Monday, December 21, 2009

Rav Sternbuch strongly advises against an Israeli boycott of England

There has been talk about boycotting products and services from England in retaliation against similar British activity against Israel. Rav Moshe Sternbuch requested that I communicate his very strong feelings that such actions  - while sincerly motivated - have historically produced a strong rebound effect of anti-Semitism. Therefore  he strongly urges that Israel does not institute a boycott - even if is effective in applying political pressure to England - because the  dangerous consequences for Jews world-wide are unaccepatble.


[...] In her petition, which she plans to send to Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow after she gathers a final few signatures on Monday, Tirosh wrote that Israel's parliamentarians "call on Britain to immediately cancel this decision that casts a shadow upon economic cooperation among residents of both countries."

"We recommend that the Israeli public reconsider using the services of companies from countries in which decisions such as these are in effect," she continued.

Tirosh added that she would not rule out submitting a bill to require similar marking in Israel of all British products, and that she also was attempting to prevent government officials from flying on British Airways.


  1. Can you please cite what supposed "historical precedent" Rav Shternbuch refers to?

  2. As soon as the persecution of German Jews began, various public figures in American Jewry, headed by Stephen Wise, a Zionist and the head of the American Jewish Congress, bruited proposals for tough action against Germany. Large segments of American Jewry were reluctant to defend German Jewry publicly because of antisemitism in America and the prevailing isolationist climate. Nevertheless, on March 19, 1933, the Association of American Jewish War Veterans declared a boycott of German manufacturers in response to preparations for the April 1 boycott in Germany, and in August the American Jewish Congress issued a boycott statement of its own. American Jewry, divided and fragmented, did not lend full and organized support to the boycott activity.

  3. Wise was a Reform rabbi. He and his followers ignored the pleas of the gedolim of the time that their actions would actually provoke the Nazis to double up their efforts.

    And kach hava. I am not quoting verbatim but according to Time Magazine in the 1940s, Hitler yms was read assorted news clippings every morning. When he heard that Jews protested against him at Madison Sq Grdns, Hitler, who was known to be mentally ill, started barking like a dog and got down on all fours, scampering around the room and taking bites out of the carpet. When he started coming out of his fit, he told his inner circle that he would be signing the Final Solution.

  4. > because the dangerous consequences for Jews world-wide are unaccepatble.

    the otherwise wise r. sternbuch is comparing modern britain to nazi germany, and says the modern state of israel shouldn't "play hardball" because of fears of an anti-semitic backlash, as in those days? from britain? from who? i don't understand.

    i'm glad he's concerned about individual yidden, but this is a matter of realpolitik, and i really don't see his point. unlike germany or even post-empire britain at the time, modern britain may be slapped a bit without too much fear. and needs to be. not by the rabbonim, of course, but then britain doesn't need to be defended by the rabbonim, either. what's he even doing being involved in this issue? which jews is he trying to help, and why? because in the big picture they (the british gov't and attendent anti-semites) really need a smack in the face.

  5. Actually, from what I have read, that boycott of Germany could have really hurt the Nazi regime in a big way, but it never got off the ground because of betrayal by fearful Jewish "leaders" who sabotaged the efforts. Like you point out, it was not a united camp around Wise, there were many who were afraid to make waves about anything, even potentially saving the lives of fellow Jews overseas. And I believe the zionist(BenGurion)/Jewish agency (Weitzmann) leadership strongly opposed it.

    I don't think anyone has any cause to believe that Hitler y's needed any impetus or was lacking motivation to cause his Jew-hatred to come forward. He had already expressed it and made clear his plans for the Jews. That was precisely the argument of the boycotters, that we already know what he desires, and hurting his ability to implement the desires is not going to make him "More antisemitic" like making the sun "more blinding" than if you stare at it currently.

    I am interested to hear though that American gedolim had a voice in this matter, as I was not aware they played a key role in it. Or perhaps they didn't play a key role but had things to say anyway. Either way, please elaborate on who said what and what came of their opinions or how people reacted to them.

    As to Ombudsman's comment, I hope he is joking but fear he is not. So it's not amusing but rather sad. What he wrote sounds like a hybrid Artscroll biography/science fiction novel of some sort.

  6. As a British Jew, although the talk of boycot here is noisy, the Governent proposal is to label goods from the liberated territories, and say if they are produced by settlers or by plishtim. So, some might chose to boycott plishti produce. Perhaps some might chsoe plishti produce when there is shviit for example.
    In any case, the amount of goods sold in UK from Y & Sh, is less than £500K per year. I guess it is mostly Houmous and vegetables.


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.