Divestment and Peace
| The Bush administration has repeatedly stated that
democracies do not wage war against each other as the reason why democracy must
be brought to the Middle East, but that is not entirely accurate. The fact is
that countries relying on and trading with each other do not wage war on each
other. While democracy is a helpful part of that equation, because it fosters
prosperity and human rights, thus deepening economic ties, the actual vital
element in the promotion of peace is simply economic cooperation. The single
largest impediment to peace in the Middle East is, therefore, not land and who
lives where, but rather the official Arab League boycott of Israel, which was
declared even before Israel was created with hopes of starving Israel out of
US anti-boycott laws were created to prevent US citizens
from taking part in foreign boycotts of nations friendly to the US, because
such activity can create de facto foreign policy. Such boycotts, however, are
being pushed in the US primarily by Arab groups, in the form of
divest-from-Israel campaigns that include efforts to exclude academic works and
visiting professors from Israel, which is akin to book burnings.
Although the divest-from-Israel campaigns were originally campus based,
several unsuccessful attempts have been made to expand the Arab boycott of
Israel to businesses and municipalities under the cloak of fostering peace.
Most businesses realize that joining the Arab boycott of Israel may not only be
illegal, but getting involved in such campaigns can put their company in the
middle of a fight their products have nothing to do with, and is therefore bad
for business. The municipal campaigns are primarily being pursued for symbolic
purposes, regardless if the targeted agencies have any business dealings with
Israeli companies. Such efforts are merely political and have nothing to do
The boycott of Israel among Arab League states
certainly prevents free and open trade, which is vital to peace. The question
at hand is what needs to come first - peace or economic cooperation? While it
can be argued that peace is required before economic cooperation can exist, it
is also clear that without economic cooperation there can be no peace.
Democracy, however, is not required. Cuba and the USSR had economic cooperation
and peace, but socialism held back both countries from real prosperity.
Dictatorships, including in Arab states, have conducted trade with each other
and have had peace.
Arab organizations, primarily on campuses, sponsor
divest-from-Israel campaigns, which are in essence boycotts, and recruit
non-Arab students to participate in their campaigns under the guise of human
rights activism for Palestinians. Although divestment advocates may claim their
actions facilitate peace, they have been co-opted into emboldening the Arab
nations to continue their economic warfare against Israel and are thus creating
an impediment to peace, rather than the peace they actually desire.
Instead of phasing out the Arab boycott of Israel to facilitate peace,
the Arab League has been bolstering its efforts to wage economic warfare
against Israel in special sessions of Arab League meetings. While negotiating
for peace with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, which is signatory to the
Arab boycott of Israel, launched the divest-from-Israel campaign through a US
professor who acted as an advisor to the PA's negotiating team. At the same
time the PA claimed it was negotiating in good faith, it was actually working
on its new campaign to destroy Israel via economic collapse.
truly expects peace to break out in the Middle-East, then there first must be
an end to the Arab boycott of Israel, because peace can not exist unless people
have a mutual interest in the singular elements that keep peace - free trade
and economic dependence. Before trading land or drawling lines on maps, the
Bush administration needs to make ending the Arab boycott of Israel its first
priority or bloodshed will continue, especially if a militant Palestinian state