The tide is turning: Israel is losing on two war fronts


The November 12 botched Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip is delineating Tel Aviv’s failure to utilise 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, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) 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 forces 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, Defence 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 BDS Movement is surely a lost battle.

Israel has a poor track record in confronting civil society-based mobilisation. 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 the BDS Movement, 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 criminalise dissent at home, while unleashing an international campaign of intimidation and smearing of boycott activists and organisations.

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

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

Utilising 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.

Organised by the European Jewish Association (EJA) and the Europe Israel Public Affairs group, 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 colonisation 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.


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