Read the following keeping in mind that I’m outraged at the treatment that Israeli have imposed on Palestinians.
I’d feel more sympathetic with the academics’ boycott of Israel if they decided to boycott every nation with a similar history of colonial abuse, etc etc. We might start by boycotting ourselves. We actually are living on land that is not, as in Israel, strictly speaking “ours.” We occupied the land from coast to coast by might of force, and never have had any intention of returning it to its original owners. We claimed it because—we could. Or because we were fleeing from oppression and needed a place where we could be free (and sometimes that meant free to be just as oppressive to others not like us). We murdered off or imprisoned in reservations the previous natives. And unlike the Israelis, Europeans had no ancient claims to the Americas, nor were there any Europeans with long distant and continuous roots in the land.
Would we seriously consider that Whites should go back where they came from? After all, it is not the Native Americans’ fault that they were mistreated elsewhere. Nor is the Native Americans’ fault that African-Americans were brought to the Americas against their will.
While I want us to respond morally to the Palestinian’s just arguments, I’m not willing to select the Israelis as the target—among all the villains—of my righteous indignation until I face squarely how I might react to giving all of my land back to its natives much less all of it, “from sea to shining sea.”
We White Americans are not alone in being the victors of a colonial adventures. There are probably very few nations today with a history of continuous occupation of “their own” land—rather than dispossessors of one after another natives. But, I’m still stuck siding with the “losers”—and wish that there was a way that allowed both Native Americans and European settlers to more fairly co-exist, as I wish the people now residing in the land of Palestine could find such a solution before their rights too are a matter of distant memory, if remembered at all. And I applaud putting pressure on the Israelis, but…. But righteousness doesn’t sit comfortably on my shoulders given how unwilling I am to spend a lot of energy making things right for those “I” displaced (at the time, my ancestors were in parts of Poland and the Ukraine, but then that’s another whole story.)