By Stephen Lendman
In July 2005, a coalition of 171 Palestinian Civil Society organizations created the Global BDS movement for "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights" for Occupied Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, and Palestinian diaspora refugees.
The Tel Aviv-based Reut Institute (RI) provides "real-time strategic decision-making" support in areas of national security and socioeconomic policy. Its new report titled "The Gaza Flotilla: The Collapse of Israel’s Political Firewall" suggests it’s working. It followed an earlier one on "creating a political firewall" against Israel’s "delegitimization challenge," recommending sabotage and subterfuge against growing global forces it fears, not an equitable solution it rejects.
Focusing now on the Gaza Flotilla, it called it "the tip of the iceberg" attempt along with the BDS movement and Durban conference against racism to cause "tangible and significant damage to Israel." Unmentioned was how expert Israel is in self-inflicting it by decades of occupation and crimes of war and against humanity.
Clearly they’re having an effect, RI saying opposition "momentum is gaining," its aim "to delegitimize Israel in order to precipitate its implosion, inspired by the collapses of" apartheid South Africa and the Soviet Union. Calling the challenge global, systemic and political, RI blames two cooperating forces:
— the Iran/Hamas/Hezbollah "Resistance Network;" and
— the "Delegimization Network" based in cities like London, Brussels and San Francisco.
Their "constantly adapting" strategy requires Israel to adopt "a comprehensive systemic treatment" of the challenge it faces.
RI gave its version of the Gaza Flotilla interdiction, specifically against the Mavi Marmara mother ship, a "grave incident devlop(ing) during the takeover (when) Members of the Turkish IHH organization attacked Israeli forces with knives and metal bars, and in some cases with live fire. In the ensuing confrontation, nine Israeli soldiers were injured and nine Turkish activists killed."
Israeli commandos planned and executed a premeditated attack in international waters against nonviolent, unarmed humanitarian activists, trying to deliver essential to life aid to besieged Gazans – to break Israel’s attempt to suffocate and starve them.
RI ignored the crime, focusing instead on world outrage, including anti-Israeli demonstrations in dozens of major cities, increased BDS efforts, international investigations, and the "stronger perception of cooperation between Israel’s Arab citizens and the Resistance and Delegitimization Networks." Turkey also "exploited" the incident, "deepen(ing) the crisis with Israel."
Israel followed with two inquiry commissions, an IDF one under reserve Major General Giora Eiland and another under retired Supreme Court Judge Jacob Turkel, both mandated to whitewash the crime, what RI won’t admit, instead saying:
"The mandates of both commissions reflect the mindset that mistakes surrounding the Gaza Flotilla were technical-operational or tactical-political in nature. The commissions are thus focused on the reasonableness of the actions taken by decision-makers on existing laws, regulations, and accepted practices."
In addition, RI is conducting its own inquiry, "based on a methodology of systemic policy analysis and on its conceptual framework for confronting the delegitimization challenge….to contribute to understanding the strategic significance of the event and to suggest principles for preventing similar occurrences in the future."
RI, of course, means preventing world outrage from boiling over, followed by actions harming Israeli interests, not its repeated crimes of war, against humanity, and high seas outrages. It worries instead about a new challenge because of two developments:
— Hamas’ "increased sophistication and efficiency and the Resistance Network’s ‘Logic of Implosion.’ "It aims to precipitate Israel’s collapse from overstretch, benefitting from the unpopular occupation, promoting its delegitimization, and engaging in asymmetric tactics against Israeli civilians; and
— the Delegitimization Network’s evolution, aiming to portray Israeli as a pariah state, gaining support from "the Western liberal progressive elite (through) a variety of means aimed at blurring its true intentions."
In recent years, the Resistance and Delegitimization Networks have created connections able to accelerate the following dynamics:
— "Promoting the one-state paradigm;" and
— Foiling Israel’s ability to contain or deny legitimacy to Hamas and Hezbollah.
Both lead "a systemic and systematic attack against Israel’s political and economic model, which has already had strategic consequences and may become existential if ignored or inadequately addressed." In addition, Israel hasn’t developed an effective response to this challenge.
Hamas gained "agility" from 2006 electoral victory. Israeli "rigidity" followed – policies unable to change Hamas’ positions or precipitate its demise. "On the contrary, Hamas went from strength to strength" despite Israel’s imposed siege and Cast Lead. It continually adapts to new circumstances, "demonstrating a relatively clear strategic logic….while strengthening its domestic and international status" and ability to promote Israeli delegitimization.
The Gaza Flotilla and others planned are "the latest manifestation of a systemic and systematic attack" to undermine Israel’s legitimacy with considerable support from the BDS campaign, the "lawfare" war against senior Israeli officials, and effect of the Goldstone Commission.
The Flotilla was "a first-of-its-kind collaboration" between Hamas and the Resistance and Delegitimization Networks. Turkey’s involvement was the "difference that made the difference." In addition, its organizers’ ability to gain Western progressive elite support turned Israel’s interdiction into a "global and politically explosive event." RI called it a "clash of brands," Israel tarnished and defeated in the eyes of world public opinion.
Indeed so but not enough. Still RI concludes that Israel’s firewall is eroding because it’s increasingly viewed as not "genuinely striving for peace, consistently and honestly committed to ending control over the Palestinians, or concerned with alleviating the humanitarian situation in Gaza."
Israel doesn’t understand the gravity of the delegitimization threat, and hasn’t addressed it effectively. The campaign promoting it will continue, perhaps in new forms. RI urges confronting it strategically by "systematically collect(ing) intelligence (and) identif(ing) key (delegitimization) catalysts," as well as adopting a:
"consistent and honest….commitment to end….control over the Palestinians, advance human rights (at least rhetorically), and promote greater integration and equality for its Arab citizens…."
"It takes a network to fight" one, says RI. Disrupting it is job one by training Israeli diplomats to work in delegitimization hubs, developing its own network, re-branding itself to promote a new image, and engaging "liberal progressive elite(s)." The objective – delegitimize, isolate and marginalize the delegitimizers and BDS movement.
Its earlier "delegitimize challenge" report recommended sabotage and subterfuge against growing forces it fears. Perhaps now it’s softening but not enough. It omitted the right of return, East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital, the logic of a one-state solution, the renunciation of conflict, an admission of Israeli crimes of war and against humanity, accountability for those responsible, demilitarization as a show of good faith, legislation granting all Israeli citizens equal rights, an occupation end date, a full commitment to the rule of law, and restitution to compensate victims for decades of crimes and destructive harm for starters.
Short of fundamental change, Israeli delegitimization will prevail over half-hearted measures, more rhetorical than substantive the way they’ve always been for decades.
– Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.