US academics urge sanctions against Israeli ‘annexationists’
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US academics urge sanctions against Israeli ‘annexationists’

Anti-BDS professors want US, Europe to impose punitive measures on Bennett, Feiglin and others pursuing ‘destructive’ policies

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset plenum, October 27, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset plenum, October 27, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A group of Americans academics issued a call for the US and Europe to impose personal sanctions on Israeli politicians who promote the Israeli annexation of the West Bank and further settlement activity.

Scholars for Israel and Palestine (SIP) published a call, on the website of the anti-BDS organization, The Third Narrative, for punitive measures “on a cluster of Israeli political leaders and public figures who lead efforts to insure [sic] permanent Israeli occupation of the West Bank and to annex all or parts of it unilaterally in violation of international law.”

SIP points to four prominent Israeli figures who fit this description: Economy Minister and head of the Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett, Minister of Construction and Housing Uri Ariel from Jewish Home, Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, and the head of the settler movement of Gush Emunin “Amana” and former Jewish Underground member, Zeev (Zambish) Hever.

The four are singled out by SIP for pursuing “unjust, unlawful, and destructive policies in their most extreme and dangerous form.”

Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel in Jerusalem on September 22, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel in Jerusalem on September 22, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Annexationist policies pursued by these four individuals, and others like them… slam the door not only on peacemaking at present but for the foreseeable future. It is not sufficient to reiterate calls for negotiations. It is equally and urgently imperative to oppose the occupation itself, and especially those policies that seek to make it permanent and irreversible. It is necessary for the U S and the EU to go beyond verbal protest… [and] take active measures to penalize lawbreakers,” the call read.

The petition goes into detail, explaining the choice of individuals. Bennett is cited for continuing to “press strongly for a policy of creeping annexation” and leading the struggle against the 2010 10-month settlement freeze when he was head of the Yesha Council. The freeze was called by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an incentive to the Palestinians to negotiate. It failed.

Ariel is criticized for promoting a one-state solution, also known as a binational state, being a “consistent advocate of accelerated settlement building,” announcing construction tenders at inopportune times and calling for the building of the Third Temple on the Temple Mount.

MK Moshe Feiglin  (Likud) seen outside the closed entrance to the Remple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City on October 30, 2014. (photo credit:  Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) seen outside the closed entrance to the Remple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City on October 30, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Feiglin is blasted for his “straightforward and undisguised extremism” and for an “annexationist program [that] goes beyond Bennett’s,” while Hever is described as “one of the most persistent and influential organizers of settlement construction,” and is accused of building homes in outposts even the Israeli government considers illegal.

The 20 signatories of the petition include distinguished professors from UCLA, Columbia, Syracuse, Stanford and Princeton. Among the mainly Jewish academics is the renowned political theorist Michael Walzer.

Zeev Hever (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Zeev Hever (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The academics propose “personal sanctions as elements of a larger campaign to preserve and advance the possibility of a negotiated peace, resulting in Israeli and Palestinian nation-states coexisting side-by-side.”

SIP is affiliated with the Third Narrative, founded by the progressive Labor Zionist group Ameinu, which blasts the “morally indefensible status quo in the Palestinian territories” but posits that “too many of Israel’s left-wing critics cross the line that separates legitimate, productive criticism from polemical, inaccurate and unfair attacks.”

“The American left  — Jewish and non-Jewish — could use a third narrative, one that neither reflexively attacks nor reflexively justifies Israeli policies and actions,” they say.

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