Public Comment

If You’re Going to Boycott Israel, Do it Properly!

By Raphael Rettner
Wednesday March 18, 2009 - 06:05:00 PM

So there have been people outside Berkeley Bowl urging people to boycott Israeli products. OK. I understand that you are ticked off at Israel and in love with the Palestinians. That’s fine with me, as long as you have truly weighed all the facts. 

So, you want to boycott Israel and Israeli academic institutions? I’ll be sorry to miss you, but, if you are doing it, do it properly. 

Here, let me help you: 

Check all your medications. Make sure that you do not have tablets, drops, lotions made by Abic or Teva. Or any antibiotics, penicillin or non-penicillin. Or Pravachol (pravastatin), 

Zoloft (sertraline) or Zocor (simvastatin) which are among the compounds heading up the product list along with 148 abbreviated new drug applications (ANDA) awaiting final FDA approval that has Teva waiting to slash prices on $84 billion worth of branded drugs by creating generics. Or generic equivalents of Depakote, Actos, AdenoScan, Aciphex, Zofran, Sarafem, Protonix, Cozaar, Hyzaar, Lotrel, Risperdal, Avelox, Focalin and Wellbutrin XL. Sure, it may mean that you will suffer from reflux, chest pain, arthritis pain, cancer, diabetes, suicidal thoughts, depression, infections or bacterial assaults...or just colds and flu next winter...but, hey, that’s a small price for you to pay in your campaign against Israel and Israeli academic institutions, isn’t it? Teva also makes the generics for pet antibiotics, so hopefully you will have healthy domestic animals while you boycott. 

While we are on the subject of your Israeli boycott, and the medical contributions to the world made by Israeli doctors and scientists, how about telling your pals to boycott the following: 

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 academic patent that may more accurately diagnose their symptoms. 

An Israeli-made device helps restore the use of paralyzed hands. This device electrically stimulates the muscles, providing hope to millions of stroke sufferers and victims of spinal injuries. 

If you wish to remove this hope of a better quality of life to these people, go ahead and boycott Israel and Israeli academic institutions. 

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. Please tell anxious mothers that they shouldn’t use this device because of your passionate cause. 

These are just a few examples of how people have benefited medically from the Israeli know-how you wish to block. Boycotts often affect research. 

A new research center in Israel hopes to shed light on brain disorders such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease. The Joseph Sangol Neuroscience Center in the Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer Hospital aims to bring thousands of scientists and doctors to focus on brain research. 

A researcher at Israel’s Ben Gurion University has succeeded in creating human monoclonal antibodies which can neutralize the highly contagious smallpox virus without inducing the dangerous side effects of the existing vaccine. 

Two Israelis received the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Doctors Ciechanover and Hershko’s research and discovery of one of the human cells most important cyclical processes will lead the way to DNA repair, control of newly produced proteins, and immune defense systems. 

The Movement Disorder Surgery program at Israel’s Hadassah Medical Center has successfully eliminated the physical manifestations of Parkinson’s disease in a select group of patients with a deep brain stimulation technique. 

For the thousands of women who undergo hysterectomies each year for the treatment of uterine fibroids, the development, in Israel, of the ExAblate System is a welcome breakthrough, offering a noninvasive alternative to surgery. 

Israel is developing a nose-drop that will provide a five-year flu vaccine. 

These are just a few of the projects that you can help stop with your Israeli boycott. But let’s not get too obsessed with my research, there are other ways you can make a personal sacrifice with your 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. 

Voicemail technology was developed in Israel. 

The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed in 1996 in Israel by four young Israeli whiz kids. 

Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the US in Israel. 

So, due to your complete boycott of Israel and Israeli academic institutions, you can now have poor health and no computer. 

But your bad news does not end there. be sure to get rid of your cellular phone. Cellphone technology was developed in Israel by Motorola/Israel, which has its biggest development center in Israel. Most of the latest technology in your mobile phone was developed by Israeli scientists. 

Ever feel unsettled? Part of your personal security rests with Israeli inventiveness, borne out of their urgent necessity to protect and defend our lives from the terrorists you support. 

A phone can remotely activate a bomb, or be used for tactical communications by terrorists, bank robbers or hostage-takers. It is vital that official security and law enforcement authorities have access to cellular jamming and detection solutions. Enter Israel’s NetLine Communications Technologies with their security expertise to help the fight against terror. 

A joint nonprofit venture between Israel and the US state of Maryland resulted in a 5-day Business Development and Planning Conference held in March. Selected Israeli companies will partner with Maryland firms to provide innovation to America’s need for homeland security. 

I also want you to know that Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world. 

Israel produces more scientific papers per capita—109 per 10,000—than any other nation. 

Israel has the highest number of startup companies per rata. In absolute terms, the highest numbers, except the U.S., are in Israel, which has a ratio of patents filed. 

Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies outside of Silicon Valley in the U.S.A. Israel is ranked no. 2 in the world for venture capital funds, behind the U.S.A. 

Israel has more museums per capita than any other country. 

Israel has the second highest rate of publication of new books per capita. 

Relative to population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth. 

These immigrants come in search of democracy, religious freedom or expression, economic opportunity and quality of life. 

Believe it or not, Israel is the only country in the world which had a net gain in the number of trees last year. 

Even Warren Buffet of Berkshire-Hathaway fame has just invested millions with Israeli companies. 

So, you can vilify and demonize the State of Israel and Israeli academic institutions. You can continue your silly boycott, if you wish. But I wish you would consider the consequences, and the truth. 

Think of the massive contribution that Israel is giving to the world, including the Palestinians, in science, medicine, communications, security. 

Pro-rata for population, Israel has always made, and continues to make, a greater contribution to the global state than any other nation on Earth. 

Stop her contributions to all our peril.  


Raphael Rettner is a Berkeley poet and an English Jew.