Candidly Speaking: Zionists don´t boycott Israel (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By ISI LEIBLER 05/25/12)
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Despite being a weekly columnist, I feel compelled to respond to the
Jerusalem Post editorial titled “Zionist Unity” (May 22, 2012).
The editorial makes the outrageous claim that left-wing Jews living
in the Diaspora who call for global boycotts of Israeli settlements
may be considered as acting within a Zionist framework.
Furthermore, it states that unlike the South African government,
Diaspora Jews like Peter Beinart who are allegedly motivated by good
intentions should not be condemned.
Some of the worst acts in history were committed by well-intentioned
people. That in no way justified their actions or detracts from
The editorial brackets the boycott by Diaspora Jews with similar
initiatives promoted in Israel by Meretz and groups further to the
left. But there is a major distinction. Those engaged in such
activities within Israel, as the editorial itself notes, also serve
in the IDF and for better or for worse, will personally reap the
consequences of their actions. However, most Israelis would also
condemn and regard with contempt those calling for boycotts of goods
Diaspora Jews fall into an entirely different category. When they
call for global boycotts of Israeli settlements, they are effectively
promoting delegitimization and paving the way for broader boycotts.
Besides, unlike their delusional Israeli counterparts, they are mere
observers, physically unaffected by the negative repercussions of
It is the ultimate nonsense to suggest that some boycotts are “good”
because they are promoted by well-intentioned advocates, in contrast
to the South Africans who are “bad.” When we begin assessing hostile
acts on the basis of good or bad intentions, we are surely heading
towards an “Alice in Wonderland” situation.
A Diaspora Jew engaging in a campaign to boycott any sector of Israel
society is indulging in a harmful and “pernicious” act. It reflects
an indifference to the double standards employed against Israel and
will unquestionably be exploited by those seeking to boycott and
delegitimize Israel in general.
It grieves me that the Jerusalem Post would publish an editorial
explicitly exonerating Peter Beinart from the harm he is inflicting
on the Jewish state when even many of the far-left critics of Israel –
including J Street – have felt compelled to distance themselves from
this aspect of his campaign.
As I wrote in a recent column (“Breakfast with Peter Beinart”),
Beinart may be personally amiable and charming but he has now assumed
the role of the leading Jew engaged in demonizing and delegitimizing
the State of Israel and his “good” intentions in no way detract from
the damage he is inflicting upon us.
It is especially distressing to read what could be deemed as a
Jerusalem Post imprimatur for Beinart’s actions, when one considers
the bias and distortions reflected in his portrayal of Israel and the
fact that his analysis is essentially based on the narrative of our
enemies, which blames Israel for the breakdown in the peace
While occasionally paying lip service to condemning some Arab
abominations, he emphasizes Palestinian suffering and fails to
reflect the impact of the Palestinian violence and terror inflicted
on Israeli civilians since Oslo.
Today, we are witness to a sea change in public opinion at the
grassroots level, both in Israel and the Diaspora, with a broad
recognition that the current Palestinian leadership cannot possibly
be considered to be a genuine peace partner.
One can, of course, debate the pros and cons of this approach.
However, to legitimize and describe as a Zionist a Jew calling for a
boycott of Israeli settlements, gives credence to activities which
have the potential of impacting disastrously on Israel. There must be
red lines. Many of us have reservations about Diaspora Jews publicly
condemning the democratically elected Israeli government on security
issues, but we recognize that in a democracy they are entitled to
their views. But that surely does not apply to those directly calling
for boycotts against sectors of Israeli society.
The editorial correctly expresses consternation that the South
African government is creating an atmosphere in which bullying Israel
is considered perfectly legitimate. Surely the Diaspora Jews who
indulge in similar activities should likewise be fervently condemned
for conducting hostile acts against their own kinsmen. The suggestion
that the vast majority of committed Jews in the Diaspora, as well as
Israelis, should welcome Jews calling for such boycotts into “the big
tent” if their “motivation” is deemed to be “well intentioned,” is
thus idiotic and unconscionable. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
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