Ethnic identification, good and bad

Ethnic identification, good and bad

What a good idea – to fight calls for boycotts of Israeli goods with “buycotts,” buying goods made or grown in Israel. (See page 10.) This encourages Israeli trade and demonstrates to American merchants that carrying Israeli goods is profitable. There are enough high-quality wares to choose from, whether food or cosmetics or swimwear, to fill a shopping cart or two or 12. Why not “buy Israel” all the time?

It’s a perfect response to the so-called Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, which seeks to delegitimize Israel by attempting to browbeat individuals, corporations, and even countries into not doing business with the state. But in addition to its unworthy goals, the BDS movement is foolish and misguided.

So much of the modern world is interconnected. Israeli expertise contributes to the technology we take for granted, and we’re betting that Israeli medical researchers come up with cures for many modern plagues. If the world truly “BDSed,” the loss would be incalculable, on all sides.


Meanwhile, on the other side of the issue of “ethnic pride,” some 50 municipal chief rabbis in Israel have signed a mischievous letter against renting homes to gentiles (read: Arabs).

According to The Jerusalem Post, the letter maintains that “[i]f a Jew sells or rents property to a gentile, his neighbors must warn him, and if he does not change his ways, the neighbors must avoid the person, and may not conduct business with him…. A person who rents or sells to non-Jews also may not get aliyahs in synagogue.”

This is downright racism. The rabbis who signed the letter are government employees and should be fired. Non-Jews’ taxes contribute to their wages, by the way, but that is irrelevant. The letter is a shanda, and every bit as damaging to Israel’s place in the world as the BDS movement.

To his credit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the rabbis to task, saying, according to The Jerusalem Post, “We would protest, and we do protest when [such a thing] is said among our neighbors. It is forbidden that such things are said about Jews or Arabs.”

And Ha’aretz reported that President Shimon Peres said in a statement on Wednesday that “[t]he rabbis’ letter creates a fundamental moral crisis in Israel which affects the definition of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state…. It is unthinkable that they would use their public status to promote racism and incitement.”

The BDS folks no doubt are kvelling.

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