Israel’s Diplomatic War for Legitimacy
By Sarah Ann Haves
Boycotts, divestments, the de-legitimization of Israel, and increased anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Israel sentiment is gaining ground in public forums and diplomatic circles. It is a diplomatic war that Israel and the international Jewish Community is fighting and the battle is intensifying.
It is expected that the U.S. will present a framework agreement to Israel and the Palestinians by the end of April, as a document of principles toward a final peace agreement, which would eventually result in the establishment of a Palestinian State.
If Israel is blamed
Jewish leaders are already making plans for “the day after”, in case the Israeli government cannot accept the American framework, established by U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. If Israel is blamed for refusing to make peace with the Palestinians, then a series of motions could be carried out to further isolate Israel, internationally.
Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a closed-door meeting of his senior cabinet ministers to come up with strategies to fight anti-Israel hatred abroad. Israel’s Foreign Ministry has been closely monitoring governments and organizations intent on carrying out measures that would hurt Israel economically. Part of Israel’s efforts are now to build strategic relationships with countries that favor the Jewish State. Netanyahu will soon be traveling to Mexico and Columbia – Latin American countries that have good relations with Israel. He recently met in Jerusalem with Peruvian President Ollanta Moises Humala. Netanyahu is looking for ways to encourage Latin American trade partnerships. The Israeli government would also like to see these nations pass legislation that would penalize organizations intent on boycotting Israeli businesses and institutions.
In addition, Netanyahu will be leaning on his excellent relationship with Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper to help Israel fight unfair treatment in the global arena.
One initiative being discussed by Israeli Knesset members is to encourage governments to bar federal funding of institutions of higher education that boycott Israel. By mid-April, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has promised the Israeli public that there will be concrete plans in place to fight boycotts of Israel.
Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, spoke at a recent press conference in Jerusalem about the worldwide campaign against Israel. This writer asked him what can be expected if Israel is not able to accept the U.S. framework agreement. “I think we have to be prepared for all possible outcomes…We are working very hard to develop this national approach, bringing some of the best minds to bear, Jews and non-Jews, on the issue of de-legitimization.”
Hoenlein is talking about a national task force of 60 organizations across the U.S. that has been formed to deal with acts of de-legitimization against Israel. He says it is not just about efforts to boycott Israel. “Boycott is one manifestation of the de-legitimization movement, and perhaps the most serious. To me, the issue of the denigration, isolation and demonization of Israel – whether it is on college campuses, in church groups, in unions, or cultural and entertainment sectors – is to me a greater danger in the long run.”
Furthermore, Hoenlein is not so sure that the boycott will have great economic impact. “It could and we have to make sure it doesn’t. And, we are working on legislation that will be constitutionality acceptable to address it.”
The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations has a lawfare project which helps lawyers around the country to enact legislation and get involved in other initiatives that will counter nascent movements against Israel. Hoenlein also wants to make sure there are counter efforts to prevent the kind of discriminatory practices that people are recommending against Israel and against Jewish communities throughout the world.
He takes issue with Jewish people who are joining boycott movements against Israel. He thinks it is not a legitimate way to express disappointment with Israeli policies. “The boycott movement, BDS, and de-legitimization is the 21st Century form of 20th Century anti-Semitism. It is the same manifestation attacking the collective Jew/Israel, rather than the individual Jew as we saw 70 years ago.”
Hoenlein addressed the new cloak of anti-Semitism. “The critical aspect is understanding what the true nature of this danger is; what the real intent is.” He claims that those who think it is not politically correct to say they hate Jews, but is politically correct to say they hate Israel or Zionists is just a cover-up for the same hatred. “We recognize that when they say Israel, they mean all of us.”
Hoenlein’s organization has created the Leadership Action Network, which boasts 8 million members, in order to re-build ties and foster connections between countries in the Mediterranean base that will bring stability to the Middle East. He sees an alliance forming that would benefit Israel when other countries are rejecting the Jewish State.
Anti-Semitism continues to gain ground, worldwide, under the disguise of anti-Israel policies. EU countries are already engaging in boycotts of settlement products beyond the Green Line. There have been threats from the EU of other kinds of boycotts intent on hurting Israel, economically, if the Jewish State does not make peace with the Palestinians
…half of EU citizens
U.S. Jewish community leaders have expressed concern that future European elections could pose a threat from ultra-nationalists who could gain 30% of the popular vote. These political groups have proven they have anti-Semitic agendas. Reports indicate that half of EU citizens think, wrongly, that Israel has a strategic campaign in place to harm the Palestinians.
Anti-Semitism is also increasing at a rapid rate on the Internet. Israeli Knesset members are pressuring Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other Web sites to remove hate comments. Israeli and Jewish organizations are warning Jews they must combat the increase of anti-Semitism on-line, offering them ways to deal with the spread of disinformation. Jewish leaders are also hoping that countries will enact legislation that stops hate campaigns on the Web.
One area of anti-Semitic sentiment that is just now becoming highlighted is the diminishing support of Evangelical Christians for Israel. Confronted by a slick Palestinian re-write of the historical narrative in the Middle East, many Evangelical Christians are turning against the Jewish State. While there are still pro-Israel supporters among mainline Protestants, the tide is turning to divest from Israel. The target audience for the Palestinians is the younger generation. Palestinian “Christian” leaders have successfully offered a humanistic view of an “oppressed people” downtrodden by a Goliath state, and many young people are buying into this narrative. Bringing truth and facts to this generation is essential to winning future support for Israel.
As April approaches, the Israeli government and international Jewish groups are very much aware that they only have a few weeks to work hard and gain more global sympathy for Israel. They continue to try and do business with countries and organizations that believe Israel has a right to remain a secure, viable, and Jewish State in this volatile region.
Israel cannot afford to be rejected and isolated by the international community. But, neither can Israel and the Jewish People give up hope on the legitimacy of this nation state for the Jewish People. What happens to Israel reflects what happens to Jews, worldwide… as Israel is their assurance of a safe and secure land to come home to.
“O Lord, oppose those who oppose me. Fight those who fight against me. Put on Your armor, and take up Your shield. Prepare for battle, and come to my aid.” Psalm 35:1-2 (NLT)
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