Monday, June 27, 2011

The de-legitimization myth

Op-ed: De-legitimization campaign against Israel will continue with or without the settlements

Dani Magner

The buzzword in the political-diplomatic discourse at this time is “legitimacy,” or more accurately, “de-legitimacy.” In most cases, the term describes the anti-Israel offensive by Muslim and radical leftist groups that seek to deny the State of Israel’s right to exist by ceaselessly condemning it.

The common public perception that Israel’s international status is at an all-time low not only glorifies the extent of de-legitimization in the eyes of the public, but also gives rise to the conclusion that “if all of this is happening, we must be doing something wrong.” Leftists translate this conclusion to “the government is at fault.” Yet before we rush to level such charges, we better examine whether this is indeed the case. In 2000, we were told that Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon will undermine the legitimacy of Hezbollah. We were told that Hezbollah’s very essence and reason for being was expelling the IDF from Lebanese territory, and hence, immediately upon Israel’s retreat the group would lose its right to exist. Well, since that time, Hezbollah has turned from a terror group to an organized guerilla army, while in practice taking over power in Lebanon. All of this happened “thanks” to moves that were meant to undermine the organization’s legitimacy.

In 2005, Israel uprooted any Jewish presence from the Gaza Strip, be it civilian or military, while our political and military leaders made it clear that Israel would have full legitimacy to respond harshly to any Hamas violation. Since that retreat, more than 7,000 rockets and mortar shells had been fired from the Strip. When Israel finally chose to respond harshly, we got “de-legitimization” from the international community in the form of the distorted Goldstone Report.
Legitimacy no more than fiction

There are numerous such examples. The fact that Gaza’s markets are booming and that the Rafah Crossing has been reopened does not undermine the bogus legitimacy of the organizers of the latest flotilla to Gaza. The proven effectiveness of the security fence in curbing terrorist infiltrations does not grant it legitimacy in Europe’s eyes. Elsewhere, it appears that the Iranian president’s and Syrian president’s illegitimacy does not stop the former from pursuing nuclear weapons and the latter from butchering his own people with tanks and gunships.

In a self-interested world lacking objective moral standards, legitimacy is no more than fiction. It is a fluid term that is certainly not objective. Hence, Israel cannot gain “legitimacy” and Israel’s enemies cannot lose it.

Instead of speaking in terms of legitimacy, Israel must speak in terms of “public opinion” and not allow bogus legitimacy to guide its decision-making processes. Make no mistake about it: We must not downplay what is known as the “de-legitimacy offensive,” which constitutes a well-organized effort to enlist global public opinion against Israel. However, we must understand that this effort is a result of anti-Semitism.

De-legitimacy will always find a pretext: The security fence, the status of Israeli Arabs, the nuclear arms Israel is said to possess, Palestinian return demands and so on. De-legitimacy will continue with or without the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria, with or without the Golan Heights, with or without east Jerusalem, and with or without the whole of Jerusalem.

Even a peace treaty will constitute no more than a painkiller for this phenomenon and certainly not uproot it; its roots have to do with the sharp rise in the number of Europe’s Muslim inhabitants and the anti-Semitism entrenched in large parts of the population there. Proponents of diplomatic moves or concessions in response to the de-legitimacy offensive are proposing that we take painkillers at the cost of renouncing the State of Israel’s opening positions and strategic assets.

I finally got it when a Canadian guy named Brandon, who I correspond with on Facebook, told me that this year Israel razed 12 mosques in Tel Aviv and built “Zionist business towers” on their ruins. This example illustrates that the public opinion battle between us and our haters has no connection to objective reality. Hence, Israel must focus on changing global public opinion, rather than capitulate to its capricious dictates.

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