Forget BDS, Sheldon, These Are the Real Threats Facing Israel

If Sheldon Adelson and his friends think they’re about to save Israel from the boycott threat, they’re even more out of touch than we suspected.

Anshel Pfeffer
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Sheldon Adelson. Has convened an emergency meeting to discuss the BDS threat against Israel. Credit: Reuters
Anshel Pfeffer

Dear Miri, Sheldon, Heather, Haim, Adam and any other billionaire I may have missed out – and, of course, all you faceless flunkies eagerly awaiting a handout. I’m sorry I can’t be with you this weekend in Vegas for your emergency gathering. My invitation and first-class tickets must have got stuck somewhere in the mail. But that’s OK, you can still read out my address to the conference. I’ll use those tickets and complimentary chips another time.

So, you think we’re facing an existential threat with this BDS thing. That’s why you all rushed over to Sheldon’s joint and are planning to launch a multimillion-dollar task force to head off the dangerous boycotters.

I salute your passion, but who is under threat exactly? Certainly not Israel, which has never been in a better strategic position. With the Syrian army worn out and its chemical arsenal dismantled, Hezbollah overstretched, Hamas in disarray and Egypt in its closest alliance with Israel ever. Not to mention the quiet alliances with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states. And then there’s the Iranian nuclear program, about to be muzzled for at least a decade.

I know, it’s hard for you to imagine the Israel you left in the 1970s, Haim, and you in the ’80s, Miri, as a financially stable, even prosperous country with burgeoning exports, OECD-level gross domestic product and a windfall of natural gas about to arrive.

Perhaps on your next visit take a scheduled flight instead of one of your private jets, and you’ll discover how Israelis are connected to the world. The arrivals board at Ben-Gurion airport doesn’t have just a dozen or so flights a day.

And while you’re here, instead of being wafted between meetings and luxury apartments in a chauffeured limo, spend some time on the streets. You may find we are much more secure than you’re making out.

I know, the politicians and media are riding this BDS hobbyhorse. But if you actually talk with real Israelis – not the sycophants pandering to your whims – you’ll find out we have other problems.

Maybe you can get together again soon to plan a task force on reorganizing Israel’s successful but uneven economy, so some of that wealth trickles down more efficiently. Or a plan for funding nonprofits working for greater tolerance toward minorities.

And since you know the right people in the Prime Minister’s Office, and that the next resident in the Oval Office will be indebted to your largesse, how about putting some real effort into reviving the peace process?

These may not be your kids, but some Israeli teenagers joining the Israel Defense Forces are about to become a third generation of soldiers whose souls will be corrupted trudging through the West Bank, enforcing an occupation on another nation.

These may not be existential threats to Israel and the Jewish people, but still, they’re all causing real damage – unlike a few troublemakers on Twitter who haven’t achieved anything besides convincing a few impressionable students to support boycott motions in their unions and some aging hippies to vote against their food co-ops buying Sabra hummus.

If you’re so sincere about saving Israel, there’s a long list of nonexistential threats you can mobilize against before bigging up the threat of BDS.

Apparently you are very concerned with the plight of Jewish students facing BDS activists on campus. That’s commendable, but how detached are you from reality to think intelligent young men and women need your advice on what battles to choose, and how to fight them?

Before you go thrusting them onto the ideological battlefield as your proxies, bear in mind that when you were their age The Beatles were still together, so give them some respect for their ability to think for themselves. And if all you’re trying to do is help empower, behind the scenes, those Jewish groups already active on campuses, how come you haven’t invited J Street U to your gathering? It’s one of the fastest-growing and most popular and efficient organizations already facing BDS on campus. Of course, we know the answer to that, but how are you going to reach out to the children of over two-thirds of Jewish families who voted for Obama and probably aren’t that sympathetic toward Netanyahu? No one at your emergency conference can do that.

Let’s face it, a bunch of ancient tycoons, Bilderbergers and mega-donors who believe there isn’t a problem that you can’t spend out of existence are the worst candidates for leading the fight against a low-cost, viral and grassroots rival like BDS. You might as well try and swat a mosquito with a Tomahawk missile.

The people from ADL, Hillel, Stand With Us and all the other “advocacy” types sitting with you know this as well as I do. But they won’t tell you the truth, because they’re supplicants waiting for your money. They’ll mouth the platitudes and the kind of fighting talk you want to hear. And who will articulate the dilemmas and be brave enough to embrace the question marks? You wouldn’t hire these toadies to run one of your companies, so why are you sending them on a mission to save the Jews?

Do you really want to own this issue? Are you going to take responsibility for defining Jewishness and Zionism in this century? How can you, if you have no real idea of what it’s like to live today in the Jewish state or be a young Jew out in the world? Are you prepared to risk alienating an entire generation of Jews from their communities and from Israel? If so, you’re going about it the right way.