The first ever “Buy Israel Week” in the US kicked off earlier this week, on November 28, and will run until this Sunday, December 4. The campaign, supported by a large number of Jewish media outlets and organizations, including the right-wing Stand With Us, aims to increase consumer support for Israel at a time when fears of a general boycott of the country are growing. There’s only one problem: ‘Buy Israel’ includes the settlements.
Here’s my published response to an editorial in the NY Jewish Week, one of the partners in the Buy Israel Week effort:
The Jewish Week’s call to “buy Israel” in the framework of “Buy Israel Week” (Editorial, Nov.11) is well intentioned, but misleading. Specifically, the “Buy Israel Week” campaign makes absolutely no distinction between Israel and Israeli settlements in the West Bank. As a result, “Buy Israel Week” would have us buy from Tekoa, the settlement home of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, as quickly as we would buy from Tel Aviv.
Israel is legitimate and sovereign. So American Jews should certainly be encouraged to buy Israeli goods and services made within Israel proper — the land within the pre-war borders of June 1967. But Israel’s West Bank settlements, established in an area under occupation, enjoy no legitimacy, and they undermine both Israel’s security and its future as a democracy with a stable Jewish majority. So supporting the settlements through our purchasing power does damage to Israel.
Too many people also don’t know that when the label reads “Made in Israel,” the product could just as easily have come from Kiryat Arba, Elon Moreh, Yitzhar or any of the other 220 West Bank settlements and outposts.
Is this the kind of “Buy Israel” The Jewish Week had in mind? And shouldn’t American Jews have the right to know where their consumer dollars are flowing? At the very least, settlement products should be labeled as such so that American Jews can make an informed choice about how best to support the Israel we all love.
Executive Director, Partners for Progressive Israel