The Campaign to destroy Israel
By Gerald Steinberg and Yitzhak Sentis
In the last decade a worldwide all-out political war has been waged against Israel which is intended to undermine its legitimacy. The objective: to deny the Jewish people the right to equalitarian sovereignty. In view of the extent of this campaign of de-legitimization, the Jewish People is facing the most severe challenge.
The opening event was the UN commission on the subject of racism in 2001 in Durban, South Africa, when about 1,500 non-governmental organizations, who had appointed themselves as having responsibility for human rights, adopted a strategy designed to isolate Israel. The "Durban Strategy" aspires to present Israel as a colonialist apartheid, unrepentantly criminal state. The intention was to create a moral atmosphere that would support the position that Israel has no right to exist.
The principal tactic was based on a boycott, refraining from investment and sanctions (BDS - boycott, disinvestment and sanctions) as a means of completely isolating Israel and its supporters. As the main supporter of Israel is the Jews of the Diaspora, the Durban commission strategy - to revoke Israel's legitimacy - is also in actual fact aimed against the Jewish People. These measures are being adopted by trade unions, churches, governments, cultural and sporting bodies, etc. Marginal organizations often join them, adding the description "Jewish" to their names and adding themselves as the "token Jewish element" of several of the most extreme anti-Israel organizations, including those who use anti-Semitic expressions - all this in order to erode support for Israel from within.
The international de-legitimization campaign against Israel has succeeded in raising an enormous amount of finance - millions of dollars in the last decade from European governments and from private donors together - that reaches more than 100 non-governmental organizations.
In this intensively "subtle war", Israel has still not adopted an opposing strategy. Local events such as "Israeli Apartheid Week" and others that promote BDS, are indeed much less successful in their repercussions in the USA and in other places, but the results on the broader front are not good. The accusations of the Durban Strategy are heard repeatedly while the responses are slow and insufficient.
On July 6th for example, Amnesty International initiated such an attack in its publication of a report about administrative arrests in Israel. Even though the accusations in it are based on unsubstantiated information and had been received from the Palestinians according to their narrative, the international media immediately repeated them. This was not a sudden attack as Amnesty had distributed brief excerpts prior to publication of the report and had also sent some of the details to the Israeli Government. Despite this, Israel has not taken action against the expected review.
The need for a definitive plan of action against the forces behind this strategy was clear back in 2001 in Durban, and until the baseless Goldstone Report. Now is the time to expose the ridiculous nature of the UN Commission on Human Rights, which is controlled by the world's despotic regimes. Simultaneously, one can see (as the organization NGO Monitor has proved) that non-governmental organizations who maintain close relationships with a Commission like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and those like them, are very far from being the unbiased interpreters of morality and international law that they purport to be.
Obviously, not all criticism about Israel is part of the BDS set-up, and equally obviously not everyone who criticizes its policy aspires to challenge its legitimacy. Unfortunately, many of the critics of Israeli policy who are not supporters of Israel's destruction, have been recruited into the Durban Strategy by its supporters. Separation of responsible critics from those who are acting out of de-legitimization motives, must be at the top of our agenda.
Instead of waiting for further attacks by non-governmental organizations, we must rise efficiently to the challenge of the BDS movement and those funding it and take action against it on all fronts. We cannot rest content with less because there is too much at stake.
Steinberg is a Professor of Political Science at Bar-Ilan University and the President of NGO Monitor; Sentis is the Chief Programs Director of NGO Monitor.