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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

WJC panel on delegitimization of Israel

They're doing another session on delegitimization of Israel, but this time the panel is made up of people who work in the field (as opposed to yesterday's session which was made up of representatives of the local community).

The session is being opening with an address by the former Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who is being introduced as I type this.

Rabbi Lau complained that we often shoot ourselves in the foot before the outside world (@Israellycool tweeted the whole thing - read his account on Twitter. I got lazy and decided to sit back and enjoy).

The panel is being introduced by Dan Diker of JCPA, who is also the director of WJC's Strategic Affairs Department.

Now we're going to look at the delegitimization of Israel: How it works, whether it's a new phenomenon. The panel includes Professor Gerald Steinberg (NGO Monitor), Brig. Gen Yossi Kuperwasser and Italian legislator Fiamma Nirenstein. I have had the pleasure of meeting all three in person over the last few months.

Diker quotes Yasser Arafat at the UN in 1974 on a world without Zionism (I got the question right when he asked who said it - see paragraph 8) and Ahmadinejad said essentially the same thing in 2005.

Professor Steinberg talks about how the NGO's are pursuing the Durban strategy and are using BDS and other strategies not expecting to win but to obtain PR. European governments give most funding to anti-Israel NGO's and gives these NGO's legitimacy.

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch are pushing for a prosecution of Israel using Goldstone. Either there will be peace or there will be political warfare - the two don't go together. The use of apartheid rhetoric is meant to dismantle Israel.

What can be done about this? Name and shame. Shut off the money.

[I'm having some computer problems at the moment].

Fiamma Nirenstein says that slander can kill and Israel is being slandered. She says that the political situation in Europe gives us room to work on building fortresses - institutional and ideological. Today when you speak about Israel, Europe looks not at Israel but at the Muslim world because they are being invaded by the Muslim world.

When Ahmadinejad came to Rome, no one received him. Not even the opposition. You always have to try to be bipartisan, but not by saying that Israel made its own mistakes.

You can't discuss Israel without discussing Islam. We don't just have a territorial problem - we have a religious and ideological problem here.

She says we are damaging ourselves when we apologize for things like Jenin, the Mavi Marmara and al-Dura.

[Still having trouble - right now I have no cursor].

General Kuperwasser says that delegtimization has always been here. People in the Middle East never accepted us. At the beginning there were attempts to uproot us through conventional war, but now it's being done with terrorism. Four main challenges:

1. Delegtimization (the most important one) and strengthening of radical Islam.

2. Use of 'Palestinian' narrative has redefined terms of reference.

3. Relations with the United States.

4. Delegitimization - assault on Zionism as a movement of the Jewish people and on Jewish identity and peoplehood, assault on Israel's control of the moral high ground through accusations of apartheid and war crimes (e.g. Jenin), people who aren't willing to let us explain ourselves.

We need a proactive strategy to fight this battle.

Very quick Q&A (much of which I missed - sorry).

Steinberg says his group has no funding outside North America and most of their activity is directed at Europe.

For those in Europe, there is going to be a huge pro-Israel demonstration in Rome on October 7 at 7:00 pm. I will have more on that in due time (Fiamma promised yesterday to send me more information to post).


At 2:57 PM, Blogger Professor Miao said...

Thanks for doing this, Carl. It sounds like Kuperwasser doesn't really get it. Yes, the Arab world has always considered Israel "illegitimate". But in the last couple of decades, and really gaining momentum since the second intifada, and increasing number in the west also consider Israel to be "illegitimate".

Nirenstein is right that Israel does damage to itself when it apologizes for things before the facts are known.

I am still very concerned about the deeper implications of the group of reserve naval officers who came out before all the facts were clear and chastised the IDF for blaming the Mavi Marmara 'activists' for the mess. Why are so many Israelis eager to shoot Israel in the foot. Why do reserve officers feel free to do exactly what they accuse the IDF of doing - speaking out against their own country when THEY don't know the facts? And why aren't they disciplined for such things?


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