Posted by: Lister | April 13, 2007

Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott

A boycott by any other name — Prof. James Bowen, the national chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign

In the late 19th century, changes in Ottoman law created a new class of large landholders, including the Sursuq family from Beirut, which acquired large tracts in northern Palestine. A similar situation had long existed in Ireland, where most land was controlled by absentee landlords, many of whom lived in Britain.

The 1880s, however, initiated dynamics that led the two lands in different directions. In 1882, the first Zionist immigrants arrived in Palestine, starting a process that subsequently led to the eviction of indigenous tenant farmers, when magnates like the Sursuqs pulled the land from under their feet, selling it to the Jewish National Fund.

In contrast, in 1880, Irish tenant farmers started a process that turned them into owner-occupiers. A former British army officer played a role in this drama, which introduced his name as a new word into many languages.

[…] “When a man takes a farm from which another has been evicted, you must shun him on the roadside when you meet him, you must shun him in the streets of the town, you must shun him at the shop-counter, you must shun him at the fair and at the market-place and even in the house of worship, by leaving him severely alone, by putting him into a sort of moral Coventry, by isolating him from the rest of his kind, as if he were a leper of old, you must show him your detestation.”

Three days later, court officials attempted to serve Boycott’s eviction notices on the tenants, and the Land League policy went into effect. Within two months, Boycott’s name had become a synonym for ostracism […]

[…] For too long, Israel has been taking land from which Palestinians have been evicted, and detestation is spreading around the world. In Ireland, photos of Israeli bulldozers are placed beside those of landlords’ battering rams. Even a former U.S. president has recognized hafrada (“separation” in Hebrew) as apartheid. Disgust has reached such a level that even highly conservative institutions that normally try to avoid politics are driven to express concern.

One such body is Aosdana, the Irish state-sponsored academy of artists. Its annual general assembly on March 28 passed a resolution whose full text is: “Mindful of the August 4, 2006 call from Palestinian filmmakers, artists and cultural workers to end all cooperation with state-sponsored Israeli cultural events and institutions, Aosdana wishes to encourage Irish artists and cultural institutions to reflect deeply before engaging in any such cooperation, always bearing in mind the undeniable courage of those Israeli artists, writers and intellectuals who oppose their own government’s illegal policies towards the Palestinians.”

[…] [Playwright Margaretta D’Arcy] quoted from “Land Grab,” by Yehezkel Lein, published by B’Tselem – the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories: “The settlement enterprise in the occupied territories has created a system of legally sanctioned separation based on discrimination that has, perhaps, no parallel anywhere in the world since the apartheid regime in South Africa.”



  1. National Union of Journalists votes to boycott Israeli goods.

  2. The Guardian had an article critical of the NUJ. 30 doctors show support for NUJ in a letter. Another shows support for the article.

    You suggest that, in voting to boycott Israel, the NUJ has strayed too far from its legitimate business. We do not think such arguments apply to our grave concerns as doctors about the health-related impact of Israeli policy on Palestinian society.

    Persistent violations of medical ethics have accompanied Israel’s occupation. The Israeli Defence Force has systematically flouted the fourth Geneva convention guaranteeing a civilian population unfettered access to medical services and immunity for medical staff. Ambulances are fired on (hundreds of cases) and their personnel killed. Desperately ill people, and newborn babies, die at checkpoints because soldiers bar the way to hospital. The public-health infrastructure, including water and electricity supplies, is wilfully bombed, and the passage of essential medicines like anti-cancer drugs and kidney dialysis fluids blocked. In the West Bank, the apartheid wall has destroyed any coherence in the primary health system. UN rapporteurs have described Gaza as a humanitarian catastrophe, with 25% of children clinically malnourished.

    The Israeli Medical Association has a duty to protest about war crimes of this kind, but has refused to do so. Appeals to the World Medical Association and the British Medical Association have also been rebuffed. Eighteen leading Palestinian health organisations have appealled to fellow professionals abroad to recognise how the IMA has forfeited its right to membership of the international medical community.

    We are calling for a boycott of the Israeli Medical Association and its expulsion from the WMA. There is a precedent for this: the expulsion of the Medical Association of South Africa during the apartheid era. A boycott is an ethical and moral imperative when conventional channels do not function, for otherwise we are merely turning away.

    Dr Derek Summerfield, Professor Colin Green, Dr Ghada Karmi, Dr David Halpin, Dr Pauline Cutting And 125 other doctors.

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