Pretoria seems intent on catering to anti-Israel lobbyists, in the process creating an atmosphere in which bullying Israel becomes legitimate.
Ahava Photo: Courtesy
When Zionist critics of Israel’s policies in Judea and Samaria
voice their opinions, they run the risking of providing ammunition for those who
would rather see Israel cease to exist as an exclusively Jewish
South Africa’s intention to label settlement products differently
from those made within the Green Line, and signs that Denmark might conceivably
follow suit, seem to be perfect examples of this phenomenon.
undeniably Zionist Jews support not only labeling but also boycotting products
made by Israeli firms located in Judea and Samaria. Meretz chairwoman Zehava
Gal-On, and many, if not all, of Meretz’s constituents hold a similar
There are also prominent supporters of Israel abroad – most notably
Peter Beinart – who argue, like Gal-On and others on the Israeli Left, that a
targeted boycott of the West Bank would put crucial pressure on Israel to end
So if dovish Zionists can advocate a boycott on settler
products, why can’t Pretoria or Copenhagen? Very profound and critical
differences exist. While it might be true that like Gal-On, many Meretz voters
support a targeted boycott of Jewish businesses located in Judea and Samaria or
a cultural boycott of venues such as the theater in the West Bank settlement of
Ariel, this does not prevent them from actively supporting Israel’s right to
Meretz voters are patriotic Israeli citizens who serve mandatory
military service and reserve duty in the IDF, including, on occasion, defending
Jewish settlements located in the West Bank, even at the risk of their own
lives. Though they might oppose the settlement project, dovish Israelis do not
allow their personal political views to prevent them from taking part in
collective Zionist activities like military service, essential for the continued
security of the entire Jewish state.
Another crucial difference is that
left-wing Zionists like Beinart or Gal-On support a boycott because, justifiably
or not, they truly believe that in the long run such a move will benefit the
True, this sort of move is based on a number of faulty
premises. One of them is that Israel can single-handedly achieve peace with the
Palestinians if only Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s broad government
coalition truly wished to. It also ignores the real danger that – like Gaza
after Israel evacuated about 8,500 Jewish settlers in 2005 and like Southern
Lebanon after the IDF’s 2000 withdrawal – the West Bank, too, might be taken
over by radical Islamists, after a painful uprooting of thousands of settlers
that could lead to civil war.
Also, land swaps will inevitably be part of
any future two-state solution. Therefore it is unfair to boycott businesses
located in Judea and Samaria since they might become a part of an Israel with
internationally recognized borders in the future. A boycott also assumes that
the majority of Israelis who support the present government’s policies are
either hopelessly stupid, hopelessly shortsighted, or both, and need the
intervention of more clearsighted, enlightened actors.
But at least
Beinart and Gal-On have good intentions, though they go about achieving their
goals in a counterproductive way. They hope to neutralize the demographic threat
to Israel’s Jewish majority represented by the millions of Palestinians living
on the West Bank and Gaza.
And motivated by a healthy Jewish morality,
they want to see the end to Israel’s rule over Palestinians.
Beinart has proposed that along with the boycott targeting settlements products,
a parallel effort should be made to buy goods and services produced by Israeli
firms located inside the Green Line – an unabashedly pro-Israel move.
contrast, Pretoria, Copenhagen and other governments antagonistic to Israel that
might follow their lead such as Dublin are not motivated by Zionist
Pretoria seems to be intent on catering to anti-Israel
lobbyists, in the process creating an atmosphere in which bullying Israel
becomes perfectly legitimate.
It is unfair to attack Beinart, Gal-On and
other Zionist critics of Israeli policies in Judea and Samaria simply because
their words might be used to justify truly anti- Israeli measures such as those
being considered by South Africa and Denmark.
We Zionists are too few to
afford the luxury of mutual incriminations and infighting; better to join forces
against common enemies.