In the recent weeks since the national elections in Israel and the emergence of a right-wing political coalition lead by the Likud, one can notice a distinct change in the international atmosphere whenever Israel is concerned. The past weeks have brought a tsunami of anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic actions that have clearly shaken the Jewish world to the core.
Many in positions of leadership in the Jewish world have taken the route that blames President Obama and the notorious Arabist State Department in taking the lead in threatening to isolate the Jewish State. There is no doubt that Obama’s contemptuous treatment of Israel’s Prime Minister, his words, and actions have given license to others to negatively single out the Jewish state from among all other states. Others in the Jewish world have blamed the Islamic world for funding and supporting the BDS movement in all of its global activities, especially among the 300 leading Universities and colleges in the United States and among European industries and corporations.
Sadly, before we take the route of blaming others, we in the Jewish world should really wake up to the fact that many Jewish organizations and many Jews in general are at the forefront of these movements and are largely responsible for creating an atmosphere reminiscent of a joke that circulated after World War II; the Mayor of a town tells his deputy to round up all the Jews and the bicyclists, the deputy replies; “Why the bicyclists ?”.
The organization J Street comes to mind, having been accused by many of having been created to explicitly to foil political action on Israel’s behalf. Meeting with President Barack Obama, Jewish members of J Street asked him to lift the longstanding American veto protection of Israel at the United Nations, promising publicly to defend this proposed American sellout should the Security Council, now with Washington’s consent, call for the creation of a Palestinian state. Concerning the emerging American nuclear deal with Iran, a country whose leaders ceaselessly proclaim that “the Zionist cancer” must be eliminated, J Street has boasted of having joined the Arab American Institute and the National Iranian American Council in congratulating the president and his team for their “historic agreement that . . . averts a disastrous war.” On American campuses, we have our share of Jewish Professors and faculty members producing defamatory works based on biased and falsified scholarly research, organizing along with Jewish students anti-Israeli demonstrations, disseminating anti-Israel propaganda, chastising pro-Israel students and making their support for Israel a reason to be ostracized and singled out. The list of Jews who hold other Jews exclusively responsible for the plight of Palestinian Arabs goes on and on.
In response to this very real threat on the integrity and sustainability of the State of Israel, we have seen in recent weeks an emerging national political leadership lead by unapologetic, determined, and clearly proud Zionists who feel neither shame nor remorse in standing up for Israel’s national, political, cultural, and religious rights. These newly elected leaders, many of them women, and relatively young, have brought with them the fighting spirit and enthusiasm that resonated throughout Israel’s formative years. These recently elected right-wing political leaders understand that BDS simply doesn't want Israel to exist. The success of BDS is particularly impressive because it is a movement that uses the language of rights, but deals in practice with denying Israel's right to exist. The result is a major deception and the faulty logic is very effective. It can't get more clear and simple than that. Steve Jobs has been quoted saying that "Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains." Now is the time to make it as simple as possible and this is how it’s done.
Israel’s diplomatic corps, who have never ever taken responsibility for the colossal failure in representing Israeli political, religious, and cultural interests have much to learn from Israel’s new deputy foreign minister when she asked them to speak up about Israel’s rights in the conflict with the Palestinian Arabs. As recently reported, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely raised more than a few eyebrows when she told a gathering of the country’s diplomatic personnel that it was a mistake to downplay the country’s own territorial claims when seeking to counter complaints about Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The very idea of quoting the Torah when speaking of ties to the biblical heartland of the Jewish homeland seemed to strike them and left-wing commentators who howled about it later as absurd. Indeed, as the left-wing Haaretz put it, the world may find the minister “hard to swallow.” But while the Likud Knesset member is swimming against the tide of international opinion as well as the culture of the ministry she’s running, she is right. Talking about rights will always garner greater support than talking about security.
We must go beyond a defensive posture and provide a proactive response that is simple and direct. What’s going on in the Islamic world today is that Christian minorities are being murdered by the thousands; whole communities are being wiped out, hundreds of thousands of children and women are being subjugated to violence and sexual abuse, entire populations from Nigeria to Iraq and Syria are forced to flee for their lives and abandon their homes and villages. We need to explain to the world that these are the people behind the BDS boycotts of Israel and they should be made to apologize for their actions, not us. It’s a simple message to get across.
Those that stand up and want to support Israel during this period of BDS must learn to keep the message simple and focused. Do not apologize on behalf of Israel, do not express regret when falsely accused, and most importantly, remember that Israel means never having to say you’re sorry.