Support Our Troops: Boycott the Israeli Occupation

I don't know about all you commiepinkos, but I believe
we should Support Our Troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. General Petraeus,
Admiral Mullen, and Vice-President Biden say that Israel's actions
toward the Palestinians are putting our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq
in danger. That's why, to Support Our Troops, the U.S. government must
effectively pressure Israel to end its military occupation of the West
Bank. And one thing every American can do to Support Our Troops is to
shun products from companies linked to the Israeli occupation.

In
January, Foreign Policyreports,
CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus sent senior military officers to
brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the
perception of the U.S.' Arab allies that the U.S. was failing to
pressure Israel to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

The
briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab
leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that
CENTCOM's mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American
promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region, and that Mitchell himself
was (as a senior Pentagon officer later bluntly described it) "too old,
too slow ... and too late."

In response, Foreign
Policy
says, the Obama Administration sent Admiral Mullen to deliver
a message to Israel: "Israel had to see its conflict with the
Palestinians 'in a larger, regional, context' - as having a direct
impact on America's status in the region." This was essential context of
Biden's recent trip. News reports have focused on Vice-President
Biden's "embarrassment" by an Israeli announcement while Biden was in
Israel that the Netanyahu government was building 1,600 new homes in
East Jerusalem - was the number 1600 chosen as a "frack you" message to
President Obama at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? - but something much deeper
is at stake: our top military commanders believe that Israel's actions
are putting our troops in the region in danger:

"This
is starting to get dangerous for us," Biden reportedly told Netanyahu.
"What you're doing here undermines the security of our troops who are
fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it
endangers regional peace." Yedioth Ahronoth went on to report:
"The vice president told his Israeli hosts that since many people in the
Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel's actions and US
policy, any decision about construction that undermines Palestinian
rights in East Jerusalem could have an impact on the personal safety of
American troops fighting against Islamic terrorism." The message
couldn't be plainer: Israel's intransigence could cost American lives.

The fact that our top military commanders believe that Israel's
actions towards the Palestinians are putting our troops in danger should
add urgency to campaigns to "boycott, divest, and sanction" companies
linked to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Many have complained
that while our troops and their families bear a tremendous burden, other
Americans are contributing little. Boycotting companies linked to the
Israeli occupation is something every American can do.

Every
American can shun Israeli consumer products such as Ahava
Dead Sea Cosmetics
, which operates a
factory
in the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the occupied
West Bank. Every American can shun Sabra
Hummus
, half owned by an Israeli company that touts its support for
the Golani Brigade, an Israeli army brigade notorious for human rights
abuses. Every American can shun Motorola,
which arms the Israeli military and has assisted in the construction of
the illegal "apartheid wall" in the West Bank.

In addition,
everyone who is active in a religious organization can agitate for
local, regional, and national religious organizations to shun companies
linked to the Israeli occupation, including by divesting investments
from such companies. Folks on college campuses can follow the lead of
students at Hampshire College who successfully
pressed the college
to divest from a mutual fund that invested in
Caterpillar, Terex, Motorola, ITT, General Electric, and United
Technologies (Methodists explain the targeting of these companies here.)

Note
that these divestment campaigns have not been targeted at "divesting
from Israel," but at divesting from the Israeli occupation,
a crucial distinction. Of course that's a distinction that supporters
of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank want to erase: "Love me, love
my military occupation," as it were. That's why it's so important to
emphasize the distinction.

The point of this activity is not to
try to free oneself individually from the moral taint of association
with the Israeli occupation; so long as the occupation continues, that
would be impossible for anyone who votes and pays taxes in the United
States. The point is to use boycott and divestment as organizing tools
to educate and mobilize Americans against the occupation, while building
political pressure against the companies and the Israeli government and
delegitimizing Israeli government actions and statements that support
the occupation.

Of course, there is no intrinsic, logical reason
to counterpose boycott and divestment efforts to worthy and arduous
efforts today to advance modest peace efforts in Congress and the
Administration; on the contrary, a key point of organizing boycott and
divestment actions against the Israeli occupation is to make such
Washington initiatives less arduous and less modest in the future.

The
Foreign Policy report suggests that the White House understands
how Israel's actions are putting our troops in danger. But you can be
sure that apologists for the Netanyahu government in Congress will try
to undermine any attempt by the Obama Administration to exert real
pressure on the Netanyahu government. That's why President Obama needs
our support.

Support President Obama. Support Our Troops. Boycott
the Israeli occupation.