Friday, January 06, 2006

Boycott Quandrary

In an earlier post back on Harry's Place, on the boycott by the Norwegian county council of Sør-Trøndelag, Gene (the original author of the post and a Harry's Place co-blogger) quoted from an email he sent to one of the council members:
I too hope for peace between Israel and a Palestinian state, but I believe boycotts like this impede rather than advance that goal.
[my emphasis]

However, in an exchange he and I had on the matter in a comments thread discussion on this blog, I asked him what Burmese products he thought Norway ought to boycott, to which he wrote:

A number of Norwegian companies import timber from Burma, a trade that represents ten percent of that country's export earnings.

I'd start there.

So "boycotts like this impede rather than advance that goal" and is why Gene argues that Norway should not boycott Israeli products. Yet he contradicts this by writing to me that Burmese timber should be boycotted. Please note that I'm not suggesting that Burma should not be boycotted nor defending its regime's transgressions. I also agree with Norway's decision to boycott Israeli products. Ultimately, a boycott is nothing more than of gesture politics, but nevertheless conveys a powerful message.

The point to make is if "boycotts impede rather than advance", then surely that should apply universally. Why should Israel alone qualify for this generous sentiment, whereas Burma (or any other country's on the shit list) should be firmly boycotted?

Who said it was only the Left who dealt in moral relativisms?


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