Saturday, December 15, 2018 -
Print Edition

Israel isn’t isolated

BDS activists who think they are succeeding in isolating Israel aren’t paying attention.

Last Sunday, reports surfaced that negotiations about building a gas pipeline connecting Israel’s natural-gas resources to Cyprus, Greece and Italy have finally succeeded.

Reportedly, the pipeline will be the longest and deepest ever built. Initial estimates of the cost start at $7 billion. And the good news for friends of Israel doesn’t stop there, which should influence how we think about BDS.

Part of the background to this $7 billion deal is the fact that the European Union invested $100 million in a feasibility study about importing Israeli natural gas to the continent. That’s why the plan, dubbed the EastMed Pipeline Project, will give both Cyprus and Israel preference over other potential importers of gas into Europe.

The project, which is due to be completed over the next five years, will provide Israel’s already prosperous economy with another boost.

But the preference for Israeli imports also signals that Arab influence over Europe, rooted in Arab ability to export oil and gas, is waning.

With Europeans wanting alternatives to Arab and Iranian oil and Russian natural gas, Israel will not only profit from the transaction; its standing as an important economy and a military power will grow.

The fact that Italy, Greece and Cyprus are now prepared to join Israel and Egypt in joint military and civil exercises to protect both the pipeline and regional security is equally important.

Despite continued threats from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, the idea that the Jewish state stands alone no longer can be sustained.

Nor was this the only good diplomatic news for Israel in the past week.

As part of Israel’s continuing effort to foster better relations with Africa, Idriss Déby, the president of Chad, arrived in the country for a state visit. Though in some ways a typical Third World authoritarian — Déby is a graduate of the late Libyan dictator and terror funder Moammar Qadaffi’s World Revolutionary Center — he now looks to the West and Israel for aid in the fight against Boko Haram Islamist terrorists who threaten his country.

The visit is part of what appears to be a successful Israeli effort to normalize relations with the nations of Sudan, Niger, Mali and Chad — all of whom are predominantly Muslim.

During the press conference with Chad’s leader, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that he would again travel to unspecified Arab countries — he was recently in Oman for an official visit — a step that would again indicate that talk Israelisolation is fantasy.

Just as important were reports emanating from the MED 2018 Conference in Rome last week that Arab countries who usually used such international forums for Israel-bashing were no longer doing so.

Arab indifference to Palestinian efforts to revive interest in their cause is painfully obvious.

This trend stems more from antipathy to Palestinian rejectionism, as well as from the recognition that Israel is the best ally the Arab world has against the threat from Iran, than any affection for Zionism.

But it’s also the latest proof that Arab nations are as wary of schemes to create a Palestinian state that is likely to be dominated by radicals, as most Israelis fear.

All that is bitter news indeed for supporters of BDS. They blithely talk about how disdain for Israel is widespread. Even many friends of Israel sometimes succumb to the councils of despair.

Some on the right exaggerate the strength of its enemies. while many on the left assume that their criticisms of the Netanyahu government’s policies about settlements or the peace process are so widely shared that it is only a matter of time before Israel faces total isolation as an “apartheid” state.

Both are wrong.

Israel’s enemies haven’t given up, and their hatred — rooted, as it is in the powerful virus of anti-Semitism that continues to grow around the world — isn’t going away. It’s also true that the hostility of academic elites and many in the media remain a powerful force seeking to delegitimize Zionism.

Yet neither trend can erase the fact that Israel is more powerful and accepted today than it has ever been.

All the good news about Israel gaining acceptance in ways that its leaders could only dream about a few decades ago should also remind us of what is at stake in the battle over BDS.

BDS advocates have had a few successes, such as the decision of the Airbnb home-rental company to single out Jews living in the West Bank for discrimination. They’ve also managed to get a footing in the American Jewish community with the ability of groups like Jewish Voice for Peace to mainstream their anti-Zionist and even anti-Semitic views.

But while such victories have been far fewer than their defeats, BDS has still managed to create an atmosphere on many campuses that makes it difficult for Jewish students to speak openly of their support for Israel.

Support for “intersectional” ideology, which falsely claims the war against the one Jewish state on the planet is analogous to the struggle for civil rights in the US, has grown in the left, on college campuses and with popular protest groups like the anti-Trump Women’s March.

The willingness of those who embrace anti-Semites gives lie to the assumption that left-wing Jew-hatred is confined to the fever swamps of American society, as is the case for the far-right.

We should celebrate Israel’s successes, which point to the utter failure of BDS on the international stage. But those stories only make it clearer that real battlefront against BDS is here in the US, not in the Middle East.

Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News




Leave a Reply