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Boycott Israel? You'll miss out on a lot

A leader in Sacramento's Jewish community, Rabbi Reuven Taff warns against the Israel boycott in a Special to The Enterprise (1/23/2011).

Boycott Israel? Youll miss out on a lot


“It is through cooperation based on mutual respect, rather than boycotts or discrimination, that our common goals can be achieved.”

These words might surprise Sherrill Futrell who, in her Jan. 9 op-ed piece, urged your readers to boycott products from Israel and ask our government to stop sending aid to Israel. The words above were spoken by one of the leading Palestinian academics in the Arab world, Sari Nusseibeh, who is the president of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem.

Nusseibeh also said: “The reason I don't believe the boycott is the way to go is that I believe peace must be built on the bridge between two civil societies.”

Boycotts indiscriminately affect all Israelis, whether they agree or disagree with the government's actions. Boycotting products from Israel is clearly an act of racism and will not help the Palestinian people. A boycott of an entire country is essentially a statement to each and every citizen of that country, “We don't care what you say or think, whether you agree or disagree with your government. We are cutting you off.”

For those who subscribe to Futrell's view that a boycott of Israeli products is the way to go, I ask Futrell and her supporters to check all of their medications. Make sure that you do not have tablets, drops, lotions, etc., made by Abic or Teva. It may mean that you will suffer from colds and flu, but that's a small price for you to pay in your boycott campaign against Israel, isn't it?

When Futrell and those who support her views have a blood test, be sure to refuse, because an Israeli company has developed a simple blood test that distinguishes between mild and more severe cases of multiple sclerosis. So, if you know anyone suffering from MS, tell them to ignore the Israeli patent that may diagnose their symptoms more accurately.

Young children with breathing problems will soon be sleeping more soundly, thanks to a new Israeli device called the Child Hood. This innovation replaces the inhalation mask with an improved drug delivery system that provides relief for child and parent. I would expect Futrell and those who agree with her to tell anxious mothers that they shouldn't use this device because of their passionate cause.

These are just a few examples of how people have benefited medically from the Israeli savoir faire Futrell wishes to block. Boycotts often affect research. A new research center in Israel hopes to throw light on brain disorders such as depression and Alzheimer's disease. The Joseph Sangol Neuroscience Centre in the Sheba Medical Centre at Tel HaShomer Hospital aims to bring thousands of scientists and doctors to focus on brain research. Should a member of Futrell's family be diagnosed with such an illness, will she refuse treatment because it was developed in Israel?

Let me suggest other ways Futrell can make a personal sacrifice with her anti-Israel boycott.

Most of Windows operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel. So, set a personal example. Throw away your computer! Computers should have a sign attached saying “Israel inside.” The Pentium NMX chip technology was designed at Intel in Israel. Both the Pentium 4 microprocessor and the Centrum processor were entirely designed, developed and produced in Israel. Voice-mail technology was developed in Israel.

If Futrell is really serious, she should no longer use her cellular phone. Cell phone technology also was developed in Israel by Motorola, which has its biggest development center in Israel. Most of the latest technology in mobile phones was developed by Israeli scientists.

I could list so many other products and accomplishments in the medical and scientific industries that help people all over the world.

So, Futrell can vilify and demonize the state of Israel. She can continue her boycott if she wishes. But I hope that she might consider the consequences.

I share Futrell's desire to see the Palestinians successful in their quest for self-determination. And I sincerely hope that the leadership of the Palestinian people and of Israel will sit down and hammer out a peace agreement, as did Egypt and Jordan when they made peace with Israel.

I only wish Futrell and those who subscribe to her beliefs might think about the massive contribution that Israel is giving to the world, including the Palestinians — and to all of us, in science, medicine, communications, technology and security. With a population of only 7.6 million people, Israel is making a greater contribution to the citizens of the world per capita than any other nation on Earth.

— Rabbi Reuven Taff is president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Sacramento, which includes congregations in Davis, Chico, Sacramento, Stockton, Orangevale and Carmichael. Reach him at

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