Monday, January 27, 2014

The EU boycott threat: it’s baseless fear-mongering

Israel has been threatened. Israel’s Left is terrified. Should we follow their lead?

The European Union (EU) has told Israel that if current peace talks fail, Israel will be blamed. The EU will implement a boycott against Israel. Israel’s Left is terrified that this boycott will motivate others to gather against Israel.

Therefore, the Left argues, we must make ‘peace’ immediately. Otherwise, boycotts will destroy us.

Israel’s Left believes three things about this threat. First, it is real. The EU has been threatening Israel for some time. The boycott has teeth. If talks fail, the boycott begins.  

The second thing Israel’s Left believes about this threat is that Israel cannot survive it. Israel’s economy depends on the EU. The EU does so much business with Israel (more than 29 billion dollars annually) that a boycott will destroy Israel’s economy.

The third thing Israel’s Left believes about this boycott is that the only way Israel can avoid it is to surrender to Abbas. Give Abbas what he wants, it says, and Israel will survive; otherwise, we’re doomed.

For these reasons, Israel’s Left demands peace. It is terrified by the boycott threat. Citing a Times of Israel article, William Jacobson has written how desperately Tzipi Livni fears this threat (legalinsurrectionblog, “Tzipi Livni’s Boycott panic is a dead-end because it presumes the alternative is peace”, January 26, 2014). Like all who are controlled by their fears, Livni sees one frightening thing and imagines a million more: Jacobson (above) quotes Livni as saying that peace is the only wall that separates Israel from a wave of International boycotts.

But Livni’s fear—and the hysteria of her Leftist peers—is baseless. It’s baseless for three reasons.

First, the threat is not as real as it seems. While many at EU headquarters may want a boycott, their boycott is no boycott (“The E.U.’s New Guidelines on Israel Are Not a Boycott”, The New York Times, July 19, 2014). It does not affect trade. It applies only to official EU-sanctioned activities. It does not apply to the 28 member-states of the EU—or to corporations within those states.

According to the New York Times (above), this boycott will have only minor impact on Israel-EU trade. Some projects and contracts will be cancelled. But the boycott is more symbolic than real.

The wave of boycotts that the Left fears is not a guaranteed event. But even if it happens, it will not be a tsunami.

In Europe, many companies do business with Israel knowing full well the political pressures Israel faces on the international stage.  Many do not entirely accept the ‘Palestinian’ narrative of victimhood (see, “The EU's "covert" boycott of Israel starts to kick in”, the Commentator, 11 January, 2014). They do business with Israel because of technology and quality-of-product. Many will not alter those values.

European countries maintain science and technology ties with Israel. They have a desire to continue those ties. There is too much competition in the world to do otherwise. Israel is too important a source for world-class science and technology for European countries to boycott.

That so-called terrifying wave of international boycotts will come mainly from non-European countries, some of whom do little or no trade with Israel. The impact on Israel could be unimpressive.

Meanwhile, China has expressed no interest in a boycott (see the Commentator, above). China—along with India and Russia--could be delighted to buy the goods and technologies others boycott.

The boycott threat is more symbol than real. The Left, so terrified because a boycott means rejection, can’t see this distinction because its nightmare of rejection transforms every threat into disaster.

 If the feared wave of boycotts is modelled after the EU approach, the boycotts would be ‘boycott’ in name only. Livni’s fears will have been baseless.

Third, surrender to Abbas is not the only way to survive. Because PA officials promote their hate so aggressively, Prime Minister Netanyahu can make a strong case that peace talks fail because of that hate.

For example, just this morning (January 27, 2014), PA Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat reiterated that there will be no Jews in the new ‘Palestine’ (“Erekat: There Will be No 'Settlers' in 'Palestine', Arutz Sheva, January 27, 2014).Netanyahu’s reaction was immediate—and suggestive: he called the PA’s ‘Juden-rein’ proposition, ethnic cleansing (“Israeli Official: Palestine Should Allow Settlers”, The New York Times, January 26, 2014).

Netanyahu must be aggressive: the PA case for statehood demands that the UN sanctions a war crime called, ethnic cleansing.

Netanyahu must also argue that ethnic cleansing is racist because ‘Jew-free’ makes a racist state. Racist states are Apartheid.  The PA demands a racist, Apartheid State.

That ‘wave’ of international boycotts is not inevitable. Boycotts with teeth are not inevitable.

Israel’s Left is wrong. They base their case on fear, not peace.  

Never follow those who are terrified.




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