By the Ledger Editorial Board
Since its establishment in 1948, Israel’s enemies and deniers have sought to use boycott as a tactic. In what might be called Boycott 1.0, the Arab League said, “Do business with the Jewish state and expect to conduct no business with the Arab world.”
During its heyday, Boycott 1.0 caused only minor ripples in the Israeli economy. Many multinational corporations found loopholes that allowed them to conduct business in Israel and the Arab world simultaneously. In 1977, Congress passed and President Carter signed a law making it a criminal offense to observe the boycott and imposing fines on companies that did so. By then, the boycott had largely unraveled. Coca-Cola, for example, began defying it in 1968 (though McDonald’s held out until 1993).
Today Israel is one of the 34 leading global economies to be included in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Boycott 1.0 ended up a miserable failure.
Today we have Boycott 2.0, known as BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions). It is every bit as tendentious and hateful as Boycott 1.0. Like its predecessor, it is drenched in anti-Semitic claptrap. Wrapping itself in the rhetoric of human rights, it remains a dumping ground for Jew-hatred. Under its tent, antisemites can feel at ease.
In America, it is growing primarily in three petri dishes: mainline Protestantism, the academy, and the labor movement.
Several Protestant denominations, including the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ, have voted to divest their portfolios of certain American companies they believe are complicit in the “oppression” of Palestinians. On a number of college campuses, radical chic faculty and student groups have demonized Israel as a rogue state deserving of enraged opprobrium for its supposed daily trampling of Palestinian human rights.
And after a small delegation of Connecticut labor leaders went on a one-sided junket to Palestine, the Connecticut AFL-CIO passed a resolution at its October 2015 biennial convention entitled “Supporting Justice and Peace for the Peoples of Palestine and Israel.” It called on the national AFL-CIO “to adopt the strategy of BDS in connection with companies and investments profiting from or complicit in human rights violations arising from the occupation of Palestinian Territories by the state of Israel, and to urge its affiliates and related pension funds to adopt similar strategies.”
After the resolution was voted through, the national AFL-CIO declared it to be in contravention of national policy and therefore completely invalid. That declaration has done little, however, to undo the acclaim it has received from Israel haters, who hail it as a watershed moment in the growing acceptability of BDS. Any doubts on that score can be laid to rest simply by Googling “CT Labor BDS.”
Four months after the resolution was approved, Connecticut AFL-CIO president Lori Pelletier deigned to sit down with representatives of the Connecticut Jewish community only after persistent lobbying. She now affirms to Jewish groups that the vote was invalid while at the same time proposing an educational forum for her members where advocates of both pro- and anti-BDS positions will have their say.
That is a preposterous and mealy-mouthed approach to the problem. Pelletier must stand up to her radical membership and formally nullify the resolution. To the general public, she must issue a clear and unambiguous statement disavowing it. Until she does, the Connecticut AFL remains on record in support of Boycott 2.0.
CAP: Lori Pelletier, head of Connecticut AFL-CIO