As U.S. mediated Middle East peace talks enter their seventh month, mounting tensions have emerged between Israel and Washington. Israeli officials are furious after Secretary of State John Kerry warned that if peace talks with the Palestinians fail, Israel could face growing international boycotts. Kerry was speaking at a security conference in Munich.

Outraged by a new Russian law that outlaws “homosexual propaganda” and by President Vladimir Putin’s recent remarks that gays who go to Sochi for the Olympic Winter Games should “stay away from children,” some gays and lesbians are planning to boycott watching the Olympics on TV.

January 10, 2014

The American Studies Association is a relatively small professional association of scholars, but suddenly it has made an enormous impact on the public discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On Dec. 16, the ASA endorsed an “academic boycott” of Israeli universities. It was a victory for what is known as the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement, which began in 2005 but has been largely unknown in the United States until now.

Thailand’s main opposition Democrat Party said Saturday that it would boycott February’s general election, deepening a weeks-long political crisis over protesters’ efforts to oust the government and force political reforms. The party’s leader, former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, announced the boycott after a meeting of party executives. He said the decision was made in order to ensure that Thailand’s government will “represent the people once again.”

A growing chorus of voices calling for a political boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, began to gain traction this past week in reaction to the host country’s onerous crackdown on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. President Barack Obama heeded its calls by announcing a U.S. delegation of representatives that includes two openly gay athletes and excludes senior elected officials, their spouses and current Cabinet members. His decision should be applauded.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will vote Sunday on whether to approve a bill limiting foreign-government funding to groups “whose goals or activities flagrantly exceed the bounds of Israeli democratic discourse.” Under the legislation, sponsored by MK Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), such nonprofit groups must pay a 45 percent tax on contributions. Passage by the committee means the bill has the support of the governing coalition. It would then go the Knesset for a preliminary vote later in the week.

This has happened in recent days: The Dutch water company Vitens severed its ties with Israeli counterpart Mekorot; Canada’s largest Protestant church decided to boycott three Israeli companies; the Romanian government refused to send any more construction workers; and American Studies Association academics are voting on a measure to sever links with Israeli universities.

In response, gay columnist Dan Savage called for a nation-wide boycott of Stoli and other Russian vodkas. This weekend several bars in West Hollywood got into the act. Even though Stoli is a business, not a government that can enact policy, WeHo councilman John Duran told us why he supported the move by his city's businesses. "I mean I think that a boycott has two primary reasons, one of which is to target and protest where injustice is occurring, but also to raise public awareness."