Yair Lapid addressing Manhattan's Park Avenue Synagogue..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel needs Diaspora Jewry in the fight against delegitimization, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said in New York on Saturday.
“This is not about policies, or about the settlements, or about the peace process, this is classic anti-Semitism in a modern disguise,” Lapid said of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, addressing Manhattan’s Park Avenue Synagogue a day before his planned speech at The Jerusalem Post Conference.
“The situation is getting worse. The tide is turning and either we turn it back now or it will sweep over us.”
Lapid said the way to fight BDS is to move from defense to offense and remind the world that the people behind it are those “responsible for 9/11, for terrorist attacks in Madrid and London and for the 250,000 people killed in Syria” – and American Jewry can help make Israel that case.
“We need the Jewish community. We need you,” he said. “We are ready to provide you with whatever support you need but in this battle you are our foot soldiers on the front lines.”
Lapid also said that, while there may be disagreements on government policy, the Jewish world should unite against an external enemy of Israel.
“The way to defeat BDS is for us to stand together, and to stand tall,” he said.
The former finance minister also called for the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora to “go both ways,” and for Israel to respect Jewish pluralism, saying it “cannot continue to be the only country in the Western world without freedom of religion for Jews.”
On Friday, opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of not doing enough to address the specter of anti-Israel boycotts.
“Netanyahu has failed in dealing with this boycott,” Herzog told Channel 2. “He is incapable of overcoming it. Instead, he is leading us to a Jewish-Arab state.
“It is now 48 years since the outbreak of the Six Day War,” he said. “We have never been closer to a Jewish-Arab state of six million Jews and six million Arabs. This, among other things, is what is fueling that same campaign.”
The Zionist Union chairman said Israel’s predicament was compounded by the fact that the premier “doesn’t have an intimate, courageous relationship with the White House,” which he described as “a vital element in this struggle.” In addition, Herzog said, Netanyahu “isn’t offering a diplomatic initiative of his own.”
Herzog also criticized the supporters of boycotts against Israel.
“For years, I’ve devoted efforts in the fight against the boycott movement,” he said. “We will fight to protect Israel’s good name. This is a diplomatic intifada being waged by the haters of Israel. But, with all due respect, the one leading the country is the prime minister, and his circus government is incapable of waging this fight.”
The opposition leader said the danger of more boycotts was as acute as ever.
“Everywhere in the world,” he said, “there are company executives asking their lawyers whether it is possible to do business here.”