A former Israel ambassador to South Africa has turned his back on current government policy to back a boycott of goods made in Judea and Samaria.
Alon Liel was ambassador to South Africa from 1992 to 1994. He wrote this week in the South African Business Today, “I buy Israeli products every day and do my best not to buy Israeli products from the occupied territories.”
He added, “I cannot condemn the move to prevent goods made in the occupied Palestinian territory from being falsely classified as ‘Made in Israel.’ I support the South African government’s insistence on this distinction between Israel and its occupation.”
He foresees a boycott as bringing Israel closer to an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, but previously stated liberal policies and predictions have been way off the mark.
In a 2009 interview with a blogger, he state, “In Netanyahu’s first term, he said ‘no peace with Arabs until they are all democracies.’ But we have given up on that and understand that it’s not for us to decide who the Arab leaders should be. Basher Assad is…a very experienced president and as far as we can guess he is quite popular. He is much more outspoken, gives more interviews, he is more exposed. We don’t foresee any dangers about the control of his country.”
Liel argued for the boycott in Business Today by reasoning that “the simple act of marking settlement products differently to Israeli products pulls the rug from under the refusal to declare a border.”
He said that Israel is to blame for Arab resistance because its stated desire for peace “belittled the sense of outrage Arabs felt about what they considered a foreign intrusion.”
“Israelis have now come to the conclusion that they don’t need peace,” he wrote. “The Israeli government is not planning on withdrawing. Behind the wall, and with the army’s might, Israel is more or less kept safe without peace. The economy is growing and Tel Aviv is booming. The occupation is not a source of great moral discomfort to Israelis…
“I can understand small but symbolic acts of protest that hold a mirror up to Israeli society. As such, I cannot condemn the move to prevent goods made in the occupied Palestinian territory from being falsely classified as ‘Made in Israel.’
“I support the South African government’s insistence on this distinction between Israel and its occupation.”’
Liel accepted the designation of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as ‘violation of international law and a tool in a project of de-facto annexation.”