Marketing and Boycotts

I was in a gift store today looking for, well, gifts. Two intrigued me.

One was small crosses made from olive wood. They were said to be from the “West Bank.” The brief, written explanatory material said they were made in Bethlehem and mentioned Jesus. It made no mention of Palestine, Israel, the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, or the occupied territories. The crosses were too small to have anything imprinted directly on them.

A second item was a packet of bars of soap. The label said the bars were made in the Galilee by Arab and Jewish women. Again, no mention of Israel, Palestine,the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, or the occupied territories. (The store attached its own label that did say the bars are “Made in Israel.”)

But this time, the written explanatory material offered further detail with reference to “the Galilee region of northern Israel.” They are “Made in Israel.” Moreover, the organization also works “with olive growers and artisans in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.”

One way to avoid the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions vs Israel) movement is by making clear the product is neither Israeli nor from the Israeli settlements (the crosses). A second way is to appeal to pro-BDS buyers that the Israel connection is necessary to help Arab citizens of Israel as well as Palestinians living under Israeli occupation (the soap). In the second case, pro-BDS buyers might feel a conflict: promoting the boycott of Israeli goods vs. promoting social change and the empowerment, in particular, of Palestinian women.

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