Think tank: Israel faces global delegitimization campaign
By Barak Ravid

Israel is facing a global campaign of delegitimization, according to a 
report by the Reut Institute, made available to the cabinet on Thursday. 
The Tel Aviv-based security and socioeconomic think tank called on 
ministers to treat the matter as a strategic threat.

The report cites anti-Israel demonstrations on campuses, protests when 
Israeli athletes compete abroad, moves in Europe to boycott Israeli 
products, and threats of arrest warrants for Israeli leaders visiting 

Reut says the campaign is the work of a worldwide network of private 
individuals and organizations. They have no hierarchy or overall 
commander, but work together based on a joint ideology - portraying 
Israel as a pariah state and denying its right to exist.

Reut lists the network's major hubs - London, Brussels, Madrid, Toronto, 
San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley. The network's 
activists - "delegitimizers" the report dubs them - are relatively 
marginal: young people, anarchists, migrants and radical political 
activists. Although they are not many, they raise their profile using 
public campaigns and media coverage, the report says.

The "delegitimizers" cooperate with organizations engaging in legitimate 
criticism of Israel's policy in the territories such as Amnesty and 
Human Rights Watch, blurring the line between legitimate censure and 
delegitimization. They also promote pro-Palestinian activities in Europe 
as "trendy," the report says.

The network's activists are not mostly Palestinian, Arab or Muslim. Many 
of them are European and North American left-wing activists. The Western 
left has changed its approach to Israel and now sees it as an occupation 
state, the report says. To those left-wing groups, if in the 1960s 
Israel was seen as a model for an egalitarian, socialist society, today 
it epitomizes Western evil.

The delegitimization network sees the fight against the former regime in 
South Africa as a success model. It believes that like the apartheid 
regime, the Zionist-Israeli model can be toppled and a one-state model 
can be established.

The Reut team says the network's groups share symbols and heroes such as 
the Palestinian boy Mohammed al-Dura, American peace activist Rachel 
Corrie and joint events like the Durban Conference.

Israel's diplomats overseas, meanwhile, must counter the attempts to 
delegitimize the country. "The combination of a large Muslim community, 
a radical left, influential, English-language media and an international 
university center make London fertile ground for Israel's 
delegitimization," says Ron Prosor, Israel's ambassador in London.

Prosor gives many interviews to the British media and lectures at 
university campuses throughout the country. Although he says he has 
encountered anti-Israel demonstrations on almost every campus, Prosor 
has told his people to increase their campus activity.

"What is now happening in London universities will happen, at most, in 
five years at all the large universities in the United States," he says.

The Reut report says Israel is not prepared at all to deal with the 
threat of delegitimization. The cabinet has not defined the issue as a 
threat and sees the diplomatic arena as marginal compared to the 
military one.

"The Foreign Ministry is built for the challenges of the '60s, not the 
2000s," the report says. "There are no budgets, not enough diplomats and 
no appropriate diplomatic doctrine."

Reut recommends setting up a counter-network, in which Israel's 
embassies in centers of delegitimization activity would serve as "front 

The report says the intelligence service should monitor the 
organizations' activities and study their methods. The cabinet should 
also confront groups trying to delegitimize Israel but embrace those 
engaged in legitimate criticism.

The report adds that Israel should not boycott these groups, as Israel's 
embassy in Washington does with the left-wing lobby J Street. Boycotting 
critics merely pushes them toward joining the delegitimizers, Reut says.