Israeli Media Report on BDS

In this article by  | Oct. 18, 2013 | 8:01 AM , there are plenty of errors about what BDS is all about, but it does show the great effect BDS has.  It fails to affirm that the threat to Israelis is that Israel would become a democratic state with equal rights for all.

BDS battleground

Today’s battle is BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign being waged against Israel. Significant efforts are being invested by the government and pro-Israel organizations to fend off BDS. This week I discovered that in the Israeli embassy in London alone, there are two people (one diplomat and a local employee) whose full-time brief is to monitor and counter BDS attempts. Apparently the Foreign Ministry with its diplomatic corps is not enough and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has added fighting BDS to the responsibilities of Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz.

Has the boycott campaign actually caused Israel any real economic harm? Its meager list of much-trumpeted successes in getting companies and local authorities to drop Israeli products all together do not even amount to a pinprick to Israel’s economy.

BDS has failed to create any form of pressure on Israel to change its policies. A week after Israeli scientists yet again won Nobel prizes and days after Facebook announced it was opening a new development center in Israel, any talk of academic or economic isolation of Israel sounds ridiculous. Yet it’s not only generals and politicians who feel an unease landing in some countries, especially in Europe. You can hear that discomfort when talking with academics looking for a university for their post-doctorate year and business people trying to drum up interest in professional conferences.

I still believe that in the wider picture of economic development and scientific cooperation the damage is minimal, but the noise made by the Lawfare and BDS rabble-rousers has fed into an already existing atmosphere of suspicious paranoia which is causing much greater harm to Israelis than any boycott of Israeli produce at a British supermarket or decision by a professor, even one as well-known as Stephen Hawking, not to speak in Israel, can ever cause.

Israel has no reason to object to the principle of universal jurisdiction, whereby countries or international courts can put individuals on trial for crimes committed outside their usual jurisdiction — after all, the Eichmann trial in 1961 was a unique demonstration of that principle. Neither has Israel any reason to fear that its officers or officials will be put on trial in democracies acting upon universal jurisdiction. As long as Israel’s Supreme Court remains open to petitions against the decisions of civilian and military authorities and exercises its powers, no one can credibly claim that a foreign court has to intervene in Israel’s internal legal affairs. Universal jurisdiction can be applied only where it is proven that there is no legal authority with the power to serve justice. And as long as Israel’s economy and research institutes have so much to offer, no economic boycott will have much of an effect.

The real harm of these campaigns is that they fuel the siege mentality that prevents Israelis from embracing any real change in its relations with the “foreigners” within and with its closest neighbors. A nation constantly on guard from outsiders seeking to delegitimize its existence will never be capable of developing a more humane attitude toward refugees and migrants within its borders or overcoming the psychological barriers preventing it from reaching a realistic settlement with the Palestinians (even before we can confront the major obstacles the Palestinians themselves have).

We have to see these “threats” for what they are to be able not only to neutralize them but to prevent them from dominating our consciousness. Israel’s economy is not about to be crippled by boycotts and IDF officers will not be languishing in foreign jails anytime soon. But Israelis have made themselves prisoners in their own minds and it’s time to break the siege.

SOURCE and full article at http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/jerusalem-babylon/.premium-1.553086

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