Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
As Port Townsend enters the conversation about the legitimacy of boycott,
I ask the members of the Port Townsend community to consider these things.
Who is driven from the land
and who is invited to settle?
Who weeps amidst the rubble of her house
and who destroys the family home?
Who uproots a neighbor’s tree
and who replants them in the ground?
Who must choose between washing her body and a cup of tea
and who waters her lawn?
Who is crushed by bulldozer
and who drives the tank?
Who is left to bleed to death
and who is rushed to the hospital?
Who sits in prison
and who locks the prison door?
Who is detained at checkpoints
and who travels freely throughout the land?
Who is blindfolded
and who ties the knot?
Whose skin burns
and who drops the bomb?
Who is shot dead harvesting wheat
and who fires the gun?
Only acts of courageous love and non-cooperation will annul injustice
And spread peace throughout the land.
The ongoing violation of Palestinian human rights is a public calamity,
as is the violation of human rights everywhere.
Boycotting Israeli food products is a non-violent method of giving witness to this calamity.
Palestinian society and Israeli solidarity groups have asked us to employ economic non-cooperation to pressure the government of Israel along with corporations and institutions that profit from occupation to change their policy regarding Palestinian human rights by using the tools of consumer boycott, divestment and sanctions as the first important step toward Israeli Palestinian reconciliation.
As we carry forward the national and international discussion about boycott, we must resist using accusations of anti-semitism to characterize those who support boycott, except in clear cases where Jews are subject to the vile accusations, characteristic of anti-semitic terms such as ‘the Jewish lobby’, which is an indicator of anti-semitism.
In addition, the public must recognize and take seriously anti-Arab and Islamophobic speech and action, which is often unleashed as part of the public conversation about boycott.
Concerned citizens must resist and oppose the language of hate wherever it appears.
Boycott is part of the technology of civil resistance in the struggle for justice.
Whether applied selectively or broadly, boycott is a legitimate form of non-cooperation
when systematic injustice and collective punishment are used against an entire people
as in the case of Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The Goldstone report, B’Tzelem, Gisha have demonstrated the systematic nature
of the use of instruments of public injury to enforce illegal state policy.
Therefore, I support using the instrument of boycott
until the gates of Gaza are opened,
the seizure of Palestinian land ceases,
human rights for Israelis and Palestinians are equally honored
and the voice of Palestinian refugees takes center stage in the process of negotiations.
Until that time, I support the actions of citizens who choose boycott and divestment to wage peace.
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence
Advisory board member of Jewish Voice for Peace