Sooner or later, I knew someone would raise the argument that boycotting Israel will really hurt the Palestinians. I remember during apartheid South Africa era, a similar argument was promoted by white South Africans stating that a boycott of South Africa would mainly hurt the non-white South Africans.
Gil Troy, author of a Montreal Gazette commentary, states that a boycott of Israel would really hurt the Palestinian cause. Israelis would be less inclined to support a two-state solution. I argue that they may support a two-state solution. However, how much of the territory would these Israelis propose that the Palestinians rule? If we were to fully support Israel, would the Israelis be more inclined to accept a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 line of control boundaries? I doubt it. The Israelis would have no need to accept a two-state solution of the world fully supported Israel.
Mr. Troy gives the usually argument that we should devote a boycott of truly repressive dictatorships of Iran, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia. I will agree that we can call out these particular countries for their human rights abuses. That does not mean that Israel should be let off the hook. As a consumer, I very rarely see goods on store shelves that come from Iran, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia. It's difficult to boycott something that is already absent. The last time I bought something from North Korea was in 1991 in the former Czechoslovakia. It was a cheap towel that I needed. There wasn't a great selection of towels back then. All the Czech towels at a particular store came from North Korea. There wasn't a great selection of anything. This was just after the Iron Curtain came down.
Back to Canada and Saudi gas. It's difficult for me to go to my local Petro-Canada station and ask the attendant what percentage of oil comes from Saudi Arabia. I could drive to the local Esso and Shell stations and ask the same question of where their oil comes from. Those attendants wouldn't know either.
A boycott by Canadians against Israeli products and services such as travel will probably have little effect on Israel. However, if the Europeans and Americans support a boycott, the combined effect will put a lot of pressure on the poor Israelis to get their government to support a mutually agreed peace settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians.