Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Difficulties of Boycotting Israel in the Occupied Territories

I must confess that there has been a hiatus in my boycott of everything Israeli since I moved to the West Bank.

I know. I'm ashamed. But I have been telling myself that it is all but impossible to avoid buying Israeli products when you're here, because about 80 % of the products that the stores carry here is of Israeli origin. What do I buy? What do I eat?

But last week, on the day the Israeli navy attacked the flotilla of ships headed towards Gaza with humanitarian aid on international waters and killed at least 9, injured tens others, detained almost 700, cut off all communication with the people who had been on the ships and confiscated all pictures, audio and video recordings from the journalists and the other witnesses... so that the Israeli version was the only available the first three days... on this day, my boyfriend Tarek and I decided that we can no longer justify to ourselves buying Israeli products.

We can't support the economy of a state that arrogantly disrespects the lives of human beings to such an extent.

So we went shopping. And seriously. If you think I exaggerated when I said that 80 % of the products are Israeli here, I didn't.

Shopping is like detective work now. 

We can buy Palestinian vegetables and fruits in season at the open market in downtown Ramallah, no prob. We'll do without off-season veggies. And without those that require too much water when they grow them, like water melon right now, or mango in the summer. Because Israel doesn't allow us to use our own ground water so we can only water our fields so much.

We can get Palestinian tahina. And Italian pasta, Jordanian canned goods and Egyptian fruit juices (with insane amounts of sugar in them).

But if Tarek wants hot dogs? Not a chance. Certain kinds of cheese? Forget it.

And if you think that just because that shower gel bottle only has Arabic text on it, it's made here or maybe in Egypt or Saudi Arabia, think again. It's either settlement products (which the Palestinian National Authority forbade the selling of since a couple of months, but somehow they're not really off the shelves yet), or made inside Israel. Marketed as all-Arab products. As if they know that people are sort of reluctant to buy Israeli here.

We will start showering with Nablus olive oil soap. It's better for the skin anyway.

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