Saturday, February 1, 2014

What World War I Did to the Middle East. By Bernhard Zand.

What World War I Did to the Middle East. By Bernhard Zand. Spiegel Online, January 31, 2014.

Of Scar Jo, Soda, Settlements, and Super Bowls. By Michael M. Rosen.

Of ScarJo, Soda, Settlements, and Super Bowls. By Michael M. Rosen. National Review Online, January 31, 2014.

Oxfam is Wrong on Israel. By Michael Curtis. American Thinker, February 1, 2014.

Demonizing Israel; Demonizing ScarJo. By Jonathan S. Tobin. NJBR, January 28, 2014.


Of all the possible defenders of the Israeli town of Ma’aleh Adumim, a burg of 40,000 located five miles east of Jerusalem’s Western Wall, a gorgeous worldwide movie star is hardly the most likely candidate. But there was Scarlett Johansson, the 29-year-old screen and stage actress, vigorously doubling down on her decision to sign on as a spokesperson for SodaStream, a do-it-yourself-soda company headquartered in Israel, and to appear on its behalf in a provocative ad during this Sunday’s Super Bowl.
“I stand behind the SodaStream product. . . . I am happy that light is being shed on this issue in hopes that a greater number of voices will contribute to the conversation of a peaceful two state solution in the near future,” she wrote in the Huffington Post late last week.
Why such a fuss over bubbly water?
Because SodaStream’s largest manufacturing facility is in Ma’aleh Adumim, just over the “green line” separating pre-1967 Israel from the West Bank, Johansson has come under withering attack from worldwide anti-Israel forces promoting a boycott of Israeli products and services.
But the fortitude displayed by ScarJo (a leading celebrity exponent of numerous liberal causes, as readers of this site well know), speaks volumes about the righteousness of Israel’s cause and the moral bankruptcy — and rank ineffectiveness — of the boycott crowd.
SodaStream was founded decades ago in Europe as a cheap, environmentally friendly, at-home alternative to buying fizzy beverages at the supermarket. Users carbonate their own water using replaceable gas canisters and can flavor the liquid with a variety of syrups, which are also sold by SodaStream. In 1998 the company was acquired by Soda Club, then a seven-year-old Israeli company, which adopted the older company’s name.
The outfit has grown rapidly in recent years, especially in Europe, where one in every five Swedish households owns a machine. By 2011, the company’s U.S. sales had multiplied tenfold over the course of four years, and in May 2012, SodaStream began distributing through Walmart. SodaStream, a Nasdaq-traded stock with more than $500 million in annual revenue, has frequently been mentioned as an acquisition target by the big soda makers, and in Johansson, the company appeared to find a breakthrough pop-culture soda-water carrier.
And yet, because the company operates one of its facilities in the West Bank, where it employs 500 Palestinian workers, it and, by extension, ScarJo have endured the slings and arrows of anti-Israel activists.
“This is like supporting the apartheid system in the old South Africa,” thundered Mustafa Barghouthi of the Palestinian National Initiative. Johansson “has no excuse for allowing herself to be used to support the violation of international law.”
The boycotters also urged Oxfam, for which ScarJo has served as an ambassador since 2005, to sever its ties with the actress. “Palestinian civil society, and indeed all who care about human rights around the world,” asserted Omar Barghouti, a founder of a leading boycott group, “expects Oxfam to immediately end its relationship with an actress that has knowingly lent her name to whitewashing Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of Palestinian land.” On Wednesday, Johansson terminated her relationship with Oxfam, citing a “fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”
Indeed, as is typical for the Israel-hating crowd, the boycotters get both their facts and their inferences wrong. First, SodaStream offers comprehensive benefits, including health insurance, and high wages for the Palestinians it employs in its Ma’aleh Adumim facility — better jobs than are available in most of the West Bank. The company’s CEO “just can’t see how it would help the cause of the Palestinians if we fired them,” as the boycott movement effectively desires.
Second, because of its size and proximity to Jerusalem, Ma’aleh Adumim itself, along with the SodaStream factory, is all but certain to be included within the final borders of Israel after a peace agreement with the Palestinians is concluded. The town and the facility are no far-flung outposts surrounded by a seething Palestinian population, as the boycotters would have the world believe, but essentially a garden suburb of Jerusalem, which itself will largely if not completely remain under Israeli control.
Johansson echoed these responses in her HuffPo statement:
I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine. SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.
Sure enough, in addition to the 500 Palestinians employed in the factory, 400 Arabs from eastern Jerusalem and hundreds more Jewish residents, Israeli citizens all, work there side-by-side. The facility also includes a mosque and a synagogue, prompting the head of one left-wing, pro-Israel American organization to praise the company for “making real efforts to engage the Palestinian workers with fair wages and in management positions.”
ScarJo echoed these thoughts, noting that:
as part of my efforts as an Ambassador for Oxfam, I have witnessed first-hand that progress is made when communities join together and work alongside one another and feel proud of the outcome of that work in the quality of their product and work environment, in the pay they bring home to their families and in the benefits they equally receive.
It’s difficult to improve upon that formulation, and perhaps the boycott movement underestimated not only Johansson’s eloquence and commitment to her beliefs, but the actual justice of those beliefs and how they resonate with Israelis, Americans, and the Arab world alike.
Finally, after all this controversy, the Super Bowl ad, which can be found here, likely will not air on Sunday, as Fox reportedly bowed to pressure from Coke and Pepsi, both of which found the spot too aggressive. But that, and not the rabid demonization of the Jewish state, is the kind of boycott that Israelis and their supporters around the globe can probably live with.

Natan Sharansky: Palestinian Society Is Not Ready to Live with Jews in Its Midst. By David Horovitz.

Sharansky’s guide to the region’s human rights dilemmas. By David Horovitz. The Times of Israel, January 30, 2014.

Sharansky: If Obama had backed Iran’s dissidents, Arab Spring might have looked different. By David Horovitz. The Times of Israel, January 30, 2014.


2. On the rights of settlers
In discussing the migrants, Sharansky had mentioned “transfer” — which in Hebrew used to refer to the concept of forcing or encouraging Arabs in Israel to leave, but is used more generally and vaguely of late. I drew him back to the issue, and more specifically to this week’s ministerial dispute over the fate of settlers — sparked by The Times of Israel’s scoop on Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to demand that those settlers who find themselves in “Palestine” under a two-state solution be given the choice to stay put or relocate to sovereign Israel. I asked him about settlers’ rights, and about the rights of Israeli Arab citizens, where there has been much recent discussion about Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s idea of redrawing the borders, so that perhaps 300,000 residents of the Galilee triangle might find themselves rendered residents of “Palestine.”
Sharansky said he had been arguing since the mid-to-late 1990s, when he was a government minister, that the best way to judge the seriousness of the peace process, the best criterion by which to gauge whether the two societies were truly ready for peace, was by their handling of the issue of Jews in a Palestinian state and Arabs in Israel. There’ll be room for optimism, he said, when “we don’t have to discuss how we are removing Jews and how they are removing Arabs” from each other’s territory.
Thus the current reality is deeply discouraging, because it apparently “goes without saying that every territory that is left by the Israeli army has to be Jew-free, that Abu Mazen feels very comfortable saying what he says [about insisting there be no Israelis in his putative state], that he doesn’t feel on this issue he will have any problem with the world — it’s clear that there will be no Jews.” And meanwhile, “others say that we’ll be crazy if we stay there” – we, being the settlers. All this, said Sharansky, shows how “not symmetrical the situation is, and that’s why I don’t believe in the reality of this peace process, which is brought from the top and not from the bottom.”
He was not entirely bleak. He praised the “real growth of civil society in the West Bank” as advancing peace. “The former British prime minister [and Middle East Quartet envoy] Tony Blair deserves much more credit for this than today’s leaders,” he said. But as for the prospects for talks brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry yielding viable peace, by imposing a take it or leave it deal, well, forget it, he said.
Abbas, he stressed, is correct to think that Palestinian society is not ready to live with Jews in its midst. “He’s right. He’s saying, Our society is not ready to accept this. He’s not saying, I’m anti-Semitic. But this, for me, is the barometer of readiness or not readiness to accept a peace treaty.”
He said the Americans have never internalized the imperative to build peace bottom up, by first creating a viable civil society, but then neither have other world leaders, or even all Israeli leaders. “What was the Oslo agreement?” he asked, and answered his rhetorical question witheringly. “The Oslo agreement was a decision to bring [Yasser] Arafat here: We will force the Palestinians to accept fully Arafat as their strong leader. Not only we in Israel, but we the world, will give as much money to Arafat, the strongman, as he needs to fight against Hamas and that’s how peace will be brought.” Sharansky recalled that he and I were working together at The Jerusalem Report when he wrote an article in 1993 criticizing the Oslo process, citing the assertion by Yitzhak Rabin that it would work because it would play out “without the High Court of Justice, without B’Tselem, without the bleeding hearts.”
Over and over, for the past 20 years, said Sharansky, Israeli leaders and international peacemakers have set impossible short-term deadlines to try to impose a peace agreement. “Now they say we have nine months to make a deal. Each time, [a deadline] is decided, and each time nothing happens, and each time when I start raising my ‘crazy ideas’ about civil society, they say it’s a good idea but it will take too long, 10 years. No, I say, five years. Still too long, they say. This has been going on for 20 years, and we’ll be carrying on like this.
“And the only good thing that’s happening is happening in spite of all this: Civil society for Palestinians was much better before 1993 than when Yasser Arafat came and started destroying it” and it’s improving again now, in the post-Arafat era. Sharansky said that when he was negotiating with the Palestinian leadership as minister of trade and industry in the mid-to-late 1990s, the Palestinian economy “became so controlled, such a racket.” If a business initiative benefited this or that leader and his family, it went ahead. If not, not. Now, by contrast, the Palestinians have a relatively free economy, in part because “political fear of Abu Mazen is not the same as political fear was of Arafat.”
What’s still needed, he stressed, is true “political freedom and education.If there was organized collective effort by the free world on these issues,” rather than the constant encouragement being given to the Palestinian leadership that they can circumvent these issues and get a state, then we’d truly get closer to peace.
Coming back to the settlers, Sharansky stressed that if they wanted to leave rather than live under Palestinian rule, that would of course be their choice. “But if they have to leave because otherwise they will be killed, and the world accepts that of course they will be killed,” that shows the problem. I put it to him that the world doesn’t much care about settlers being killed; it cares, rather, about radical Israelis in the heart of the Palestinian state. “If they’re radical [and commit crimes], they’ll be put in Palestinian prisons,” he responded. “We also have radical Arabs in Umm el-Fahm. We now even have some connected to al-Queda. The security forces have to deal with that. [The problem is that] Abu Mazen says, We will not permit Jews to be among us. That’s what he can say easily in every refugee camp and they will applaud him. If he were to say, We can accept the fact that Jews will live here, he would be killed.”
3. On the rights of Israeli Arabs
What about that mirror proposal of Liberman, I asked him again: redrawing the border and redefining Israeli Arabs as Palestinians?
His response to his fellow Soviet √©migr√© and one-time political rival was a firm no. Such remarcations and redefinitions did happen around the world, he began, “when states were losing their sovereignty and they were shaping anew the map.” But that was no precedent for Israel’s reality. “Here we’re talking about the state [of Israel] — which has laws, which has agreements between citizens. You cannot decide that, from now, some of the citizens won’t be citizens. As a minimum, you have to give them the opportunity to decide. If they will agree, that’s something else. But we cannot [impose it].
In partitioning British mandatory Palestine, he noted, the UN did precisely that: “It said, okay, the territory where there’s a majority of Jews will be a Jewish state. The territory where there’s a majority of Arabs will be an Arab state. [But that was] because the Jewish state and the Arab state didn’t exist, so the world was deciding for them. The moment the [Jewish] state was created — though the other [Arab] one didn’t want to be created — since it is a democratic state, there is a treaty with the citizens. If there will be a massive desire among the Arabs of Umm el-Fahm to withdraw their (Israeli) citizenship, I don’t think we have to fight it. But we got the state together with citizens who are not Jewish. We can’t now decide that those who are not Jewish [are not Israeli citizens].”

Bill Maher Rips de Blasio, Dems For “Puritanism” on Adultery: “Slut-Shaming From the Left.”

Bill Maher Rips de Blasio, Dems For “Puritanism” on Adultery: “Slut-Shaming From the Left.” Video and transcript. Real Clear Politics, February 1, 2014.

Confronting European Funding for BDS. By Gerald M. Steinberg.

Confronting European Funding for BDS. By Gerald M. Steinberg. The Times of Israel, January 29, 2014.

Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Resource Page. NGO Monitor, January 6, 2014.


BDS is a form of political warfare against the State of Israel based on the exploitation of human rights and humanitarian principles, double standards, invidious comparisons with South African apartheid, and false allegations of “war crimes” and violations of international law. (The discredited 2009 Goldstone report on Gaza is one of many examples of this process.)           

Although often expressed in terms of opposition to the post-1967 Israeli occupation and settlements, the leaders of BDS campaigns repeatedly express their rejection of any Jewish right to self-determination, regardless of borders. The radical BDS movement supports Palestinian refugee demands, promotes the 1948 narrative of Palestinian victimization, and a “single state solution,” meaning the elimination of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. In addition, the network of church-based NGOs that fund and promote BDS often include antisemitic themes and images. Therefore, the claim that BDS will end if a two-state peace agreement is reached is inconsistent with the evidence.
The most effective and immediate strategy to blunt BDS and other forms of political warfare is to end the massive funding given to radical NGOs that promote these anti-Israel campaigns, particularly in Europe. NGO Monitor research has exposed tens of millions of Euros provided annually to NGOs via the EU and European governments. For more than ten years, this highly politicized NGO funding has been allocated for discriminatory anti-Israel warfare through secret processes under frameworks for humanitarian aid, democracy and human rights, and other universal moral principles. This money enables the network of ostensibly “non-political” organizations to flood the media, universities, parliaments and other platforms with a steady flow of anti-Israel demonization.

The Masculine Mistake. By Charles M. Blow.

The Masculine Mistake. By Charles M. Blow. New York Times, January 31, 2014.

A Strategy to Counter Democracy’s Global Retreat. By Walter Russell Mead.

A Strategy to Counter Democracy’s Global Retreat. By Walter Russell Mead. Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2014.


“It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” So said President George W. Bush in his second inaugural address in 2005. The goal was—and is—a noble one. Unfortunately, neither Mr. Bush’s efforts nor those of his successor have met with the success democracy advocates would wish.
In Thailand, the streets are filled with demonstrators demanding the replacement of an elected government with an appointed council. In Egypt, the largest and most important Arab country, the 2011 revolution and much-ballyhooed “transition to democracy” ended in a military coup. President Obama’s lead-from-behind approach to Libya has ushered in anarchy, and Pakistan’s transition from one democratically elected set of powerless and corrupt politicians to another, widely cheered in Washington, has had no discernible positive impact on anything whatsoever.
A democratically elected government in Hungary is flirting with fascists. Meantime, political reforms in Burma led to waves of religious violence against that country's Muslim minority. And in Ukraine, protesters face off against a corrupt, elected government aligned with Vladimir Putin.
According to Freedom House’s 2014 Freedom in the World Report, 2013 was the eighth year in a row in which freedom lost ground. Yet the decade of freedom’s retreat was also a decade of unprecedented effort on the part of governments and nonprofit organizations to help freedom thrive. Between 2006 and 2012, the U.S. government alone spent $18.6 billion on democracy promotion, partly because of stepped up efforts in Afghanistan and the Middle East. This is a substantially higher rate of spending than during the post-Cold War years, when the former Warsaw Pact states were moving toward democracy.
The gloomy prospects for democratic self-government in many parts of the world should not come as a surprise. Building democracy took generations in much of the Atlantic world, and most revolutions didn't succeed in establishing stable democratic regimes.
Some, like the Hungarians’ in 1848 and again in 1956, failed to hold power and were overthrown. Others, like the French and Russian Revolutions, gained power only to install dictatorships worse than the ones they overthrew. The South American revolutions against Spain, like many anti-colonial movements in the 20th century, succeeded against the imperial power—but then failed to build stable, democratic governments in its place. Egypt's transition didn't fail because Egypt’s democrats didn’t attend enough conferences on democracy building. It failed because the weight of their nation’s history, economics, religion and culture was too heavy for the relative handful of true democrats to lift.
This should be a sobering lesson. While breakthroughs can sometimes occur, the construction of open, democratic systems in many countries around the world is likely to be slower and harder than many of us thought.
This doesn’t mean that democracy advocates should wring their hands and stand aside, but it does mean we need to think about promoting deeper social change over longer periods. To become and remain democratic, countries need to develop cultural values hospitable to the rule of law, protection of private property, transparency and peaceful transitions of power that are grounded in their own religious and cultural identities. That is not, ultimately, a process that foreigners can orchestrate or control.
A more sustainable and effective democracy agenda would start with education. Helping talented young people get access to good education will, over time, do more to promote democratic ideals than anything else. This doesn't just mean offering more students more opportunities to study abroad. Many countries, like Egypt, have terrible postsecondary systems. Founding new schools, helping existing ones, and promoting partnerships between Western and foreign institutions can go a long way.
In many countries, the lack of access to good English-language instruction at an early age is one of the great barriers that struggling families face. Teaching English to large numbers of people from poor backgrounds is ultimately a political act: As their language skills help them get better educations and better jobs, internal pressure for a fairer society will increase.
At the same time, democracy advocates can address one of the biggest fault lines in our allegedly flat world: People who don’t read English or a handful of other languages live in a different information universe. John Locke, Edmund Burke, Thomas Macaulay, Montesquieu, Thomas Paine, Adam Smith, Benjamin Franklin —the works of these thinkers need to be well-translated and widely available. People who read only Urdu, Burmese, Arabic or Punjabi need readily accessible editions (cheap print or Web-based) of important books in their own languages so that people beyond elite circles have access to the ideas and the histories that matter.
Smart people from different cultural backgrounds should be commissioned to write introductions and other materials that can give readers in nondemocratic countries the context they need to make sense of these crucial texts. Others should write books about how South Korea, Taiwan, Poland and other countries became democratic. And leading magazines, opinion journals and policy reports should be translated into languages where they can be more widely read. English may be the world’s lingua franca, but democracy building will be grueling in many countries until more people have the ability to follow global news and policy debates in their native tongues.
We cannot change the reality that the creation of stable democratic societies in much of the world is going to take time. It took Christian theologians hundreds of years to reconcile democratic and liberal ideas with traditional Christian thought; for Muslims, too, this could be the work of decades or generations.
The U.S. cannot control the pace of this change. What it can do is to ensure that as many people as possible have unfettered access to the rich historical and intellectual literature that advocates freedom. “Give us the tools and we will finish the job” is what Winston Churchill said to American democrats during the dark days of World War II. Let’s make it easier for people around the world to inform themselves about the nature of freedom and the history of its emergence. They will figure out the rest.

Why You Should Be Proud Zionists. By Dan Illouz.

Why you should be proud Zionists. By Dan Illouz. Jerusalem Post, January 30, 2014.


Ever since the UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 of 1975 declared Zionism is a form of racism, the word Zionism has lost some of its public appeal.
The movement that represented a fight for freedom became branded a movement of discrimination.
As the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for the delegitimization of Israel gains ground and becomes a strategic threat, it has become important to go back to those very basic principles: the basic values which the Jewish state represents.
The principles outlined here are principles with universal relevance. My claim is that Zionism is a movement which should be a great inspiration for all people: both Jews and non-Jews.
There are many more of these principles, but this sample should suffice to give a clear message: The BDS movement is an enemy not only of Israel, but of all the universal values outlined below.
Zionism as a symbol of historical justice The story of Zionism starts 2,000 years ago. At that time, the Jewish nation was violently kicked out of its homeland. It was then it started yearning and dreaming to come back.
S.Y. Agnon, Nobel Laureate in literature, put it best in his 1966 acceptance speech for the prize: “As a result of the historic catastrophe in which Titus of Rome destroyed Jerusalem and Israel was exiled from its land, I was born in one of the cities of the exile.
But always I regarded myself as one who was born in Jerusalem.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed a similar historical outlook, in a speech he gave to the US Congress: “In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We are not the British in India; we are not the Belgians in the Congo. This is the land of our forefathers, the Land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one God, where David set out to confront Goliath, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace. No distortion of history can deny the 4,000-year-old bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.”
Two thousand years ago, the Jews were exiled from their land. The violent ethnic cleansing of the area that took place so long ago could have been forgotten by history. However, history remembered the Jews, since the Jews never forgot their homeland. And almost 2,000 years later, historic justice was achieved, when the Jews returned to the Land of Israel and reestablished their own independent state.
The establishment of the State of Israel is nothing less than a symbol of historic justice. No amount of delegitimization, revisionist history or “alternative narratives” will change this plain fact.
Zionism as a symbol of positive nationalism. Nationalism has been given a negative reputation in the past few decades. The reason is obvious: Fascism is considered by many to be a form of nationalism.
As such, after seeing the results of fascism, people want to run as far away as possible from anything relating to fascism.
However, true nationalism is not about hating others.
True nationalism is about loving your own.
Nationalism is not about negative feelings towards those who are different, but rather about a positive feeling of solidarity towards those who are a member of your own nation. Just as a brother’s love for his sister does not mean he will hate all other humans, so too the feeling of national solidarity should not translate into negative feelings towards others.
Zionism is deeply rooted in Jewish nationalism.
Jewish nationalism has its roots in the Hebrew Bible, where God told Abraham: “And I will make you a great nation […] And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3). This nationalism is, in its very essence, a positive nationalism. Yes, the Jewish nation is a separate nation. However, the goal of this nation is to bring good to the world.
Since the establishment of the State of Israel, Jewish nationalism has contributed a lot to humanity. I am not only referring to the disproportionate number of Nobel laureates, or the hi-tech innovation which has earned Israel the title of “Start-up Nation.”
Whenever there is a humanitarian crisis caused by natural disasters, Israel is the first to respond. Israel’s national army, whose goal is to defend the nation of Israel, sees its role as defending other nations in crisis.
It sees its role as doing good.
Israel is a unique symbol of a truly positive nationalism.
Zionism as a symbol of freedom While Jews yearned to go back to the Land of Israel for almost 2,000 years, their yearning never translated into political action. What happened in the late 19th century for Zionism to emerge as a political movement? With the rise of liberalism, the idea of freedom became central to the political discourse.
It is this political discourse which led Jews to also ask for freedom. First, they tried to do so through the “Jewish Enlightenment,” as part of the nation in which they resided. As all individuals were granted liberties, the Jews asked to receive those same rights.
Yet very quickly, it became clear that in order to get those rights, they would have to sacrifice their Jewishness: “Be a Jew inside your home, and a man on the street.”
However, Judaism is not a religion like Christianity that can be confined to one’s home, but rather touches all aspects of one’s life – including national, historical and cultural identity. It is impossible to be fully Jewish while keeping one’s Jewishness “inside.”
The next step divided the Jewish people between those who considered complete assimilation, and those who understood Zionism was the answer.
If Jews could not get their freedom in Europe, maybe it had become time to go back to their historical homeland and get freedom there? National freedom for the Jewish people, who have been under foreign rule for thousands of years, would translate into the opportunity for individual freedom. Zionism was the movement for the freedom of the Jewish people.
Of course, Zionism is not only a symbol for the national freedom of the Jewish nation. It has also, over time, become a symbol for individual freedoms – in its ability to maximize the individual freedoms given to minorities, while not sacrificing the national identity as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
A lot of books have been written with theoretical academic analysis of the best ways to balance national identity and the rights of minorities. In most countries, those questions remain theoretical. In Israel, these questions are relevant every day. Israel has done a remarkable job of dealing with these complex issues.
Zionism as a symbol of democracy Israel is also, of course, a democracy. Israel is the only stable democracy in the Middle East.
Looking at a map, Israel is geographically located on the front line of a battle between civilizations: those who embrace democracy, and those who do not.
This frontline is not only geographic, as Israel’s enemies who attack it today do not hide the fact that their enemy is the Western democratic world as a whole. Israel just happens to be the easiest target right now.
Democracy is more than simply a type of regime.
Democracy is a way to ensure that citizens participate in the system of government. The nation is not subservient to a ruler, but rather the ruler is subservient to the nation.
Almost no democracy has been able to stay as stable as Israel has been from its establishment. In America, when democracy was established, it was very limited, since it only represented the will of white males. In France, democracy did not survive very long, until Napoleon came along as a dictator.
There were many reasons to think that Israel would also fail in establishing a stable democracy. Most of its citizens came from non-democratic countries (both eastern European and Arab countries). They did not have a democratic culture.
Also, war is a time in which even the most democratic countries temporarily put democratic principles on hold (look at the US in World War II). Israel has been in a state of constant war since its establishment, and yet democracy has survived – even as the deep divisions in Israeli society could also fuel non-democratic behavior.

Zionism’s astounding success in building a stable democracy makes it a symbol for democracy, not only in the Middle East, but all around the world.
What do you oppose when opposing Zionism? There are many more values for which Zionism serves as an ambassador. However, these small examples can help give a clear message: Those who support the BDS movement and oppose Zionism should know that when opposing Zionism, they are in fact opposing the principles of justice, freedom and democracy.
Their fight against Israel’s right to exist is a fight for a world without these great values.
Those of us who believe in these values should join together and defend Israel against this new strategic threat.

Why Are You Boycotting SodaStream Anyway? By Mira Sucharov.

Why are you boycotting SodaStream anyway? By Mira Sucharov. Haaretz, January 31, 2014.

“Pro-Palestinians” Versus Real Palestinians. By Evelyn Gordon. NJBR, January 31, 2014.

Israel Boycott will Fail for Same Reason Seal Boycott Succeeded. By Lawrence Solomon. NJBR, January 31, 2014.

Demonizing Israel; Demonizing ScarJo. By Jonathan S. Tobin. NJBR, January 28, 2014. With related articles and video.


With the steady stream of words about SodaStream and boycott and settlements and occupation being pumped at us, it’s easy to get lost in the bubbles. When it comes to the current debate, here are some pockets of tension and confusion that I think deserve to be brought to the surface.
First, debate over boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) seems to conflate the justness/unjustness of the means of resistance with the ends sought. Following on two Intifadas, the second bloodier than the first, the 2005 call from elements within Palestinian civil society for the non-violent tool of BDS against Israel should have come as welcome relief. During the first Intifada, Israeli soldiers were forced into the morally untenable position of facing down stone-throwing youth with tanks and guns. During the second Intifada, Israelis got used to thinking that each bus ride or cafe meeting could be their last.
But if the means – non-violent, economic pressure – are more moderate than what had come before it, in some ways the goals are more extreme. Since the peace process began over two decades ago, the conventional wisdom has been that a two-state solution will be the result. Such have been the (sadly, all-too muted) premises of Oslo, the Geneva Initiative, the peace talks at Taba and Camp David, the Clinton Parameters, the Arab Peace Initiative, and now, the Kerry Plan. But by demanding the full return of Palestinian refugees into Israel and demanding that Israel give up its core identity of being a Jewish state, the BDS movement is out of step with the most likely outcome – and, from the point of view of overlapping needs and desires, probably the best one, too.
So on one hand, the BDS movement rightly faults Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for displaying a lack of sincerity towards the current peace process. His government’s continued announcements of new housing starts in the West Bank, and his partnering with intransigent coalition members, are but two examples. But on the other hand, the BDS movement is demanding an outcome that doesn’t even square with the goals of the peace process it claims to be defending, a process from which we know refugee return will be limited at best.
Maybe, then, we should assume that the goal of those who support BDS is not a two-state solution at all, but is indeed a “one-state solution,” whereby Israel ceases to be a Jewish state in any meaningful way, and all refugees are granted return. In that case, I have to ask, with tongue only slightly in cheek, what is the point of opposing settlements, settlers or settlement-made products to begin with, when they would remain where they are, in one big-happy-post-national arrangement?
But let’s assume for a moment, perhaps more generously, that the goals maintained by those who are currently targeting SodaStream because of its West Bank factory are indeed more circumscribed. Let’s assume that it’s the location of the factory that is the problem, as the boycotters claim.
Even here, though, there is a lack of clarity on what the boycott is specifically meant to achieve. Here’s the thing. In a two-state scenario, one could easily picture a company such as SodaStream operating a factory across the border, in the neighboring State of Palestine. Such a company would continue to employ the 500 Palestinian workers it currently employs, while also paying taxes to the Palestinian government. The company’s CEO has even explicitly stated his willingness to do this in such a post-two-state scenario. In fact, the success of any two-state solution will certainly depend on a high degree of economic cooperation and cross-border trade, employment and cooperation between the two countries. Do BDS’ers oppose this post-peace scenario too?
Understandably, much of the BDS movement is motivated by a sense of outrage: outrage over the occupation’s many human rights abuses, outrage over second-class treatment of Israel’s Palestinian citizen minority, outrage over the separation barrier that has cut off West Bank Palestinians from employment opportunities, and in some cases, their own land.
If BDS is simply meant as a form of J’accuse, then, perhaps its proponents should be clearer that this is an act of emotion. But if it’s meant as a coherent, causal-chain form of political action, then BDS supporters also need to be clearer on what the intended endgame is for any given act of protest. Of course, having meaningful dialogue between BDS advocates and Zionists is doubly difficult due to the oft-heard BDS eschewal of “dialogue” when it comes to Palestinians and Israelis. Slaves don’t “dialogue” with their masters, goes the thinking. And so the bottomless glass of political stalemate gets deeper and wider.