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Knesset anti-BDS meeting reveals Israeli fear of isolation

on 27 Comments

Despair is not always easy to detect, let alone smell.

But recent Israeli efforts to fight BDS smell of deep despair, which is giving rise to hopeless aggression, even worse bullying and patently irrational measures that can only help BDS to grow in the coming few years.

Particularly noteworthy are reports on the Knesset’s anti-BDS caucus meeting which convey the universal sense in Israel of failure to stem the BDS movement’s growth and the admission that the impact of BDS may be growing beyond control.

It is not everyday that the unique colonial hubris and revolting arrogance of Israel’s regime give way to an admission by the Minister of Strategic Affairs (handling BDS and Iran as his top priority threats!) that the government of Israel “cannot fight BDS alone.”

If despite the massive US and EU support for Israel, providing its regime with billions of dollars in aid, a real “iron dome” of diplomatic and political protection against international sanctions, and deep levels of military, academic, cultural and economic complicity, Israel has miserably failed in its fight against BDS, what else can we expect from it?

Israel’s options are limited and clearly fraught with serious risks.

Israel’s main strategy for fighting BDS since 2014 is its lawfare (legal warfare) crusade. It has been pulling all possibly strings, mobilizing its entire lobby and world Zionist networks to pass legislations against BDS in US states, to use its influence in France to depict BDS as illegal, and to recruit David Cameron’s government to undermine BDS support in British trade unions, city councils, universitiesy and civil society entities.

Lawfare, coupled with propaganda on steroids, has become Israel’s final weapon against the BDS movement.

The only problem for Israel in this approach is that, in order for its attempt to legally delegitimize a nonviolent, human rights movement like BDS to succeed, it and its Zionist lobby networks need to create a new McCarthyism that defies human rights, undermines civil rights, and tries to undo decades of mainstream liberal support for boycotts as protected speech, especially in the US, where it matters the most.

As a result, Israel’s lawfare has started to backfire, gradually eroding remaining pockets of — non-Zionist — liberal support and further amplifying the growing liberal discontent with Israel’s increasingly unveiled, in your face repression, xenophobia, apartheid, fanatic Jewish fundamentalism and ugly colonialism.

Israel is becoming even more isolated at the grassroots level and even more dependent on extreme right forces in the West or elsewhere.

If apartheid South Africa was arguably among Israel’s closest friends for decades in the last century, today Israel’s best friends are the far-right, openly racist, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant groups and governments, even those with fascistic tendencies that are in harmony with Israel’s own. Just look at the Republican circus of presidential hopefuls for a hint.

As the late Tony Judt wrote 13 years ago:

“In a world where nations and peoples increasingly intermingle and intermarry at will; where cultural and national impediments to communication have all but collapsed; where more and more of us have multiple elective identities and would feel falsely constrained if we had to answer to just one of them; in such a world Israel is truly an anachronism. And not just an anachronism but a dysfunctional one. In today’s ‘clash of cultures’ between open, pluralist democracies and belligerently intolerant, faith-driven ethno-states, Israel actually risks falling into the wrong camp.”

Israel, in fact, does not “risk” falling into this “wrong camp.” It has become the dominant camp leader, with flying colors.

Omar Barghouti
About Omar Barghouti

Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights defender and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. He is a co-recipient of the 2017 Gandhi Peace Award.

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27 Responses

  1. amigo
    amigo on January 7, 2016, 9:25 am

    The GOI is rattled and is at a loss to come up with a credible response.All this BS about improving Israel,s image and convincing the world that Israel is the victim could quite easily be avoided by ending the occupation and the criminal oppression of the Palestinian People.

    Israel wants to eat it,s Bagel and still have it.

    Best wishes and more success to BDS for 2016 and the years to come ,until Israel has been forced to act in accordance with International Laws and civilised behaviour. Anything less is not acceptable.

  2. Shmuel
    Shmuel on January 7, 2016, 10:00 am

    I don’t know about despair, but there is definitely fear of isolation, and it is far more powerful than any actual economic damage that BDS is likely to cause.

    • Krauss
      Krauss on January 7, 2016, 11:32 am

      I’ve been making the same point for years now. BDS is ultimately not going to defeat Israel economically, but the hope is to create a strong cultural isolation. That’s what broke South Africa. They could manage with the economic sanctions and the like, but it was the total boycott from a cultural/social perspective that they couldn’t endure.

      Israel might, in part because while it sees itself as part of the West, its dominant group, Ashkenazhi Jews, have a very troubled and double-edged relationship with Western civlization. There’s plenty of fodder in history to point at if you want to delegitimize it in order to go at it alone.

      In a sense, the Arab Jews can do this a lot better than the Ashkenazi, because the Arab Jews have never had a problem in fitting in with the surrounding. It’s the Ashkenazi ruling class that has nowhere else to go, culturally, than the West.

      • David Doppler
        David Doppler on January 7, 2016, 5:21 pm

        You may be right Krauss, about cultural isolation. Mandela said he studied his jailers, his enemy, to learn what was in their hearts. And he learned that rugby and the Springboks National Team was their core sports passion, and so he persuaded the global boycott movement to focus on excluding South Africa from participation in international rugby. That worked. After his release and election, he then worked to give it back to them, to bring the World Cup to South Africa, and share the championship as a bond-building process among all the people.

        I don’t know what is in the hearts of the Ashkenazi Jews, but Mandela’s model would call for discovering it, then working to take it away from them, through BDS. If holding their heads high among world cultures, or Western cultures, is what is nearest and dearest in their hearts, then that needs to be taken away, provisionally, i.e., something they can earn back by making peace and changing their oppressive ways.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew on January 7, 2016, 9:09 pm

        It’s hard to believe that de Klerk was really motivated by football or rugby or sports to give up power to Mandela. It seems like a gross over simplification. Maybe someone can suggest a book or a magazine article that really gets into the real reason that de Klerk ceded power.

      • James North
        James North on January 7, 2016, 9:44 pm

        Part of the real reason de Klerk ceded power was BDS. I was there.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus on January 7, 2016, 10:28 pm

        Now you let us know how you feel about brown skin, Reb Fredman, I would question the reason for your intervention re the South Africa boycott. Anyway, here your reaction only shows you have never seen regular people on a ball game day.

      • talknic
        talknic on January 7, 2016, 11:42 pm

        @ yonah fredman “It’s hard to believe that de Klerk was really motivated by football or rugby or sports to give up power to Mandela. It seems like a gross over simplification”

        To someone wallowing in Zionist denial of course it seems like a gross over simplification

        Football is followed by billions of people, each one with the power not to buy Sth African goods, each one with the power not to invest in or deal with Sth African companies, each one with the power not to invest in or deal with companies who in turn deal with Sth African companies and each one with the power not to vote for or support political parties or politicians who might side with such a vile regime and no law can stop them!

        IOW a sports boycott can shine a spotlight, no, a BIG spotlight , no, a VERY BIG spotlight , no a, GIGANTIC spotlight no, BILLIONS of spotlights on the apartheid policies of the State of Israel in every country in the world and empower billions of people to act and no law can stop them!

        You appear to be un-aware of the efforts Israel puts into preventing BDS. The only reason to fight against BDS is if there is something to lose

        In typical Zio101 style, you’ve again revealed that you’re either brainwashed into not thinking or you’re really stupid or you’re pretending to be really stupid, which is really stupid.

        Congratulations, keep up the good work

      • bryan
        bryan on January 8, 2016, 1:49 am

        Yonah – you obviously know little about South Africa during the Apartheid era if you believe that the white elite were motivated by football – the two passions of white society were cricket and rugby union, the dominant participation and spectator sports in white South Africa (though football was popular with blacks and coloureds).

        The D’Oliveira case is interesting: Basil D’Oliveira was a talented cricketer, of Cape coloured origin (Portuguese / Indian family background) who played for the South African non-white team but could never play for the national team. He moved to England, where he was astonished to find whites performing menial work and waiting on him at table, and was eventually selected for the English cricket team. He had excellent performances against Australia, India and other opponents, and was an obvious candidate for England’s 1968-9 tour of South Africa. The South African authorities made it clear that the selection of a coloured player would be unacceptable, and England’s cricketing authority, the MCC, seems to have colluded, wishing to maintain the traditional links with South Africa. There was public outrage when D’Oliveira was not selected for the tour, though the MCC maintained his exclusion was due to a loss of form. Soon after however, one of the selected players was forced, by injury, to drop out, and D’Oliveira was the obvious replacement. The South African authorities stood their ground (on the unacceptability of a non-white player appearing in an opposition team) and the MCC cancelled the tour. This hugely strengthened the sporting boycott movement and led to South Africa’s near-complete exclusion from international cricket for 20 years from 1971 – at a time when they had very exciting, world-class players.

        Rugby Union was even more important to South Africans, and it managed to maintain some international fixtures in that sport, even compromising by allowing New Zealand to field Maori players on two occasions in the 1980’s. This of course was in no way as threatening and undermining to SA Apartheid as would have been the message sent to SA’s oppressed majority that a Cape coloured (like D’Oliveira) could represent another country with distinction and play a vital role within the team.

        This is where of course literal comparisons of “Apartheid” fall down. Both SA and Israel were / are bigotted and deeply racist societies but SA was never engaged in ethnic cleansing, and was happy to coexist with the “other” provided it knew its place and did not challenge the white man. Israel may have even nastier racists than the Springboks could boast (notably la familia at Beitar Jerusalem, and the Likudite politicians who support that team) but Israel’s colour bar is informal rather than formal, and nothing akin to the systematic segregation that SA attempted to maintain.

        Sport plays little role in cementing Israeli oppression (apart of course from the systematic efforts made to undermine Palestinian participation in inyternational sport, especially football). Your moment of truth will come when orchestras, singers and academics refuse to do Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

      • RoHa
        RoHa on January 8, 2016, 3:25 am

        Yonah, football is the most popular sport in the world, and cricket is the second most popular.

        I remember the “Don’t play with apartheid” movement of the 1970s. I was in Britain at the time, and it was big, continual, news in Britain and throughout the Commonwealth. It concentrated people’s attention, and media attention, on South Africa and apartheid. Many people stopped buying South African products. Politicians had to make statements, businessmen had to justify trading with South Africa, and famous sportsmen had to declare their position.

        It was no small matter, and I have no doubt that it layer a major role in changing South Africa.

      • alen
        alen on January 14, 2016, 6:08 pm

        I am going to have to disagree with you Krauss. In an interview by de Klerk himself, he stated that SA was on the verge of economic collapse. Don’t forget, de Klerk was digging in his heels, but the economic situation got really desperate according to him, that he let Mandela go, hoping it would end BDS. Unfortunately, the SA government got even more violent, and BDS was more entrenched than ever. He states that the reversal happened soon after they realize SA was only months away from spending its last reserves, and there was really no other choice, and that SA was already in insolvency,. Even a year more of BDS and SA would be past the point of no return and become a third world country. In fact in that interview, he implies many of SA’s economic problems were because of BDS.

    • amigo
      amigo on January 8, 2016, 7:03 am

      The history of the 1984 Dunnes strike by those employees who refused to handle goods from South Africa.They stayed out for 2 and a half years.People power at work.

      “During Easter 1984, the motion was submitted to boycott all South African goods and services, and the Dunnes workers were happy to partake in any motion put in place by their union (IDATU).
      On July 19th, 1984 the Dunnes workers were warned by management that anyone who refused to handle South African goods would be suspended. They lined up all the staff and asked them who was part of the union and who was intending not to handle the South African goods. They then picked all these people to work on the tills for the day and put managers behind the tills to make note of anyone who tried to refuse to handle the fruit.

      Mary Manning was the first person to have a customer come to her till with Outspan Grapefruit. She explained to the woman that as per union policy she could not handle South African fruit. The customer happily sat the fruit aside. Immediately after the woman left the shop, Mary was told to close off her till and report the manager’s office. She was suspended and the other union members closed off their tills and left the shop. A picket was placed on the store that day.

      On July 8th 1985 the strikers flew to South Africa only to be detained in the airport, held under armed guard for 8 hours and then sent back to Ireland on the next flight. This only created more support for the movement.”

      Read the whole story at !,

      • Kris
        Kris on January 8, 2016, 10:16 am

        Thank you, for sharing this information, amigo. The stalwart Dunnes workers are part of the shining company of “great men” whose examples give us courage and hope. From Longfellow’s poem, “A Psalm of Life”:

        Lives of great men all remind us
        We can make our lives sublime,
        And, departing, leave behind us
        Footprints on the sands of time ;

        Footprints, that perhaps another,
        Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
        A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
        Seeing, shall take heart again.

  3. Ossinev
    Ossinev on January 7, 2016, 12:03 pm

    The problem which the Nitayshites have is that they couldn`t do a pre-emptive qualitative edge strike on the BDS movement. It is after all a non military entity. They have been using their non military weapon ( Hasbara ) increasingly over the last twelve months but they are not really comfortable with this form of warfare anymore a) because it patently doesn`t work – the average man on the western street now yawns when he hears the expression “anti semite” or “anti semitic” and b) they don`t get to enjoy killing “existentially threatening civilians” or “Arab vermin” and being dependent on a diet of Fascism and Racism this really freaks them out.

    So what to do about BDS? Is attack the best form of defence or is defence the best form of attack.Poor souls – as Amigo indicates they really don`t know what to do. They are under pressure from their right wing constituents and their eunuchs in the USA to be seen to be doing something. This of course is good news for BDS because as they are wont to say in Zionist held Hollywood “any publiity is good publicity”.


  4. a blah chick
    a blah chick on January 7, 2016, 12:30 pm

    The so-called “rebranding” of ten or twelve years ago was ultimately deemed a failure and it’s not hard to see why. If you are a Jewish American who is appalled by Israel’s human rights violations you are not going to be lured from your principles by stories of bikini clad women and cell phone inventions. We all told them that and now they’re going back to the old “Zionism is about the Jews’ human rights” schtick. But that has a hard time resonating with images of murdered children and demolished homes. They refuse to face the obvious.

    • pabelmont
      pabelmont on January 7, 2016, 5:20 pm

      In short, the Zios really liked it when, in effect, the West said that “Jews, too, are people” (1945-67) but don’t like it when the West says that “the Palestinians, too, are people”. The Zios are “barbarians” in the sense that they are willing to declare another people utterly outside the human family. (read “The Fear of Barbarians” by Tzvetan Todorov). The West is not so very different, but is correcting its act, at least among the young. And this includes the Jewish young.

    • JWalters
      JWalters on January 7, 2016, 6:09 pm

      A trenchant comment on a trenchant article. Looks like the wheels are coming off the Zionist war wagon.

  5. annie
    annie on January 8, 2016, 3:32 am

    fantastic article. the more they resist bds the more exposure to israeli apartheid, tighter it squeezes them, and the more uncomfortable they are. it’s like the perfect cocktail. every penny they spend for pr goes right into deligitimizing them more.

  6. Ossinev
    Ossinev on January 8, 2016, 7:12 am

    From Haaretz:
    “Israeli Cabinet to Weigh Tit-for-tat Response to EU Labeling
    Government ministers to vote Sunday on whether to support a bill that would mandate labeling products from countries that label products from Israeli settlements”

    Stock markets all over Europe are on tenterhooks,banks are reporting panic withdrawals of deposits,people are stocking up on basic foodstuffs,European politicians from all spectrums are joining forces to plea with Israel not to etc etc etc etc.And all because of the threat to the miniscule level of exports to Israel from the EU. I don`t think so.

    Israel the Zionist mouse will probably fart.

  7. amigo
    amigo on January 8, 2016, 11:14 am

    “Thus recent European requirements are no more stringent than those already in place in Israel?” bryan

    Quite simply bryan , Israel does not want labels on food products with the term “OCCUPIED TERRIRORIES” on shelves in every EU country.That term would become engraved on the memories of too many Europeans and that would be a disaster for the zionist entity.

    The zionists do not accept they are occupying Palestine , because they do not recognise such a nation.

  8. JWalters
    JWalters on January 8, 2016, 7:47 pm

    A welcome companion article at Consortium News.

  9. Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield on January 9, 2016, 9:00 am

    I too can see no alternative to the South African model, but I am worried by apparent differences that make Israel a much harder nut to crack. British companies played a big role in the South African economy and in bringing about the transition to majority rule. Afrikaners as an ethnic group did have a similar mentality to the Israeli Jews, but they constituted only half of the white population. Europeans had been established in the country for centuries already and the ANC never aimed to throw them out. All these things made it clear to a decisive section of the white population and especially the elite that they only faced a loss of formal political domination; they knew they were not going to be massacred, expelled, or even dispossessed. Most Israelis have no such confidence — they really see no viable alternative (ein brera). If a dangerous animal is backed into a corner and sees no way of escape it will lunge out. It is necessary to convince the Israelis not only that they will have to pay an intolerable price for their obduracy but also that they do have a way out.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus on January 9, 2016, 10:51 am

      They already have a beautiful way out: almost all have a second (and third) passport, while the others are guaranteed residence in the US.
      If by South African model you mean the fact that common sense prevailed among the settlers after untold bloodshed, no such common sense is to be expected in the leaders of the Zionist entity, ever. It’s not being cornered that makes them dangerous, it’s their incrusted ideological priorities. When did they give in to logical considerations until now?

  10. Mooser
    Mooser on January 9, 2016, 12:00 pm

    “It’s not being cornered that makes them dangerous,”

    Yes!!! “Almost all have a second (and third) passport, while the others are guaranteed residence in the US.”

    Exactly! If the place doesn’t perform to their expectations, they can bolt. Or if they blow it up. Entirely different from people who muxt compromise.

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