|Peter Beinart.(Photo by: Matt Sherman/The Current)|
Candidly Speaking: Zionists don't boycott Israel
By ISI LEIBLER
Despite being a weekly columnist, I feel compelled to respond to the Jerusalem Post editorial titled “Zionist Unity.”
Despite being a weekly columnist, I feel compelled to respond to the Jerusalem
Post editorial titled “Zionist Unity” (May 22, 2012).
The editorial makes
the outrageous claim that left-wing Jews living in the Diaspora who call for
global boycotts of Israeli settlements may be considered as acting within a
Furthermore, it states that unlike the South African
government, Diaspora Jews like Peter Beinart who are allegedly motivated by good
intentions should not be condemned.
Some of the worst acts in history
were committed by well-intentioned people. That in no way justified their
actions or detracts from deplorable initiatives.
The editorial brackets
the boycott by Diaspora Jews with similar initiatives promoted in Israel by
Meretz and groups further to the left. But there is a major distinction. Those
engaged in such activities within Israel, as the editorial itself notes, also
serve in the IDF and for better or for worse, will personally reap the
consequences of their actions. However, most Israelis would also condemn and
regard with contempt those calling for boycotts of goods from
Diaspora Jews fall into an entirely different category. When
they call for global boycotts of Israeli settlements, they are effectively
promoting delegitimization and paving the way for broader boycotts. Besides,
unlike their delusional Israeli counterparts, they are mere observers,
physically unaffected by the negative repercussions of their actions.
is the ultimate nonsense to suggest that some boycotts are “good” because they
are promoted by well-intentioned advocates, in contrast to the South Africans
who are “bad.” When we begin assessing hostile acts on the basis of good or bad
intentions, we are surely heading towards an “Alice in Wonderland”
A Diaspora Jew engaging in a campaign to boycott any sector of
Israel society is indulging in a harmful and “pernicious” act. It reflects an
indifference to the double standards employed against Israel and will
unquestionably be exploited by those seeking to boycott and delegitimize Israel
It grieves me that the Jerusalem Post would publish an
editorial explicitly exonerating Peter Beinart from the harm he is inflicting on
the Jewish state when even many of the far-left critics of Israel – including J
Street – have felt compelled to distance themselves from this aspect of his
As I wrote in a recent column (“Breakfast with Peter Beinart”),
Beinart may be personally amiable and charming but he has now assumed the role
of the leading Jew engaged in demonizing and delegitimizing the State of Israel
and his “good” intentions in no way detract from the damage he is inflicting
It is especially distressing to read what could be deemed as a
Jerusalem Post imprimatur for Beinart’s actions, when one considers the bias and
distortions reflected in his portrayal of Israel and the fact that his analysis
is essentially based on the narrative of our enemies, which blames Israel for
the breakdown in the peace negotiations.
While occasionally paying lip
service to condemning some Arab abominations, he emphasizes Palestinian
suffering and fails to reflect the impact of the Palestinian violence and terror
inflicted on Israeli civilians since Oslo.
Today, we are witness to a sea
change in public opinion at the grassroots level, both in Israel and the
Diaspora, with a broad recognition that the current Palestinian leadership
cannot possibly be considered to be a genuine peace partner.
One can, of
course, debate the pros and cons of this approach. However, to legitimize and
describe as a Zionist a Jew calling for a boycott of Israeli settlements, gives
credence to activities which have the potential of impacting disastrously on
Israel. There must be red lines. Many of us have reservations about Diaspora
Jews publicly condemning the democratically elected Israeli government on
security issues, but we recognize that in a democracy they are entitled to their
views. But that surely does not apply to those directly calling for boycotts
against sectors of Israeli society.
The editorial correctly expresses
consternation that the South African government is creating an atmosphere in
which bullying Israel is considered perfectly legitimate. Surely the Diaspora
Jews who indulge in similar activities should likewise be fervently condemned
for conducting hostile acts against their own kinsmen. The suggestion that the
vast majority of committed Jews in the Diaspora, as well as Israelis, should
welcome Jews calling for such boycotts into “the big tent” if their “motivation”
is deemed to be “well intentioned,” is thus idiotic and unconscionable.