In Nazi Germany, it was all the rage to make one’s town Judenfrei. Now a new fashion is sweeping Europe: to make one’s town or city what we might call “Zionistfrei”—free of the products and culture of the Jewish state. Across the Continent, cities and towns are declaring themselves “Israel-free zones,” insulating their citizens from Israeli produce and culture. It has ugly echoes of what happened 70 years ago.
Leicester City Council in England last month voted to boycott goods made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. All services run by the council will be free of any product or technology made in any of the settlements. The motion “condemns the Government of Israel for its continuing illegal occupation of Palestine’s East Jerusalem and the West Bank” and resolves “to boycott any produce originating from illegal Israeli settlements.”
Leicester Mayor Peter Soulsby insists that there’s nothing anti-Semitic about this erection of an Israel-deflecting force field around the city, telling the local Leicester Mercury newspaper that it’s simply about expressing dismay with “the behavior of the Israeli state.”
But Jeffrey Kaufman, former president of Leicester’s Progressive Jewish Congregation, isn’t convinced. He wants to know why, “of all the horrible things going on in the world,” the council singled out Israel for punitive treatment. “It’s blatant anti-Semitism,” he said.
Other communities in Europe have gone further than Leicester. During this summer’s Gaza conflict, the town of Kinvara in western Ireland went completely Zionistfrei. Pro-Palestinian campaigners lobbied the town’s retailers, restaurants and cafes to expunge from their premises anything produced in Israel. All the businesses agreed, meaning Kinvara is now, in the eyes of anti-Israel agitators, morally pure. It is held up as a model town by numerous European backers of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement.
Also during the Gaza conflict, the mayor of Newry in Northern Ireland wrote to all the retailers of his district asking them to provide a list of the Israeli products they stock. He then asked them to remove these products from sale—he was backed by 21 votes to three on the Newry Council.
Numerous Spanish provinces have this year been bombarded with requests to reject the “products, culture and sport” of the state of Israel. When BDS activists can’t get official backing for their desire to live Zionistfrei lives, they take things into their own hands. Three years ago in Montpellier, France, BDS activists spent an hour and a half rampaging through a shopping mall and “de-shelving” all the fruit produced in Israel.
Under pressure from campaigners to break off all links with Israel, the French city of Lille in October ripped up its twinning accord with the Israeli city of Safed. Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, was quoted in the French press saying Lille’s officials had shown a “heinous attitude toward the Israeli people.”
In 2011, the council of West Dunbartonshire in Scotland voted to boycott all Israeli products and instructed all local libraries to stop stocking books printed in the state of Israel. Why not just burn them?
More at the link. My answer is to travel to Israel frequently, to spend money on Israeli goods, and to absolutely avoid European goods. Israel makes decent wine, folks. And there are lots of opportunities to purchase Israeli fruits and vegetables. We really should openly and loudly condemn Europe and boycott Europe.