Friday, September 4, 2009

Naomi Klein: Boycotting Life as Normal in Israel

Naomi Klein was in Israel and Palestine in June doing a tour with her latest book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, just out in Hebrew and Arabic. Klein endorses the strategy of BDS - Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions - to pressure Israel to end the occupation and obey international law. JPN editor Rebecca Vilkomerson wrote about hearing Klein speak here.

Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, sat down with Klein and her Hebrew/Arabic publisher, Yael Lerer, in Israel to talk about boycott: what is the goal, how is it done, and what does it mean for Klein to visit Israel and boycott it at the same time?

Klein says, "This is not a boycott of Israelis. It's a boycott of pretending that everything is normal in Israel...for foreigners like me, however you choose to come to Israel, you are making choices, and you are taking a side...This state is like a giant gated community. It has perfected the art of constructing a security bubble, and that is, in a sense, its brand."

She continues, "It's a brand that is sold to Diaspora Jews like me. It says: "we can keep you safe, we can create, in a sea of enemies, a bubble of safety for you to enjoy, to have a wonderful beach holiday, to go to film festivals, and book festivals -- even as we bomb Gaza, even as we turn the West Bank into a chain of mini-Bantustans, surrounded by walls and expanding settlements, and roads Palestinians don't have access to." These are two sides of the same coin: the bubble of normalcy, the brutality of enclosure. So it is not a politically neutral act to partake of that bubble."

The interview, published on Alternet, is available here.

And in other boycott news this week, the government of Norway announced that it is divesting -- that is, withdrawing its investments -- from the Israeli arms firm Elbit because Elbit is implicated in the construction of the separation barrier in the West Bank. This article from Ha'aretz on Norway's divestment and Israel's expectedly negative response says that a combination of Palestinian, Israeli and Norwegian groups have targeted Norway to divest over the last few years., the website created and maintained by the Israeli Women's Coalition for a Just Peace, says that Elbit is one of the main providers of the electronic detection fence for the separation wall.

Sarah Anne Minkin

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