[News] The Tide is Turning: Israel Is Losing on Two War Fronts

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Fri Nov 23 12:25:21 EST 2018


https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/22/the-tide-is-turning-israel-is-losing-on-two-war-fronts/ 



  The Tide is Turning: Israel Is Losing on Two War Fronts

by Ramzy Baroud - November 22, 2018/*
*/
------------------------------------------------------------------------

The November 12 botched Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip is 
delineating Tel Aviv’s failure to utilize its army as a tool to achieve 
Palestinian political concessions.

Now that the Palestinian popular resistance has gone global through the 
exponential rise and growing success of the Boycott Movement, the 
Israeli government is fighting two desperate wars.

Following the Gaza attack, Palestinians responded by showering the 
Israeli southern border with rockets and carried out a precise operation 
targeting an Israeli army bus.

As Palestinians marched in celebration of pushing the Israeli army out 
of their besieged region, the fragile political order in Israel, 
long-managed by right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, 
was quickly unraveling.

Two days after the Israeli attack on Gaza, Defense Minister, Avigdor 
Lieberman, quit in protest of Netanyahu’s ‘surrender’ to the Palestinian 
Resistance.

Israeli leaders are in a precarious situation. Untamed violence comes at 
a price of international condemnation and a Palestinian response that is 
bolder and more strategic each time.

However, failing to teach Gaza its proverbial ‘lesson’ is viewed as an 
act of surrender by opportunistic Israeli politicians.

While Israel is experiencing such limitations on the traditional 
battlefield, which it once completely dominated, its war against the 
global Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) is 
surely a lost battle.

Israel has a poor track record in confronting civil society-based 
mobilization. Despite the vulnerability of Palestinians living under 
Israeli Occupation, it took the Israeli government and military seven 
long years to pacify the popular Intifada, the uprising of 1987. Even 
then, the jury is still out on what truly ended the popular revolt.

It should be accepted that a global Intifada is much more difficult to 
suppress, or even contain.

Yet, when Israel began sensing the growing danger of BDS – which was 
officially launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005 – it responded 
with the same superfluous and predictable pattern: arrests, violence and 
a torrent of laws that criminalize dissent at home, while unleashing an 
international campaign of intimidation and smearing of boycott activists 
and organizations.

That achieved little, aside from garnering BDS more attention and 
international solidarity.

The war on the Movement took a serious turn last year when Netanyahu’s 
government dedicated a largesse of about $72 million to defeat the civil 
society-led campaign.

Utilizing the ever-willing US government to boost its anti-BDS tactics, 
Tel Aviv feels assured that its counter-BDS efforts in the US is off to 
a promising start. However, it is only recently that Israel has begun to 
formulate the wider European component of its global strategy.

In a two-day conference in Brussels earlier this month, Israeli 
officials and their European supporters unleashed their broader European 
anti-BDS campaign.

Organized by the European Jewish Association (EJA) and the Europe Israel 
Public Affairs group (EIPA), the November 6-7 conference was fully 
supported by the Israeli government, featuring right-wing Israeli 
Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Ze’ev Elkin.

Under the usual pretext of addressing the danger of anti-Semitism in 
Europe, attendees deliberately conflated racism and any criticism of 
Israel, of its military Occupation and colonization of Palestinian land.

The EJA Annual Conference has raised Israel’s manipulation of the term 
‘anti-Semitism’ to a whole new level, as it drafted a text that will 
purportedly be presented to prospective members of the European 
Parliament (MEPs), demanding their signature before running in next 
May’s elections.

Those who decline to sign – or worse, repudiate the Israeli initiative – 
are likely to find themselves fending off accusations of racism and 
anti-Semitism.

This was certainly not the first conference of its kind.

The anti-BDS euphoria that has swept Israel in recent years, yielded 
several crowded and passionate conferences in luxurious hotels, where 
Israeli officials openly threatened BDS activists, such as Omar 
Barghouti. Barghouti was warned by a top Israeli official in a 2016 
conference in Jerusalem of “civil assassination” for his role in the 
organization of the Movement.

In March 2017, the Israeli Knesset passed the Anti-BDS Travel Ban, which 
requires the Interior Minister to deny entry to the country to any 
foreign national who “knowingly issued a public call to boycott the 
state of Israel.”

Since the ban went into effect, many BDS supporters have been detained, 
deported and barred from entering the country.

While Israel has demonstrated its ability to galvanize self-serving US 
and other European politicians to support its cause, there is no 
evidence that the BDS Movement is being quelled or is, in any way, 
weakening.

On the contrary, the Israeli strategy has raised the ire of many 
activists, civil society and civil rights groups, angered by Israel’s 
attempt at subverting freedom of speech in western countries.

Only recently, Leeds University in the UK has joined many other campuses 
around the world in divesting from Israel.

The tide is, indeed, turning.

Decades of Zionist indoctrination also failed, not only in reversing the 
vastly changing public opinion on the Palestinian struggle for freedom 
and rights, but even in preserving the once solid pro-Israel sentiment 
among young Jews, most notably in the US.

For BDS supporters, however, every Israeli strategy presents an 
opportunity to raise awareness of Palestinian rights and to mobilize 
civil society around the world against Israeli occupation and racism.

BDS’ success is attributed to the very reason why Israel is failing to 
counter its efforts: it is a disciplined model of a popular, civil 
resistance that is based on engagement, open debate and democratic 
choices, while grounded in international and humanitarian law.

Israel’s ‘war-chest’ will run dry in the end, for no amount of money 
could have saved the racist, Apartheid regime in South Africa when it 
came tumbling down decades ago.

Needless to say, $72 million will not turn the tide in favor of 
Apartheid Israel, nor will it change the course of history that can only 
belong to the people who are unrelenting on achieving their long-coveted 
freedom.

/*Dr. Ramzy Baroud* has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 
years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media 
consultant, an author of several books and the founder of 
PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom 
Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: 
ramzybaroud.net/

-- 
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