The news that the Palestinian Authority sent 50 countries a request to stop the activity of 500 private companies in the settlements and in East Jerusalem appeared in Haaretz’s Friday edition.
A few years ago, when the Palestinians used this route in their war against Israel, the state did nothing to stop the damage. In one Knesset debate, Shraga Brosh, who was then the president of the Manufacturers’ Association and of the Export Institute, said that if the State of Israel wanted to stop the Palestinian boycott, it could do so within 24 hours. Holding all the Palestinian Authority’s import and export containers at Israel’s ports and overland crossings, he said, would make the Palestinians beg all over the world for the lifting of all boycotts on Israel, Jerusalem or the settlements in Judea and Samaria.
But the State of Israel, perhaps fearing international protests, did not do so. At the same time, it seemed enough to seal the crack in the dam with a finger. But the state did not fight the boycott, promising instead to compensate exporters from Judea and Samaria.
Now the crack is wider, and the struggle will need to be much more forceful. For example, the State of Israel will need to deduct the losses caused by the boycott from all transfers of taxes and customs tariffs on all shipments to the Palestinian Authority.
I do not want to increase the joy of some of Haaretz’s readers by saying that the Palestinians’ act could bring down the settlement enterprise. This is not only because I do not enjoy giving people who would rejoice in my defeat and that of those dear to me a reason to rejoice. It is also because no such defeat will take place, since if it were to happen, it would not stop with Judea and Samaria, but would cause terrible damage to the entire country — and even more so to the Arabs who live in the Palestinian Authority.
The number of Arabs who make their living, directly or indirectly, from working in the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria and in the industrial zones there can be given in detail. So can the economic significance for every Israeli company or company that operates in Israel that renounces a market share of roughly 700,000 people (the number of Jews living in Judea and Samaria and in East Jerusalem), together with the hundreds of thousands of people who would respond to a “boycott of the boycotters.” We might also mention the Boycott Law, which the Knesset passed in July 2011, among whose authors I was privileged to be. This law makes anyone calling for such a boycott liable to a civil lawsuit and the payment of large amounts of compensation.
But my interest in this law is not financial — it is ethical. Nor does it have to do with the status of Israel’s enemies, but with the support they are receiving from those among us.
I’m sorry to see that prominent leftists in Israel are gladly joining the Arab effort to bring Israel down and trying to mobilize outside foreign forces, who are often radically anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, to defeat Israel’s elected government and force it to withdraw from Israel’s heartland. History shows me that this is nothing new. A straight line connects Hyrcanus and Aristobulus - the Hasmonean brothers who brought the Romans to Jerusalem to decide their quarrel - with the opponents of the Hasidic movement, the mitnagedim, who informed on the Hasidim to the czar (and vice versa). That same line leads straight to the heroes of the saison — the “Hunting Season” — who handed fighters of the pre-state Jewish underground over to the British. Unlike the Jews who ran to the non-Jewish authorities in the past, the Israeli left lives in a democratic state and regards democracy as a supreme value — but refuses to accept the decision of the majority.