Recently, the Jerusalem based Jewish People’s Policy Institute (JPPI) posted an article by Brig. Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog entitled Don’t Underestimate The Deligitimization of Israel
I strongly disagree with Brig. Gen. Herzog’s ideas on the delegitimization of Israel so I wrote to him at JPPI, where he is a senior fellow.
Among other things, I told Brig. Gen. Herzog that he is miscalculating the effect and influence of anti-Jewish fringe groups around 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. In its worst manifestation the crazed anti-Israel lunatic fringe sometimes initiates the issuing of 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 these ugly activities on the part of these groups. But aside from the warrants, they are mostly powerless and their efforts to delegitimize the state of Israel are relatively nonthreatening.
The world’s governments are the only bodies that have the power to delegitimize Israel and in truth, they are doing little to this end. The United Nations however is another story. The UN has been more or less commandeered by the Arab world and its bodies, such as the UNHRC will stop at nothing to crucify Israel, the despicable Goldstone report perhaps being the most egregious example. The unilateral Palestinian move for statehood recognition at the UN is another example. The Palestinians actively seek to delegitimize Israel and sadly the UN provides a refuge for them to pursue their agenda.
Brig. Gen. 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 fringe, like the fanatics who disgraced the Durban Conference in 2001, vociferously claim that Israel is an Apartheid State. Presumably, they draw a comparison between the way Israelis and Palestinian Arabs live separately in the West Bank and Gaza and the way 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 living in the country have full citizenship. Those who claim that Israeli society and government policies are in any way comparable to apartheid South Africa are slinging mud and they know it. South Africa constitutionally maintained the most despicable form of racial injustice and it was ingrained in the country’s social fabric and the subsequent reaction from the international community was well deserved. Israel on the other hand practices no sort of mass injustice against its Arab citizens or the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Those who make this claim have fabricated their accusations with the malicious intent of harming Israel’s good name. But that is all it will ever be. As bad and as ugly as the antisemitic claims leveled against Israel at the Durban Conference were, being as the lies and distortions are groundless, Israel will never suffer permanent political damage from this.
Essentially, the items Herzog cites as possible threats to Israel’s legitimacy include anti-Israel public relations efforts, which is to say verbal and written attacks, and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
In 2005, Palestinian groups issued a call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, as an effort to strong arm the Jewish state into conceding to their demands. A truly global movement against Israel has rapidly emerged in response to this call.
Clearly, boycotts, divestment and sanctions are a step above the verbal attacks and represent hands on interference with implications at home for Israel, but in truth the BDS initiative amounts to a loosely organized gang of Jew and Israel haters who have based their entire initiative on false accusations. But in truth, a non-governmental organization that bases its entire effort on a brazen malicious lie is unlikely to get very far. BDS malice and deceit may win over a certain number of antisemitic and Israel hating goons, but this will never amount to the effective delegitimization of Israel.
The publication of the Goldstone Report was the worst thing to happen to Israel since the “Zionism is Racism” resolution at the United Nations, but the storm passed within a few weeks. Goldstone himself eventually admitted the illegitimacy of the report and the whole episode was cast to the dust heap of history. Goldstone is old news, and so the fears and foreboding over of the delegitimization of Israel should be as well.