Zionist unity

Pretoria seems intent on catering to anti-Israel lobbyists, in the process creating an atmosphere in which bullying Israel becomes legitimate.

Ahava (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: 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 state.
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.
Numerous 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 view.
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 the “occupation.”
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 exist.
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 Jewish state.
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.
Meanwhile, 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.
In contrast, Pretoria, Copenhagen and other governments antagonistic to Israel that might follow their lead such as Dublin are not motivated by Zionist sentiments.
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.