Op-Ed: Delegitimization of Israel? Not Really
Yonatan SilvermanThe author is a professional translator from Hebrew to English. He is the author of For the World to See:The Life of Margaret Bourke White. He operates the online newsletter SARTABA.
Recently, the Jerusalem based Jewish People’s Policy Institute (JPPI) posted an article by Brig. Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog, a senior fellow at JPPI, entitled Don’t Underestimate The Delegetimization of Israel
Brig. Gen. Herzog 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 delegitimitization, but in fact this is just a lot of hot hostile air that attempts to poison the world against Israel's existence.
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. 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 to do anything whatsoever to undermine or delegitimize the state of Israel. They are no more than loud-mouthed bigots. Sadly, it is the nation of Israel’s fate to have to deal with such half wits. 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 United Nations (UN), of course, is another story. The UN has been commandeered by the Arab world and organizations there like United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) will stop at nothing to crucify Israel. The despicable Goldstone report is perhaps the most egregious example. The Palestinian unilateral move for statehood in the UN is another example.
The aim of the Palestinians as always is to stab Israel in the back and evetually eliminate the state of Israel. They do not want peace, but Israel piece by piece. The Palestinians definitely seek to delegitimize Israel and the UN gives them refuge for doing this unfortunately. Israel needs to call the Palestinian bluff.
But for the rest of the world, Israel is not being delegitimized as Herzog cautions. The problem just emanates from a widespread and vociferous gang of anti Jewish bigots. The world’s governments are what matter and they are not delegitimizing Israel.
Look at the good friends we have in Greece, for example.
There are many pieces to the puzzle, of course. But we must call the glass half full, not half empty.
On the other hand, the phenomena Herzog cites in his short essay are not frivolous or passing fancies. Israel is constantly being bombarded with verbal and other calumny. But this is not what delegitimizes a sovereign country in the 21st century.
For example, Herzog writes:
This trend must not be underestimated. Israel is indeed strong, but it is small and to a great extent dependent upon its international legitimacy. A significant increase of its delegitimization may isolate it, erode its deterrence and its freedom to act in its own defense, harm its economy, and expose it to legal assault.
The delegitimators hold before their eyes the image of South Africa, which despite its military and economic might finally caved under the accumulating pressure of years of sanctions and delegitimization.
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 treats Palestinian Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and the
Those who claim that Israel’s society and government are comparable to Apartheid South Africa’s know their claims are deceitful.
way the Apartheid South Africa 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 Israeli Arabs have full citizenship. A full 96% of Palestinian Arabs have self rule and the 4% who don't live in proximity to Jewish communities and many have, unfortunately, abused that nearness to carry out terrorist attacks.Those who claim that Israel’s society and government are comparable to Apartheid South Africa’s know their claims are deceitful.
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 Palestinian Arabs. 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, these things are groundless lies and distortions and Israel will never suffer permanent political damage from this. Certainly not like Apartheid South Africa did, which was indeed a brazen and despicable case of racial injustice.
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.
There is a movement called BDS “Boycott Divestment and Sanctions”
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 Israel 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 with Israel’s internal affairs. But BDS is a loosely organized Palestinian gang of 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 people who hate Israel and hate Jews and believe the lie that Israel is an Apartheid state.
But this will never amount to delegitimization of Israel..Governments and government hostility and severing of diplomatic ties, international trade ties and international banking ties 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.
The delegitimization noises, from the vociferous and Jew hating lunatic fringe, will pass like every public relations nightmare Israel has dealt with successfully for decades. The Goldstone Report is perhaps the best example.
When the scurrilous Goldstone Report was released, Israel was in turmoil. The Goldstone Report was the worst thing to happen to Israel since the UN's 1975 Zionism Is Racism resolution. But the storm passed after a few weeks. Goldstone himself eventually admitted he erred. 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.