Readers Write: BDS movement and Israeli economy; EU's history of ill-treatment of Israel

Letters to the Editor for the March 24, 2014 weekly magazine:

Without mentioning the BDS movement's successes, a recent article on Israel's growth in the cyber security sector reads like a pro-Israel propaganda piece.

While reading about Europe's growing boycott of Israeli companies, I realized that European behaviors toward Israel have ranged from naive to hostile for decades.

Boycott movement and Israeli economy

In a recent article, The Guardian states that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has "launched a swingeing attack on supporters of a boycott of Israel ... and urged the country's friends to 'expose and outflank' them by emphasising its high-tech achievements and global economic appeal."

The Monitor's Feb. 17 One Week article "Israel aims to be a 'cyber nation' " thus has the appearance of a propaganda piece to me. It contains no mention of the growing boycott, divestment, sanctions movement that seeks to correct Israel's violations of international law and Palestinian rights, or the successes the BDS movement has begun to have.

It also mentions the Stuxnet computer virus as an example of "recent attacks [that] have established cyberattacks as a growing public threat" without mentioning that Israel and the United States are generally assumed to be its creators.

Peter A. Belmont

Brooklyn, N.Y.

EU's history of ill-treatment of Israel

While reading the Feb. 24 Focus article "Consumers pressure Israel" on Europe's growing boycott of Israeli companies, I was struck by the fact that European behaviors toward Israel have ranged from naive to hostile for many decades.

On the naive side, nine European countries signed the Venice Declaration in 1980. It included a call for Palestinian self-determination with the Palestine Liberation Organization as the main Palestinian negotiator. Unfortunately, the countries naively ignored the fact that in 1980 the PLO's concept of Palestinian self-determination focused on the destruction of the State of Israel. These same countries have naively ignored identical calls from Palestinian groups such as Hamas today.

On the hostile side, the article correctly points out that many European Union countries have spent years funding organizations that advocate the boycott of Israel. It appears that they have been pushing for the boycott in a backroom manner until it became politically feasible to boycott Israel publicly. With such a history of troublesome behaviors by Europe's governments, it should come as no surprise that so many EU citizens advocate for the boycott of Israel.

Jason Levinson


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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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