EU guidelines: a point of no return
Sanctions against Israel, like those by the European Union, will one day intensify until they hit all Israelis hard in their pockets.
The panicky voices in Jerusalem are no negligible thing. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett understand that something important has happened in Europe. The barrier has been breached. The first sanctions have been imposed, so now it's only a matter of time until more serious and painful sanctions hit. Have we mentioned South Africa?
For decades the Europeans only talked and threatened. For decades they were led astray by our right-wing governments that promised negotiations and a construction freeze in the settlements. This time the Europeans got tired and took action; they're stopping funding, grants and awards to any Israeli entity linked to the settlements.
That's why people on the right are so angry. That's why they're so upset. They understand that the troubles will begin in our pockets. They understand that when the public feels the sanctions in the form of lower salaries, rising prices and increasing unemployment, it will realize that it's impossible to fool all the world all the time.
It was amusing to hear the reactions of peace advocates Netanyahu, Lieberman and Bennett. Netanyahu hastened to say that the Europeans' step "undermines efforts to renew the diplomatic process." After all, he's a famous peace advocate whose whole objective is to sign an agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. That's why he ran in the election last January. And now those anti-Semitic Europeans are sabotaging his efforts.
No less amusing was Lieberman's reaction: "This is a final blow to the chances of renewing the peace process." He's also a famous peace advocate and an indefatigable opponent of land confiscation and illegal construction in the territories. Actually, he's an expert at making any possibility of compromise impossible.
Bennett, too, has a sense of humor. He went on the air and bemoaned the "economic terror attack" that has "destroyed any possibility of negotiations." But he immediately added that we don't have to be upset by the sanctions because "trade with the world is only increasing because the world needs the Jewish mind." How much arrogance and chutzpah do you need to believe that only we have the brains and the goyim can't exist without us?
Bennett has lost himself in an imaginary world in which China, the United States and Europe are dependent on us, rather than the other way around. It's a world in which we sell fighter planes to the United States and rescue it from sanctions at the United Nations.
In this miraculous world, our situation is constantly improving. Bennett has not heard, for example, about the decision (since rejected) by European banks to ban loans to Israeli companies that operate in the territories. That was considered as part of an ethics review, a process that has become a norm at European companies.
Bennett hasn't heard about the consumer unions that boycott Israeli products because of the occupation. They demonstrated outside supermarkets until several retailers in Europe and the United States stopped carrying Israeli products.
Nor is Bennett aware of large European trade unions that advise their members not to buy Israeli products. And he hasn't heard about trade unions at European ports that refuse to unload cargo from ships that fly the blue and white. Nobody told him about European companies that shun Israeli companies due to the "Israel risk" – code for the occupation and its consequences. These groups are aware that Israel is dependent on exports, and they mention the boycott that brought down the apartheid regime in South Africa.
In 2009 the Norwegian government announced that it was excluding Elbit Systems from its pension fund, citing the company's part in building the separation fence. The fund also announced that it was dropping real estate developer Africa Israel, citing construction in the occupied territories.
This is the first breach in the barrier. Later the sanctions and boycotts will intensify until they hit us all hard in our pockets. Even Bennett will understand that.