The Case for Sanctions Against Israel Paperback – May 2 2012
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“Provides clear arguments for international sanctions against Israel because of its treatment of the Palestinians. This excellent collection of essays is an essential text for anyone interested in why they should support the movement to boycott Israel. The essays are not just good reading; they are also an eloquent call to the world to give a damn.”—Ron Jacobs, Counterpunch
“Punish[es] .. Israel with regards to its policies towards Palestinians.”—Book News
About the Author
Omar Barghouti is a human rights activist, founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the BDS movement, and author of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights.
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist, fellow at the Nation Institute and author of The Shock Doctrine.
Ilan Pappe is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. His many books include The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and, most recently, Gaza in Crisis (with Noam Chomsky). He writes for, among others, the Guardian and the London Review of Books.
Slavoj iek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential iek, and many more.
Ra’anan Alexandrowicz is an Israeli filmmaker and activist.
Hind Awwad is a coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee.
Mustafa Barghouthi is the Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, the president of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and a nonviolence democracy leader based in Ramallah.
Dalit Baum and Merav Amir are project coordinators of Who Profits from the Occupation? in the Coalition of Women for Peace.
Joel Beinin is Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History at Stanford University.
Storyteller, novelist, essayist, screenwriter, dramatist and critic, John Berger is one of the most internationally influential writers of the last fifty years. His many books include Ways of Seeing, the fiction trilogy Into Their Labours, Here Is Where We Meet, the Booker Prize-winning novel G, Hold Everything Dear, the Man Booker–longlisted From A to X, and A Seventh Man.
Angela Davis is a teacher, writer, scholar, and activist/organizer.
Nada Elia teaches Global and Gender Studies at Antioch University in Seattle. She is a member of the Organizing Collective of USACBI, the US Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
Marc H. Ellis is University Professor of Jewish Studies, Professor of History and Founding Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Baylor University. He is the author and editor of more than twenty books, including Encountering the Jewish Future.
Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney and Adjunct Professor of International Human Rights Law at Georgetown University.
Neve Gordon is an Israeli academic and the author of Israel’s Occupation.
Ran Greenstein works at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ronnie Kasrils is a former South African government minister and was an activist during the anti-apartheid struggle. Among other positions, he was chief of military intelligence of the ANC’s military wing. Today he writes and lectures, is active in the Palestinian solidarity movement, and is a noted author whose recent book The Unlikely Secret Agent won the country’s prestigious Alan Paton Award.
Father Jamal Khader is Chairperson of the Department of Religious Studies, Bethlehem University, Palestine.
Mark LeVine is a Professor of Middle East History at the University of California, Irvine, and author of Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam and Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989.
David Lloyd is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California.
Ken Loach is the director of The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Looking for Eric. Rebecca O’Brien and Paul Laverty were the producer and writer, respectively, for the latter film.
Haneen Maikey is cofounder and Director of al-Qaws for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, and cofounder of Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
Jonathan Pollak is an Israeli activist who has been involved in the Palestinian popular struggle since 2002.
Laura Pulido is a Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.
Lisa Taraki is a Sociologist at Birzeit University in the occupied Palestinian territories, and a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
Rebecca Vilkomerson is the Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace.
Michael Warschawski is a journalist, political analyst, and veteran Israeli anticolonial activist. He is also the cofounder of the Alternative Information Center.
Audrea Lim is an associate editor at Verso Books.
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Readers wishing to turn straight away to an explanation of the rationale of BDS should read the chapter by Naomi Klein (ch.19) and Ilan Pappe (ch.20) first. Ilan Pappe describes his decision to support BDS as follows:
"For an activist, the realization that change from within is unattainable not only grows from an intellectual or political process, but is more than anything else an admission of defeat. And it was this fear of defeatism that prevented me from adopting a more resolute position for a very long time.... Supporting BDS remains a drastic act for an Israeli peace activist. It excludes one immediately from the consensus and from the accepted discourse in Israel....But there is really no other alternative. Any other option - from indifference, through soft criticism, and up to full endorsement of Israeli policy - is a wilful decision to be an accomplice to crimes against humanity."
John Berger in his two page chapter (ch.21) provides a short but important analysis of how BDS should be understood and explained:
"Boycott is not a principle. When it becomes one, it risks becoming exclusive and racist. No boycott, in our sense of the term, should be directed against an individual, a people, or a nation as such. A boycott is directed against a policy and the institutions that support that policy, either actively or tacitly. Its aim is not to reject, but to bring about change."
I don't think that the importance of clearly understanding this point could be over-stated. It really is essential for BDS activists to be able to understand and communicate this point clearly if BDS is to be successful in bringing about the change in public consciousness that is required.
The book contains two chapter by South African commentators: Ronnie Kasrils (ch.11), a veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle, and Ran Greenstein (ch.16), an academic from Johannesburg, both of which I found particularly powerful. Perhaps the most unusual chapter is written by Marc Ellis (ch.14), a Professor of Jewish studies at Baylor University in Texas. Although he echoes the discredited myth that Israel was faced with an existential threat prior to the 1967 war (or at least fails to clearly debunk it) he does make some interesting points, including drawing a parallel between the criticisms faced by 'Jews of conscience' and the Biblical prophets:
"Like the prophets, Jews of conscience who argue for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions are charged with treason. And, again like the prophets, Jews of conscience are seen as imperilling the security of the State of Israel and of Jews everywhere. Those who call for concrete measures against the policies of the State of Israel, especially after the Holocaust, are seen as blasphemers by the powers that be. But then the prophets were seen in exactly the same way."
My main criticism of this book is that is has no Introduction or Conclusion and so the reader is left to their own devises to try to pull together the themes of the various chapters into a coherent whole. This strikes me as an omission, and is certainly something that I would have appreciated as a reader. I would agree with the other four star reviewer that there is scope for more writing on this subject, and a more broad-ranging analysis of the tactic of BDS than we have been presented with yet.