A New Crypto-Boycott of Israel

Dec. 15 2014

A group of left-wing American intellectuals, styling themselves the “Third Narrative,” have called for a “personal” boycott aimed at Israeli politicians whom they strongly dislike, most prominently Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party. Although they claim to oppose the movement to boycott Israel, and mostly profess to be Zionists themselves, their program, Ron Radosh and Sol Stern write, is anti-democratic, self-contradictory, and blind to the realities of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The claim of [Third Narrative leaders Todd] Gitlin and [Michael] Walzer that since they are not for a blanket boycott their version is more legitimate and ethical is fallacious. What if a far-right government in this country proposed a ban on those leftist political leaders in Israel whom Walzer and Gitlin like? What if a right-wing European government issued [personal] sanctions against Walzer and Gitlin and stopped them from speaking in Europe? Gitlin thinks the views of Bennett and the others are “a proper target” because “their activity is toxic.” He doesn’t seem to comprehend that these “toxic” leaders have gained support because ordinary voters in Israel are fed up with the Palestinian leadership’s long and continuing refusal to accept any kind of a just peace and two-state solution. Israeli politics have become “toxic” primarily because of the failure of Israel’s peace camp to succeed in ending Palestinian rejectionism, despite scores of compromises they have offered to the Palestinians.

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More about: BDS, Leftism, Liberal Zionism, Naftali Bennett

At the UN, Nikki Haley Told the Truth about Israel—and the World Didn’t Burn Down

April 22 2019

Although Nikki Haley had never been to Israel when she took the position of American ambassador to the UN, and had no prior foreign-policy experience, she distinguished herself as one of the most capable and vigorous defenders of the Jewish state ever to hold the position. Jon Lerner, who served as Haley’s deputy during her ambassadorship, sees the key to her success—regarding both Israel and many other matters—in her refusal to abide by the polite fictions that the institution holds sacred:

Myths are sometimes assets in international relations. The fiction that Taiwan is not an independent country, for example, allows [the U.S.] to sustain [its] relationship with China. In other cases, however, myths can create serious problems. On Israel–Palestinian issues, the Trump administration was determined to test some mythical propositions that many had come to take for granted, and, in some cases, to refute them. Haley’s prominence at the UN arose in large part from a conscious choice to reject myths that had pervaded diplomacy on Israel–Palestinian issues for decades. . . .

[For instance], U.S. presidents were intimidated by the argument that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would trigger violent explosions throughout the Muslim world. President Trump and key colleagues doubted this, and they turned out to be right. Violent reaction in the Palestinian territories was limited, and there was virtually none elsewhere in Arab and Islamic countries. . . .

It turns out that the United States can support Israel strongly and still work closely with Arab states to promote common interests like opposing Iranian threats. The Arab street is not narrowly Israel-minded and is not as volatile as long believed. The sky won’t fall if the U.S. stops funding UN sacred cows like the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA). Even if future U.S. administrations revert to the policies of the past, these old assumptions will remain disproved. That is a valuable accomplishment that will last long after Nikki Haley’s UN tenure.

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More about: Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, United Nations, US-Israel relations