Editorial |

Lapid, Recall Israel's Demagogic Diplomat

Haaretz Editorial
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Gilad Erdan, yesterday's diplomat.
Gilad Erdan, yesterday's diplomat.Credit: מארק ישראל סלם
Haaretz Editorial

The “Emma Watson affair” is a reminder that Gilad Erdan, for some unfathomable reason, continues to serve as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations. This, despite his being a representative, par excellence, of yesterday’s diplomacy. Were he to maintain a low profile until the end of his term, perhaps one could overlook his being left in the job, but he insists on competing with the babble blurted out by Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon. Overseas the two of them together paint a shameful picture of Israel.

Last Monday, Watson posted on Instagram a photo of a pro-Palestinian demonstration with a sign bearing the words, “Solidarity is a verb,” to which she added a quote from the British-Australian academic Sara Ahmed: “Solidarity does not assume that our struggles are the same struggles … Solidarity involves … the recognition that … we do live on common ground.”

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The right-wing ambassadors were quick to jump on the bandwagon. Danon tweeted that Watson’s post was motivated by antisemitism. Erdan tried to be sophisticated and tweeted, “Fiction may work in Harry Potter but it does not work in reality.”

If it did, he added, “The magic used in the wizarding world could eliminate the evils of Hamas (which oppresses women and seeks the annihilation of Israel) and the PA (which supports terror).”

There is nothing in Watson’s statement that could be interpreted as antisemitic. The attempt to present it as such is a malicious distortion. The fact that the former Israeli ambassador to the UN slanders another person as part of a sick, dangerous strategy formulated by Benjamin Netanyahu is shameful, and we should be glad that Danon no longer represents Israel. Erdan’s attempt to invalidate an elementary action of solidarity with the Palestinians, as if doing so is illegitimate, suffers from the same disease. Moreover, it is a strategic error as more than 40 prominent actors and directors from the international film industry stood with Watson and publicly declared their “meaningful solidarity with Palestinians struggling for their human rights under international law.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is aware of the enormous damage such diplomatic demagoguery causes to the real battle against antisemitism. He must clarify that the days are over in which people can be accused of antisemitism for the sin of expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people and demanding an end to the occupation. Israel must cease to fear expressions of solidarity with the Palestinians, and it must not diplomatically accost an actress as if she were a terror supporter or an antisemite purely because she dared to publish a post of support. But first of all, Lapid should bring Erdan back home and send to New York someone who represents the change that this government presumes to promote.

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