LEONARD FEIN HAS BEEN AT THIS FOR DECADES AND IS REALLY A RELIC OF THE OLD SOCIALIST MOVEMENT…HIS LAST COLUMN FOR THE FORWARD IS THAT ISRAEL SHOULD NOT BOYCOTT THE EU. IT IS QUITE APPOSITE THAT HIS NICKNAME IS PRONOUNCED “LIBEL”…..RSK
In a recent column, I concluded with a passing reference to the city of Ariel, a Jewish enclave that juts into the West Bank 10 miles beyond the Green Line. The column dealt with boycotts, and specifically with the EU’s recent announcement that it will withhold any scientific collaboration, investment or the awarding of grants to institutions with “direct or indirect” ties to settlements in the West Bank, Gaza or East Jerusalem. I concluded the column by saying that “I do not call for a boycott of Ariel; like many in Israel’s cultural community, I just won’t go there.”
Upon reflection, I think those words are flip. Upon reflection, Israel’s anti-boycott law notwithstanding, I call for a boycott of Ariel. Specifically, I believe American Jews visiting Israel should stay away from the city, treat it as an offense against peace.
I can hear the gasps of incredulity. There were times when Arab spokespeople refused to share a platform with Israelis, and while the situation has improved somewhat, Israel is and has been so often the target of boycotts, both personal and governmental, calling for a boycott seems out of synch with even a vague hope for reconciliation between Jews and Arabs. Boycotts, by an large, draw a decisively negative response from supporters of Israel.
Yet boycotts have a long and often honorable history. Likely the most famous boycott in recent American history remains the Montgomery bus boycott, which also marked Martin Luther King’s emergence as the key black leader of his day. The year was 1955, the date was December 1st. When Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat so that a white passenger could sit down, a black woman named Ann Robinson, a professor of English at Alabama State, the youngest of 12 siblings and the first to have gone to college, convened the Women’s Political Council, most of whose members were active in Martin Luther King’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, and that very night they mimeographed a leaflet that said, “The next time it may be you, or you or you. This woman’s case will come up Monday. We are, therefore, asking every Negro to stay off the buses on Monday in protest of the arrest and trial.”