Naomi Klein: Enough. It’s Time for a Boycott of Israel

Naomi Klein: Enough. It’s Time for a Boycott of Israel

Credit Image: Palestine solidarity activists occupy London Government Building demanding arms sales embargo on Israel
Naomi Klein Using Boycott Israel to End Apartheid
Naomi Klein Using Boycott Israel to End Apartheid

It’s time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa


by Naomi Klein, Guardian UK


Credit Image: Palestine solidarity activists occupy London Government Building demanding arms sales embargo on Israel
Credit Image: Palestine Solidarity Activists Occupy London Government Building Demand Arms Sales Embargo on Israel

In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on “people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era”. The campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions was born.

Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause – even among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors in Israel. It calls for “the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions” and draws a clear parallel with the anti-apartheid struggle. “The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves … This international backing must stop.”

Yet even in the face of these clear calls, many of us still can’t go there. The reasons are complex, emotional and understandable. But they simply aren’t good enough. Economic sanctions are the most effective tool in the non-violent arsenal: surrendering them verges on active complicity. Here are the top four objections to the BDS strategy, followed by counter-arguments.

Punitive measures will alienate rather than persuade Israelis.

The world has tried what used to be called “constructive engagement”. It has failed utterly. Since 2006 Israel has been steadily escalating its criminality: expanding settlements, launching an outrageous war against Lebanon, and imposing collective punishment on Gaza through the brutal blockade. Despite this escalation, Israel has not faced punitive measures – quite the opposite. The weapons and $3bn in annual aid the US sends Israel are only the beginning. Throughout this key period, Israel has enjoyed a dramatic improvement in its diplomatic, cultural and trade relations with a variety of other allies. For instance, in 2007 Israel became the first country outside Latin America to sign a free-trade deal with the Mercosur bloc. In the first nine months of 2008, Israeli exports to Canada went up 45%. A new deal with the EU is set to double Israel’s exports of processed food. And in December European ministers “upgraded” the EU-Israel association agreement, a reward long sought by Jerusalem.


It is in this context that Israeli leaders started their latest war: confident they would face no meaningful costs. It is remarkable that over seven days of wartime trading, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s flagship index actually went up 10.7%. When carrots don’t work, sticks are needed.

Israel is not South Africa.

Of course it isn’t. The relevance of the South African model is that it proves BDS tactics can be effective when weaker measures (protests, petitions, backroom lobbying) fail. And there are deeply distressing echoes of apartheid in the occupied territories: the colour-coded IDs and travel permits, the bulldozed homes and forced displacement, the settler-only roads. Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, said the architecture of segregation he saw in the West Bank and Gaza was “infinitely worse than apartheid”. That was in 2007, before Israel began its full-scale war against the open-air prison that is Gaza.

Why single out Israel when the US, Britain and other western countries do the same things in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Boycott is not a dogma; it is a tactic. The reason the strategy should be tried is practical: in a country so small and trade-dependent, it could actually work.

Boycotts sever communication; we need more dialogue, not less.

This one I’ll answer with a personal story. For eight years, my books have been published in Israel by a commercial house called Babel. But when I published The Shock Doctrine, I wanted to respect the boycott. On the advice of BDS activists, including the wonderful writer John Berger, I contacted a small publisher called Andalus. Andalus is an activist press, deeply involved in the anti-occupation movement and the only Israeli publisher devoted exclusively to translating Arabic writing into Hebrew. We drafted a contract that guarantees that all proceeds go to Andalus’s work, and none to me. I am boycotting the Israeli economy but not Israelis.

Our modest publishing plan required dozens of phone calls, emails and instant messages, stretching between Tel Aviv, Ramallah, Paris, Toronto and Gaza City. My point is this: as soon as you start a boycott strategy, dialogue grows dramatically. The argument that boycotts will cut us off from one another is particularly specious given the array of cheap information technologies at our fingertips. We are drowning in ways to rant at each other across national boundaries. No boycott can stop us.

Just about now, many a proud Zionist is gearing up for major point-scoring: don’t I know that many of these very hi-tech toys come from Israeli research parks, world leaders in infotech? True enough, but not all of them. Several days into Israel’s Gaza assault, Richard Ramsey, managing director of a British telecom specializing in voice-over-internet services, sent an email to the Israeli tech firm MobileMax:

“As a result of the Israeli government action in the last few days we will no longer be in a position to consider doing business with yourself or any other Israeli company.”

Ramsey says his decision wasn’t political; he just didn’t want to lose customers. “We can’t afford to lose any of our clients,” he explains, “so it was purely commercially defensive.”

It was this kind of cold business calculation that led many companies to pull out of South Africa two decades ago. And it’s precisely the kind of calculation that is our most realistic hope of bringing justice, so long denied, to Palestine.

Also see:

Activists occupy UK government building, demanding arms embargo on Israel



British Parliament Accuses Israel of War Crimes

‘In our millions, we’re all Palestinian’: Wave of protests worldwide demand end to Gaza slaughter

Worldwide protests slam Israeli attacks on Gaza





  1. Time for a “boycott of Israel?” Whatever. It’s time for Israel to be held to account for the crimes against humanity and war crimes wrought on Palestinian people. Send the genocidal freaks to the ICC at the Hague. It would be really nice to see Binyamin Netanyahu shackled head to toe in chains and perp-marched all the way there. To the Hague of course.

  2. Yes, they waited too long till they have made the last Palestinian disappear and now when it is too late they want to do it? Just wait how the mad man of Israel will react. They should all be in jail, when not, the rest of the world will be victimized by the “chosen ones” of Satan. The world is tired of the Jewish Supremacy on planet earth, and it is about to have an end when the world revolts and then the real Jewish holocaust will begin.

  3. It is time to impose the same crippling blockade on Israel that Israel has inflicted on Gaza for the last 8 years. Maybe we should make Israel the same kind of free fire zone that Israel has made of Gaza. Our Air Force and artillery can use Israel as a live fire range like Israel does with the Palestinians.

  4. funny how the blood diamond mining in Africa is still going on and the same zionist families since before “apartheid ended” are still the owners.

    who are you kidding?

  5. hey everybody with a sliver of an unbrainwashed mind still left in america.
    the protocols of the learned elders of zion are coming true, as they slowly but surely have been over the course of israel’s existence, right in front of your very eyes for all to see!
    try and deny it all you want, its right there in front of the world to see.
    world domination by jews.
    no country or organization on the earth, except for the quite honorable edrogen of turkey, is even mildly criticizing them, thats control, like a world dictatorship!
    the disgusting pussy oboma, whos political career has been financed by rich jews from chicago, is in their back pocket for lifetime allegiance to the foreign parasite israel.
    there can be all the public demonstations in the world but the country’s militaries are the ones with the power, and their puppet politicians who tell them what to do.
    as i said in my last post that the only hope for america to rid itself of the infectious disease israel, there has to be a bloodless military coup with a smooth transition back to normalcy.
    it is very dooable. .
    the same for the rest of the world.
    if not, get ready for world zionism for real

  6. i just found a new champion to the cause, ronnie kasrils, a south african jew who was the former intelligence chief who six days ago urged the gov of s africa to sever ties with israel because it acts like the nazis.
    WOW! who would’ve ever thought that a former
    major official of s africa would say such a thing
    we should host him here for a world wide learnig seminar on the truth of israel

  7. It’s quite a surprise that this should come from Naomi Klein because she used to speak with the alleged Antichrist Raj Patel at various economic forums.
    Good to know she had a soul to go with that brain.
    And keep an eye on Raj Patel.

  8. Every one globally has to be against Israel because this country is the only terrorist country and no one is able to stop them they are ignoring warning from all over the world so we should be together against Israel for global peace so my request to start war against Israel and free Palestine ……. something or would you like see more and more death in Gaza ………,,,,,,,,,,shame on you… Shame on you ,,,,,,,shame on you Muslim leaders and Muslim countries shame on you,,,,,,,

  9. There is only one thing that needs to be said: Israel must be destroyed; it should never have been allowed to exist.

  10. It will never work in a million years.
    Why? Because it’s all pretend.

    Israeli has no friends. None. Zilch. Zip. Zero.
    What Israel does have is the blackmailed, bribed, coerced, threatened, bankrupted, maimed, murdered and assassinated.

    Not to mention via owning and operating 95% of the MSM (by tribal proxy) and central bank counterfeiting operations.

    In reality Israeli is THE world’s #1 organized crime HQ and they have the goods on everyone.

    Everyone from the NSA, which shares ALL its data with Israel, to the DHS which is a dual citizen nest of 5th columnists, to the Federal Reserve which is the Goose which lays compounded interest eggs.

    I think the expression is – “we’re screwed, blued and tattooed” Ironic, eh?

  11. Spread the word about the so-called “Dahiya Doctrine” that Israel is using. Nobody in the western MSM is mentioning it, though it is CLEARLY a war crime. The doctrine justifies the use of excessive ordinance FOR THE STATED PURPOSE of killing additional civilians as a deterrence.

  12. It’s far past time for sanctions against Israel. It’s now time to point Tomahawks at Israel. And if those can’t be mustered I’d be just fine with S-300s having sky meetings with Israeli planes.

    Israel is a war criminal. A rogue, apartheid, completely out of control state that is now acting with an impunity that has only been seen in Nazi Germany. And just like Hitler, this Netinblahoo needs to be dealt with.

  13. If Iran can be sanctioned for someting that it might do sometimes in the future (make a nuke) even though there is no proof that it is doing so and even though Iran has not attacked any other country or threatened to do so, except when attacked then why is the world community so quite on the blatant Israeli manhunt against Palestinian children!

    Boycott, sanctions and total blockade is the solution to rein in this addicted serial killer. Beginning with the billions we give them to finance this blood fest.

    If all fails then boycott on the supermarket level and above will work and exchange of news and pictures through services like instagram. skype. facebook and whatsapp can wake up those zombies that are still under the spell of the MSM.