Why BDS can never be won by usual Zionist tactics

The issues of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel were discussed regularly this week in Cairo. This movement is feared by Israel and its friends because the Jewish state can no longer hide behind its military might. In the war of ideas, the never-ending occupation is Israel’s weak point.

Here’s the Jerusalem Post in late December:

A new report by the Reut Institute, a Tel Aviv-based national security and socioeconomic policy think tank, maps out the “new battlefield” in which Israel finds the legitimacy of its very existence attacked by a wide array of organizations and individuals in global centers like London, Toronto, Brussels, Madrid and Berkeley.

The report, which also makes recommendations for possible remedies, is to be presented next week to Israeli diplomatic officials, and will also be presented at the Herzliya Conference in January. The report’s authors spent two weeks in London interviewing some 45 people, including members of Muslim groups and anti-Zionist Jewish organizations, and academics, journalists, pollsters, jurists, activists and politicians.

Beginning with Israel’s traditional strategic concept, conceived by David Ben-Gurion, which posits that to win its wars, the IDF would have to take the fight to its enemies, the Reut report posits that increasingly, Israel cannot “win” its wars in the traditional sense as it is not up against conventional Arab armies, and there is no decisive victory over an enemy army to be had.

While there is still a physical existential threat posed by certain enemies (including unconventional terrorism), the new front focuses its attack on Israel’s political legitimacy, painting Israel as a pariah state, exhausting Israeli society, burdening its economy, and mobilizing Israel’s Arab minority as an anchor in the struggle against the Jewish state.

The key concept for this “Resistance Network” is overstretching Israel along the fault lines of demography, democracy (binational state vs a state of the Jewish people), Jewish identity and territory.

The report states that Israel’s traditional enemies have increasingly been joined in battle by widespread networks of anti-Zionist groups, hostile human rights organizations and homegrown radical Islamists that use cultural, academic, legal and financial weapons against what they see as an illegitimate pariah state with its capital in occupied Jerusalem. They are trying to demonize Israel, to turn Israel into the Apartheid South Africa of the 21st century. These groups are concentrated in several large cities, what Reut calls “Hubs of Delegitimization.”

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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