Does President Obama encourages BDS in his legacy year – Dr. Josef Olmert/HuffPo
President Obama is currently engaged in his legacy year time, and the visit in Cuba , which may defy nearly all rules of conventional International Relations wisdom may be the best evidence of that. Statements like how the US can learn from Cuba on human rights. Also, that ‘’personally I don’t disagree ‘’[with Raoul Castro] are unusual, to say the very least. Then came two more interesting statements in Buenos Aires. First, the President acknowledged, that in the remaining nine months of his
presidency, there will not be an Israeli-Palestinian peace. That is clearly a sober , though unfortunate realization of the situation. But then the President explained why it is impossible. He stated, that the Israelis are too successful economically , so they feel themselves to be in a position of strength, devoid of a real incentive to make concessions.
Poor Israel, nothing that it does is OK these days. Even the obvious economic success of the last decade, which is considered as an economic miracle, due mainly to it being the Start Up nation, is used against her. So, when you are a beggar nation , it is bad, and also bad, when you are not, or is it the special standard being set for Israel?. I, for one, do not know the answer, but some suspicions are here to stay with me. First, is it a coincidence that this statement reflects precisely the writings of some of the more vitriolic writers of the Marxist Left, which propagate for a boycott of and sanctions against Israel, exactly because they want to weaken Israel economically, and then to achieve two goals. To create strong opposition to the Netanyahu government, and to then force the government to capitulate to international pressures to make huge concessions to the Palestinians. These considerations , coupled with the campaign to delegitimize the state, are the ideas behind the BDS campaign against Israel. Is it too paranoid to raise the possibility , that the President sent a not so subtle message to the BDS campaign, as well as to governments, to continue , maybe even to intensify the campaign against Israel, so as to make it less economically successful and consequently more willing to surrender to pressures?. I wish I could answer with a resounding NO to my own question, but I really am not sure.
The very fact, that such a question is even relevant these days, is in itself a testimony to the grim state of affairs between Israel and the US. The blame game is far less relevant than the problem , and so, I will not get again into that, just remind the readers of this blog, that I was critical, and still am of certain aspects of Netanyahu’s handling of the bilateral relations, but then you need two for a tango. There is also the American side in this equation, and they must have ‘’some ‘’ responsibility as well.
These are bad days to the BDS movement, as their motions [with some exceptions] are defeated now in many American universities, and on top of that, more and more US States are adopting anti-BDS legislation. The academic side of the boycott is playing to the hands of the people in Israel, who happen to think, that the’’ entire world is against us’’, and then vote for Netanyahu. All this happens amid ugly scenes of blatant antisemitism in many campuses. The economic side of the BDS is a complete failure , and in 2015, foreign investments in Israel were doubled, and also other indicators show that so long as the Israelis produce what so many in the world are in need of, no boycott can really work.
Under these circumstances, any support, to the BDS campaign against Israel is completely counter productive. It simply does not work economically, like all the previous other boycott campaigns did not work, and at the same time, it leads to the hardening of positions in Israel, not the other way around. It is to be hoped, at least by this blog, that the Buenos Aires statement by the President, was just a slip of the tongue, not an indication of another turn to the worse of the already burdened American-Israeli relations.
Dr. Josef Olmert is a Middle East scholar, former peace negotiator, journalist