Monday, April 30, 2012

Ben White, who is apparently a writer specializing in hating Israel, wrote an article in Electronic Intifada criticizing my post pointing out the hypocrisy of the British Co-op boycott of Agrexco, which I noted also effectively hurts the livelihood of most Palestinian Arab farmers. In his critique, White unwittingly shows exactly the hypocrisy that I am talking about.
Following the decision of major UK supermaket chain the Co-op to boycott four Israeli suppliers, Israel’s apologists have responded with an ‘argument’ of unintentional hilarity: that BDS harms the Palestinians it claims to help.

One would be forgiven for viewing this newly discovered concern for Palestinian farmers living under Israel’s colonial occupation with scepticism, given that the same folks downplay, deny, or whitewash the routine apartheid policies enforced by Israel’s military.
I have noted numerous times, including in the linked post, that people who claim to be pro-Palestinian are almost always really anti-Israel and show no real concern for Palestinians. I have also pointed out that while Zionists have the tendency of trying to find win-win solutions, Arabs and the anti-Israel crowd tend to think in terms of the conflict being a zero-sum game. And I have also shown that what the anti-Israel crowd accuses Israel of is almost always something that they are far more guilty of - and they are projecting their own hate onto Israel.

Until this little screed by White, I never connected these three themes.

White assumes that I hate Palestinian Arabs. He says that I have a "newly found concern" for them, implying that I am only defending Israel and conveniently using this issue as an excuse, when in fact I would be happy seeing Palestinian Arab farmers drop dead.

This is of course nonsense. I challenge White or anyone to go through my 14,000+ posts over the years and find anything where I show hatred for ordinary Palestinians. Because yet another theme I have used throughout the years is that the highest priority for most ordinary Palestinian Arabs is to raise their families and live in dignity. Politics, for the majority of Palestinians, are secondary to living a normal, dignified life. They don't care if they work for Israelis or Arabs or British or Turks. Tens of thousands don't even care if they work for Jewish settlers! They just want to live without having to worry about artificial obstacles caused by political or other factors. And if Jews happen to pay a higher salary than Arabs do, they will invariably make the best decision for their families.

I have nothing whatsoever against that desire. As a committed Zionist, I want to give Arabs as many rights as possible - as long as they do not violate the rights of Jews to live in security within their ancestral homeland. It is sometimes a hard line to draw between the two competing sets of rights, but that is my view and that has been the mainstream Zionist viewpoint as well since the 1910s (for those who actually read real Zionist literature and not the cherry-picked, out of context quotes that are shown so prominently on sites such as the ones White writes for.)

When White assumes that I hate Palestinian Arabs, it is because he is projecting his own hate - that towards Zionist Jews.

At this point in time, there is no question that the best thing for Palestinian Arab farmers is to continue to export their goods to the West, and the only way for them to do that in any real quantities is through Agrexco. At this point in time, it is a win-win for Israel and for the Palestinian Arabs, where both work together to achieve the common goal of growing and marketing produce.

Now, White could have argued that this is not good in the long run for the farmers. He could be advocating for an alternative distribution channel that would bypass Agrexco and presumably leave more money in their pockets. He could be proposing a five year plan to keep the farmers at the status quo and migrate them to a better solution, without losing anything in the meanwhile, and in the end cutting out Agrexco. He could be pushing the expansion of existing small but growing alternate, non-Israeli channels for export to other markets (something that the Israeli government is actually supporting!)

That is what a real pro-Palestinian activist would say.

But White doesn't say that.


No, he wants the boycott to happen now, today - and consequences to his pet Palestinians be damned. (Yes, his attitude towards them is more akin to performing animals than real people.)  It is obviously not possible to create a marketing and distribution channel to various European markets overnight, and someone who loves Palestinians would never, ever propose that they lose their livelihoods in the hope that somehow such a channel might be built without Israeli cooperation. But someone who hates Zionists - and doesn't give a damn about Palestinians - would definitely say exactly what White is saying.

White thinks he can buttress his argument, however - by quoting a spokesman for the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees in favor of the boycott. Since this union supports BDS, then the farmers must support it too, according to White.

In the real world, however, this is also nonsense. Palestinian unions are notoriously political and out of touch with what ordinary people want. They spout the largest amount of anti-Israel invective but they cannot stop normal Palestinians from buying Israeli goods, or working for the hated Zionists, of their own free will. There is a huge disconnect between the politicians and the people, and the union heads represent, literally, no one but themselves. BDSers love to quote "Palestinian civil society" as supporting BDS but for the most part these are a bunch of tiny organizations with no real constituency.

To see what real Palestinian Arabs want, look at their companies who attend Israeli trade shows  and fairs to increase their market. Look at those who visit the ports at Ashdod and Haifa to better understand import/export procedures. Does White expect people to believe that the "Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees" represent farmers more than the actual dozens of West Bank farmers who attended an Israeli-sponsored R&D seminar? It is a joke. Real Palestinians, like people everywhere, act out of self-interest - and if that self-interest coincides with Zionist interests, that is not a problem to them.

People blinded by hate, however - like Ben White - will reflexively push any policy that they believe hurts Israel in the naive hope that eventually they can destroy the state. They have no conception - none - of trying to find solutions that can benefit everyone. For all the thousands of words they churn out, their message always comes down to nothing more nuanced than "Israel bad." 

And that is the difference between Zionists and anti-Zionists. Zionists want to find solutions that can benefit even their supposed enemies; anti-Zionists just blindly push whatever they think will hurt Zionists. And anti-Zionists pretend that their hate is meant to help Palestinians - which is the biggest lie of all.

Ben White proves this, unwittingly but brilliantly.

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