Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Leftist magazine: Palestinian Arabs forced to buy Chanukah candy!

Noam Sheizaf, a writer for the leftist 972 Magazine, takes a humorous post of mine way too seriously - and makes an idiot of himself in the process.

I noted that a new, beautiful supermarket in Gaza was selling Israeli items, and said jokingly that the flotilla passengers who might make it to Gaza will be forced to picket that store for not adhering to BDS.

Sheizaf is upset:
Back to planet Earth: Israel controls the economy of the West Bank and Gaza. Israel decides what goods are let in and out, just as it has most of the control over electric power and water in the territories. This is called “the occupation,” something that EOZ and the likes of him have yet to hear about.
He then goes off on an irrelevant tangent about how evil Israeli companies profiteered off of the closure two years ago, before Israel eased the sanctions and allowed all of the products I noted in my piece.

And he concludes:
The BDS call, which EOZ referred to, is a Palestinian request of solidarity from the international community. Palestinians are forced to buy Israeli goods – just as they are forced to work for Israelis in order to survive – but they ask others, who do have a choice, to avoid that.
If I would have highlighted Israeli flour, or cooking oil, or candles, perhaps Sheizaf would have a point.

But let's look at his thesis: that ordinary Palestinian Arabs are the ones who are pushing the boycott of Israeli goods.

If that is true, wouldn't one expect to see a certain reluctance about selling Israeli goods in their supermarkets? Wouldn't one expect that only Israeli staples would be sold, but unnecessary snack items would be eschewed? Wouldn't one expect that outraged Palestinian Arabs would insist that non-essential items be - boycotted?

Yet in this Gaza supermarket, goods from Osem (for example) are not only sold - but the Hebrew logo is prominently displayed! It is almost as if the shopkeepers want to sell Israeli items to their poor, deprived Gaza customers!

The Israeli ice cream is not hidden by the embarrassed store owners in the back of the store. On the contrary, even the Hebrew display graphics are prominently featured:

And, yes, the Chanukah chocolate coins - complete with a menorah prominently stamped - are not being burned in a bonfire at a Gaza square, but are being sold to unsuspecting Arab victims of Israeli hegemony!

There are also pictures that indicate that both Israeli and Arab goods are being sold, side by side - detergents and chocolate bars. But I thought that there was no choice!

So where is the reluctance to buy Israeli products by Gazans - and, indeed, Palestinian Arabs altogether? Where is the shame that we would expect to be seeing? Why are the store-owners buying non-essential goods from Israel for their customers, and why are their customers not starting outraged Facebook pages complaining about it?

Is it possible that Sheizaf's thesis is entirely wrong?

In fact, ordinary Palestinian Arabs have no problem buying Israeli goods. The only ones pushing BDS are the so-called "civil society" - and they do not represent nearly as many people as they claim to.  When Mahmoud Abbas made a big deal insisting that Palestinian Arabs boycott products by and stores run by Jews who live in Judea and Samaria, he was ignored - and forced to use thuggish methods to try to enforce his rule.

Ordinary Palestinian Arabs just want to live their lives. They want to buy whatever goods they can, getting the best value for the price. They are normal people who don't obsess over politics the way Sheizaf's friends do. Despite decades of incitement, they are not nearly as ideological or as filled with hate towards Israel as Sheizaf pretends they are. The ones who know history probably regard the boycott against Middle East Jews the same way their grandparents did in 1946 - a political power play by so-called "leaders" who are willing to use the people as pawns to make imaginary gains.

Which is, in the end, what BDS is: a modern implementation of using Palestinian Arabs as pawns by people who really hate Israel and Jews.

BDS is not pushed by ordinary Palestinian Arabs, but by Noam Sheizaf's latte-sipping Western friends. The outrage over Israeli products is not centered in Ramallah or Gaza City but in London and Brisbane. If ordinary Palestinian Arabs hated buying Israeli goods, they would be minimizing those purchases; and they would be notably ashamed at the goods they are forced to buy.

Yet they aren't.

So maybe Sheizaf's thesis fits in well with the BDS crowd he hangs out with, but the facts don't support it.