!” is not only disingenuous, but also a red herring (form of fallacious reasoning). That is why many of those “on the left” don’t bother with the moronic attempts of right wing types at using such erroneous and fallacious ways of deflecting blame from Israel.

  • matti81

    “That was Hebron, where Abraham, settled”—Pathetic. Attempting to justify the illegal occupation of a territory based on fairy tale legends is just plain pathetic. The concept of the “Jewish people” is nothing more than a mythical narrative. It has no basis as a scientific fact. There is no scientific proof that an “Abraham” existed, no proof of an exodus, and no proof of wandering the desert for 30 years. All of these things are nothing more than fairy tales.

  • williambilek

    You are certainly welcome to your opinion. But to label the beliefs of bilions upon billions of people as “pathetic” as a result certainly is not to your credit, nor does it add to your believability.

    As for “justifying the illegal occupation”: it is neither “illegal” nor justified by what you call “fairy tale legends”. It is justified as a result of successful self-defense against a genocidal war of aggression against the “mythical Jewish People.” Their historic presence in the land, however, is strongly supported and attested to by archeological findings dating back to the Kingdom of Israel.

    Now, I suppose it is possible that none of that ever existed; that nothing really exists now; that you are just imagining that you are blogging on a fairy tale blog, and we are all just imaginations in the ether. Think about it. I can imagine that you are going…going…gone!

  • rpdiplock

    Ok … if you want to play a silly game … I might extend your little delusionary, myopic reasoning, by inferring that it could be reasonably presumed that – Israel … is not in Israel.
    It might just be presumed to be in a place known as, Palestine.

  • matti81

    “But to label the beliefs of bilions upon billions of people as “pathetic” as a result certainly is not to your credit”—I wasn’t referring to the religious belief itself, but rather that the belief that is used to justify the illegal theft of land. That is all. People can believe that purple unicorns orbit the moon for all I care, but if it meant subjugating an entire ethnic group of peoples according to the purple unicorn belief, then that’s where “pathetic” comes into play.

    According to the International Court of Justice and numerous other international human rights groups, Israel does indeed occupy illegal land. Hence my statement stands.

    “nor justified by what you call ‘fairy tale legends’”—Is it also not justified to call a spade a spade?

    “Their historic presence in the land, however, is strongly supported and
    attested to by archeological findings dating back to the Kingdom of
    Israel”–The Jew’s of antiquity have no link to modern day Jewry, except for one thing: their collective belief system that surrounds a book of dusty tomes and mythologies. As stated before, there is no proof the Hebrews were expelled from Jerusalem, no archaeological evidence of any expulsion from Egypt and the subsequent 30 year wandering of the desert, and no proof of any Jewish Kingdom ruled by a “King David”. Not a single credited, scholarly archaeologist or scientist adheres to this fable. 

    “Now, I suppose it is possible that none of that ever existed; that
    nothing really exists now; that you are just imagining that you are
    blogging on a fairy tale blog, and we are all just imaginations in the
    ether”—This is a fine straw man. Don’t see how it has anything to do with what I’ve been saying, but anyway.

    “I can imagine that you are going…going…gone!”—Indeed, I have gone to get myself a beer. I found your cheap argument to be quite a bore.

  • JohnBEllis

    I don’t pretend to know the statistics, and I’m suspicious of anyone who claims to do so, as the Ottomans in the 19th and early 20th centuries were as bad at gathering and compiling census statistics as they were at government in general – hence the contemporary sneer “the Sick Man of Europe”. I made this point in answer to williambilek yesterday, but either the “Indy” or Disqus told me my post had to be “submitted to the censor – err, moderator”, and when that happens, you know it won’t appear!

    The Zionist argument tends to be that Jews were numerous in Palestine even in the last decades of Ottoman rule, which might give their case more legitimacy than would be the case if they based it on numbers during the period of the British mandate, when everyone knows that there was increasing Zionist Jewish migration into Palestine from other parts of the world.

    The fact is, I suspect, that we don’t and won’t know for certain, because there’s insufficient unambiguous data. But I still have a suspicion that you might in principle be right: most Jews in Palestine at the close of the 19th century might have been immigrants from elsewhere, or the immediate descendants of pretty recent immigrants.

    My own view, though, is that, however much this issue may matter in constructing honest historical debate unclouded by partisan misinformation, it doesn’t help in dealing with the problems of today. For the last sixty years there have been hundreds of thousands of outraged Palestinians nursing an understandable grievance over their dispossession from homes and lands in Palestine. It hardly matters now in practical terms whether they fled because they were driven out by Zionist militants or because rumour or the advice from their community leaders prompted them to flee; probably there were instances of both.

    Your solution appears to be that the Jews should now be dispossessed so that the displaced Palestinians can return, and you suggest that the Jews could go back to Russia. Do you seriously think that the Russian government would accept that? Or that, if by some rush of altruism it did, that ordinary Russians would tolerate the idea of hundreds of thousands of jobless, homeless Jews largely unable to speak their language be landed on them. The economy there is knackered enough already, without that!

    The creation of Israel was arguably both a folly and unjust. But there are some things that can’t be simply undone by an agreement – even were that feasible in realpolitik terms – a declaration and a few strokes of international statesmen’s pens. And even if that were doable, do we really, ethically and morally, think that we should redress the injustice of the forced expulsion of one group of people by forcibly expelling another group sixty years later?

  • williambilek

    One more thing. “The Jew’s of antiquity have no link to modern day Jewry”.
    So “modern day Jewry is not connected to:
    the Jews of the “enlightenment” and the “emancipation” of the 1800’s;

    Israel Ben Eliezer, the founder of the Hassidic Movement in the mid-1770’s; the Jews in the Great Northern War “fought between a coalition of Russia, Denmark-Norway and Saxony-Poland
    (from 1715 also Prussia and Hanover) vs. Sweden. Czar Peter I and King
    Augustus eventually defeated Charles II of Sweden and Stanislaus
    Leszczynski (the Pretender). Jews were forced by both sides to pay heavy
    taxes, especially in the cities occupied by the Swedes. In Poznan
    (1704), Jews were forced to defend the city by catching firebombs with
    their hands”; or those Jews of Algeria, Russia, or the USA that were discriminated against, as Jews.

    The Jews expelled from Germany, Belarus, Lithuania, France in the 1600’s; murdered in Portugal and Yemen for being Jews.

    The murder and torture of Jews, for being Jews, in Holland, Persia, Portugal, Mexico, Morrocco through the 1500’s;

    The blood libels, murders and expulsions of Jews Switzerland, France, of the Spanish Inquisition, in the 1400’s.

    The persecuted Jews in the wake of the Black Plague of the 1300’s.

    The persecuted Jews in England, France, Italy in the wake of the Crusades. In Persia as well, throughout the 1200’s.

    The persecuted and murdered Jews of England, France, Morrocco and Persia in the 1100’s

    through the 400’s:
    “439 January 31, CODE OF THEODOSIUS II (Byzantine Empire).

    The first imperial compilation of anti-Jewish laws since
    Constantine. Jews were prohibited from holding important positions
    involving money, including judicial and executive offices. The ban
    against building new synagogues was reinstated.

    the 300’s:
    354 – 430 ST. AUGUSTINE 

    Bishop of Hippo (North Africa), called Jewry a corruption and proclaimed eternal Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus.

    the 200’s:

    Wrote Contra Judaeous, which blamed the harsh conditions of the Jews on their rejection of Jesus.

    You are right! No connection at all!!

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