Recently, certain whiskey distillers in Scotland made a decision to boycott Israeli products. Is a boycott the best/most effective response to a boycott? Is there a better way for Jewish leadership to guide their constituents to express their unhappiness or displeasure with a decision?
Interesting question. There is a concept of "kefel" in Jewish law. When a person steals from another, the payback formula is not simply to return what was stolen. It is to pay back double (kefel). A theft of $100 would necessitate a payback of $200, a $300 theft $600, etc.
The operative logic is that the thief needs to learn how it feels to be deprived of the amount stolen. Simply returning what was stolen does no achieve that goal. Paying back double is more likely to achieve that goal.
But it is not guaranteed, since if the thief is rich and the victim poor, the poor person will feel the loss more intensely. But the message is there.
A counter boycott is not a perfect solution, but it conveys displeasure as strongly as possible.
Mass letter writing might help, but the anti-Israel boycotters are likely to dismiss these letters or e-mails as contrived. A high level meeting with the boycotters to show the absurdity of their action might help. A full page strategic advert showing how a boycott of Israel would include advanced technologies and medicines that the boycotters rely on, unbeknown to them, would be helpful, but with no guarantee of success.
Exposing the fraud in the boycott, at the same time that the boycotters turn a blind eye to terrorism and hate-mongering, might score some points.
But in the end, it is the bottom line that companies look at, which makes boycott the best of the alternatives in a messy situation. And if counter-boycott is the strategy of choice, it should be a full court press, using every social media available to make the counter-boycott as powerful as possible.
This is an excellent question.Perhaps there are “better/more effective” ways of responding and these should be explored.However, just to note, in addition to the proposed boycotting of the products of these distillers, Jewish organizations have embarked on an educational and political campaign as well. They have been engaged in attempting to educate local governments in that region, and the other businesses that work with these distilleries, as well as the distilleries themselves, about the issues.We hope that during this process they will see that a boycott of Israeli products is not just.In addition, we hope that the new relationships our community is forming with them will also lead to more understanding in the future.
Yet, at the same time, since essentially we are dealing with businesses, it is important to let such businesses know that their consumers purchase products, not just based on the product’s quality, but on the ethics of the company that produces them.By saying that we will not buy from you because you are taking an unjust stance against Israel, we are using our peaceful prerogative to purchase with our conscience.Perhaps that will draw their attention to the issue and motivate them to become more educated on the subject.
The decision of the distillers to boycott Israel requires a two fold response. One is to give the boycott publicity so that those who are concerned about the delegitimation of Israel have an opportunity to respond. Second is to contact the distilleries and tell them that you will not purchase their products as long as the boycott Israeli products and to inform the retailer where you purchase whiskey why you are changing brands. The more people are aware and let the distillers know of their displeasure more likely the boycott will end. A boycott must be actively opposed by giving it publicity and by boycotting the products of the boycotting company. I know of no better response. Economic pressure is a significant weapon in an economic war.
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