The Boycott’s Boogeymen Exploit Netanyahu's Weakness

Israeli boycotts failing all around, only Israel's government keeps the fear alive.

Israel Harel
Israel Harel
Israel Harel
Israel Harel

Few Israelis know that John Kerry’s staff includes a task force which, under the guise of public relations, engages in psychological warfare. Its purpose is to weaken Israel’s will – that of its people, and that of its government – to stand firm on critical issues about which it disagrees with the U.S. secretary of state.

In addition, of course, there is the large staff of the embassy in Tel Aviv. It has many ways of working, including courting journalists and developing ties with public figures, academics, rabbis and businessmen. A particularly important target is former army officers and defense officials (as well as those still in uniform). And indeed, some, including former major generals and security service chiefs, have suddenly altered their conduct and now prophesy the diametric opposite of what they prophesied – and above all, what they acted on – in the past.

This week, a press release issued by 100 businessmen was published on the front page of the daily Yedioth Ahronoth. “The world is losing patience, and the threat of sanctions grows from day to day,” it warned. “We have a window of opportunity thanks to John Kerry’s arrival, and we must take advantage of it.” Aside from supermarket mogul Rami Levy, the list of signatories contained no surprises. Most are well-known activists in left-wing organizations.

So why, if not because they have joined the anti-Israel campaign of intimidation, did this routine expression of opinion suddenly merit such exposure? After all, it’s well known that news editors don’t like press releases. That’s why other newspapers, even those that are normally happy to publish material such as “the threat of sanctions grows from day to day,” didn’t even mention this release.

Interested parties are disseminating predictions of boycotts and ostracism, and even working to make them more threatening. The ordinary citizen, who draws his information from a slanted or submissive media becomes worried. Jews are afraid of boycotts and ostracism. And thus, the psychological warfare achieves its goal: If we don’t go along with the Kerry plan, our economy will collapse.

Nobody recalls that the worst economic crisis of recent decades stemmed from the signing of the Oslo 2 agreement in 1995: It occurred after all the bells of peace had rung out and the self-deceiving photos and headlines from the White House about “peace in our times” had been published. After a few years of economic growth, the terrorism that the Palestinians embarked on, which ultimately killed more than 1,000 people, paralyzed the economy and sent it into a prolonged crisis.

In such a situation, the logical move for a government that hadn’t given in to the propaganda, which is meant to mislead both the government and the faint-hearted public, would be to simply tell the truth. But Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, which is listless in almost every field, tamely accepts the boycott propaganda and leaves the battle for public opinion, both Israeli and international, to those who seek to lead the country astray.

Occasional boycotts do occur, as in Holland recently. But most boycott initiatives fail miserably. Even Norway, which supports the Palestinians, is sobering up with regard to its attitude toward Israel. In other Scandinavian countries, important voices are also urging a rethink of attitudes toward Israel, against the background of violence by Muslim immigrants, the Arab Spring and the slaughter in Syria.

Only on the margins of British academia, and recently American academia as well, are calls for boycotts proliferating, and these have no impact. The biggest and most respected British universities, and even more so the American ones, have published unreserved statements in support of Israeli academia.

The principle boycott danger lies in its trendiness, and especially in our own fear of “what will the goyim say.” Many of those who try (but fail) to organize boycotts rely on home-grown Israeli initiatives. As far back as 1991, veteran journalist Amnon Abramovich advised the Americans, “Forget this government. ... Speak to it via its pocketbook. ... You have to go all the way.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu underwent a routine operation to remove a polyp from his large intestine.Credit: Reuters

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