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Israel Is Foolish to Get Down and Dirty With BDS

Government intervention is hardly a recipe for success; Israel is better off leaving the fight against BDS to organizations that know how to do it.

Fifteen or so years ago, at a time when India had recently won a string of international beauty contests, an intrepid reporter sought to uncover the secret of the country’s success. Probably the best answer he got was that it was one of the few activities where the government wasn’t involved.

“The moment the government decides to help and sets up a Ministry of Beauty, all will be lost,” to paraphrase the answer.

Over here in Israel, the government has left beauty pageants alone. But it is now determined to enter the fight against boycott, sanctions and divestment movement and has allocated 128 million shekels (about $33 million) to the Strategic Affairs Ministry for this year alone to fight the delegitimization of Israel. “Our goal is that in 2025 no-one in the world will question Israel's right to exist," Director General Sima Vaknin told lawmakers on Sunday

No-one in the world? Iran? The Muslim Brotherhood? Student councils at trendy liberal arts schools? Berkeley community activists?  Black Lives Matter? 

If that goal sounds a little ridiculous, that’s just a start.

'Throw' the bums 'out'

Having set a pretty exacting deadline, Vaknin then told lawmakers that a committee of officials from a various ministries had been formed to agree on a desired alternative narrative they would like to see in the world regarding Israel.

And that is how, dear readers, the first nine months of the nine-year timetable will be consumed. By the time, it has completed its work, its minister, Gilad Erdan, will probably have moved on to better things and a new minister will, of course, want his or her own plan, a better definition of delegitimization and a more ambitious deadline.

Meanwhile, Strategic Affairs Minister Erdan opened fire on BDS on another front Sunday, wearing his second hat as public security minister. He and Interior Minister Arye Dery agreed to form a joint taskforce that will devise ways to prevent foreign BDS activists from entering Israel and the West Bank, and to deport those already here.

It’s hard to see how expelling activists from the West Bank will strike a blow against BDS, since the movement, by its nature, operates outside of Israel, propagandizing on college campuses, with church groups and labor unions, and the like.

One can only assume Erdan’s real target isn’t BDS but Likud voters, who will be heartened by the thought of Israel’s enemies being packed off to London or San Francisco. 

That was the only reason to advertise the plan, which is dumb – but especially dumb if you make it public, thereby giving more ammunition for critics of Israel who say it is suppressing free speech.

Much yowling, little pain

There are really two different BDS threats. The first and the really important one is that businesses and governments will begin boycotting Israel -- which would bring us to our knees. We arSchermata 2016 08 13 alle 23.01.03e too reliant on international trade and investment, as well as Western diplomatic support, to survive that kind of boycott. But there's nothing like that on the horizon, even though Vaknin strangely insists that the world perceives Israel as a pariah state.

Maybe that is because she is thinking of the second BDS threat – the one occurring on college campuses and a few other places where Israel is persona non grata.

This BDS attracts a lot of attention but it’s basically of little consequence. As unpleasant as it is to see a bunch of self-righteous 20-year olds passing resolutions condemning Israel as an apartheid state, it only becomes a problem when a group of 60-year-old trustees vote to divest the university’s portfolio of its Israel holdings. None have.Schermata 2016 08 13 alle 23.01.12

But the fight on college campuses and other bastions of leftist politics has mysteriously grabbed the government’s attention. It wants to get down and dirty with grassroots activists, engaging them in online warfare and digging up dirt on them, all of which is an undignified and ridiculous waste of the state’s time and money. Let Jewish, Christian and Zionist groups meet the enemy, such as it is. They know the territory and can do it more effectively.

David Rosenberg

Haaretz Contributor

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.735846Schermata 2016 08 13 alle 23.01.20

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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