This Thanksgiving: Boycott in Solidarity with Gaza

How not to shop while they drop—bombs | By Chris Iosso, Gen­eral Edi­tor of Unbound – Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice

WINERIES LOCATED IN ILLEGAL  SETTLEMENTS   (All these wineries export to the United States)
  • ARZA WINERY T.R.Z. — produces kosher wines and liqueurs. It is located in Mishor Adumim Industrial Zone, an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank
  • ASSAF WINERY — located in Kidmat Tzvi, a settlement in the occupied Golan Heights
  • BARKAN WINERIES — moved out of the West Bank settlements, but still has production on occupied land in the Golan Heights.
  • BASHAN WINERY — located in the settlement Avnei Eithan, in the occupied Golan Heights
  • BAZELET HAGOLAN WINERY — located in Kidmat Zvi, a settlement in the occupied Golan Heights
  • BINYAMINA WINERY — holds settlement vineyards in the occupied Golan Heights. In some of its wines, the winery uses grapes from two settlement vineyard in the occupied West Bank
  • BUSTAN HAMESHUSHIM WINERY — located in the settlement of Had Ness in the occupied Golan Heights
  • CHATEAU GOLAN WINERY — located in Moshav Eliad, at the south of the occupied Golan Heights. The winery’s vineyard is also a settlement vineyard in the Golan Heights
  • GAT SHOMRON WINERY — located in the illegal settlement of Karnei Shomron in the occupied West Bank
  • GIVON WINERY — located in the illegal settlement of Giv’on Hahadasha,in the occupied West Bank.
  • GUSH ETZION WINERY — located in Gush Etzion, an Israeli settlement area in the occupied West Bank, and the company offices are in Efrata settlement in Gush Etzion. Additionally, the winery owns a restaurant located in the Israeli settlement Alon Shvut in the occupied West Bank.
  • LIVNI WINERY — located in the occupied West Bank near Hebron.
  • NOAH/HEVRON WINERY — located in the illegal settlement of Qiryat Arba in Hebron region of the occupied West Bank.
  • PSAGOT WINERY — headquartered near the illegal settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev in occupied East Jerusalem, which is part of the West Bank. It has several vineyards, including one near the illegal West Bank settlements of Psagot and one in the illegal Har Bracha settlement.
  • SHILOH WINERY — located in the illegal West Bank settlement of Shiloh, which is expanding and has been condemned by the United Nations and the international community.
  • TURA ESTATE WINERY — located in the occupied West Bank settlement of Rechalim, near the settlement of Ariel.
(This list was prepared by the Interfaith Peace Initiative using information from

  • AHAVA COSMETICS — The company factory and visitors’ center are in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the occupied West Bank. (sold at Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Lonely Planet, Zappo’s, Amazon,,,,,, Makeup Alley,, Ulta Health and Beauty)
  • INTERSTAR TOYS — These are produced in the Barkan Industrial Zone, which is part of an illegal settlement in the West Bank. (sold at Toys R Us, Amazon, Muni Toys, others)
  • KETER PLASTIC PRODUCTS — Both Keter and its full subsidiary, Lipski, have factories in the Barkan industrial zone, which is a settlement in the occupied West Bank. (sold at Ace Hardware,, BJ’s Wholesale, Costco, Home Depot, Menards, Lowe’s, Orchard Supply Hardware, Sam’s Club, Sears, Walmart, Wayfair, Bed Bath & Beyond,  Target,  True Value Hardware, Northern Tools, PepBoys)
  • SODASTREAM — The main plant of the company is in the industrial zone of Mishor Edomim, an illegal settlement in the West Bank.  (sold widely at Bloomingdale’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Bon Ton, Crate & Barrel, Costco, HyVee, JC Penney, Kitchen Collection, Kohl’s, Le Gourmet Chef, Macy’s Meijer, Sears, Shopko, Staples, Sur la Table, Target, Williams-Sonoma, SkyMall, others)
The truth about Israel’s cur­rent bomb­ing of Gaza is that the U.S. gov­ern­ment will do very lit­tle to limit the one-sided col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment ^or cor­rect the claims that this pre-election mil­i­tary cam­paign by the Netanyahu gov­ern­ment is about “defense.” The casu­alty toll already con­firms the vast inequal­ity of power, recall­ing the last inva­sion of Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009 that killed 1400 Pales­tini­ans to 14 Israelis. The con­stant and delib­er­ate cal­i­bra­tion of Israel’s mil­i­tary activ­ity is referred to, accord­ing to The New York Times, as “cut­ting the grass,” a term that denies the peo­ple of Gaza both their rights and their human­ity. Nat­u­rally, Unbound joins all calls for ceasefire—always appropriate—and for UN observers for the Israel/Gaza bor­der on an on-going basis. Human lives are at stake and equal in God’s eyes, despite dif­fer­ences in power, ide­ol­ogy, and faith.

This brief arti­cle has four parts. It will begin by com­ment­ing upon recent church state­ments related to Gaza, based on the con­vic­tions that all peo­ples deserve self-determination and that force alone will always mean injus­tice. Then we look at two aspects of the cur­rent Gaza sit­u­a­tion: inter­na­tional hos­til­ity at the United States as well as Israel and the con­text of unend­ing mil­i­tary occu­pa­tion, of which the cur­rent mas­sive pun­ish­ment bomb­ing is only an inten­si­fi­ca­tion. We will con­clude by reaf­firm­ing the action of boy­cotting the prod­ucts of Israeli set­tle­ments on Pales­tin­ian land, one small way for peo­ple of con­science to resist the con­tin­ued crush­ing of human hope in Palestine.

Arti­cle Structure:

  • Recent Church Statements/Background
  • Grow­ing Inter­na­tional Hostility
  • The On-Going Mil­i­tary Occupation
  • The logic of non­vi­o­lent eco­nomic pressure


On Novem­ber 13, 2012, Stated Clerk Gradye Par­sons issued a state­ment call­ing for a ces­sa­tion of rock­et­fire on Israel and fur­ther exchange of vio­lence. On Octo­ber 5, 2012, fif­teen church lead­ers wrote mem­bers of Con­gress call­ing for mil­i­tary aid to Israel to be con­di­tioned on com­pli­ance with human rights law, as affirmed for all other recip­i­ents of U.S. aid, includ­ing the Pales­tini­ans. Most of the more than $3 bil­lion Israel receives every year is mil­i­tary aid, and Israel is by far the largest recip­i­ent of U.S. tax­payer dol­lars, although it is far from being a poor coun­try (rank­ing 17of 194 coun­tries on the 2011 Human Devel­op­ment Index). The response to the let­ter by cer­tain Jew­ish syn­a­gogue and advo­cacy groups was to can­cel a dia­logue meet­ing, with mem­bers of these groups (which included J Street) alleg­ing anti-Semitism, etc. Watch­ing the Israeli gov­ern­ment threaten another mil­i­tary inva­sion of Gaza while blast­ing its already degraded pub­lic build­ings sug­gests that the Church lead­ers were quite on tar­get them­selves back on Octo­ber 5; the Israeli mil­i­tary will use its power to con­trol Pales­tine as long as that power is uncon­di­tion­ally sub­si­dized by the United States.

But who started it? The Israel Pales­tine Mis­sion Net­work cau­tioned against depend­ing on news reports accus­ing Hamas of start­ing the inten­si­fied vio­lence. A report by Emily Hauser attempts to present what an Atlantic Mag­a­zine edi­tor calls a “sym­met­ri­cal” account of the esca­la­tion. The church’s point, in gen­eral terms, is to look at the basic prob­lem of the occu­pa­tion that has, in the case of Gaza, inten­si­fied since Israel imposed a block­ade in 2007 to pun­ish that pop­u­la­tion for vot­ing in a free elec­tion for Hamas—an Islamic party that Israel orig­i­nally encour­aged as an alter­na­tive to the Pales­tin­ian Lib­er­a­tion Orga­ni­za­tion. Obvi­ously, it is per­ceived as a mat­ter of honor by Hamas and more extreme groups that they respond in some fash­ion to killings by Israel of Pales­tini­ans, which far out­num­ber killings of Israelis. The improve­ment in Pales­tin­ian rocket capac­ity seems more than equally matched by Israel’s “iron dome” mis­sile defense sys­tem, largely a gift of the United States.

Another dimen­sion to the exchanges is pro­vided by Ger­shom Baskin, the long­time peace activist instru­men­tal in nego­ti­at­ing the release of Gilad Shalit, who reports that talks were under­way regard­ing a per­ma­nent truce with Ahmed Jabari, the Hamas mil­i­tary leader assas­si­nated by an Israeli mis­sile. While some Hamas rhetoric adamantly rejects the unde­clared bound­aries and even exis­tence of Israel as a state, in prac­tice both Israel (which pre­vents a Pales­tin­ian state) and Hamas have observed truces. A fuller list­ing of Pres­by­ter­ian state­ments, includ­ing a call for coop­er­a­tion between the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity and Hamas, can be found here.


News reports on Mon­day, Novem­ber 19, indi­cate that Pres­i­dent Obama’s trip to Myan­mar, part of his attempted re-balancing of U.S. inter­ests to Asia, is coun­tered by the Gaza war. A Wash­ing­ton Post arti­cle focuses on the feel­ings in Egypt, quot­ing a prag­matic school­teacher who says: “We are all against Israel,” but sees his country’s econ­omy pre­vent­ing a stronger response (Wash­ing­ton Post, “Egypt angry but doesn’t want war with Israel,” by Michael Birn­baum, p. 1, 11/19/12). Mul­ti­ply Egypt’s feel­ings by the 50 or so coun­tries with active forms of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, plus many devel­op­ing coun­tries who receive very dif­fer­ent news from that seen in the U.S., it is not hard to imag­ine how the “mar­tyr­doms” in Gaza will rein­force a nar­ra­tive about U.S. empire. Cer­tainly the Israeli polit­i­cal com­mu­nity is aware of the likely hos­til­ity, some of which is seen as inevitable. (For an Eng­lish lan­guage review of Israeli polit­i­cal debate, go here.)

How­ever severely the Israelis decide to dam­age the liv­abil­ity of Gaza (and some see a plan to encour­age as much emi­gra­tion as pos­si­ble through Egypt’s Rafeh cross­ing), the inter­na­tional response to the vio­lence will be reflected in the vote at the United Nations for Per­ma­nent Observer Non-Member State sta­tus for Pales­tine. The United States has already sig­naled its oppo­si­tion to any “uni­lat­eral” ini­tia­tives by the Pales­tini­ans, and blocked pre­vi­ous efforts at Pales­tin­ian state­hood and/or UN mem­ber­ship, but the vote in the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly will likely very strongly sup­port upgrad­ing Pales­tin­ian sta­tus (the U.S. has only for­mal veto in the Secu­rity Coun­cil). The Pales­tin­ian Author­ity needs to weigh this move in light of threat­ened with­hold­ing of tax monies by Israel and finan­cial pun­ish­ment of the UN by the United States (both of which have occurred in the past). As of this writ­ing, how­ever, the Pales­tin­ian bid is still pro­jected for late November.

One addi­tional dynamic con­cerns Iran and the desire of the Netanyahu gov­ern­ment to pro­voke a U.S. attack (beyond severe sanc­tions) or con­duct such an attack itself at some point. The Gaza bom­bard­ment fur­ther con­stricts the Obama administration’s room to maneu­ver in rela­tion to a still uncon­firmed poten­tial nuclear weapons program.


Over 50% of Gaza’s pop­u­la­tion descends from Pales­tini­ans forced out of what is now Israel in the 1947–49 war­fare. His­tor­i­cally, this pop­u­la­tion has been poorer and less edu­cated than those on the West Bank. When the Israeli gov­ern­ment under Ariel Sharon in 2005 closed set­tle­ments in Gaza (destroy­ing these prop­er­ties on the way out), the attempt was made to claim that the occu­pa­tion had ended. This is not the case, given Israeli con­trol of most bor­ders, includ­ing fish­ing beyond a three-mile limit and expro­pri­a­tion of 35% of Gaza farm­land as part of a secu­rity bar­rier. In the period since the Hamas elec­tion in 2006, the block­ade tight­ened the noose around Gaza, and Israeli plan­ners care­fully cal­cu­lated how lit­tle food they could allow into the enclave and not quite starve people.

Israeli atti­tudes have been hard­en­ing against the Pales­tini­ans for some time, as many Jew­ish Amer­i­can as well as Israeli com­men­ta­tors have noted (Avn­ery, Beinart, Burg, Gross­man, Judt, Peled, etc.). A recent poll con­firmed that 58% of Israelis already con­sider what Pales­tini­ans suf­fer to be “apartheid”; 74% sup­port sep­a­rate roads for set­tlers; and 69% oppose giv­ing Pales­tini­ans in the West Bank the vote if it is for­mally annexed. Chris­t­ian insti­tu­tions as well as Mus­lim mosques have been van­dal­ized and burned by set­tlers, who also mob Pales­tini­ans, uproot olive trees, and com­man­deer houses.

For 15 years, Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Orga­ni­za­tion Against Home Demo­li­tions, has fought the advance of Israeli set­tle­ments and the “matrix of con­trol,” which assists often-violent set­tlers and sti­fles Pales­tin­ian travel and eco­nomic devel­op­ment. Halper has con­cluded that plans to annex Area C, 60% of the West Bank, and the on-going strat­egy of “evict and Judaize” in Jerusalem, make a one-state solu­tion the best option, com­pared with ware-housing or apartheid. The PC(USA) and other churches con­tinue to affirm the two-state solu­tion, but it is hard to argue that the steady increase in set­tlers (to 450,000) is not a long term expan­sion­ist and exclu­sivist strategy.

John Mearsheimer of the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago, an ana­lyst of the Israeli Lobby, has sug­gested that Israel will not invade, as its objec­tive remains a “Greater Israel” con­trol­ling dis­em­pow­ered enclaves of demor­al­ized Pales­tini­ans. Mearsheimer sees Netanyahu’s Jan­u­ary elec­toral chances improv­ing with the mil­i­tary cam­paign, fol­low­ing the fail­ure of his very pub­lic sup­port of Mitt Rom­ney in the U.S. elec­tion. But ulti­mately Mearsheimer sees Israel unable to carry on an apartheid state for too long. That is prob­a­bly cold com­fort to the Pales­tini­ans and per­haps an under­es­ti­ma­tion of inter­na­tional polit­i­cal pres­sure on both the U.S. and Israel.


With­out deny­ing the right of Pales­tini­ans to self-defense, which under inter­na­tional law can mean counter-violence, lead­ers across Chris­t­ian com­mu­nity have explic­itly called for non­vi­o­lence and eco­nomic pres­sure in the doc­u­ment Kairos Pales­tine. Of the main approaches, Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions, all shown to be effec­tive in the case of South Africa, the 2012 Gen­eral Assem­bly of the Pres­by­ter­ian Church (U.S.A.) affirmed a boy­cott of all goods made by Israeli enter­prises in the ille­gal set­tle­ments (only Israel argues that the ter­ri­to­ries are “dis­puted”). It should be noted that the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Canada adopted vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal boy­cott posi­tions, focus­ing not on all prod­ucts of Israel, but on those pro­duced in occu­pied Pales­tine (for a full list of boy­cott sup­port­ers, click here). Here is the Assembly’s action:

– Call upon all nations to pro­hibit the import of prod­ucts made by enter­prises in Israeli set­tle­ments on Pales­tin­ian land.

– Call for the boy­cott of all Israeli prod­ucts com­ing from the occu­pied Pales­tin­ian Ter­ri­to­ries, includ­ing:

  • AHAVA Dead Sea Lab­o­ra­to­ries Beauty Prod­ucts and
  • all date prod­ucts of Hadik­laim, The Israel Date Grow­ers Co-Operative Ltd, often marked by the brand names: King Solomon Dates and Jor­dan River (not Israeli prod­ucts from Israel.)

– Direct the Stated Clerk to com­mu­ni­cate this action to all other PC (USA) coun­cils and enti­ties and invite and strongly encour­age those groups and orga­ni­za­tions to endorse this boy­cott until sig­nif­i­cant progress toward Pales­tin­ian rights and independence
Non­vi­o­lent eco­nomic pres­sure is not the only approach for Chris­tians and oth­ers of good will to take in favor of Pales­tin­ian free­dom and self-determination. Con­tact­ing Con­gress and the Pres­i­dent, speak­ing with sup­port­ers of Israel includ­ing Chris­t­ian Zion­ists, using Pales­tin­ian guides, and insist­ing on enter­ing the “Occu­pied Ter­ri­to­ries” (like Beth­le­hem, sur­rounded by the Wall) when vis­it­ing the region… these and more are con­tained in Gen­eral Assem­bly poli­cies (such as this one). An eth­i­cal argu­ment for boy­cott is pro­vided in the Advice & Coun­sel mem­o­ran­dum fol­low­ing the boy­cott action cited above, con­cen­trat­ing on the themes of effec­tive­ness, integrity, and sol­i­dar­ity. The method of boy­cott (and other eco­nomic pres­sure) can be accom­pa­nied by efforts to find invest­ments in occu­pied Pales­tine that ben­e­fit Pales­tini­ans and do not con­tribute to the occu­pa­tion. The logic of the boy­cott and other meth­ods to avoid sup­port­ing the set­tle­ments holds whether or not a cease-fire is achieved, though we pray that it will be achieved and will hold. Yet as long as Pales­tini­ans are deprived of their rights, the cer­tainty of suf­fer­ing and the like­li­hood of vio­lence remain.

In terms of focus for boy­cott sup­port, sev­eral widely mar­keted prod­ucts can be noted: Ahava Cos­met­ics, Soda Stream equip­ment, Jor­dan River and King Solomon Dates, Carmel Pro­duce, and Gush Etzion wines. The Israel Pales­tine Mis­sion Net­work list­ing is posted below. The Soda Stream sit­u­a­tion is described in detail here. Not all prod­ucts of set­tle­ments are so labeled, of course; some are allowed to be labeled prod­ucts of Israel. (A com­plete list­ing of prod­ucts made in set­tle­ments includes many not mar­keted in the U.S.: Sim­i­larly an Android phone appli­ca­tion iden­ti­fies all set­tle­ment prod­ucts. The object, though, is not sim­ply to avoid pur­chas­ing, but to speak to your store man­agers about the con­di­tions of occu­pa­tion and dis­pos­ses­sion under which these prod­ucts are made.


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