Appreciate this article? +972 depends on your support -- click here to help us keep going

Analysis News

The boycott isn't economic warfare, it's psychological

It does not have to bring the Israeli economy to its knees, or even close, to force an end to the occupation.

Stock photo boycott activists in France. (Photo by Olga Besnard/Shutterstock.com)

Stock photo boycott activists in France. (Photo by Olga Besnard / Shutterstock.com)

Now that it’s a very common, almost consensus view that Israel faces isolation and serious economic pain if it does not end the occupation, the skeptics are weighing in. They’re saying that the BDS movement, academic boycott and Europe’s anti-settlement policy toward Israeli businesses, even though they are intensifying, have hardly made a dent in this country’s material quality of life. (Here, here, here and here.) Deals are still being made, rock stars are still coming to perform, Israel’s economy is still outdoing most of those in the West. As for the future, such commentators, who are by no means all from the right, are saying that even if the number of boycotters grows, they will still amount to drops in the bucket, and Israel’s economic and political power will thwart any attempt to pressure the country’s leaders into changing course.

I think they miss the point. It’s true that the Israeli economy as a whole is hardly feeling the boycott (though a fast-growing number of companies are), and it’s unimaginable that the economic and political isolation of Israel will ever approach that of apartheid-era South Africa (for lots of reasons, including Israel’s exalted standing in the U.S.). But it doesn’t have to approach what happened in South Africa. The boycott doesn’t have to bring the Israeli economy to its knees, or anything close, for the Israeli body politic – the public, the opinion-makers and the decision-makers – to decide to end the occupation. All the boycott has to do is keep growing, drop by drop – yes, like Chinese water torture – for it to succeed. Because finally, the boycott is not an economic war against Israel, it’s a psychological war, and even the skeptics would agree that it’s already had a deep, damaging effect on this country’s will to continue fighting for the West Bank and Gaza.

The experience of the last nine months, starting with Stephen Hawking’s no-show in Jerusalem for the Presidential Conference – which brought the boycott movement into the mainstream, a process that has been escalating ever since – has begun to work a profound change for the worse in Israelis’ view of the country’s future. It’s been many years since they believed it was going to improve, that peace was a realistic possibility. Except for a short-lived interlude of belief in “Sharon’s way” – unilateral withdrawal – after the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, there’s been a sense of stagnation here since the Second Intifada killed the Oslo Accords in late 2000. The Netanyahu years have been secure but grim; the only movement has been toward more settlements and more loathing for leftists and Arabs, more of what the country is already stuffed full of. Five years of bloat and stagnation. It’s not for nothing that the new hit of the last election, Yair Lapid, named his party Yesh Atid – There Is a Future. That’s what the public wanted – a future, something to look forward to, because the future they saw was nothing but more of the same bellicose rut interrupted by periodic wars.

But Israelis had learned to live with that and they could go on living with it. The future, if not inviting, seemed tolerable. And that’s what the boycott has changed: Suddenly the future does not look like more of the same. It looks like it’s going to be increasingly worse than the way things are now. The world is turning against us, and not just in word, but in deed. Even Germany is starting to crack down. It’s not going to get any better, the occupation is not going to win us any new friends, but evidently it is going to make us a lot of new enemies.

In the Israel Democracy Institute’s “Peace Index” poll for January, Jewish respondents were asked to rate the chances that the boycott will “intensify and harsh sanctions will be imposed on Israel, including a full boycott of the export of products from Israel.” Fifty percent said the chances were high, 47 percent said they were low.

This is the idea that the rise of the boycott has planted in the national consciousness: that for Israel as the oppressor of the Palestinians, there’s nowhere to go but down. There’s nothing to look forward to but more rejection, further isolation. And that’s something Israelis can’t live with. That’s a future they will not tolerate.

So as long as the boycott goes forward, even in fits and starts, Israeli anxiety over what the occupation is doing to their future will deepen. Because what do the nationalist powers-that-be have to stop its momentum? Better hasbara? What future do they have to offer Israelis? More settlements? Bombing Iran? Eternal vigilance against Islamofascism? Except for the right-wing true believers, who are a minority here, that’s not what Israelis want. That’s what Bibi wants, not the public. The public wants to look up at the sky and not see black clouds, which are just what the boycott has become.

And sooner or later, the boycott is probably not going to be the only thing bearing down on the Israeli status quo. The Palestinians in the West Bank have been amazingly quiescent for the last decade; they’ve hardly begun to exercise their options for making Israel pay for their subjugation. They still haven’t gone to The Hague, they haven’t tried “people power” demonstrations to the wall, they haven’t demanded enfranchisement as Israeli citizens, they haven’t dissolved the Palestinian Authority and “handed the keys back” to the conquerors. They’re not going to let Israel get off so easy forever. And whatever steps the Palestinians take – except terror, which they seem to know will backfire – will create a synergistic effect with the boycott.

So lots of things could happen to Israel the Occupier – all of them bad. That’s the realization coming over people in this country. They’re not worried about the threat of poverty, or war – they’re worried about the threat of the light going out in the distance. They’re worried that Israel is about to enter its decline.

Because of this, I believe the nationalists’ control of this country is becoming vulnerable, and so is the occupation, their pet project. I’m not saying a radical transformation of Israel is inevitable, but it’s possible – thanks to the boycott. Before Hawking put the movement into gear, there was nothing out there to challenge the status quo, and there’s nothing else out there to challenge it now. Only the boycott. If it keeps growing, there may be a future.

Related:
Boycott goes prime-time in Israel
The academic boycott of Israel: No easy answers

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.

View article: AAA
Share article
Print article
  • COMMENTS

    1. Steve

      How about a radical transformation of Palestinians, getting rid of Hamas and supporting peace with the Jewish state next door?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Steve

      80% of historic Palestine became Jordan.

      Israel + West Bank + Gaza + East Jerusalem is about 20% of historic Palestine.

      Reply to Comment
      • rick

        not true. Please consult map of Mandate Palestine. It does not include “Trans-Jordan, which the Brit. Empire created. All the fancy footwork of phone history will not erase the ongoing ethnic cleansing- nor will it be tolerated. Change from the “Settler State” mentality is what is required, whether you are up to it or not.

        Reply to Comment
        • C. Bendavid

          Well, Transjordan was part of Palestine until 1922. It’s not because it was severed from the rest of the Palestinian territory in the early 20′s, that all of a sudden, it is no longer part of what anti-Zionists call ”historic Palestine”. If you really want to discuss history, you can’t be selective! The British mandate in Palestine began in 1920, not in 1947! Thus, whether you like it or not, Israel was established on 12% of what was called Palestine in the early 20,s.
          As for your ”settler state mentality”, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I guess you spend too much time on extreme-left wing websites, because anyone who knows a little bit about Israel knows that although the 1st aliya was somewhat colonialist, from the 2nd aliya, the Zionist movement became clearly anticolonialist. Furthermore, between the 1910′s and the 1930′S, numerous times, the Zionist movement offered an alliance to Arab nationalists. Ben Gurion even called for the creation of a Semitic confederation uniting Jews and Arabs. Not bad for a colonialist! Nonetheless, it is true, that Israel was created in land that was already populated. However, the Jews were a homeless nation. This is why it was right to allocate them a part of Palestine, so that they too can exercise their self-determination right. Taking land from those who have it and giving a part of it to those who have none, has nothing to do with colonialism. It is called redistributing the wealth. By the way, that was the argument was invoked by the Western left to justify the creation of Israel in 1948. Because whether you like it or not, the non-communist left massively supported Zionism until the late 1960′s. The only reason why you guys came to despise Zionism after the Six Day war, is merely because the New Left, as opposed the old one, despises the West and replaced class struggle for blind solidarity with anything that comes from the third world. No wonder why Naomi Klein and Michael Moore supported the islamist rebellion in Iraq. It also explains largely why Judith Butler, a Jew herself, calls Hamas whose charter calls for a genocide against the Jews, a ”progressive movement”!

          Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            “Thus, whether you like it or not, Israel was established on 12% of what was called Palestine in the early 20,s”

            That statement is profoundly misleading.

            Read Article 25 of the Mandate for Palestine:
            “In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions”

            That means that the territory east of the River Jordan (i.e. Transjordan) was *always* excluded from the promise made to Lord Rothschild in the Balfour Declaration.

            Or, put another way, whatever “a national home for the Jewish people” might be(it’s undefined), and no matter where “in Palestine” (again, undefined), one thing that was absolutely, positively clear was this: that National Home never included Transjordan.

            So you statement is simply meaningless; you might as well include the territories of Mandated Mesopotamia and Mandated Syria and then cry that Israel was established in 0.1% of the territory That Could Have Been Yours If Only Things Had Turned Out Differently.

            The true statement is this:
            Israel was established on 55% of the territory that was available for the establishment of a Jewish National Home, after which it immediately seized half of the remaining 45%, and is still attempting to extort another 6-8%.

            Reply to Comment
          • C. Bendavid

            Once again,Transjordan was considered to be part-and-parcel of Palestine by the British government up until 1922. There was simply no administrative separation between Palestine and Jordan until Churchill decided to carve out a kingdom for the Hachemites who had been expelled of the Hedjaz. Iraq, however, has never been part of this administrative unit. By the way, the Peel partition plan, in 1937, offered 18% of Palstine – without Jordan – to the Jews. Furthermore, the Arabs made no attempt to change the UN partition plan in 1947, although they were given the opportunity to do so. They even ruled out the posiibility of a binational state – even with an Arab majority. Thus, for the Arabs, the problem was not the size of the territory allocated to the Jews. They refused to consider any compromise.

            Reply to Comment
          • Please also consult the Ottoman and Roman maps. Palestine is West of the Jordan up to 1917 on the Ottoman maps, and, by the way, it was a subset of Syria, as was Lebanon. So if the Brits put “Trans (Latin: “across”) Jordan on a map for 5 years and then had Jordan as the Ottomans did between the river and the sea for the following 26 years,I’m cherry-picking history? And you don’t know what I’m talking about with “settler state mentality”? Do you think the S. African Whites did? Do the Protestant in N.Ireland? An empire grants land and supplies weapons to a foreign people to take over the land of the indigenous inhabitants, and you want to call that “anti-Colonialist”? What a chuckle!

            Reply to Comment
          • C. Bendavid

            Yes, what a chuckle!
            1)Under the Ottomans, the term Palestine did not even exist. Palestine was rather divided into 3 sandjaks. And under the Romans, the Negev desert was not incorporated as a part of Palestine.
            But anyway, the Palestinians exist now as a nation and they are entitled to self-determination, just like the Israelis.
            2)The Israelis did not invade Palestine. It was the UN which allocated them a part of it. As for the Jews who immigrated to Palestine before 1947, they did not rule the Arabs (unlike the Protestants in Northern Ireland or the French in Algeria). Nor did they want to do so. In fact, the Zionists of the 2nd aliya even offered an alliance to Arab nationalists (as soon as 1913).
            3)Nonetheless, it is true that Israel was established in a territory that was already occupied by another people. However, as I said earlier, the Jews were a landless people. This is why Zionists claimed that the partition of Palestine was morally justified. Of course, you are entitled to disagree with this reasoning. However, taking land from those who already have a territory of their own, and giving a part of it to those who have none, has nothing to do with colonialism or theft. It is based upon the logic of wealth redistribution. Otherwise, it would mean that land reform for landless peasants in agricultural societies should be called ”theft” as well!
            4) And as I said earlier, up until the late 60′s, the Western left defended Zionism even though Palestine was not empty, by invoking the landlessness of the Jewish people. If you don’t believe me, go to the archives of The Nation Magazine or the now defunct Manchester Guardian. Even Ho Chi Minh supported the creation of Israel. In the 1940′s, he even offered Ben Gurion to establish a Zionist government-in-exile in Vietnam! It doesn’t really fit the mould of ”settler colonialism”, don’t you think so?!

            Reply to Comment
    3. Steve

      How come there’s no BDS movement against the 50+ Arab/Muslim countries that systemically discriminate against Jews?

      Also, should Palestinian organizations be boycotted until they get rid of Hamas and elect peaceful leaders that don’t call for violence and murder of Jews?

      If not, why not?

      One-sided hate against Israel won’t solve anything.

      Reply to Comment
      • Nurul

        Israel and USA already impose harsh punishments for Palestinians for electing Hamas in 2006 by imposing economic sanctions (which oddly included limiting food transfer into Gaza) and sanctioning any Hamas-linked charities.

        USA also imposes sanctions and embargoes on many Muslim countries. It freezes foreign assets in Syria, heavy sanctions on Iran. Extending to other countries, USA vetoes China’s loan applications and impose arms embargo on China, Congo, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Israel, by contrast, gets $3 billion worth of arms from America every year, and unconditional support on every level.

        Since the most powerful country in the world won’t assert any pressure on Israel, the BDS movement serves to do just this.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Israelis, namely Israeli police are so evil toward Panestinians. They litterally go into Palestinian villages every day, and shoot them. Watch the netflix documentary”5 broken cameras.” They shoot someone everyday. Thats rediculous. And you should see what there people get shot for. Running away for one. Rediculous. And yelling. That is the second most stupid and aggressive thing iv ever hear of. 1rst and third are the Iraq war and the accusations that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. No evidence for either of those yet. But those wmds from iraq will turn up. And well probably just invade iran anyway so that doesnt matter

      Reply to Comment
    5. Richard Witty

      BDS oriented to reform, will likely accomplish that.

      BDS that includes ANY inference even of advocacy of a single state, accompanied by unlimited (maximalist) right of return, will strengthen the Israeli right.

      BDS proponents that demand the forced removal of the 650,000 Jewish residents east of the green line will strengthen the Israeli right.

      There has to be a reform path, a peace that will be consented on the Palestinian side.

      Reply to Comment
    6. I think that Boycott can make a difference if violence erupts, real protest begins (but that does require an indigenous social process to keep it going), or if the IDF makes a mistake, but as another weight, perhaps placing events more directly into Israeli attention. I don’t see the electorate shifting solely through negative impressions; something positive, for the good of Israeli society, is needed. J14 hinted that such an internal positive might be conceived, but I have no clue as to the state of the middle class now. I don’t think the connection between the occupation and Israeli internal socio-economy needs to be very direct or powerful; rather, the two can be combined into a party platform which go together at an ideological level. One issue is the rule of law and corruption, for where the police regularly ignore crime some sort of corruption likely follows. And I suspect that the Bedouin and African events have created both a propensity to slap down and countervailing uneasiness as to the political direction of the country. However, that direction is at best–at best–merely up for grabs.

      Although I admire your optimism, Larry, I continue to believe that no outside force can solve the day. Boycott can provide an added ingredient, but, for some time, not major motivation–barring a violent eruption in which Israel fares poorly in international media.

      There is as well the link between the ruling coalition and settlements, which is striving to secure a closed political loop, expanding in ideology to the treatment of Arab citizens, both Lieberman’s proposal to corporately strip citizenship, which I think nontrivial for the political spectrum, and Bedouin (which cannot endure forever as rebellious almost citizens), and, of course, the legal treatment of Africans. The ingredients for a shift are there; yet Yesh Atid, the present fluid portion of the electorate, has taken a fellow traveler road for power.

      Finally, Witty, above, notes that the treatment of 650,000 settlers is nontrivial. I have heard the phrase “two States in One State” lately, and continue to think that the rights hold on security as an issue makes a confederation of Greater Israel inevitable. Boycott, on the margin, might help implement some decisions over others. The hysteria of the national right on the issue is simply another way to own patriotism, the Boycott Law nicely combining this ownership with a muzzling of dissent.

      Both you and Noam keep asking the world to do something. I think the world replies “we will, once you do something.” Asking the outside to influence Israeli electoral politics plays right into the foreign influence hysteria so common to commenters on this site. You have to start a way, then be helped. The seeds of this are present, Yesh Din and 972 among them.

      Reply to Comment
      • richard witty

        Well articulated summary.

        Reply to Comment
    7. For the record, I’m banning Kolumn9 from my channel for aggravated slander against me, and I’m banning Rehmat for aggravated anti-Semitism. The other commenter I banned, previously, was The Trespasser, for aggravated anti-Muslim bigotry. Enough aggravation.

      Reply to Comment
      • richard witty

        I thought they each made some important points.

        Having been banned from sites that I felt were important venues, i’m both sympathetic to the personal experience of it, and to the imbalance in perspective that results.

        The premise that all communities lives/experience is a human requisite, empathy.

        Reply to Comment
        • Aaron Gross

          I agree, none of those people should have been banned. I’ve also been banned, from the entire +972 site. (I’m a racist, fascist troll, in case you didn’t know.) The channel is better with those people commenting.

          Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Larry, just keep it simple. Simply Ban anyone who disagrees with you or expresses an opinion that Israel should be admired or permitted to continue to exist.

        Reply to Comment
      • I was “present” for the K9 incident and must say that evoking your past job, now saying your views are “worse,” was a reputational threat hitting at livelihood. K9 has always been forceful in his views, but a progressing meanness was becoming evident of late. But I think that an infectious disease of internet commenting. I have had my moments. Perhaps a time ban where, after some date, it is as if nothing happened? Just a thought.

        Rehmat seems a expatriate Palestinian resident in Canada who I suspect has heard of, or lived, bad outcomes. He doesn’t seem to see that he is playing the same race reification game as his national right opponents. All he does is verify these opponents views of “the enemy.”

        Trespasser (hi T) is a strange one. I have often intensely disliked him, yet he will also translate a bit of Hebrew audio, and truly endeavor to understand things in a new way. But if I were less optimistic I would have been successful in life (sorry T). What I have found, and certain you too, is that once the combat ideology is activated its like you’ve attacked a family. You have to just wait for the bombarding reply to end.

        Reply to Comment
    8. Aaron Gross

      I think most of us, from left to right, can agree that this is factually incorrect: “this country’s will to continue fighting for the West Bank and Gaza.”

      Pace Larry, most Israelis believe that they’re fighting for the existence of the State of Israel, not Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. If they believed what Larry says they believed, they would have long ago withdrawn from Gaza (which sort of happened), Judea, and Samaria (a partial withdrawal mandated by Olmert’s election, mooted by rocket attacks from Gaza).

      Maybe Israelis’ perceptions are right and maybe they’re wrong, that’s a difficult question. But it’s quite clear that they do not believe that they’re “fighting for the West Bank and Gaza.”

      Reply to Comment
      • Aaron Gross

        Oops, that comment got a little garbled. I meant that if Israelis believed they were fighting for the West Bank and Gaza they would not have withdrawn from Gaza and mandated a withdrawal from large parts of the West Bank.

        Reply to Comment
      • If you mean they want the WB/Gaza because they think it protects Israel, that doesn’t hold up. If they – meaning the people and their elected representatives – just wanted the territory to protect Israel, they would have put nothing but soldiers and military equipment and installations there, like Israel did in S. Lebanon. But they didn’t – they also put 100,000 housing units over the Green Line, w/all the roads, schools, shopping centers, etc. to go with them. That stuff doesn’t protect Israel, it establishes a permanent Israeli presence over the Green Line. And that’s what Israelis wanted – if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have elected these govts. The settlement enterprise isn’t a misunderstanding, it’s the will of Israeli democracy.

        Reply to Comment
        • Aaron Gross

          A reasonable objection, and a pretty obvious one, so of course I’ve anticipated it. By “Israelis” I mean the large majority that at least says they believe in land for peace. I claim that they’re the Israelis who decide policy.

          Some of those Israelis (including me, for whatever that’s worth) oppose the settlement project. Others support it, but are willing to sacrifice it for the sake of peace. But I think the general attitude is, “There’s no chance of any real peace in the near future. Therefore, we’re not going to bother the strongly pro-settlement minority, who support settlement more strongly than we oppose it.”

          So I agree with you that the government, which does support the settlers, reflects popular opinion, which itself strongly supports the military occupation but which neither strongly supports nor strongly opposes settlement. The settlers are not “in the driver’s seat”; they’re allowed to build settlements because public opinion doesn’t strongly oppose them.

          As long as the soldiers have to be there, the majority won’t object to settlers being there, too. But that can and will change very quickly if the public perceives an opportunity for real land-for-peace, or even for military withdrawal that doesn’t endanger Israel’s security. Again, we saw this already with the Oslo agreement, with the Gaza withdrawal, and with Olmert’s election, which was basically a referendum on withdrawals from Judea and Samaria.

          Reply to Comment
          • richard witty

            Aaron
            You are describing Israel’s current attitudes.

            Larry is describing the same majority in only slightly different political situation.

            I hope be is accurate, that the israeli populace does not desire “fortress-Israel”, but open israel.

            Still israel.

            Stubbornness, raised to the third power in fanaticism, definitely can subvert the math of the majority.

            One of his points is that to date the actual applications of boycott have been inhumane in tone or effect, a communication.

            Those silent majority that he is hopibg will appear still need a path, a path for israeli electoral expression, and a path for peace among Palestinians.

            The appeals by Palestinians is/would be the most effective, even if tried a thousand times already.

            Reply to Comment
          • Aaron, if you asked Jim Crow whites whether specific abuses against blacks should occur, I think a majority would say some such should not. But if you asked them whether the segregation bars should be lifted, a great majority would say no, or that the bars really were not debilitating. Whites didn’t want to see the abuses, would undervalue them if forced to, and didn’t want to see any connection between them and the race bar.

            That’s how I see the Israeli electorate. And I think that is BDS’ focus.

            Allowing the settlements to expand increases opportunity for abuse. It also makes “land for peace” more vacuous, as the settlements have a growing voice in the Knesset, in more than one party. Land for peace is not an option that can be actualized indefinitely. Moreover, the abuses resulting from settlements and their expansion, from loss of land, water, property, transportation, and personal violation, amplify through stories among residents of the West Bank, which in turn amplifies anger and resistance, which then appears to Israelis as further evidence that no solution is possible, letting the settlements expand, repeat.

            The best thing Israel can do for itself is enforce the rule of law among its own throughout the West Bank, including soldiers and their command. Instead, we have the IDF posting moral rectitude videos on YouTube. The suicide bombings have done serious damage to both sides. And it still hasn’t been addressed.

            Reply to Comment
          • Aaron Gross

            Greg, I pretty much agree with everything you said. Personally, I wish that Israelis made a sharper distinction between the occupation (necessary) and the settlement project (unnecessary, harmful, and unjust).

            But I still think that the Oslo agreements, the withdrawal from Gaza, and the planned withdrawal from parts of Judea and Samaria prove pretty conclusively that Israel is not “fighting for the West Bank and Gaza.”

            Reply to Comment
          • No, not J & S. The Jordan Valley is a security issue, especially in the present Syrian civil war climate, and the Valley broke the best post Oslo deal. I actually suspect Jordan doesn’t want a PA solely in control of the west valley, for fear of a too porous border. But the IDF is now sufficiently hated that a deal leaving them there is seen as guaranteeing instability within the new “State.” So Greater Israel comes through a series of failures, mistakes, and unplanned events (Syria). What Jewish Home and others are doing is hijacking this inevitability, accelerating it along a specific political path. This is why I advocate the rule of law in the WB and a stronger High Court. Hoping I am wrong, I think a Palestinian State is now inviable. And that means a growing hysteria over the nature of the Jewish State. Bennett et al are winning to lose. Not to speak of the Palestinians themselves.

            But Larry is right in that the dynamics of the right national coalition are making securing Greater Israel the political goal. Alternative conceptualizations of what occupation of the West Bank is are being blotted out. I submit today’s Knesset and after episodes as evidence. To fight Bennett et al now is to fight over the definition of Israeli patriotism and the limits of non military power. It is easier to just pummel the left, what’s left of the left.

            Reply to Comment
          • Aaron Gross

            “But Larry is right in that the dynamics of the right national coalition are making securing Greater Israel the political goal.”

            Maybe he is right about that, no one knows for sure. But that’s an objective claim; it’s very different than saying that Israelis are (subjectively) fighting for the West Bank and Gaza.

            Reply to Comment
        • C. Bendavid

          Well, according to the polls, a consistence majority of Israelis support the Clinton parameters. And please, don’t forget that the Likud ended up with only 12 seats in the 2006 election. However, after Israel’s defeat against Hezbollah – which turned out to be a semi-victory, since the border has never been so quiet-, Netanyahu lead in the polls once again and won the 2009 election. Thus, the reason why Israelis vote Likud, is clearly for security purposes. They don’t care much about the settlements. The mere fact that Israel had two left-wing governments in the 1990′s and a centrist government between 2006 and 2008 should suffice to understand that. By the way, Carlo Strenger wrote extensively on that topic. He came to the same conclusions. Here is an interesting article published in the ”Journal of Conflict Resolution” which treats about this topic as well.

          http://public-policy.huji.ac.il/.upload/segel/ClaudeBerrebi/OnTerrorismandElectoralOutcomes.pdf

          Reply to Comment
          • Richard Witty

            They vote for likud (now very split internally between the plausible risk-aversion and the greedy land annexation proponents), until it becomes apparent that likud has alienated its allies (Turkey, US, Jordan, EU).

            Then they say “we want to be part of the world”, rather than stubborn and isolated.

            Reply to Comment
    9. Aaron Gross

      Gotta disagree with the use of “nationalist,” too: “the nationalists’ control of this country is becoming vulnerable.” In fact, nationalists have always been in control of the State of Israel and will continue to be in the foreseeable future. The Zionist left, from Labor to Meretz, is no less nationalist than the Zionist right. That’s what Zionist means. And the left’s main argument against the occupation is explicitly nationalist: to preserve a Jewish majority west of the Jordan and safeguard Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, that is, as a Jewish, 19th-century style nation-state.

      I know that the right is called the “national camp” in Hebrew, and I’m not saying we should change conventional usage. I’m saying, though, that it’s inaccurate. The left and the right in Israel are both very nationalist.

      Reply to Comment
    10. C. Bendavid

      Totally unfair…

      Larry, you seem to ignore – wittingly – that Israel is not the only one responsible for the stalemate. You should know that Hamas destroyed the Israeli peace camp not because of terrorism, but rather because its goal is the destruction of Israel and not the liberation of the West Bank. As a result, Israelis fear – with good reason -, that if they evacuate the West Bank, Hamas will use this territory to attack Israel. Of course, it does not justify the construction of Jewish settlements in the »West Bank. Nonetheless, the reason why the Israeli left collapsed, is because of Hamas. And to be frank, I’m puzzled by the fact that you don’t seem to be able to understand this on your own. After all, Israel had two left wing governments in the 1990′s and a centrist one between 2006 and 2008, all of which were willing to relinquish nearly all the occupied territories. And all the moderate governments Israel had over the last 20 years collapsed because of Hamas’ attacks against Israeli civilians. One really needs to be blind to ignore that. Therefore, if you want the occupation to end, ask Hamas first to renounce to destroy Israel and you’ll see, the Israeli peace camp will prevail once again, just like in the early 1990′s!

      Reply to Comment
    11. Aaron Gross

      On the main point of the article, I agree 100 percent, and I’ve been saying the same thing. As I put it, the real goal of BDS should be to send the message, “Israel has cooties.” And I think that’s a real threat to Israel, because the message might catch on among younger Americans who don’t have a dog in the fight.

      And I do mean a threat to Israel, not a threat to the 1967 occupation. That’s because this psychological effect will be very difficult to control. Even if the BDS movement “in general” is really not anti-Israel – a doubtful proposition, but let’s assume that’s the case – that movement is not monolithic and it can’t control those who really do want to dissolve the State of Israel. I think it’s naive to imagine that people who’ve adopted an anti-Israel stance will then change after the withdrawal and start supporting the State of Israel against further “resistance.” As I’ve asked before: How often do people change which side they’re rooting for in the middle of a war?

      Reply to Comment
    12. C. Bendavid

      Yes, what a chuckle!
      1)Under the Ottomans, the term Palestine did not even exist. Palestine was rather divided into 3 sandjaks. And under the Romans, the Negev desert was not incorporated as a part of Palestine.
      But anyway, the Palestinians exist now as a nation and they are entitled to self-determination, just like the Israelis.
      2)The Israelis did not invade Palestine. It was the UN which allocated them a part of it. As for the Jews who immigrated to Palestine before 1947, they did not rule the Arabs (unlike the Protestants in Northern Ireland or the French in Algeria). Nor did they want to do so. In fact, the Zionists of the 2nd aliya even offered an alliance to Arab nationalists (as soon as 1913).
      3)Nonetheless, it is true that Israel was established in a territory that was already occupied by another people. However, as I said earlier, the Jews were a landless people. This is why Zionists claimed that the partition of Palestine was morally justified. Of course, you are entitled to disagree with this reasoning. However, taking land from those who already have a territory of their own, and giving a part of it to those who have none, has nothing to do with colonialism or theft. It is based upon the logic of wealth redistribution. Otherwise, it would mean that land reform for landless peasants in agricultural societies should be called ”theft” as well!
      4) And as I said earlier, up until the late 60′s, the Western left defended Zionism even though Palestine was not empty, by invoking the landlessness of the Jewish people. If you don’t believe me, go to the archives of The Nation Magazine or the now defunct Manchester Guardian. Even Ho Chi Minh supported the creation of Israel. In the 1940′s, he even offered Ben Gurion to establish a Zionist government-in-exile in Vietnam! It doesn’t really fit the mould of ”settler colonialism”, don’t you think so?!

      Reply to Comment
    13. Peter Hindrup

      ‘Israel’s economy is still outdoing most of those in the West.’

      Toss 3 and a bit billion Dollar a year, plus picking up a chink of their dfence costs and most economies ‘wuld be doing quite well’!

      ‘It’s unimaginable that the economic and political isolation of Israel will ever approach that of apartheid-era South Africa . . .’

      Believe me it was unimaginable that the boycott against South Africa would ever prevent New Zealand/South African rugby tests being played. Right up until it actually happened you could have any odds you liked that it would have no effect.

      To the stunned disbelief of a great many New Zealanders, it did.

      ‘the Jews were a landless people. This is why Zionists claimed that the partition of Palestine was morally justified.’

      So in all countries all there homeless ought to be ‘given’ 55 percent of your house, it would certainly be ‘morally justified’, on your reasoning.

      But why stop there? Why were they not given 55 of Britain, of Germany, of the US???

      Why would that have not been equally equitable?

      The Israeli position hangs entirely on the support provided by the US. Shifts in the political landscape could change this in an instant. An real anti our taxes propping up Israel in the US could shift this in one election year. Without US funding, diplomatic cover and military support Israel is in a disasterous position.

      From day one the US has provided diplomatic/cover, while before day one Britain was ignoring the rights of the Palestinians and supporting the Zionists.

      Israel has long been the bully, relying on the fall back position when things got tough, of, ‘my daddy is a policeman’, just as kid have always done. But one day somebody will call your bluff.

      Reply to Comment
    14. bluto

      BREAKING NEWS!!!

      Avraham Burg (an Israeli Retired Member of the Knesset) has what is essentially a ‘pre-constitutional document’ up on Haaretz, and is essentially calling for ‘equal rights/votes between the River and the Sea’, if you can believe it.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Tomer

      The bulk of people commenting here are reading and listening to too many left wing websites & cuckoo activists. The boycott will not work and our ecomomy is continuing to boom.

      The problem lies with the United States which is terminally bankrupt and irreversibly insolvent. At point in the next 6 years or so, the US dollar will collapse and Americans will experience an inflationary depression. This will implications all over the World. But we in israel will be OK but many other people will experience pain.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts
      as long as I provide credit and sources back
      to your weblog? My website is in the very same
      niche as yours and my users would certainly benefit from
      some of the information you present here. Please let me know if this
      alright with you. Thanks a lot!

      Reply to Comment
    17. Click here to load previous comments

    LEAVE A COMMENT

    Name (Required)
    Mail (Required)
    Website
    Free text

© 2010 - 2014 +972 Magazine
Follow Us
Credits

+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

Website empowered by RSVP

Illustrations: Eran Mendel