Monday, February 3, 2014

Israel can Rise to the Boycott Challenge

by Eli Hazan

Any honest observer would praise U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for his efforts to make peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

That said, his recent comments at the Munich Security Conference merit scrutiny and through analysis.

"Today's status quo ... cannot be maintained. It's not sustainable. It's illusionary. There's a momentary prosperity, there's a momentary peace ... [which] will change if there is failure," Kerry said. As if directly attacking Israel, he continued, saying, "There's an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it. There is talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?"

Kerry is wrong. The attempts to delegitimize Jews and Israel have been around since time immemorial. What we do as Israelis to advance peace and coexistence has nothing to do with the way people treat us around the world. History, primarily recent history, has demonstrated this truism. Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon; the generous offers articulated by former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert; the 10-month construction moratorium in Judea and Samaria. Time and again, Israel has been willing to make concessions only to face skepticism and severe criticism. 

Some of the manifestations of this formula were on full display with the Goldstone report, whose author later said the document should have been more even-handed, and during the Second Intifada, when Israel's critics denied its right to self-defense in the face of Palestinian terrorism that killed thousands. That is why Israel has tried to find alternative support that would offset that sentiment. Kerry must keep in mind that Canada is behind us, as are other nations with which Israel has managed to forge ties with and which understand Israelis' intelligence, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. These nations include some of Turkey's neighbors, as well as others around the globe.

Kerry is misleading. The Palestinian Authority has been experiencing momentary prosperity as well. If the Palestinians decide to revert to terrorism in the wake of a failed peace process, Israel will not stand idly by. Terrorism would have the Palestinian economy tank. Just recall Israel's successful maneuvers to crush the Arafat-sponsored terrorism in the early part of the last decade. Should the need arise, Israel could do the same thing this time around. 

Kerry would be well-served by recalling what former Foreign Minister Abba Eban once said, about how the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Their actions have proved this statement. If Kerry wants to see that, he should take a closer look at what the intra-Arab dialogue has focused on: the sacredness of the 1947 borders -- namely, the Partition Plan -- not the 1967 borders. He should have trained his arrows on those who have repeatedly tried to derail the peace process. He should have lashed out, repeatedly, at the PA for the hatred it has been propagating in schools and in the Palestinian media. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put his premiership on the line when he agreed to enter the talks. Kerry knows that and he conceded that point when he spoke in Munich. 

"Prime Minister Netanyahu has taken very tough decisions to move this down the road, very tough decisions," he said. He must remember that we Israelis safeguard our interests and are willing to rise to the boycott challenge. We have shown that we have what it takes.

Eli Hazan


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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