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Naomi Klein in Bil’in: boycott Israel


26 June 2009

Naomi Klein with Iyad Burnat of the Bil'in Popular Committee

Naomi Klein with Iyad Burnat of the Bil'in Popular Committee

Naomi Klein visited the West Bank village of Bil’in today to voice her support for the weekly demonstrations against the Separation Wall, and to reiterate her support for boycotting Israel. Her visit it timed with the release of her best selling book, The Shock Doctrine, in Israel/Palestine where it is being published in Arabic and Hebrew. During a press conference held under an olive tree near before the weekly protest, Klein explained her support for the boycott:

“It’s a boycott of Israeli institutions, it’s a boycott of the Israeli economy,” the Canadian writer told journalists as she joined a weekly demonstration against Israel’s controversial separation wall.

“Boycott is a tactic …we’re trying to create a dynamic which was the dynamic that ultimately ended apartheid in South Africa,”

“It’s an extraordinarily important part of Israel’s identity to be able to have the illusion of Western normalcy,” the Canadian writer and activist said.

“When that is threatened, when the rock concerts don’t come, when the symphonies don’t come, when a film you really want to see doesn’t play at the Jerusalem film festival… then it starts to threaten the very idea of what the Israeli state is.”

The Ma’an News Agency reports that Klein was moved to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement because of the Israeli attack on Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Ma’an also explained the creative approach Klein is taking to selling her book in Israel while honoring the boycott:

As a part of her push for a boycott, Klein is donating the royalties her the book to her local publisher, Andalus, which specializes in translating Arabic texts into Hebrew. She is also working closely with Palestine’s Boycott National Committee (BNC), and refusing to cooperate with Israeli state institutions during what she called an “unusual book tour.”

Klein discussed choosing the Andalus publishing house in her January 2009 article in the Nation. In that article she made the important point that the boycott increases debate rather than cutting it off. The difference is that it forces discussion of the issues that must be discussed, but are frequently ignored. She made a similar point today in explaining her book tour,

“We’re rejecting normalization,” Klein said of her Middle East visit, “We’re rejecting the idea that there can be apolitical cocktail parties and book signings while violence like this is taking place so nearby.”

The AFP reports that after the press conference Klein watched as the Israeli military attacked the weekly protest with tear gas. She observed: “‘This apartheid, this is absolutely a system of segregation,’ Klein said adding that Israeli troops would never crack down as violently against Jewish protesters.”