Yesterday Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called on the west to continue to provide “moral support” to Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people” in the face of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which he called a weapon to destroy Israel in a way that conventional weapons had failed to do.
In Washington to seek a deal on a bigger military aid package, Ya’alon used an appearance at the Wilson Center to emphasize that the most important support to Israel is the belief by the west in its right to exist as a Jewish state. He urged westerners not to be “manipulated and deceived by slogans like occupation, apartheid. There is no apartheid in Israel whatsoever.”
Here’s a transcript of those remarks. Ya’alon began (at 1:01) by stating that Israel had achieved prosperity in the face of huge disadvantages, such as a small country and few people, by using “our minds and our hearts– knowledge and spirit.”
We believe with sharing our advantages with our neighbors. We try very hard. The Palestinians enjoy our economy… We hope that other countries will be able to share it… We are ready to share. But no doubt that looking around from our country to the entire Middle East– standing in the Golan Heights is an example, which I do it, every couple of months. Looking to the east unfortunately the color that is dominating is black and gray. Smoke, fire. In our side– green.
We are ready to share it. Actually we support the villages across the border [in Syria], providing them with material support. As Jews we cannot avoid it. We can’t ignore it. Medical equipment, food, blankets in the winter, oil, whatever. All their needs. So we are ready to share.
But we should get rid of this reluctance of recognizing our right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people. And in this regard western or likeminded people should not be manipulated and deceived by slogans like occupation, apartheid. There is no apartheid in Israel whatsoever. The only Christain community that is growing in the Middle East today is the Christian-Arab community, and we are proud of it. It is not the case in Lebanon, it is not the case in Syria, it is not the case in Iraq…
So this kind of understanding of our unique situation in which westerners, like-minded, are manipulated by false propaganda regarding the situation in Israel and so forth. We should overcome it. Otherwise Israel will be delegitimzed in a way that is viewed by them as a weapon against us with Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions all these kinds of weapons is alternative whether to conventional type weapons, non conventional type weapons. It’s a new weapon, as the result of our success to deal with the conventional type of warfare. So
We need this kind of understanding. We do need this kind of at least moral support, and that’s what I’m asking here in Washington.
I’d note that Ya’alon was praised for his insights by his interlocutor, Aaron David Miller, a longtime advocate for Israel– “I’m a great believer in the special nature of the relationship; I worry about it.” He was introduced by Joseph Gildenhorn, the former chair of the Wilson Center trustees, who is also a big supporter of Israel. Gildenhorn went out of his way to salute Israel’s “outstanding ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer,” who was in the audience. Even though Dermer undermined President Obama just a year ago and lobbied against the Iran deal; that doesn’t matter. The Wilson Center is the heart of the liberal establishment in Washington, headed by Jane Harman, a former California Congresswoman and strong supporter of Israel, who is also very wealthy. The wealth and political influence of the older American Jewish community, which is devoted to Israel, is the essence of the Israel lobby’s political strength. Ya’alon conducted a massacre in Gaza just a year and a half ago. Recently Ya’alon said that Jews grieve their dead more intensely than Palestinians, because Palestinians yearn for death. Aaron David Miller asked him nothing about these things.