British Quakers announced today (5 April) that they are calling for a boycott of goods from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This is a brave decision, given the volume of abuse, hate mail and downright lies that face those who take a public stand against the Israeli authorities.
Personal experience has made me very aware that there are few more subjects likely to generate hate mail than comments on Israel and Palestine. When I worked for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), I was quoted in the Jerusalem Post opposing arms sales to Israel. I emphasised that "I'm not anti-Israel, I'm anti-arms trade". But I received an email beginning, "Dear Symon Hill, the British Nazi".
A few years ago, I attended an event in a London church supportive of Palestinians' human rights. A Christian Zionist standing outside literally yelled in my face, telling me that the event was promoting hatred. The church received hundreds of abusive messages, including one saying that the curate would "burn forever in a real hell" (presumably this is distinguished from a fake hell, which has pretend flames cut out of orange cardboard).
To be fair, I dare say that people who back the Israeli government also receive hate mail. This is just as abhorrent.