Does the Palestinian West Bank boycott the Israeli Occupied Territories?

Does the West Bank boycott the occupied territories?

The above phrase ‘looks’ like the ‘Drawing Hands’  from Escher: the West Bank hand  drawing his involvement with Israel and vice versa.. Israel’s hand drawing her involvement with the occupied territories..

Drawing hands, Echer
Drawing hands, Echer

(Drawing Hands, Escher).

With this picture in my mind, I read  one of the last announcement to boycott Israel, I quote …” The  Spanish Housing Ministry has disqualified Ariel University Center from the international Solar Decathlon contest, on the grounds that the university is “located in occupied territories.”see here.

Well yes the Ariel University Center is located in the West Bank in the occupied territories. But does all those ‘beautiful people’ in Spain ask themselves, if their preaching to boycott Israel  has any real repercussion in the West Bank (..the occupied territories)?

Surprisingly perhaps, here is an answer by:

…”The governor of Bethlehem, Salah Tamari [said,]“Israelis are paranoid because of their past, while Palestinians are paranoid because of their present,” Mr. Tamari said. “But we are doomed to live together or blessed to live together, depending on your point of view. It is true that the economy is improving slightly. But beyond that, I’m afraid very little is getting easier.“ see here.

Or in more optimist words by the  Bethlehem’s mayor Victor Batarseh:

It has been the best year since 1999,” …. “Our hotels are full, whereas three years ago there
“ was almost nobody. Unemployment is below 20 percent. But we are still under occupation.”,see here.

This shows the gap between unscrupulous cowardly armchair professional boycotts of Israel,  and what happens in everyday life in the West Bank. If we want to understand the difficulties of those who are “doomed to live together or blessed to live together,…” as said by the governor of Bethlehem, Salah Tamari, then ‘doomed’ can be transformed into something closer to ‘blessed’.

The boycotters, mainly from Europe and Scandinavia, have  no idea of what’s really going on in the West Bank. Reading boring economic reports from Palestinian and Israeli statistical sources is only a nuisance to their obsession  to denounce Israel as the bad guy.

Here is a example of such a boring nuisance. The “Report of the Government of Israel to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee New York, September 22, 2009” ,see here, ,  shows valuable information about the  actual… (blessed)… relation between  the West Bank and Israel. The information about the West Bank economy comes in part from the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics:

…”This relative economic growth and an improved quality of life are demonstrated by a flourishing of economic, cultural and social activities, including the opening of a shopping mall and a cinema complex in Nablus, the project to build the city of Rawabi, and increased activity of cafes and restaurants throughout the West Bank. According to official Palestinian sources,1 since 2008, foreign investment in the West Bank has increased by 600%, as a result of economic conferences held in Bethlehem and Nablus and the improved security situation on the ground. A sharp increase in cement consumption reaching, during the first half of 2009 alone, a figure exceeding by 18%, amounts consumed in all of 2008, reflects the high volume of construction activity on the ground.

During the first quarter of 2009, the Palestinian GDP increased by 5.6% compared to the parallel quarter in 2008 (despite early estimates by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, predicting that the annual GDP would shrink by 3.1%). According to IMF estimates, economic growth in 2009 is expected to reach 7%. However, if the trend of growth recorded in the first quarter of 2009 continues, annual economic growth for 2009 could even surpass these relatively optimistic IMF forecasts. This increase continues despite the global economic crisis. Most economic sectors contributed to this acceleration in economic activity.”….

So to return to the question: does the West Bank boycott the ‘Occupied Territories’, I quote from the article “Green Shoots in Palestine II” published by the NYT and written by Thomas L. Friedman :

…”..many Israelis were no doubt surprised to read this quote in the Maariv daily from Omar Hashim, deputy chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Nablus, the commercial center of the West Bank: “Traders here are satisfied,” said Hashim. “Their sales are rising. They feel that life is returning to normal. There is a strong sense of optimism.”…

…“You can feel the movement,” said Olfat Hammad, the associate director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, who lives in Nablus and works in Ramallah. “It is not a burden anymore to move around to Ramallah for business meetings and social meetings.” Nablus recently opened its first multiplex, “Cinema City,” as well as a multistory furniture mart designed to cater to Israelis. Ramallah’s real estate prices have skyrocketed.

“I have had a 70 percent increase in sales,” Maariv quoted a Nablus shoe store owner as saying. “People are coming from the villages nearby, and from other cities in the West Bank and from Israel.”…see here .

And how do the Palestinian West Bank residents cope with the their own difficulties? From the site “Ramallah Syndrome” here is a excerpt from a discussion:

…”- Alessandro
Maybe a point is the definition of resistance. We always refer to the first intifada as a model, the only model, which can be a problem. Lisa’s articles and also Nasser’s article say there is a different form of resistance today. Then you didn’t go to the cinema because you were resisting, now it’s different. It’s not only negative. We are also a part of that, we are also having a life. It would be stupid to have the same model as the first intifada for the sake of it. But it has to be said that the opposite is also stupid, when you are building your career on Palestine, on the tragedy of Palestine, and having a normal life. And honestly, everyone here even though they are under occupation, is enjoying his or her life to some level, so you can also resist and have a normal life. The Lebanese have always managed to balance resisting and also trying to enjoy life. I don’t think it’s completely wrong.”… see here,

(extracts from conversations N. 1/Oct. 2008 and N. 2/Dec. 2008)

So the discussion and the doubts arising from  economic prosperity without resistance is the lesser of evil for many, but  for the belligerent Palestinian leaders it is an anathema, I quote (“Beware ‘economic peace” by Sever Plocker in Ynet) :

…”The economic normalization threatens the revolutionary and radical elements within Palestinian society, and they swore not to allow this normalization to take root. It’s perceived by them as indirect reconciliation with the occupation. A national liberation movement, and certainly a national-religious one, withers away when the masses go out to shop rather than to demonstrate.

The reinforcement of a Palestinian middle class, which may fall in love with a routine life, reject the ongoing struggle, and enjoy its proximity to the large Israeli market is anathema in the view of the militant leadership, and not only there. The tensions between economic and personal progress and a diplomatic and national dead-end tear Palestinian society apart.”… see here.

Another observer, Daniel Schueftan in his article “The Palestinians did it again”  put a direct emphasis,, on ..I quote:

…”The Palestinians are proving yet again that even the responsible elements among them cannot act in a constructive manner in order to build society and promote stability, welfare, and an agreement with Israel. They cannot do it because, as it turned out again, at the moment of truth we see the irresponsible, violent, and demagogical radicals who incite and fan the flames gain the upper hand.”…

…”Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is attempting, for the first time, to utilize the generous foreign aid for constructive aims and build a functioning society. President Abbas and his people realized (belatedly) the gravity of the terror curse and Hamas’ existential threat. Under their political patronage, the United States trained Palestinian security forces (the so-called “Dayton forces”) who are doing well in the fight against terrorism and its infrastructure.”…

…”However, this is where the self-destruction mechanism that has been thwarting the Palestinian people since it was formed almost 90 years ago came into action: An irresponsible and belligerent minority turns to violence, radical elements promise a zealous public immediate satisfaction via “victimization demagoguery,” and this immediately prompts the responsible elements to assume a defensive posture and be neutralized in the political arena.”….see here.

These are only a few glimpses 0n what really happens in the West Bank between The Israelis and the Palestinians despite all the security frictions all the animosities and mistrust. This is also a pointer to what can be done with hard work from both sides.

Will this convince the ‘enlightened’ Spanish and other European  boycotters? My bet is no, for the simple reason that their only aim is to harm Israel not to help the Palestinians…Their belligerent destructive boycott is also harming Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s attempt to build  a new Palestinian economy…. So as the old adage says ..”While dogs bark, the caravan passes.”

UK ‘University and College Union’ the new UK branch of the Palestinian Boycott of Israel

Here is a short story of how the british ‘University and College Union’ (UCU), an organization of about 120.000 members, has become  the UK Palestinian branch of the ‘Palestinian  Campaign for the Academic and Cultural boycott campaign.’, see here

  Ron Prosor,the Israeli ambassador the UK, complains in an article on the ‘Telegraph’, I quote:
 ..”Israel faces an intensified campaign of delegitimisation, demonisation and double standards. Britain has become a hotbed for radical anti-Israeli views and a haven for disingenuous calls for a ‘One state solution’, a euphemistic name for a movement advocating Israel’s destruction.
In 2007 members of the University and College Union (UCU) voted to sever links with Israeli universities in a move which provoked outrage from politicians and academics around the world, and prompted Jewish leaders to condemn it as a “frightening assault” on academic freedom.’..
Union leaders later dropped the proposal but last month delegates at the UCU’s annual conference passed a similar motion condemning the “humanitarian catastrophe imposed on Gaza by Israel”, which could pave the way for a boycott of Israeli educational institutions. They claim academics in Israel are “apparently complicit” with what they call the “illegal settlement” of Palestinian land and “killing of civilians, see more.
 Ron Prosor speaks an open ‘diplomatic language’ . But the boycott’s concrete language are the real daily aims I found on the Palestinian boycott site:
…”Refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions;
Advocate a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions at the national and international levels, including suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions;
Promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions;
Work toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations;
Support Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.”…see more.
Now as a humble vassal of the Palestinian boycott, the UCU Congress Agenda to boycott Israel is a rephrasing of the Palestinian aims:
…..”Congress notes the
1.     continuation of illegal settlement, killing of civilians and the impossibility of civil life, including education;
2.     humanitarian catastrophe imposed on Gaza by Israel and the EU;
3.     apparent complicity of most of the Israeli academy;
4.     legal attempts to prevent UCU debating boycott of Israeli academic institutions; and legal advice that such debates are lawful
Congress affirms that
5.     criticism of Israel or Israeli policy are not, as such, anti-semitic;
6.     pursuit and dissemination of knowledge are not uniquely immune from their moral and political consequences;
Congress resolves that
7.     colleagues be asked to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating;
8.     UCU widely disseminate the personal testimonies of UCU and PFUUPE delegations to Palestine and the UK, respectively;
9.     the testimonies will be used to promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions;
10. UCU facilitate and encourage twinning arrangements and other direct solidarity with Palestinian institutions; see more
A commentator on the UCU boycott agenda wrote:
” [Bill posted on April 17, 2008]   How can this NOT affect collective bargaining and general advocacy of academic interests in college and universities.  If the UCU is increasingly known for boycotting Jews and only Jews, its officers playing the two-faced shuffle, and being a university union in name only (rather than a front for politically correct bigots), then how do people entrenched in the university as faculty and administrators and students take them seriously when its time to deal with assessment, accreditation, workload, paying the university bills without cutting the faculty raises and of course, creating an effective and free working/teaching environment?  
As Brian says, these idiots are bankrupting the union financially and morally, but they are also trashing it operationally.  Universities have a mandate to educate.  In the battle between a psuedo academic union, misbehaving as element of the UCU  wants, and administration, who do you think will come out on top in both the eyes of the law and the public?
Good Luck to Jon!” see here.
From the ‘TIMESONLINE’ (May 29, 2008)  here is an additional quote…”The result will further sour relations between British academia and international scholars after a similar vote last year provoked outrage around the world. Steven Weinberg, the Nobel prize-winning physicist, cancelled his visit to Britain in protest against calls for boycotts of Israel by journalists and doctors and the UCU motion in 2007.” see here.
 I can not argue with the  Palesitian boycott campaign’s wisdom and the UCU their new branch in the UK , ruled by a Union Leadership from old days British Empire,. But where is the wisdom of the UCU’s 120.000 members…..”.

German New Comics

Germany launches comic book on Holocaust.
I quote..”New book part of effort to combat anti-semitism in Germany, which has a rapidly growing Jewish community”..”Created by the Dutch cartoonist Eric Heuvel”…”The book, based on fact, describes how Jews in Germany and the Nazi-occupied Netherlands experienced the genocidal Nazi persecution that took the lives of 6 million European Jews.”…” Through pictures and realistic dialogue, the book depicts the suffering and humiliation that Jews endured as they were stripped of their livelihoods, ostracized and, finally, sent to camps to be worked to death or gassed…”[The] comic book is called “The Search,” and tells the story of Esther, a fictional Jewish survivor of the Holocaust.”…see here.
The Search
Comics book and Holocaust is an oxymoron: something like “being dead”. It is hard to find some comic attributes in this gigantic massacre. Looking at the comics and their style reminds me directly of “Tintin et Milou”, the know comics characters made by the Belgian Georges Rémi, alias Hergé.
Tintin et Milou
Now, the “Tintin style”  has the same oxymoron quality by trying to illustrate a feroce reality of death with beautiful drawings.  Taking a look at the Eric Heuvels drawings and comparing them to the real photos of the Nazi regime, we see:
1933 - Nazis stage boycott of Jewish shops and businesses
Boycott pickets outside No. 79 Grindelallee, 1st April 1933.
Boycott pickets outside No. 79 Grindelallee, 1st April 1933, see more.
The Night of the Long Knives
200 synagogues were burn
“SS leader Reinhard Heydrich reported 7500 businesses destroyed, 267 synagogues burned (with 177 totally destroyed) and 91 Jews killed”, see here.

Transport of Jews. 1941
Razzia of Jews
The first major raid in the Amsterdam jodenbuurt, at the end of February 1941. At the Jonas Daniel Meyerplein were arrested, driven together, see more.
I am aware that the German edition of this comics book is intended for pupils of the German schools . But there are people, much older, in their fifties and sixties, who remember the veritable atrocity of the Nazi Era-  atrocity embellished here for an educational purpose by the Tintin-style style and so perhaps leading by inadvertence kids or parts of the today general public to  made the colossal unforgivable mistake that the Holocaust is a super comics adventuresee here and here.
I published this story on NowPublic and add here the comments by  NowPublic editors and contributing members.

good stuff:korzac, interesting observations, thank you for posting.

However, I think that there is a place for the graphic novel to tell the stories of tragedy. In relation to the Holocaust, I think the best example is the Maus series. And In the Shadow of No Towers, Spiegelman’s graphic novel about 9/11 he presents another tragic topic in this medium.

To be specific about Art Spiegelman’s ‘Maus’, he sets the stage, to show by a ‘metaphorical’ rude way of drawings and telling the storie, that the tragedy is on the limit of the visible, another planet, created by the Nazis. A graphic novel  like ‘The Search’ is a nice superficial didactic ‘skin’ having its own legitimacy, but it is only a facade. “Maus” is not a facade..

ryan, thanks for the comment and the flag

I appreciate that distinction.Do you think Spiegleman’s work is different becuase of his personal history and experience?

Art Spiegelman’s work is different because he has an unique talent to make it different. He was born in 1948, after the war. His ‘experience’ comes from the history of his family who did not survive the Holocaust. “Maus” is the story of millions of Jews based on this own recollection of his family story. I can see myself as a kid and my family in Belgium and in Poland, in the characters of ‘Maus’. I cannot see the same in the graphic novel ‘The Search’.To do this I need the real photos. With ‘Maus I don’t need photos, I feel the awe the dread and the pain.

good stuff: Constructive discourse about difficult topics, no matter the medium, is positive in my opinion.  Rugs can only hide so much.

Thanks for the comment and the flag.

This story fascinated me, and I had not heard of it before. I think however, with a subject matter as controversial and young as the Holocaust, a comic book has no place here. It will be interesting to see however how the Jewish community in any country reacts to it, and I suppose if it’s well received there then I have no business commenting on it in the first place!

Let it be a movie a book, poetry, visual art and media publication, having as their subject matter the Holocaust, their publication will arise a controversy.The survivors interpret any objective historical study as blaspheming…The Dutch German comics cannot overcome their feelingsBut see what German students say. I quote …..”It sounds a bit blunt but I think it’s dangerous if students can’t differentiate between a Holocaust comic and Mickey Mouse,” said Henning Küppers, a history teacher at a high school in Stuttgart.”….  …”Others point out that “The Search” can hardly compare to other Holocaust comics, in particular Art Spiegelmann’s famous   “Maus” which is considered a classic and a revolution in the genre.”… .”In an interview with Berliner Zeitung, Tobias    Strunk from a specialty comic book shop called the Anne Frank Holocaust comic book “a bit forced.”… see here.

amyjudd,thanks for the comment.


Four more comics drawings and photos,(not included in the above post)
Transports of Jews

Transport Jews Lodz 1942
Loading transports of Jews at Lodz station, 1942, see here.
After the selection gaz chambers Jews
Selection Auschwitz
Selection at the Auschwitz ramp in 1944, where the Nazis chose whom to kill immediately and whom to use as slave labour or for medical experimentation, see here.
Gaz Chambers and Crematorium
Auschwitz Gaz chamber door
Gaz Chamber
Crematorium furnaces in the Gusen concentration camp after the liberation. (May 6-30, 1945) see here.