Friday, July 8, 2011

On Delegitimization

        The never-ending war against Israel has entered a new phase over the past couple years, a tactic called "delegitimization", that is gaining momentum with each passing day. It questions Israel's right to exist as a Jewish nation, and even its right to defend itself against military attack. For example, when close to 200 rockets were fired on Israel from Gaza at the end of 2010, all at civilian targets, one hit the grounds of an Israeli kindergarten while parents were dropping off their children. Israel complained to the UN Security Council about this clear violation of international law and warned that it will continue to exercise its right to defend itself. In response, the UN Middle East envoy, Robert Serry, agreed that Israel has a right to self-defense, but it must be "consistent with international humanitarian law" and he urged Israel to take every "precaution to ensure Israeli forces do not endanger civilians in Gaza." This is delegitimization. Israel had been attacked, but the UN did not blame the attackers. It only defined the level of acceptable response by Israel. It amounts to a free pass for Hamas which launched the attacks and urges restraint on Israel in its own defense, which the UN urges on no other country.

         But the delegitimization campaign is not aimed at military action alone. It is aimed at almost every aspect of Israel's existence, and not only its existence as a modern state in the community of nations, but also its existence as a Jewish state with the Kingdoms of David and Solomon 3,000 years ago and the very existence of the Jewish people over the past 5,000 years. While most of the effort to deligitimize Israel has been in the international arena, thare is an increasing incidence here in the US now, mainly on college campuses and among some Christian and Muslim religious groups, as well. Especially disturbing is the incidence among some young Jewish activists, too. As recently demostrated on the distinguished "Sixty Minutes" program, Lesley Stahl questioned the existence of King David, an iconic figure who is featured so prominently in Jewish history. She did so on the very site where they are excavating King David's palace, exactly where the Bible said it was. And despite the overwhelming amount of archeological evidence corroborating so much that is recorded in the Bible, the Arabs are now insisting that the Jewish people never were connected to the land of Israel at all and that the establishment of a Jewish state there is a mistake that must be nullified.

        Many of Israel's detractors claim that Israel is guilty of human rights violations and that the Jewish state is an "apartheit" state citing its treatment of its Arab citizens, despite the fact that the Arab citizens of Israel enjoy more freedom and more rights than the Arabs of any of the 22 Arab states in that region of the world. Through an international coalition called BDS, that is, Boycott, Divestment and Sanction for Palestine, they try to organize boycotts against Israeli artists and academics to prevent them from participating in international events such as concerts or conferences, and to divest from Israeli companies or companies that do business in Israel. The goal, of course, is to undermine Israel's legitimacy.

        An important factor in the delegitimization effort was the Goldstone report, which, representing the UN Human Rights Council, accused Israel of violating international law in Operation Cast Lead. The fact that Goldstone himself subsequently repudiated the report has not deterred the UN or the Palestinians from continuing to use it as an instrument to further delegitimize Israel. The UN has referred the question of Israel's conduct in "deliberately targeting civilians" in the Gaza war to the Fourth Geneva Conventioin for Switzerland to adjudicate and to the International Criminal Court. The United States, which has veto power over any UN action, strongly objected, knowing full well that the overwhelming Islamic majorities in the UN would take similar actions against the US if it succeeds in its actions against Israel.

        Meanwhile, the Palestinians are planning to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian State, which they will declare unilaterally, in September. The General Assembly may grasnt such recognition as still another attempt to delegitimize Israel, but the US could exercise its veto power in the Security Council. If this happens, Israel's opponents would put Israel in the worst possible light and they would embarrass the US, as well. In effect, the UN is at the center of the campaign to discredit and delegitimize Israel. Why? Because the Arab states, together with the other Islamic states in the world, have an overwhelming numerical advantage. At the same time, the minority of so-called free or democratic ountries, mainly in Western and Eastern Europe, are uniformly anti-semitic and have little sympathy for the only Jewish State in the world. So the UN wages its relentless political campaign against the Jewish State and its only defender has been the US. Until now, anyway.

        As former Bristish Prime Minister Tony Blair, now the Quartet's envoy to the Middle East, said not long ago, these delegitimization efforts are "an affront", not only to Israel, but to "those everywhere, in every part of humanity who share the values of a free and independent human spirit." The best answer to those who seek to delegitimize the Jewish state, he said, "lies in the character of Israel itself, in the openness, the fairmindedness and creativity of the Israelis."

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