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July 24, 2011
Israel Is Not Being Delegitimized
On July 21, the Jerusalem-based Jewish People's Policy Institute (JPPI) posted an article by Brig. Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog entitled "Don't Underestimate the Delegitimization of Israel."
I strongly disagree with Brig. Gen. Herzog's ideas on the subject, so I wrote to him at JPPI, where he is a senior fellow.
I told Brig. Gen. Herzog that he is miscalculating the effect and influence of anti-Jewish lunatic fringe groups in the world and confusing them with the world's governments. The former are responsible for what everyone calls delegitimization, but in fact this is just a lot of hot, hostile air. In its worst manifestation, the crazed anti-Israel lunatic fringe sometimes takes out an arrest warrant against an IDF officer for crimes against humanity or some such nonsense.
Of course, this is serious, and ways need to be found to stop this ugly move on the part of the lunatic fringe. But aside from the arrest warrants, the crazed lunatic fringe is impotent when it comes to undermining or delegitimizing the state of Israel. They are loud-mouthed idiots and bigots -- but that's all they are. Nothing to cause anyone to worry about Israeli sovereignty or an invasion from the north or anything like that.
The world's governments are the only bodies that have the power to delegitimize Israel, and the world's governments are not doing that. The U.N., of course, is another story. The U.N. has been commandeered by the Arab world and organizations there like UNHRC, both of whom will stop at nothing to crucify Israel. The despicable Goldstone report is perhaps the most egregious example, with the Palestinian unilateral move for statehood in the U.N. being another. The aim of the Palestinians, as always, is ultimately to eliminate the state of Israel. They want not peace, but Israel piece by piece.
But for the rest of the world, I do not believe Israel is being delegitimized, as Herzog cautions. Look at the good friends we have in Greece, for example.
Keep in mind, however, that the phenomena Herzog cites in his short essay are not frivolous or passing fancies. Israel is constantly being bombarded with verbal and other calumny. All the same, however, this is not what delegitimizes a sovereign country in the 21st century.
For example, Herzog writes:
It's true: the Jew-hating, Israel-hating lunatic fringe in the world, like the fanatics who disgraced the Durban Conference in 2001, vociferously claim that Israel is an Apartheid State. Presumably, they make a comparison between the way Israel segregates Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza and the way the South African Apartheid regime segregated and persecuted the country's black population for decades.
But this is a lie. Israel is a democratic republic, and 1.5 million Arabs in the country have full citizenship. Those who claim that Israel's society and government are comparable to Apartheid South Africa's are just slinging mud and deceitful claims -- and they know it. Apartheid South Africa was a country that maintained the most despicable form of racial injustice in its constitution and its entire social fabric. Apartheid South Africa deserved everything that was coming to it in terms of international delegitimization. Israel, on the other hand, practices no sort of mass injustice against its Arab citizens or the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. People who claim this are lying for the purpose of harming Israel's good name.
But that is all it will ever be. As bad and as ugly as the Durban Conference was in terms of anti-Semitism gone wild, and as bad and as ugly are the claims of people who say Israel is an Apartheid state, Israel will never suffer any permanent damage from these groundless lies and distortions.
Essentially, the things Herzog cites as elements that threaten to delegitimize Israel are all anti-Israel public relations, which is to say verbal attacks and brickbats. For example, in 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. A truly global movement against Israeli Apartheid is rapidly emerging in response to this call.
Obviously, boycotts, divestment, and sanctions are a step above verbal attacks and represent actual hands-on interference in Israel's internal affairs. But BDS is a loosely organized gang of Palestinian Jew-haters and Israel-haters who base their entire initiative on the lie that Israel is an Apartheid state.
In the world as we know it, in the final analysis, a non-governmental organization that bases its entire effort on a brazen, malicious lie does not get very far. BDS malice and deceit may win over a certain number of other people who also hate Israel and hate Jews, but this will never amount to delegitimization of Israel.
Government hostility and the severing of diplomatic ties, international trade ties, international banking ties, and so on are the only elements that can cause another country to be delegitimized. There is much talk about doing this to Iran, for example, to halt its atomic bomb enterprise. For Israel, the rest will pass, just like every public relations nightmare Israel has dealt with successfully for decades. When the scurrilous Goldstone Report was released, for example, Israel was in turmoil; the report was the worst thing to happen to Israel since the U.N. "Zionism Is Racism" resolution. But the storm passed after a few weeks. Goldstone himself eventually admitted that he lied through his teeth. And the whole episode lies in the dust heap of history now. Goldstone is yesterday's news.
This is where fears and forebodings of the delegitimization of Israel belong, too.
This story appeared in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot:
These port workers in various countries who threaten to boycott Israel for the sake of the Palestinians must believe that they are the most righteous fighters for justice on the face of the earth. But they are adopting a very foolish tactic. If they carry out their threat, then Israel will, of course, simply refuse to unload their countries' ships in Israel.
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