Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Naomi Klein and the Boycott Movement: Addendum

Naomi Klein and the Boycott: Addendum

In my previous piece for JPN on Naomi Klein and BDS (http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com/2009/07/naomi-klein-and-boycott-movement.html), I apprently did not sufficiently explain the nature of Naomi Klein's endorsement of BDS. She is not endorsing a full boycott of Israel or Israelis, as should be apparent by the fact that she did events in several locations throughout the country. However, she carefully designed her trip, with her publishers, Andalus Publishing, and with the BDS committee, so that no state institutions or universities would sponsor events. In fact, her event sponsors were generally Palestinian Israeli institutions which represent the 20% of Israelis who are not Jewish but are generally excluded from the Israeli narrative, but also included Jewish Israeli groups that work in solidarity with Palestinians.

Klein's position is against normalization. She did not think it was appropriate to come to Israel and act as though everything is normal. In fact, Klein's first event was held in Bi'lin, where she held a press conference and participated in the weekly demonstration against the Wall. But she was in fact eager to spark debate and discussion in Israel, and wanted her ideas to get out to the Israeli public, which is why she authorized translation of the book to Hebrew, while donating the royalties to an activist publisher.

In fact, it was hoped that her appearance in Israel would spark more public debate in the media, but unfortunately, the coverage was minimal. It seems that while people in Israel were interested in the debate, the media still considers the topic largely taboo.

As is clear in this case, BDS is complicated in practice, especially when practiced "from within." We can only hope that more public figures will follow Klein's lead in having the discussion in Israel with integrity and solidarity.

-Rebecca Vilkomerson

transcript of Naomi Klein's talk in Ramallah: http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/465

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Z. Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
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