Friday, August 06, 2010

Boycotts Aren't Always Easy To Do

Bad news for the Israel-haters who wants to "boycott Israel":

"Israeli business executives here like to point out that most of the angry Turks who protested Israel’s deadly raid on a Turkish-led flotilla to Gaza this past spring do not know that their cellphones, personal computers and plasma televisions were made using parts and technology from Tel Aviv.

For Menashe Carmon, chairman of the Israel Turkey Business Council, such ignorance is a blessing for Israelis and Turks.

“Turks would find it very hard to boycott Israeli goods because you won’t find any in Turkish supermarkets,” Mr. Carmon said. “But most of the software Turks use in everything from cell phones to medical equipment is made in Israel. So unless Turks want to stop using their computers, boycotting Israel would mean punishing themselves.”"

Actually, boycotts (and sanctions) always mean punishing yourself since you abstain from a good which you would have otherwise deemed to have the highest value relative to its price. If you didn't believe that you wouldn't be boycotting it on that ground, so boycotts almost by definition mean punishing yourself.

However, sometimes the punishment is quite small when a nearly as good substitute is at hand, something which may be the case when one chooses to buy fruits from other countries instead of Israel (or whatever country you're boycotting). But if you have to abstain from whole product lines and if you view these products as important -something which most people do with regard to for example cell phones- then the self-punishment will be very severe.

And as exports of high tech components of final products assembled elsewhere these days are far more important for Israel than agricultural exports, boycotting Israel is far more difficult and involving a lot greater sacrifices than most people wishing to boycott Israel thinks. The same thing is also often to a lesser extent true of other countries that some people wish to boycott (such as France, China and the United States).