Israel has long proven resilient in the face of the ongoing military and terrorist threat that it confronts daily, yet Israel’s enemies have never tired of seeking new battlefields on which to mount combat against the Jewish state. Just as Israel’s victory in the 1973 Yom Kippur war led to the attempt to strike Israel at the UN through the infamous 1975 Zionism is Racism motion, so too in the wake of the failure of Intifadas and sustained rocket attacks the forces aligned against Israel have set out to wage war on the very legitimacy of the Jewish state. The goal has now become to not only demonize Israel as a pariah state on the world stage, but to also invalidate its underlying claim to have a right to exist.
In Commentary Magazine’s newly released eBook The New War on Israel, the wide variety of channels and manifestations that this campaign has pursued are explored in depth, all the while with an eye on what can realistically be done to counter these activities. In this way the eBook offers a much-needed overview of the most contemporary trends in the campaign to delegitimize Israel while at the same time providing analysis of the fundamental causes of this disturbingly tenacious phenomenon. Indeed, The New War on Israel gives a wide ranging account of these activities that covers events in North America, Europe and even Israel itself.
In recent years one of the most corrosive efforts to vanquish the Jewish state by non-military means has been the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). It has attempted to frame Israel as a South Africa of our time, deserving of nothing more than to be brought down through a series of economic boycotts and sanctions. The fact that Apartheid in South Africa was not defeated by middle class westerners refusing to buy South African fruit is of as little interest to the BDSers as the grim echoes that this tactic has with the long history of anti-Semitic boycotts enacted against Jews.
Yet, as both Jonathan Marks and Adam Kredo demonstrate in their pieces featured in this book, it is still possible to resist and combat this aggressive campaign against the Jewish state. For while it may be true that the universities and academia have served as breeding grounds for anti-Israel hatred, it is also true that these institutions do still on the whole value the foundational principle of the free exchange of ideas, believing that academic enquiry must be divorced and immune from the political currents of the societies that particular scholars may originate from. In this way, through a concerted effort, it is possible to expose the fundamentally illiberal sentiments behind the BDS agenda.
However, what this new book also exposes is the way in which certain Jewish groups, and indeed Israel’s Left, have all played no small part in undermining efforts to bolster the case for Israel against the determined efforts towards its delegitimization. John Podhoretz writes about what he refers to as the “But-However crowd” to characterize those liberal Jews who claim to be friends of Israel while inevitably always qualifying their support with an all important “But.” In this way these individuals endlessly condition any support they may offer upon Israel being seen to conduct itself in accordance with what they deem to be the ideal standard, which they insist must be demanded from a Jewish state.
The upshot of such an attitude is now having real ramifications within America’s Jewish community, particularly among certain groups of young Jews and Jewish students. As Ben Cohen outlines, the Open Hillel campaign is just one example of how liberal Jews on campus are seeking to jettison the mainstream Zionist outlook in favor of one that is willing to embrace even those who are overtly hostile to the welfare of the Jewish state – including the above mentioned boycotters.
Many of the ideas that fuel these trends among liberal Jews in America are actually generated by Israel’s own hardline and post-Zionist Left. While the Left now finds itself unelectable in Israel – on account of the way in which the peace process it promoted backfired into subjecting Israelis to previously unimaginable terrorist atrocities – Leftwing writers in Israel continue to push a narrative that assists those seeking to entirely delegitimize the Jewish state. As Joshua Muravchik discusses in his featured essay Trashing Israel Daily, in recent decades it has been Haaretz newspaper that has served as one of the most pernicious forces for demonizing Israeli society and its efforts to defend itself.
Many have contended that the most straightforward and definitive way for Israel to put a stop to this campaign against its legitimacy would be to simply reach a final accommodation with the Palestinians. But as Jonathan Tobin explains in his piece for this book, the Palestinians have a constant and unwavering record of turning down all Israel’s offers and sidestepping American efforts for resolving the conflict. The problem is that when this inevitably happens, both in the U.S. and all the more so in Europe, there is never any shortage of voices seeking to pin the blame for a Palestinian “No” on Israel.
If this sinister phenomenon that seeks to extinguish Israel’s very right to exist is to be successfully countered, then first it must be properly understood. For the most up-to-date assessment and analysis on this, there can be better places from which to begin than with The New War on Israel.