Does Israel face a boycott?

Relations between Israel and the U.S have deteriorated over the latest war of words between Israeli officials and the U.S FM John Kerry. In the latest development, a group of Rabbis, in an open letter, accused Kerry of waging “war against God” and warned that he and everyone involved in the peace negotiations will be punished.

The deterioration in relations between the two strategic allies accelerated after John Kerry’s remarks about a possible boycott against Israel if peace talks fail. Some Israeli officials responded to these remarks by calling them “offensive and unfair.” Naftali Bennett Israel’s Economics Minister and the leader of the right – wing “The Jewish Home” party went even further by accusing Kerry of amplifying anti-Semitism. In Washington, the U.S National Security Adviser Susan Rice reacted to this criticism by twitting four messages, calling critiques “unacceptable” and mentioning “John Kerry’s record of support for Israel’s security.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s Finance Minister Yair Lapid restated Kerry’s remarks. In an interview with Israel’s Army Radio, the head of the centrist Yesh Atid party warned that failure to reach deal with Palestinians will harm every Israeli.

As a journalist who was born and raised in Iran, I know how boycotts can harm every single citizen in a country; and in the case of Israel, it would harm not only Jews, but also Arab – Israelis and even thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank who work in Israeli firms. But it seems that some Israeli politicians prefer to be in denial about the seriousness of the ongoing boycotts; or as Thomas Friedman puts it in NYTimes, “The Third Intifada … led by the European Union and other opponents of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank across the globe.”

It is actually not important whether these boycotts are legitimate or not; what is important is their impact on Israel’s economy. You can see how a boycott or embargo can affect a country by looking at Iran. Just a few years ago, when the U.N Security Council passed its first resolution imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmud Ahmadinejad claimed that sanctions would not harm the country’s economy. However, it turned out that he was wrong, which did not surprise Iranian economists who had warned the government.

We know that neither the current situation about Israel nor its economy is like Iran. But officials in Jerusalem cannot and should not endanger financial life of millions of Israelis and put them under more pressure in favor of about half a million settlers. Moreover, they should face the facts instead of verbally attack American and European officials. As a Persian proverb says, “Break yourself not the mirror if it shows the real YOU.”

About the Author
Ashkan was born and raised in Iran. He moved to Israel a few years ago, Worked as a journalist at the National radio of Israel and is now working as a freelancer.