This integrative strategic policy paper is based upon JPPI’s comprehensive seven-year project on the international de-legitimization campaign against Israel. This enterprise, has been led by the author of this paper, JPPI Senior Fellow Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Herzog. JPPI has been a pioneer in identifying and addressing this threat with action-oriented policy planning. Brig. Gen. Herzog brought his vast experience as former head of strategic planning for the IDF and chief of staff to four ministers of defense. Herzog refers to the Israel de-legitimization campaign as a serious long-term threat faced by Israel and the Jewish people. JPPI believes that it could be effectively fought with a coherent strategy and appropriate means, as outlined by this paper.
In his illuminating overview, JPPI’s Co-Chair Amb. Dennis Ross puts the issue into historical perspective, reminding us of the long tradition of boycotts and divestment initiatives leveled at Israel since its birth. He highlights the uniqueness of today’s battle for Israel’s legitimacy. Amb. Ross brings to the effort his vast knowledge as one of the most prominent policy planners in recent geopolitical history. The experience he has acquired in recent years as one of the most sought after public figures in the field – frequently appearing in the international media and addressing and interacting with students and academics on college campuses is also well reflected in his analysis. His advice and assessments are routinely solicited by all manner of politicians, organizational professionals and lay leaders, decision makers and opinion leaders.
JPPI began by determining the criteria for distinguishing between legitimate criticism and the denial of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. The extensive project comprises nearly 20 papers spanning a wide range of areas including: security, diplomacy, economics, religion, international law, media, new media, campuses, intellectual and philosophical underpinnings, Europe as the cradle of anti-Israel phenomena, the participation of Jewish individuals and organizations in and against de-legitimizing activity, and more.
In the Israeli Cabinet meeting of June 23, 2013, JPPI presented to Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers the policy recommendation that a unified, coordinated effort – under the auspices of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs – to fight the contemporary phenomena of de-legitimization be made. This critical effort was inspired by JPPI’s partner Nathan (Natie) Kirsh, who embodies a singular commitment to the Jewish people and has invested significant resources in Israel both as a businessman and a philanthropist. Kirsh understood from the start that a focused effort to combat de-legitimization under one authority was critical to succeeding.
The recommendation was adopted and implemented. The Cabinet Communiqué released by the Cabinet Secretary directly following JPPI’s presentation quotes the prime minister:
De-legitimization is a very serious phenomenon. It is a network of incitement against Israel and the Jewish People in order to undermine the existence of Israel as the Jewish national state and its right to defend itself by itself against its enemies. To our regret, this is a wave that has grown in recent years. For a long time, many efforts have been made, both by the Government of Israel and organizations in Israel and around the world to deal with this phenomenon. However, in order to optimize efforts, coordination between the various active bodies must be improved via a comprehensive action plan.
I would like to thank the JPPI and its leaders, Stuart Eizenstat, Dennis Ross and Avinoam Bar Yosef for their ramified and welcome contribution on this matter. In light of the data they presented:
I have assigned to the Strategic Affairs Ministry the overall responsibility for the struggle against de-legitimization, including coordinating the efforts with organizations in Israel and around the world in dealing with the phenomenon directed against Israel and the Jewish People. In the framework of its responsibilities, the Strategic Affairs Ministry will coordinate a professional staff on the struggle against de-legitimization. We will see to it that the Ministry will have at its disposal the authority and the tools necessary to carry out this important mission. The Strategic Affairs Ministry will be responsible for developing a strategy and ways to combat de-legitimization and will work to implement them.
This Cabinet decision shows the impact of JPPI as a professional think tank positioned between the academy and decision makers.
I would like to thank our Co-Chairs Dennis Ross and Stuart Eizenstat for their guidance. I also want to thank our board member Prof. Irwin Cotler, who was among the first to understand the threat and who authored in 2002 our first alert paper titled New Anti-Jewishness. This paper informed our early thinking on the subject. My special thanks and appreciation go to Michael Herzog for his stewardship of this project in all its complexity; as well as Dr. Shlomo Fischer for his chapters on the Jewish arena; Dr. Dov Maimon for his study on the Europe phenomena; and Colonel Adv. Daniel Reisner and Arielle Kandel for their contributions in the legal sphere. I also extend thanks to Dan Feferman for his assistance in this effort.
I am confident that his paper will inform and guide the continuing unified struggle in Israel and the Diaspora against the proponents of BDS who seek to undermine the Jewish state, discount its vibrant democracy and weaken its synergistic ties with the Jewish Diaspora.