The Art of a Civilian War against Israel

Jun 15, 2010
*Special to asia!

In the aftermath of the Gaza flotilla saga, a covert war has waged against Israel, with tactics that would leave even the famous Chinese military strategist Sun-Tzu well, a little bemused.

Ever since the Israeli army stormed the Turkish aid ship destined to break the naval blockade to reach Gaza, killing nine people on board, worldwide fury has been unleashed against the Jewish state.

There have been the ones we heard about. Like veteran American reporter Helen Thomas, whose remarks that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” soon left her as an ex-White House correspondent. She was pretty much forced to resign, following such a politically-incorrect comment.

And there are the demonstrations that took over not just the Arab street but Europe's more liberal capitals as well.

But not content with expressing their anti-Israel sentiments in the open, some have taken some more personal measures to punish the Jewish state.

It will punish the Israelis by not letting them learn Bob Dylan chords.

An email thread has been circulated in support of the movement to boycott Israeli products. The boycott is a part of a larger BDS, or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. The aim is to hit Israel where it hurts – economically. It is also a tit-for-tat gesture for the Palestinian economies being crippled by various Israeli actions, like the blockade against Gaza and restriction of movement into the West Bank, limiting employment and business opportunities for the Palestinians there.

Some proponents favour a BDS against products from Israeli settlements. These settlements are  Jews-only communities, many of which are built on land Israel conquered during the 1967 war against its Arab neighbours. Under international law, this territory is due to the Palestinians for their future state. The Israeli government has been continuing to build in these areas, a move condemned not only by those backing a BDS against the settlements, but the international community at large.

There are yet others who are calling for a blanket ban against all Israeli products. An email sent out earlier this week schooled its recipients in how to identify Israeli products.

Check the product bar code. It begins with the incriminating digits 7-2-9.

There have also been other more creative ways of war against Israel.

An unofficial Bob Dylan fan site has taken upon itself to ban access by Israeli IP access. It will punish the Israelis by not letting them learn Bob Dylan chords.

“As a contribution to a cultural boycott of the state of Israel,” the site explained.

Yeah! That should show them!

I just hope the more than one million Arabs living in Israel or the estimated 200,000 legal and illegal foreign workers, living in the country of six million aren't big Bob Dylan fans.

After the Gaza flotilla incident, someone recently asked me how I could – in good conscience – justify spending money in a fascist and oppressive state like Israel, supporting its economy.

Well unfortunately, there are people born and bred in what is now Israel, who may and may not be Jewish, who may or may not support the government's oftentimes-deplorable policies against the Palestinians. A strike intended to hurt Israel affects its resident non-Jewish population as well.

And that is a fact.

It is also true that while there are Israelis who do not care that Palestinians are being disenfranchised as long as the Jewish cause is being furthered, there are Israelis who dedicate their time and efforts to countering that.

Consider too the Israelis who consciously choose to dine, entertain, and shop for their groceries not in Jewish Jerusalem, but the Arab businesses in East Jerusalem. (And that is not just because they offer pretty competitive prices.)


 Every Friday, traders set up stalls outside the Damascus Gate of the Old City, which stands proudly at the edge of East Jerusalem, the predominantly-Arab part of the (now) Israeli city.

Every Friday, traders set up stalls outside the Damascus Gate of the Old City, which stands proudly at the edge of East Jerusalem, the predominantly-Arab part of the (now) Israeli city.

Laudable as the efforts behind the BDS movement are, till they succeed in achieving a better and more just livelihood for the Palestinians, the families that do live in Israel need to feed themselves, send their kids to school, go out to the movies, have dinner on the weekends and so on.

These are all activities that need money,  money which can be earned, if not from Palestinian-hating Israeli neighbours, then Palestinian-sympathizing ones.

Until a viable solution is found to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, life goes on for the people who are born here in Israel/Palestine, who may not have an exit option to leave this conflict behind and move somewhere else.

There may be many that beg to differ, but to this writer, it makes little sense to punish the entire population of Israel, Jewish and otherwise, for the sins of its leadership and extremist elements.

If that were acceptable, there should have been more punitive measures against Americans during the US invasion of Iraq.

Accepting one form of double standards and cry foul against another is nothing short of hypocrisy.

And while they are strategising on how to successfully pressure Israel economically into retracting its unjust treatment of the Palestinians, why not devote these good intentions into something productive?

Restricting Israeli access to Bob Dylan guitar chords is silly. And it smells of desperation, the desperation of people who want to convey their indignation against Israel within their limited sphere of influence. A lesson in this is for those who have slightly a greater sphere in which to wield influence, like the US President, to perhaps act.

Barack Obama cheered Helen Thoma's resignation after her un-PC comments about the Jews as the “right decision”. But, Mr President, silencing her does nothing to mute the scores of others who – let's admit it - bear the same sentiments.

You must know surely that your attention can and needs to be focused on more consequential people, like the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, towards something more useful, like pushing for peace in the Middle East.


dan-chyi chua

Dan-Chyi Chua was a broadcast journalist, before forsaking Goggle Box Glitz for the Open Road. A three-year foray led her through the Middle East, China, SE Asia, Latin America and Cuba, and she's now grounded herself as a writer for, content with spending her days in Jerusalem.

Contact Dan-Chyi