“The delegitimization issue is morphing into a significant challenge for Israel
in Europe. A campaign of boycott has taken on a number of critical forms that
This was one of the findings of The Jewish People Policy
Institute’s annual “Assessment of the Situation and Dynamics of the Jewish
People,” presented to the Israeli cabinet at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The annual findings were presented by the institute’s board
co-chairmen, Stuart Eizenstat – the former US ambassador and deputy secretary of
the Treasury – and Dennis Ross, the former US ambassador and special Middle East
coordinator under former president Bill Clinton.
Eizenstat noted that in
just the past two weeks, 14 foreign ministers from European countries signed a
letter to the European Commission to boycott all products made in the West Bank,
which he warned could “have a broader impact on multi-national companies
investing in Israel.”
“We know that publicly listed Israeli companies are
receiving divestment letters because their products or services are made in the
West Bank,” he said.
Eizenstat emphasized that Israel must take
“proactive measures” to change the damaging narrative that is leading companies
to join the boycott campaign before it results in considerable economic
“Israel needs to respond with alacrity to this before the
campaign grows and becomes more troubling,” he said. “Take proactive actions to
get carefully vetted Palestinian workers [jobs] – to ease movement in the West
Bank. Israel must change the narrative in a coordinated effort to have a
The assessment – which JPPI will also present to
Jewish leaders internationally – also focused on developments in five key areas:
geopolitics and its impact on the Jewish people; Israel- Diaspora relations;
Jewish identity; Jewish demography; and Jewish economics.
participating in the briefing to the cabinet was former Independence Party MK
Einat Wilf, a JPPI senior fellow and former chair of the Knesset subcommittee on
Israel and Diaspora relations.
In terms of the Jewish community in
Europe, Eizenstat said there are “troubling signs,” including growing
anti-Semitism, increasing restrictions on circumcision and even laws against
traditional Jewish burial.
“[These variables] are creating concern among
European Jewry,” he said.
Eizenstat added that European Jews have three
viable options if they choose to emigrate – Canada, the US and Israel – which he
said presents Israel with a “unique opportunity” to encourage
“This is a unique opportunity for Israel to make clear that it is
a viable option for European Jewry to live here,” he said, “a very attractive
option for them to have a safe, economically stable life.”
to US-Israel relations, Eizenstat noted the exponential population growth of
Hispanic Americans who know “very little” about Israel’s geopolitical situation,
and emphasized the need for Israel to effectively inform them about
“It’s incumbent for Israel to reach out to the growing Hispanic
population to explain what is going on here,” he said. “To reach out to young
emerging Hispanic-Americans, African- Americans and Asian-Americans and to bring
them to Israel.”
While Ross noted the report’s finding of a “clear
improvement” in US-Israel relations, he said how Israel deals with the Iranian
nuclear threat, as well as Syria, may strengthen or weaken the harmony enjoyed
between the nations.
“At some point, before diplomacy is exhausted,
somehow in the coming year Israel has to decide [to] act on its own, or wait to
see if the US will do it,” said Ross. “This is a very difficult issue that needs
to be resolved.”
By acting alone militarily against Iran, Ross cautioned
that Israel could jeopardize its good standing with the Obama
“In the coming year there could be strains if the US is
not acting on Iran or Syria,” he said.
“The overall thrust is that things
have improved [between the US and Israel] – but there may be a challenge [to the
relationship] in a year where Israel may have to move alone
Prior to the annual presentation, JPPI president Avinoam
Bar-Yosef emphasized that Diaspora Jews – particularly in North America – are a
strategic asset to Israel.
“Our special bonds are essential for future
generations of Jews worldwide and place a great responsibility on the shoulders
of Israel as the core state of the Jewish people,” he said.
cabinet briefing is an opportunity to clarify for its ministers current trends
impacting the Jewish people.”
Bar-Yosef emphasized the importance for
Israelis to “invest” in their relationship with Diaspora Jews.
critical that Israelis be more aware of how essential investment in and
maintenance of the relationship between Israel and the rest of the Jewish world
is for all of us,” he said.