Frida Ghitis (Dec. 29) argues against economic or academic sanctions against Israel because Israel does not act as badly as some other countries. However, since 1967, Israel has settled 500,000 of its citizens in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of international law.
Israel maintains a military occupation of 60 percent of the West Bank. It has confined most of the indigenous population of about 2.5 million to non-contiguous areas in the remaining 40 percent; cut off from one another and from East Jerusalem by barricades, checkpoints and settler-only roads.
Israel controls the water, diverting about 85 percent to Israel or to settlers in the West Bank, who use six times the water used by Palestinians. Settlers regularly commit acts of violence against Palestinians and their property, unchecked by the occupation authorities. The United Nations reports that the occupation has seriously crippled the population’s ability to earn a living.
But why boycott Israel and not worse offenders? Unlike other countries Ghitis mentioned, Israel has a modern, trade-dependent economy that could be seriously affected by economic sanctions. Economic sanctions played a major role in ending apartheid in South Africa, which Israel’s occupation and settlement policies resemble.