While an impasse prevails on the diplomatic front, time does not stand still. Two processes are taking place at this time and are advancing slowly yet unabatedly: One is the de-legitimization of Israel and the other is the shift towards a bi-national state. These two processes are a direct result of the situation in Judea and Samaria, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians live without civil rights.
The recent Boycott Law is also a result of this situation. The state of affairs in the territories opened the door to the baseless charge whereby the settlements in the territories are illegitimate, and therefore the whole of Israel is illegitimate and should be boycotted. Amazingly enough, we heard such calls, to boycott Israeli academia, from within our own academia.
Simultaneously, we are witnessing domestic processes that grant legitimacy to a bi-national society, which would naturally lead to a bi-national state. We are hearing that Haifa’s Law Faculty stopped playing the national anthem as not to offend Arab students. We are also facing a High Court ruling about the question of recognizing the Palestinian right of return via marriage. Should such right be granted, this would of course constitute a leap towards a bi-national state.
The Boycott Law is the opposite mirror image of the anti-Israel’s charge regarding legitimacy. This law cries out: “Israel is legitimate, and therefore the settlements are also legitimate.” Hence, those who boycott the settlements are like those who boycott Israel.
However, the two abovementioned arguments are equally flawed, and the view whereby those who recognize Israel’s legitimacy must necessarily recognize the legitimacy of the settlements is far from convincing.
I objected to the establishment of the settlements at the heart of a dense Palestinian population, yet I also object to boycotting them. Such boycott merely heightens the rift and will not promote a solution. Similarly, I also object to the anti-boycott law: Fighting against anti-Israel boycotts is one matter, and I assume that most of the public will support it, yet mixing the settlements into the issue is another matter.
Here we are dealing with a domestic argument, and in the framework of such disputes – whether political or economic – boycotts had been imposed on occasion. Even if this is not a desirable move, there is no room to fight it via legislation (with the exception of cases where boycotts are premised on racist or similar arguments.)
The Boycott Law will not be granting legitimacy to the settlements and will not make it easier for the government in the international arena. It will help precisely those who call for de-legitimacy of the whole of Israel. This law will not stop the dangerous process of shifting to a bi-national state and may even boost the elements that aspire for it.
We must focus on the essence: Securing a worthy solution in the West Bank rather than wasting our energies on futile struggles pertaining to marginal issues that will not assist us and may even hinder the struggle against the real dangers faced by Israel.