Boycotts will not resolve conflict

Cooperation will resolve conflict better than boycotts

Reprinted from Daily Alert, July 26, 2013

  • The Poverty of Boycotting Israel – Qanta Ahmed
    Boycotting Israel, whether academic or cultural, is not an act of moral indignation but an act of moral turpitude. Boycotting Israeli entities penalizes apolitical individuals, their institutions, their innovations and ultimately, stymies a global market of ideas which benefits humanity.
        I recently visited Israel to meet Israeli academia, and examined how a boycott particularly damages Israeli Arabs. I spoke to Arab Muslim undergraduates at Haifa’s Technion University, whose Beatrice Weston Unit for the Advancement of Students tackled the high drop-out rate among Arab students, improving the retention rate by over 50% in less than a decade.
        Muslim undergraduate Maysoun Hindawi explained that Arab Muslim students are often the first in their families to enter higher education, and, in the case of women, may be breaking stereotypical gender roles in conservative families who may not approve of a female student living on campus. Arab Muslim students must also overcome a leadership gap created by the military service that their Jewish peers have gone through.
        Calls for an academic boycott would particularly imperil the future of these Arab Israeli students and the progressive opportunities they are offered. The major costs of an Israeli boycott will be born by Israel’s own minority population, including Israeli Muslims of Palestinian heritage. This is a population which is for the first time becoming highly educated, advancing in the workplace, and collaborating with their fellow Israeli Jewish citizens. The writer is associate professor of medicine at the State University of New York. (Ha’aretz)
  • Israeli and Palestinian Bands Unite to Tour Europe – Harriet Sherwood
    United by a love of heavy metal rock’n’roll – plus a belief that music is above politics, religion and conflict – the Israeli band Orphaned Land is joining forces with the Palestinian group Khalas to take a message of coexistence across Europe. The bands will perform in six countries, including Britain, this autumn and will share a tour bus for three weeks.
        Orphaned Land’s lead singer, Kobi Farhi said, “Sharing a stage and sharing a bus is stronger than a thousand words. We’ll show how two people from different backgrounds who live in a conflict zone can perform together.” Khalas lead guitarist Abed Hathut added, “there is no bigger message for peace than through this tour.” “One day our children will form a band together,” said Farhi. (Guardian-UK)
  •     See also How Entertainers Are Bullied into Not Performing in Israel – Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman (Forbes)


Needed: A Paradigm Shift in the Middle East Peace Process – Shlomo Avineri (Fathom-BICOM)

  • The last time serious negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority took place under the Olmert government no agreement was reached, despite almost two years of continuous meetings by top officials. When negotiations reached the core issues – borders-settlements, Jerusalem, refugees and security – the gaps were too wide to overcome. This is significant, as both sides at that time represented the most conceivably moderate positions, and went into negotiations with a sincere commitment to a two-state solution.
  • On Jerusalem, no formula acceptable to both sides could be found. And for the Palestinians, the “right of return” of 1948 refugees and their descendants continues to be a major building block of their national narrative.
  • For Israel, the government insisted on some presence in the Jordan Valley and a complete demilitarization of the future Palestinian state, which was rejected by the Palestinians as emasculating its sovereignty and independence. Moreover, no territorial swaps could address the issue of settlements and borders. As the Palestinians insisted on a full return to the 1967 lines, no Israeli government could conceivably evacuate a quarter of a million settlers.
  • These fundamental disagreements have not gone away. Even if negotiations are resumed, it is inconceivable that what was not acceptable to Olmert would be acceptable to Netanyahu. Or that the PA, emboldened by its support at the UN General Assembly, will be more flexible now than it was four years ago.
  • To maintain, as one sometimes hears, that “everybody knows” what the ultimate agreement would look like overlooks the history of the conflict as well as the last twenty years. Since Oslo, all negotiations have failed. Perhaps the Europeans agree how to solve the conflict, but neither side in the conflict does.
  • What is needed is a paradigm change – a realization, like in Cyprus, Kosovo and Bosnia, that at the moment there is no possibility of reaching a final status agreement. Yet there are numerous ways to diminish the conflict, to achieve partial agreements and to create a less tense atmosphere, which may eventually help in bridging gaps.
  • The time has come for the international community to lower its sights and attempt to reach attainable goals, not well-meaning but at the moment utopian ones which attempt to resolve the entire conflict.
  • The writer is professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a former director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Inside the Secret Tech Ventures that Are Reshaping the Israeli-Arab-Palestinian World – Richard Behar (Forbes)
    Nearly 100 times over the past two years, Israeli high-tech experts and Palestinian entrepreneurs have gotten together in the hope of making Israel’s “Startup Nation” economic miracle a cross-border affair.
    And this is just one of dozens of business-driven dialogues quietly – in many cases secretly – proliferating across the Holy Land.
    Hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians are becoming actual business partners and colleagues in startups that are slowly transforming the Palestinian economy, at least in the West Bank.
    The Palestinians, flooded for years with foreign aid money that often gets misused and almost never sticks, accept partnerships with Israeli firms and Israeli offices of U.S. firms because it offers them perhaps the best chance to develop their economy.
    They are simply being sensible – taking advantage of being next door to one of the world’s top high-tech countries.

Piecing Together Ancient Israel’s History, One Unearthed Coin at a Time – Christa Case Bryant (Christian Science Monitor)
    Armed with a pick axe, metal detector, and wide-brimmed hat, Yoav Farhi has found more than 60 ancient coins at Khirbet Qeiyafa, an archaeological site overlooking Israel’s Valley of Elah, where the Bible records the battle of David and Goliath taking place some 3,000 years ago.
    Among them are weighty coins from the time of Alexander the Great, imprinted with the face of the Greek goddess Athena.

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