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September 2, 2015 11:43 pm

Poll Reveals Plummeting Palestinian Support for Boycott of Israel

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

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Palestinian Arabs. Photo: PSP Photos.

Palestinian Arabs. Photo: PSP Photos.

The movement to boycott Israeli products may have gained notoriety lately with some high-profile incidents (that didn’t turn out exactly as activists may have hoped), but its footing among the very people whose rights it purports to promote is tenuous at best.

According to the Palestinian NGO the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre, Palestinians are both divided on what form the boycott should take, and their support is down. A survey released on Tuesday showed that the percentage of those who supported a boycott of all Israeli products dropped from 59.2% last March to 49.1% this August. And the percentage of those who supported a boycott of products from Jewish settlements in the disputed West Bank territories alone rose from just 7.6% last March to 9.4% this August.

In practice, the reality is different still. Only 34.1% of respondents said they were actually able to boycott all Israeli products, while 24.9% said they did so but only if an alternative existed on the shelves. Much fewer actually supported this kind of pick-and-choose boycott, with just about 15.2% saying they supported a boycott only if alternate products were sold.

Both in theory and practice, West Bank Palestinians were more inclined to endorse a boycott, with 52.1% supporting the boycott and 37.7% actually engaging, versus 28.2% and 44.2% in Gaza. About double the percentage of Gazans (16%) said they did not support a boycott of Israeli products at all.

The poll reflected the numerous forms the boycott movement has taken among Palestinians, but also some Israelis and certainly activists, companies, unions, and academic institutions outside the Middle East. The extreme side seeks a boycott of all Israeli products, services, academia and culture — anything with links to the government in Jerusalem — while more nuanced boycotts call for just avoiding Israeli goods produced in the West Bank, or avoiding Israeli goods only when alternatives do not exist.

These all link into the wider Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which was born out of the wider Arab boycott of Israel dating back to the founding of the State and still ongoing in many countries. It also calls for a “broad” boycott of and divestment from Israel and all related entities and individuals, including academics, artists and athletes, until Israel withdraws from the West Bank, dismantles the security wall, and allows the return of Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled in 1948, all measures opposed by the current Israeli government.

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