Published in The Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom, February 7, 2014.
The menace of BDS is being deliberately overstated. It is largely an artificial threat manufactured by the Israeli Left, and echoed by Kerry. Israel’s Left is deliberately prophesying doom and gloom to scare the Israeli public into retreat and withdrawal.
Not a day goes by without our chief peace negotiator, Tzipi Livni, lamenting the looming Western boycott of Israel. Every day, almost every hour, she howls and wails about our impending isolation. According to Livni, Israel is about to be hit with unprecedented diplomatic, economic and academic chill, with severe repercussions for business and prosperity.
All this bad karma is coming down the pike unless Israel snaps quickly to Livni’s tune of withdrawal from the West Bank, and concedes a state to the Palestinians.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid has chimed in too with a shabbily-concocted report that “confirms” Livni’s premonitions. The pocketbook of every Israeli is going to be hit hard, Lapid warns, by Western BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) activity, unless Israel scurries to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s camp and hurries to cut a deal with the Palestinians.
In fact, the “threat” of a global boycott against Israel is so obsessively being talked about these days by the political Left that you would think it a real threat; indeed, a greater threat than the growth of Global Jihad on our borders.
This is, of course, manifest nonsense. The menace of BDS is being deliberately overstated and wildly overestimated. It is largely an artificial threat manufactured by the Israeli Left and magnified a thousand times over by repetition and Livni-style moralizing.
It is no wonder that John Kerry and other Western leaders have taken to cautioning Israel about the consequences of a breakdown in the Palestinian negotiations. Surprise, surprise, says Kerry, if things don’t proceed his way, Israel could be squeezed by spiraling boycott and isolation.
But Kerry is just echoing what he is hearing from Livni, Lapid and other leftist friends.
Unfortunately, this has been the modus operandi of the Israeli political Left for some years now: Create a bogeyman with which to scare the Israeli public into retreat and withdrawal.
Having utterly failed to convince the Israeli public that establishment of a Palestinian state is a good idea that will bring peace and security to Israel, the Left is left with frightening us into withdrawal nevertheless. Otherwise we’ll lose some benefit or another.
Fill in the blank: Israel had better withdraw from Judea and Samaria, otherwise it will lose… its Jewish and democratic character (Shimon Peres), or its diplomatic standing (Livni), or its economic prosperity (Lapid), or its moral standing (Dan Meridor – remember him?), and so on.
Time and time again, the Left has tried this trick. Last fall, former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert warned of a “diplomatic tsunami” that would befall Israel if the Palestinians went ahead and got their “statehood” approved by the United Nations General Assembly. In panic, they urged Israel to make radical diplomatic concessions in order to prevent the disaster.
Well, the Palestinians got their vote and their upgraded status, yet the waves of diplomatic tsunami have not broken upon Israel. The sky has not fallen. Israel has not become the new South Africa. Nor will it.
There are so many reasons why Left’s nefarious nightmare scenarios are inaccurate, ranging from the weakness of the Arab world, to the declining clout of European economic power, to the robustness Israel’s structural ties to Western and Eastern technology and business hubs, and to the resilience of Israel’s reputation amongst democratic elites in North America.
Israel’s standing is simply so much stronger than the passing vicissitudes of fallout from roller-coaster negotiations with the sidelined and hapless Palestinians.
Consequently, the specter of Israel’s sequestration and boycott by the world is overblown, and in any case Israel could manage most degrees of negative aftereffect. Previous rounds of peace talks have broken down with Israel getting the blame, yet Israel overcame the consequences.
But these structural constants are beside the point. The point is that the prophesies of doom and gloom are little more than a manipulation. The forecasting of disaster is a premeditated scare tactic.
The Israeli public should be able to see through the falsifications of the insincere Livni and her ensemble, and their cynical mobilization of Secretary Kerry for this campaign of intimidation. The Israeli public should know that Kerry is principally parroting a line contrived in Israel.
The only rational Israeli response to this attempt at bullying is sangfroid.
With composure and self-assurance, Prime Minister Netanyahu needs to say to Livni and Kerry: “Yes, Israel truly desires peace and appreciates your indefatigable attempts to bridge the gaps between us and the Palestinians. But we will manage even if no grand deal with the Palestinians is currently achievable – as lamentably, we knew from the beginning and feared would be the case.”
“Israel’s international standing is not going to crumble if it gets censured by you, Mr. Secretary. Israel will hold together and prosper even if it doesn’t accept Abbas’s demand for sovereignty in Jerusalem, or your demand, Mr. Secretary, that Israel rely on American satellites and cameras to hold the Jordan Valley line.”
“We’re truly sorry and disappointed that you are prepared to slap down dictated contours of a deal and say: Accept this or suffer the consequences – even though you promised that you weren’t going to impose anything.”
“But Israel takes the long view. Our demands for historical rights, recognition, and security in the Land of Israel are solid and sustainable for the long term. So we will wait out our adversaries, blow-off the Left’s manipulations, and weather American impatience, until conditions and partners for peace improve, thank you very much.”