‘Highly respected’ Israeli think tank says:

  • BDS campaign is ‘strategic threat’
  • Israel’s dependence on trade makes it vulnerable
  • BDS campaign ‘can constrain’ Israeli military operations
  • Israel is increasingly isolated

Mick Napier
12 February 2010

Our opponents have now publicly conceded what we already knew: in the aftermath of the latest massacres in Gaza, Israel is vulnerable to a sustained campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

The Re’ut Institute exists to advise the Israeli Government.  Described as "very influential and highly respected" by a spokesman for Foreign Minister Livni, the Re’ut Institute claims its “experts are of diverse political affiliations coming from all levels of government.” These experts have just sent a report to the Israeli Cabinet (on Feb 11th) which warns that military violence has failed to achieve its ends and has produced a dangerous world-wide revulsion at Israeli crimes:

We failed to achieve decisive successes in confrontations with both Hezbollah and Hamas…And in last year's Gaza operation, our superior military power was offset by an offensive on Israel's legitimacy that led to a significant setback in our international standing, and will constrain future Israeli military planning and operations as effectively as any Arab army could.

Despite their massacres of civilians in both Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2009, Hezbollah repelled Israeli forces while Hamas, under impossible conditions, was not crushed but endured.

Since Israel lost world-wide in the battle for public support – “a significant setback in our international standing” – the Re’ut Institute report sees the BDS campaign as a threat in the years to come, which the Cabinet is advised to treat as a force as real as any military power:

And so, our politicians and military personnel are threatened with lawsuits and arrest when they travel abroad, campaigns to boycott our products gain traction, and our very existence is challenged in academic institutions and intellectual circles. The country is increasingly isolated.”

Able to kill Palestinians at will, the Israeli State is grappling with the limits of its power, and the power of world-wide civil society to respond effectively to its human rights violations. Israel, not even its US patrons, or its supporters inside South Africa, can get their cargoes unloaded at Durban Port against the determined solidarity of the Durban dockworkers with the people of Palestine. (Graduates of one successful anti-apartheid struggle understand the realities for Palestinians under racist domination.)

Israel is well aware that, as awareness grows of Israel’s state-enforced racial separation (often enforced by the JNF), the apartheid nature of the Zionist project is increasingly understood:

The risk posed is that such campaigns will create an equivalency between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa that penetrates the mainstream of public and political consciousness. Given Israel's dependence on vigorous trade, as well as scientific, academic, and technological engagement with other countries, this movement towards isolating the country may pose a strategic threat.

There will be no simple equivalence, of course, with the South African version of apartheid since the Israeli version is so much more violent and dehumanising, indeed genocidal, but there is no doubt that Israeli elites, long accustomed to a strategic edge over the Palestinians as wide as their military gap, are floundering to cope with this developing situation of powerlessness in the face of an aroused world anger. Israeli sporting, cultural and educational ambassadors of the bulldozer State of Israel face constant opposition from human rights campaigners and opponents of ethnic cleansing.

Boycott is Israel’s Achilles Heel. Achilles, the hero of Greek antiquity, was invulnerable over virtually all his body since his mother, Thetis, had dipped him in the magical River Styx. She had had to hold on to him, though, by one heel and that single vulnerability allowed an arrow to fatally strike the heel. So it can be with Israel, with its Pentagon armour, EU economic lifeline, UN Security Council protection, nuclear weapons, and unstinting support from US, UK and other EU Governments.

Popular, democratic, non-violent boycott can indeed “pose a strategic threat” to those who rain white phosphorous on civilian areas of Gaza as part of their vile campaign of clearing Palestine of all Palestinians to make way for Jewish immigrants, colonisers, from around the world.

We can now redouble our efforts in the BDS campaign, safe in the knowledge that we are on the right track.  Here is a partial list of successes  for those in doubt.

The Boycott Israel Network (BIN) invites you to the second of their BDS weekends, a conference to be held in the English Midlands on Fri-Sun, 26th -28th March to plan the next stage in the BDS campaign: how to build on the Cairo Declaration and realise its practical goals here in the UK and elsewhere

Mick Napier
12 february 2010

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