Boston.com, the online edition of the Boston Globe, has made a gallant, but failed, effort to show that boycotting of Israel is gaining steam in the U.S.
The article in question, published yesterday, begins as follows: “In May, rock legend Elvis Costello canceled his gig in Israel. Then, in June, a group of unionized dock workers in San Francisco refused to unload an Israeli ship. In August, a food co-op in Washington state removed Israeli products from its shelves. “
Each of these “examples” deserves individual attention. The “food co-op in Washington state” is actually a small, two-store concern, both of whose stores are in one city – Olympia. The little company made headlines by demanding that Israel accept the PA position in its entirety. Click here for a detailed analysis of the co-op’s stance.
The dock workers who “refused” to unload the Israeli ship actually were not there when the boat arrived; a group of protestors had arrived to stop the unloading of the ship, but they succeeded only in blocking a Chinese ship from being de-cargoed; when the Israeli ship arrived several hours later, the local union followed rules by not ordering night shift workers to unload it. It was unloaded uneventfully the next day.
Costello, who made headlines at the height of his career in 1979 when he used racist profanities to describe black singers Ray Charles and James Brown, canceled his two summer appearances in Israel after tickets had been sold – even though the so-called “intimidation and humiliation of Palestinians in the name of [Israel’s] national security” about which he complained had not changed from the time he signed the contract for his Israel appearances. On the other hand, Elton John braved a call by British academics to cancel his performance in Israel, following other international stars such as Paul McCartney, Madonna, Leonard Cohen, and others.
In short, though Boston.com’s Farah Stockman writes that “the so-called ‘boycott, divestment, and sanctions’ movement aimed at pressuring Israel to withdraw from land claimed by Palestinians” is now showing signs of “picking up momentum,” this conclusion should be taken with a dollop of salt.