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July 17, 2013

BDS becomes law in the EU: Why the European Union’s boycott of Israeli products is wrong

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/bds_becomes_law_in_the_eu_why_the_european_unions_boycott_of_israeli_produc/

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"The EU decided to not wait any longer for peace talks"/ Photo taken from Wikipedia.

According to a new guideline adopted by the European Union, contracts between EU member states and Israel must include a clause stating that east Jerusalem and the West Bank are not part of the State of Israel and therefore not part of the contract. This means that any cooperation, awarding of grants, prizes and funding for any Israeli entity in the specified areas will be forbidden.

The issue of settlements has been around for a while now. Some believe Israel should leave these territories, some believe that a place where Israelis live is a part of Israel. But more than a hypothetical discussion, it has also been an issue of disagreement between Israel and the EU. For more than a decade, the EU is making attempts to push Israel into officially disconnect with the settlements, which has been referred to as "occupied Palestinian territories."  After years of using words, they decided to take action, but this action was not to mediate peace talks or arrange a big Middle East summit, but to take sides, and cut connections with the parts of Israel they don't like. The EU is a symbol of globalization. It is a symbol of an advanced world where we are not divided by borders, but live together in one, united community. Now, this symbol of the new enlightened world has decided it has the right to draw a line in the middle of a country. Let there be no mistake: what the EU did is boycott, more than any protest by a small group of young people threatening Alicia Keys or Elton John to stay home.

The EU decided to not wait any longer for peace talks, and instead unilaterally asserted a one-sided opinion upon a complex and yet unresolved issue. By taking charge, they made the talks, the negotiation redundant.  I know that our government did not play along with the EU. The Israeli government had been forewarned and ignored by the EU, but that still does not give the EU the right to determine the fate of people who currently live in those places. The peace process, eventually, is entirely up to the two sides involved. People from the outside can help, advise or encourage. Any actions beyond can only push peace further away. Whether there will be an agreement far ahead where Israel gives these territories is hard to tell, but until then, no one has the right to distinguish them from the rest of Israel outside a hypothetical discussion.

Imagine you wake up one day to a whole new reality, where you are no longer considered a part of your country. But this decision was not made by your government, but rather by someone else who is believed to know better. Imagine your hard work and produce will be marked, from now on, so that people from an entire continent will not do business with you. This is what will happen in Israel, starting this Friday. The EU drew a new border line and one side will be counted for, while the other will be boycotted.

I don't know what the future of the settlements will be. Maybe people will have to give up their homes for peace, maybe not. Maybe the peace talks are taking too long, maybe it is a good thing. I don't know, and I know I don't get to decide. Too bad the EU has yet to come to a similar realization.

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