Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jeremy Ben-Ami: economic pressure doesn't work?

Jeffrey Goldberg, previewing an interview he's soon to publish with J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami, puts up this response of Ben-Ami's to Peter Beinart's proposed Jewish boycott of West Bank settler goods:
"...I don't think that it makes any sense to put negative pressure on people whose behavior you hope to change. I think that the way that Israelis will feel comfortable making the compromises and the sacrifices -- and Israel as a whole, not just the settlers -- is when they really feel that not only American Jews, but the United States, is going to be there for them. I think if you begin to do things that say, "We're not really with you, we're against you, we're putting pressure on you," I think that causes people to pull more into a shell and pull back."
Hmm. I guess Ben-Ami doesn't think much of the sanctions imposed on Iran?  In December 2009, when Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) sponsored a bill in Dec. 2009 granting the Obama administration additional powers to place gasoline sanctions on that adversary, here's what he said:

TWI: What about its possible impact on the Iranian people?

Ben-Ami: Well, there’s no question that the sanctions ultimately does hurt people. This is also important in putting a real squeeze on the government. The petroleum sector is vital to the economy of the country as a whole. And so this is going to put pressure on the government and its going to put constraints on their economic growth generally. And it’s maybe one more incentive to them hopefully, to abandon this [nuclear] course and to come back to the table and accept what, in our opinion, is a very fair offer related to the fair enrichment.

To be fair, this apparent contradiction is based on a little preview clip, taken out of context.  Perhaps Ben-Ami grapples with alleged differences (e.g., pressure on purported friends vs. adversaries) in the full interview, or elsewhere. But it looks to me like he's in double standard jeopardy.

1 comment:

  1. I think the difference here is between people and governments. Ben Ami is clearly in favor of putting pressure on the Israeli government to get them to change their behaviour, but seems to disagree with boycotts intended on putting pressure on the people living in settlements, many of whom are just there because of economic not ideological reasons. He acknowledges that Iranian sanctions will inevitably hurt the Iranian people, but recognizes that the pressure placed on the Iranian government is part of what will convince the Iranians that unmonitored nuclear work is not worth the costs. As far as I know the sanctions against Iran are largely directed at institutions affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards.