A large number of Israeli actors, playwrights and other people from Israel’s theater establishment have signed a letter indicating their refusal to perform in Ariel, a large town outside of the Green Line – Israel’s 1949
border armistice line. Today, a number of prominent Israeli authors, Amos Oz, David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua published a letter indicating their support of the theater folks.
With this move, these individuals have succeeded in what the Israeli-Arab and Palestinian-led boycott movement (the so-called “BDS” for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) has failed to achieve: putting a huge kosher stamp on boycotting Israel and opening the door for a large-scale international regime of sanctions and divestment against the country.
One of the key organizers of the letter told an Israeli newspaper in an interview that Ariel, over the Green Line, is a criminal city in violation of international law and added that apartheid roads for Jews only lead there. Both statements are false. A.B. Yehoshua who came out in support of the boycotting actors, stated that the entire settlement endeavor is destroying the chance for peace and perhaps the settlers should just accept that they can live in a Palestinian state.
To date, the Palestinians have emphatically demanded that no Jews remain in the new state of Palestine once it is established.
The timing of this letter was certainly in keeping with the pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli position most of the Left, whether in or outside of Israel, has taken over the past several years. Peace talks in Washington are about to launch and this boycott serves to highlight divisions in Israel and opens a door to the claim that Israel should be able to keep settlements and towns beyond the Green Line.
In keeping with the theatrical theme, the Palestinians are putting on some shows of their won. Salam Fayyad has announced the Palestinians are a year away from having the infrastructure for a state. He did this despite previous criticism from Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinians will not declare a state unilaterally. Mahmoud Abbas is no slouch himself when it comes to theater and in a sparkling performance on American television, he has stated that the peace talks will fail if Israel does not prolong its construction freeze in the settlements.
That freeze expires on September 26 and Netanyahu is under severe pressure to lift it. However, it appears that he may indeed extend it briefly in order to take this card out of the Palestinians’ hands. However, what is more pertinent is the Palestinian acting. For months, they have been dodging any talks at all and shifting the blame to Israel. Now that American pressure has compelled them to at least show up at the table, they are pretending they want to be there. For example, a number of Palestinian ministers have recently filmed one minute films, in English, telling Israelis how much they desire peace and what great peace partners they are.
Great peace partners don’t publish one thing in English and something different in Arabic. Historian Ephraim Karsh noted in his blog a couple of days ago that the Arabic press release by the PA about the upcoming peace talks makes no mention of a two-state solution at all. Great peace partners don’t scratch and claw away from the table for months and months while maintaining an international campaign of vilification of their peace partner.
The American administration is putting on its own show with these peace talks. They are obviously meant to have an impact on upcoming American elections by depicting Obama’s leadership as pro-active. How anything can come out of such talks when the Palestinians have done everything in their power to avoid them reveals more about American optimism and hubris than about the Palestinians whose goals are crystal clear.
Getting back to the Israeli actors and authors who have attached themselves to the Ariel boycott, it seems they’ve forgotten some things. Israel is a democracy. This democracy chose to support the construction and development of the town of Ariel. This democracy has also consistently included this town within its final borders in peace offers made to the Palestinians. As citizens of this democracy, they are just as culpable regarding the existence of Ariel as any other Israeli citizen. Their boycott undermines the legitimacy conferred by Israel’s support of this town.
The irony, of course, is that they can’t separate themselves from this democracy and its actions. They are its citizens. By legitimizing a boycott of a town their government has supported for decades, they are also supporting a boycott of Israel itself. After all, if the town is illegitimate, so are the state’s actions in support of the town. And if the state itself has sinned by creating this city, then it deserves the same response as the town itself.
This story is another example of how the Left not only weakens Israel, but has come to strengthen its enemies. I write this as somebody who, in theory at least although I am not sure how to do it in practice, believes that Israel will have to exit Judea and Samaria and possibly even unilaterally. One thing that is clear to me, however, is that Israel can only act when it is in a position of strength. When it is in a position of weakness, its enemies are strengthened.