Monday, October 30, 2006

Why I refuse to by anything "Made in Israel"

For as long as I have been living in Britain, I have always taken care to check the labels of whatever I choose to buy, always keeping my eye out for that little tag sign. Three little words next to a barcode and a price tag, harmless, meaningless to many. I'm referring to that "Made in Israel" label which is attached to exotic fruit, vegetables, Humous and other delicacies which make me weak at the knees. I've actually tried the Humous they made when a flatmate of mine had brought some once, it tasted great. The avocado packs in Waitrose or Sainsbury's look particularly tempting while things as mundane as cucumbers and tomatoes are of course indistinguishable from those produced elsewhere. So why boycott them? What difference could it possibly make?

I agree that one less tub of Humous a week is unlikely to bring about the collapse of the Israeli state apparatus and the liberation of Palestine. The United States and its massive funding of Israel, as well as the 'generous' help of wealthy philanthropists in the United States and elsewhere more than help keep the wheels of the Israeli war machine well oiled and moving. It seems that whatever I do, even when paying my taxes, means that the money will in one way or another end up assisting Israel in some form or other, I cannot account in all surety where my ISA is being used, nor what my bank does with my deposits, so why bother? The honest answer is, I just can't help it, I just cannot bring myself to buy their produce as if they are a normal country like any other. I cannot support their business, which pays taxes, which funds their educational institutions, reinculcating the next generation of oppressors to continue living their comfortably and happily without a care in the world, like a Middle Eastern small town American dream. I don't know how much a bullet costs, or a Merkava. They would certainly take a lot of Avocadoes, and it certainly won't make the Americans or Zionists bat one eyelid. But I can, we can, all control little things in our own sphere of influence. From deciding what to have for dinner each night to where we buy our groceries, we can make these small choices. I don't expect but do care if people copy me.

Palestinian villages have been obliterated from history, these people are under occupation, constant harassment and threat of death. They cannot go to their old fields, their old homes, nor can they swim on what used to be their beaches. Their hills and fields have all got strange new names, rivers have been dried up, and tourists come to see not their land and it's culture, but a bizarre Disney-like recreation of what Western Europeans perceived the "Holy Land" to be.

What makes me sad is how intertwined we all are in this. I go down to Bond Street or Oxford Circus and see Marks and Spencers full of wealthy Arab shoppers who come here to spend their money. Never batting an eyelid to what is happening, never stopping to think where their money is going. The rich oil wealth of the Gulf States is mainly held in Western banks and institutions, used to buy American and British weaponry, and Western consumer goods. By selling their oil, they have also sold their souls to these goods. They are hanging themselves with a rope of their own making while egging for it to go tighter, like some sado-masochistic ritual. Yet this problem is not one only for the Arabs, as Omar Barghouti said, "The question of Palestine was created by the world -- mostly the western part of it -- and it is the world that must rise to its moral responsibility to resolve it." So what are we all going to do tonight? There are so many issues clamouring for our attention, so many other pressing problems, where would you start? I've chosen where I'll begin, and I'll carry on, one tub of Humous at a time.[They are killing us with our money, boycott Zionist and American products!]

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