In effort to thwart BDS, some Israel supporters urge partial settlement freeze

Middle East
on 35 Comments

One sign that BDS, the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, is working is the fact that several hard-core opponents of BDS have begun to put pressure on the Israeli government to declare a freeze on settlements outside the Israeli barrier inside the West Bank. They are talking about just a partial freeze on a 48-year project of colonization, but the pressure shows that even diehard supporters who ascribe BDS to anti-Semitism acknowledge that the Israeli occupation is aiding the international campaign to isolate the country.

The latest to support a settlement freeze is the center-right Israeli politician Yair Lapid. Lapid has described BDS as the devil-incarnate: he told a NY synagogue that BDS is being led by the same people who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. But he now tells Jeffrey Goldberg that Israel has to do something to (in Goldberg’s words) “mitigate BDS in some way:”

There is an unholy alliance between the Israeli left and the Israeli right about the settlers. Both of them want to say that every settlement is the same. There’s no difference, for example, between Gush Etzion [south of Jerusalem] or Itamar [in the northern West Bank]. Why? Because the left wants to give away everything, and the right doesn’t want to give away anything. I’m saying, “No, it’s not the same.” In the future, we will not be able to be in Itamar because it doesn’t make any sense, because of where it is. And yes, we’re going to keep the [major settlement] blocs.

Lapid said that if Israel convened a regional peace summit in Cairo, with Israelis, Palestinians, Saudis, Jordan, the UAE, and the Palestinian Authority, the photographs that would go out to the world would undermine the BDS movement.

Think of saying to them, “These ideas you’re promoting, do they promote justice, or do they promote division and further dispute?” So yes, it would be very helpful if there will be any proactive, real try at negotiation.

Two weeks ago, the Israeli columnist Ari Shavit said much the same thing. He has said that BDS is an anti-Semitic movement, but he told a New York audience that Israel must undertake measures that signal its support for an eventual two-state solution, beginning with “a settlement freeze beyond the barrier” in portions of the West Bank. He said these measures would will help Israel change its international image and “help us on campuses”.
A hardline American supporter of Israel, Abe Foxman echoed Shavit’s advice. He said that Israel had to take a “creative” approach to peace because it is facing the “existential disintegration of the support base” in the U.S. He appeared to endorse Shavit’s idea of a  settlement freeze “because it’s smart for us to do it, regardless of whether we think it’s right or wrong.” The goal was to “remove” an impediment to the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Last week at the 92nd Street Y, former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren also endorsed the idea of a settlement freeze, though he predicated it on Hillary Clinton become president:

If she wins, I would hope that we would adjust our policies accordingly. I have very strong feelings about the peace process….You can’t call it the two state solution now, but you have a two state situation, de facto, in the West Bank, and let’s work to make it better, and let’s limit where we build our settlements, the most controversial thing. Let’s limit it to the settlement blocs, those areas that we all know are going to be part of the Jewish state if we ever have a two state solution. Whenever, no matter– let’s limit it. I think we’d have to adopt that kind of party policy if she were to be elected– to get in a different place.

Though Oren also said that Israel has a “diplomatic responsibility” to counter BDS by making policy changes to ameliorate the conditions of Palestinians under occupation.

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So if we move ahead in the way I’ve suggested on the two state situation, I think that will also help us on BDS.

The other speaker at the event, writer Jonathan Rosen, asked whether Oren thought that Israeli settlement policies are affecting BDS. Oren responded:

Sometimes– sometimes they make BDS’s work easier for them.

So BDS is effectively pressuring these diehard Zionists to try and alleviate the occupation. This is what BDS proponents have always said about their campaign: that it is the only means of pressuring Israel to change its behavior; governments have failed to do so. Though of course BDS advocates human rights that go far beyond what Lapid, Oren, Shavit, and Foxman are talking about when they speak of a settlement freeze.

To understand what these men mean when they speak of the settlement blocs, look at this map from B’Tselem. It shows the Israeli barrier crisscrossing through the West Bank mostly east of the old Green Line. In a number of cases, the barrier juts out into the West Bank to include Ma’ale Adumim near Jerusalem, Gush Etzion around Bethlehem, and Ariel near Nablus. And the shaded area in the Jordan Valley is something else entirely: military occupation that Israel says it will not end, to defend itself on the east.

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35 Responses

  1. David Doppler
    June 30, 2015, 11:02 am

    At last there is a voice from the centrist opposition calling for moderation of Likud’s stance, (best summarized by Deputy Foreign Minister Hotovely on what to say to the international community: “It’s all ours. G-d gave it to us. It says so right in the Torah. What else is there to talk about.”)

    I predict a chaotic deterioration in Likud’s absolutism, leading to some event, a word from Netanyahu resetting practical goals: “it makes no sense to speak of peace with the international community, the Arab League, the Palestinians, before January 1 (or before they guaranty us the end of BDS),” or, alternatively, a vote of no confidence from the Knesset throwing the bums out.

  2. Kathleen
    June 30, 2015, 11:05 am

    “partial” key word.

    Abe Foxman “because it’s smart for us to do it, regardless of whether we think it’s right or wrong” More rebranding efforts that will continue to fail. Although clearly one can never underestimate the efforts to stall making a real deal.

    Obviously not a grammar person. Did see BDS written above as BCS “the photograph that would go out to the world would undermine the BCS movement”

    Will any of your Mondo team be putting together a piece on the commercials undermining the P5+1 efforts that are now playing on MSNBC several times an hour? Probably more on Fox etc. Hammering the public with fear of Iran. Supported and paid for by the group “United against a nuclear Iran” Dennis Ross and team United Against Nuclear Iran

    http://www.unitedagainstnucleariran

  3. amigo
    June 30, 2015, 11:10 am

    “Lapid said that if Israel convened a regional peace summit in Cairo, with Israelis, Palestinians, Saudis, Jordan, the UAE, and the Palestinian Authority, the photographs that would go out to the world would undermine the BCS movement”.

    I presume you meant “BDS ” movement.

    In any event , what needs to happen is to put a full freeze on fake peace talks.The Palestinians should flip their finger at any attempt to resurrect the same old time wasting talks about talks about talks.

    Israel will continue killing and stealing and the usual crimes they commit as they know no other way.The illegal squatters will be out in force if any Israeli leader gives up one dunam of the so called “greater Israel”.Lapid has reached the outer limits of his imagination and is close to falling into a black hole.

    The 2SS is dead and buried.Let it lie in peace.On with full bore BDS as obviously the zionists are getting very worried about the damage Israel can suffer at the hands of BDS.

    As the saying goes, if you see your enemy drowning , throw him an anvil.

    • just
      June 30, 2015, 11:25 am

      +1, amigo!

      The title of the Atlantic piece is: ‘Israel Cannot Absorb 3.5 Million Palestinians and Remain a Jewish and Democratic State’. It’s a quote from Lapid.

      @ David Doppler~ I sense that you are optimistic with your statement that “At last there is a voice from the centrist opposition calling for moderation of Likud’s stance”. I would encourage you to have another look at Lapid’s words…

      Gideon Levy had a super column the other day about the current state of Israeli political ‘leaders’ and their failures:

      “Zionist Union: Likud’s shameful little helper
      Israel’s ‘center-left’ party is preventing the formation of a legitimate opposition to the right wing. Its supporters must witness its supine acts and abandon it forever.

      … The curse of the Labor Party (which, along with Hatnuah, morphed into Zionist Union) is long and continuing. For generations, it has permitted too many Israelis to feel good about themselves, voting for the “Zionist left” while being nationalist and right-wing. By its very existence, this party has blocked the growth of an alternative to it. Its unceasing shift to the right – the yearning to be like the right, not to be identified with controversial positions and to blur its stance – began during Shimon Peres’ time, and maybe even before that.

      The excuse is always the same: Elect us, and then afterward you’ll see. This “afterward” never comes. Now the party, which has changed its name but not its substance, is writing another chapter in its dynasty of shame. The right, drunk with power as never before, is landing punches on democracy and leveling blows on the remnants of justice. In the face of this, we have Zionist Union and Yesh Atid – which is portrayed as a fighting opposition as if its leader, Yair Lapid, were a local version of Che Guevara.”

      http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.663293

  4. eljay
    June 30, 2015, 11:17 am

    Zio-supremacists are interested in “peace” and in order to achieve it they’re prepared to give up as little as possible of what they have stolen.

    But they continue to have absolutely no interest in justice, accountability and equality.

    • Naftush
      July 2, 2015, 6:17 am

      Balanced of course by Palo-supremacists who have absolutely no interest in peace until their version of j-a-&-e is satisfied, let Palestinian and Israeli blood flow where it may.

      • eljay
        July 2, 2015, 11:18 pm

        || Naftush: Balanced of course by Palo-supremacists who have absolutely no interest in peace until their version of j-a-&-e is satisfied, let Palestinian and Israeli blood flow where it may. ||

        1. I have no doubt that “Palo-supremacists” exist. Are there as many of them as there are Zio-supremacists? Are they as powerful as Zio-supremacists? I don’t know. Do you? Can you provide evidence to support your claim that the latter are “balanced of course” by the former?

        2. “Palo-supremacists” merit the same condemnation as Zio-supremacists. Supremacism is wrong, no matter who does it. You agree, yes?

        3. I have no doubt that there exist just and moral Palestinians and Israelis who believe in and wish to see justice, accountability and equality in Israel and Palestine. I would like to see them – and not the hateful and immoral Zio-supremacists or “Palo-supremacists” – lead the way to peace. You agree, yes?

      • talknic
        July 3, 2015, 12:21 am

        @ Naftush

        These “Palo-supremacists”
        What Israeli territory have they illegally acquired?
        How many Israeli prisoners do they hold without charge?
        How many of those are children?
        How many Israelis have they dispossessed?
        What wars did they start?
        Are they exploiting Israeli resources illegally?
        Have they a blockade on Israel?
        Do they determine who may or may not enter or exit Israel?
        Have they prevented any goods from being exported or imported into Israel?
        Do they withhold Israeli taxes?
        Have they used cluster bombs, fletchettes, white phosphorus on Israeli schools?
        Have they devastated whole city blocks of Israeli civilian dwellings?
        Have they bombed Israeli electricity generators, sewerage works?
        Do they encourage illegal settlers on Israeli soil in breach of GC VI?
        Do they get billions in military aid from the US?
        Have they prevented Israeli fishermen from fishing within the legal limit?
        Do they prevent Israelis from going on holidays, returning from holidays, study?
        Have they bulldozed any Israeli homes?
        Have they destroyed any Israeli orchards?
        Do they prevent any Israeli farmers from reaching their farmlands?
        How high is the separation wall they have built on Israeli territory?
        How many Israeli villages have they destroyed?
        How many gallons of putrid smelling ‘skunk’ have they sprayed on Israelis and Israeli homes?
        When Israelis protest in Israel do they bombard them with tear gas, shoot them, gaol them?

        Maybe you can supply photographic evidence and where possible a simple yes or no will suffice, unless of course you want to dig a deeper hole

  5. Kathleen
    June 30, 2015, 11:27 am

    Phil know this is off topic but really wondering about why and how many mainstream outlets are quietly boycotting the Leveretts (Going to Tehran). As I shared last week on Friday I called into NPR’S ON POINT the phone screener stated that the Leverett’s lacked “credibility” We went on to have a mini conversation. Last time Leveretts were on that program was in 2009.

    Hillary has been on Melissa Harris Perry’s numerous times, Washington Journal in March of this year, CNN periodically, British outlets, Al Jazeera. But really wondering why an outlet like ON POINT (one of their major sponsors is the Ruderman Foundation..are they an influential group?) would be boycotting them. Of course can guess. Think this could be an interesting piece if someone could directly contact Leveretts and find out who and why they have been quietly boycotted.

    So telling that so many outlets really do not want to educate the public based on the facts about Iran.

    Today Senator Cruz was on MSNBC Joe Scarborough ranting about Iran based on fueled myths. Not one individual around that table including BBC’s Katy Kay (in for Mika), Mike Barnacle, Joe Scarborough challenged Cruz’s unsubstantiated and inflammatory claims about Iran. Not one challenged during Cruz’s fear mongering rant.

    In fact after the rant Joe reminded me of Meet the Press’s deceased host Tim Russert when he had Cheney on in the run up to the invasion of Iraq and after. When Cheney was asked about Iran he went on in a fearful rant about Iran. Russert did not challenge him AT ALL. Instead Russert asked Cheney “what can we do” (as if everything Cheney said was accurate). This is exactly what Scarborough did after Cruz’s fearful, inflammatory rant about Iran this morning. Scarborough sat back and asked “what can we do.” As if everything Cruz had said about Iran was accurate.

    Last week Morning Joe had General Hayden on who ranted about Iran based on unsubstantiated claims. No challenges from anyone around the table on Morning Joe. Not one challenge.

    We have witnessed this dangerous scene before

    • Mooser
      June 30, 2015, 1:28 pm

      “When Cheney was asked about Iran he went on in a fearful rant about Iran. Russert did not challenge him”

      Audience viewing-habit research clearly shows that viewers will switch away from the program if the anchor or interviewer challenges people like that. It confuses and worries the viewer, and he is gone. In addition, anxiety over the content in the show makes viewers much less receptive to the ads if he or she does listen.

  6. FreddyV
    June 30, 2015, 11:53 am

    Meh. Too late. They’re screwed…..

  7. a blah chick
    June 30, 2015, 12:47 pm

    “…but you have a two state situation, de facto, in the West Bank, and let’s work to make it better.”

    That right there is the “money shot.”

    Right now, at this moment, you already have the best “two state solution” Israel can hope for: Israel in control of the land, resources and the water, while having no responsibility for the non-Jews living there. That is why they want for the status quo to continue, they like the current situation just fine. However the rest of the world realizes that this is just a powder keg ready to explode at some point and something has to be done to head it off. In order to keep the pressure off of them Israel must “seem” to be pursuing some solution, like showing up at the occasional “peace conference.” This is no longer working which is why Oren is saying that some more “substantive” act needs to be made to keep the charade going.

    Cue the deck chairs on the Titanic analogy.

  8. amigo
    June 30, 2015, 1:42 pm

    Theer are two items that stand out in the map legend!!.

    1, Barrier no longer needing approval and barrier needing approval.

    WTF. Whose approval.

  9. Shingo
    June 30, 2015, 4:56 pm

    So much for the argument that the problem with BDS is it won’t work.

    Suck on that Chomsky.

  10. michelle
    July 1, 2015, 4:34 am

    .
    seems like Hamas could have used the tunnels to
    fire the rockets from a closer range thus causing
    alot of harm instead of just making alot of noise
    .
    just as there has/had to be ‘rockets/noise’ from Gaza
    there has to be actions like BDS and protests
    flash mobs pictures of kittens whatever
    .
    the political and media silence must be bypassed
    the public has the right to know the truth
    .
    it was the ‘screams’ of the captive that saved ‘her’
    the ‘have you seen her posters’ in every window helped
    and now it is the abuser who is on the run
    .
    these efforts are working from both ends
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

  11. JoeSmack
    July 1, 2015, 8:18 am

    How does this vindicate BDS?

    If anything it vindicates Peter Beinart. They are playing on the fact that settlements alone should be pulled because of the harm to Israel’s image internationally. The same pressure could be applied using settlement-focused boycotts in the way that Beinart advocated and in the way that generations of Israeli faux left groups advocated.

    Virtually all of the recent BDS “wins” have been occupation-focused and settlement-focused, including the UCC “win”. If anything the “victories” in question vindicate some of the comments made by anti-BDS campaigners like Finkelstein, who said that a broad-based focus on the occupation would make more in-roads and get Israel to make serious concessions.

    If partially reducing FDI in Israel or getting right-wing Israeli officials to try to apply the same “formaldehyde” to some of the Zionist settlements in the West Bank that they did in Gaza is a “victory,” then BDS is not necessary for that. Instead, occupation-focused and settlement-focused boycotts are all that is needed.

    In reality this is simply a repeat of something that has happened throughout Israel’s history, namely that international pressure focuses almost entirely on Israel’s occupation and settlements and small concessions are offered by even the most right-wing administrations. Dov Weisglas made that clear when he referred to the Gaza disengagement as a “formaldehyde” for the peace process.

    If BDS wants to make in-roads in order to isolate Israel then activists should be actually following the dictates of the NGOs and CSOs that called for it, especially given that they’ve long since ignored the actual mass movements on the ground in Palestine for being too Islamic for their tastes. The BDS call very clearly includes refugee rights and Omar Barghouti has himself emphasized again and again that he does not think it is pragmatic or ethnical to remove them, and yet every BDS resolution that has passed so far ignored the refugees. There isn’t a single mention of them in the actual resolutions.

    This post implies that BDSers are now taking Finkelstein and Beinart’s advice, focusing on ending the occupation and settlements, and that the new goal post for victory is small concessions like the Gaza disengagement. If that is a victory then quite frankly Palestine has been winning for many years. One step forward, two steps back.

    • talknic
      July 3, 2015, 10:03 am

      @ JoeSmack
      ” They are playing on the fact that settlements alone should be pulled because of the harm to Israel’s image internationally”

      Er no. The settlements are illegal, not in Israel, and the settlers are Israeli citizens, not Palestinian citizens

      “In reality this is simply a repeat of something that has happened throughout Israel’s history, namely that international pressure focuses almost entirely on Israel’s occupation and settlements..”

      Correct. Other nations, entities, BDS organizations, including the UN have no right to dictate anything within Israel’s actual sovereign extent.

      ” and small concessions are offered by even the most right-wing administrations. “

      Israel has never made any concessions. Offering to swap occupied Palestinian territory for Occupied Palestinian territory so Israel can keep Occupied Palestinian territory is neither a concession nor does it have any legal basis. Adhering to the law is not a concession. Gaza is still occupied.

      “The BDS call very clearly includes refugee rights and Omar Barghouti has himself emphasized again and again that he does not think it is pragmatic or ethnical to remove them, and yet every BDS resolution that has passed so far ignored the refugees. There isn’t a single mention of them in the actual resolutions.”

      Try making sense … please

  12. hophmi
    July 1, 2015, 12:02 pm

    “center-right Israeli politician Yair Lapid. ”

    Lapid is not center-right. He’s center-left.

    “A hardline American supporter of Israel, Abe Foxman”

    Abe Foxman is not “hardline.” He’s also center-left. Stop distorting the truth to cast everybody who supports Israel as a rightist. It’s completely dishonest and disingenuous.

    • echinococcus
      July 1, 2015, 12:56 pm

      Listen, people.
      From now on the categories of political thought and action will have to be decided by the Hophmi.
      He knows.
      Genocidal crazies are center left. The triple-K master of Jewish blood purity is also a softliner center left. Genghis Khan and Hitler are leftist wussies; only the government of the Zionist entity is right but it’s right because it’s always right.

    • Mooser
      July 1, 2015, 2:26 pm

      ” Stop distorting the truth….”

      And start acting like a “gentleman” so you don’t fall away”?

  13. Mayhem
    July 2, 2015, 1:51 am

    BDS advocates are not going to be satisfied with anything short of Israel’s capitulation to its raison d’etre of being a Jewish state. The freezing of settlements would enable Israelis who are striving for a resolution to the conflict to claim the high moral ground as Shavit likes to express it. If there is no reciprocal gesture from the Palestinian side then they get exposed for their unwillingness to aim for an equitable solution.

    • Annie Robbins
      July 2, 2015, 3:45 am

      If there is no reciprocal gesture from the Palestinian side then they get exposed for their unwillingness to aim for an equitable solution.

      and what kind of ‘reciprocal’ do you think might be appropriate if israel froze the settlements?

      • Mayhem
        July 8, 2015, 9:43 pm

        @Robbins, it would reasonable to expect the Palestinians to do more than they did when Israel froze the settlements in 2010 for 10 months. They could start with recognising Israel as a Jewish state.

      • RoHa
        July 8, 2015, 10:21 pm

        “They could start with recognising Israel as a Jewish state.”

        What does that mean? If it means “Jews had a right to take Palestine away from Palestinians”, then forget it. If it means “there are a lot of Jews in Israel, and they run the show”, that shouldn’t be a problem.

        So what does it mean?

      • eljay
        July 8, 2015, 10:40 pm

        || Mayhem: … They could start with recognising Israel as a Jewish state. ||

        “Jewish State” is a religion-supremacist construct. No state has a right to exist as a supremacist state, and no-one should be expected or required to recognize or accept any state as a supremacist state.

        IMO, the Palestinians should recognize Israel as an Israeli state within its / Partition borders.

        Israel has a much longer list of things it should do, including:
        – ending its occupation and colonization of Palestine;
        – withdrawing to within its / Partition borders; and
        – honouring its obligations under international law.

      • oldgeezer
        July 9, 2015, 12:32 am

        @Mayhem

        “when Israel froze the settlements in 2010 for 10 months. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/06/supporters-partial-settlement#comment-148764

        A completely risible comment.

        “They could start with recognising Israel as a Jewish state – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/06/supporters-partial-settlement#comment-148764

        No one else has. Why the double standard? Although I’m sure DS would be completely happy with that as his definition of double standards means no special privileges for Israel and it gets treated like any other rogue state.

        Despite being the aggressor, state in possession of illegally obtained territory, a state with denies millions the basic fundamental human rights, Israel has offered nothing but has merely made demands.

        Your definition of reciprocity no doubt includes more benefits for Israel while it gives nothing

    • talknic
      July 2, 2015, 5:29 am

      @ Mayhem ” BDS advocates are not going to be satisfied with anything short of Israel’s capitulation to its raison d’etre of being a Jewish state”

      How will adhering to the law in or by withdrawing from NON-Israeli territories effect Israel in respect to it being a Jewish state?

      ” The freezing of settlements would enable Israelis who are striving for a resolution to the conflict to claim the high moral ground as Shavit likes to express it. “

      The settlements are illegal. If Israel were to adhere to the law it would hold at least a modicum of high moral ground.

      “If there is no reciprocal gesture from the Palestinian side then they get exposed for their unwillingness to aim for an equitable solution”

      The Palestinians don’t hold any Israeli territory under occupation. The Palestinians don’t have any illegal settlements in Israel.

      The Palestinians long ago offered to cede 78% of their rightful territories to Israel for peace. http://pages.citebite.com/e9p5s8u2yhc

      Israel has offered nothing. No thing! Not one thing! Nada. Nil. Nought. Zip.

      • RoHa
        July 2, 2015, 6:02 am

        ” If Israel were to adhere to the law it would hold at least a modicum of high moral ground. -”

        Not that, but at least closer to the top of the moral pit it is in.

      • Mayhem
        July 8, 2015, 9:50 pm

        @talknic your link took me to nought. Your constant harping about international law also takes us to nought. You clearly are just aiming to delegitimize Israel using lawfare as a weapon. There is nought in what you propose that will responsibly, morally, ethically and securely provide any resolution to a conflict that will only worsen if Israelis are put under more intolerable pressure.

      • Annie Robbins
        July 8, 2015, 10:36 pm

        @mayhem nought nought nought your commet took me to nought. Your constant harping also takes us to nought. You clearly are just aiming to legitimize Israel using nought as a weapon. There is nought in what you propose that will responsibly, morally, ethically and securely provide any resolution to a conflict that will only worsen if palestinians are put under more intolerable pressure.

        i nougk’d u out.

        ;)

    • eljay
      July 2, 2015, 7:56 am

      || Mayhem: BDS advocates are not going to be satisfied with anything short of Israel’s capitulation to its raison d’etre of being a Jewish state. ||

      If, in addition to undoing Israel’s decades-long campaign of (war) crimes and flouting of international laws, the pursuit of justice, accountability and equality undoes Jewish supremacism in/and a supremacist “Jewish State”, that’s a good thing. No group of people is entitled to a supremacist state, and no state has a right to exist as a supremacist state.

    • diasp0ra
      July 2, 2015, 10:04 am

      You know the whole situation is messed up when not even complying (freezing =/= dismantling) with international law is seen as a moral high ground.

      What exactly do Palestinians have left to compromise on?

      What is there left at this point, other than for Abbas to don a Kippa and sing Hatikva in the street to please Israel?

  14. Marnie
    July 2, 2015, 12:27 pm

    It’s too damn little and it’s too damn late. Go BDS!

  15. Henry Norr
    July 2, 2015, 1:42 pm

    >>a 48-year project of colonization

    Huh? How about a 133-year (since 1882) project of colonization?

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