London as a Hub for Delegitimization
This draft document is a product of concern, hope, and confidence. Concern because our analysis covering the years 2006-2009 led us to conclude that Israel is subject to a systemic and systematic assault on its political and economic model, which aims to precipitate its implosion. This campaign is inspired by the collapse of countries such as the Soviet Union and apartheid South Africa.
This assault is executed by two forces acting in parallel and with cooperation. The first is the Resistance Network, led by Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah, that rejects Israel's right to exist based on Arab and Islamist nationalist-religious ideology. The second is the Delegitimization Network, which is primarily concentrated in a few major cities such as London, Brussels, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and denies Israel's right of existence based on political, philosophical, or historical arguments.
The assault has grown in sophistication and effectiveness to a point at which it should be treated as a strategic concern of potentially existential implications. However, it has been met by an under-resourced and uncoordinated local and situational response, and by an oblivious State of Israel.
Our hope stems from many concrete examples of mobilization toward a more thoughtful, concerted, well-resourced, effective, and efficient global and systemic offense against the delegitimization campaign. These are evident in responses generated by the Government of Israel, as well as those initiated by Jewish communities, non-governmental organizations, philanthropists, and activists worldwide.
Our confidence stems not only from a general Jewish community sense that 'we shall overcome,' or from its Israeli sibling of 'it will be okay' (yihiyeh be'seder), but also from our current understanding of the challenge. The delegitimization campaign is primarily led by a relatively small group of individuals and non-governmental organizations, concentrated in a few major metropolitan areas around the world, that have amplified their influence by disguising their agenda under banners of 'peace,' 'human rights,' and other progressive values. We believe that Israel's delegitimizers are relatively few, concentrated, and vulnerable – therefore, their plans can be disrupted.
The objective is simple: Delegitimizing delegitimization. In other words, our collective aim should be to strengthen the fundamental legitimacy of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, where it realizes its right of self-determination, and to render those voices that challenge this right beyond the pale. Naturally, this will not mitigate criticism or controversy surrounding specific Israeli policies, particularly vis-à-vis the Palestinians or its Arab minority.
This is the context for the centrality of London. Londoners have played a key role in all major recent delegitimization campaigns, including the Durban conferences, the Gaza Flotilla, and the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) Movement. Several attributes, elaborated upon in this document, contribute to London's influence on global delegitimization campaigns.
The purpose of this document is to catalyze a systemic approach in London. Meeting the challenge of Israel's delegitimization requires a loosely coordinated and orchestrated response, sometimes even taking a personal or non-public form. Therefore, all parties will have to leave their comfort zones: Israel will have to let Jewish communities lead the counter-attack in places, such as London, that require nuance and cultural sensitivity; and Jewish institutions will have to allow for innovative thinking, new tools, and aggressive experimentation that usually takes place outside of the established community. All parties will have to come to terms with the idea that it takes 'all instruments in the orchestra' to win this fight. Importantly, critics from the political left, because they represent liberal values, are also an invaluable voice in delegitimizing Israel's delegitimization, notwithstanding their common criticism of the Jewish community's traditional institutions and the policies of the State of Israel.
This document is a 'draft' not only in the traditional sense that we look forward to learning from the feedback that we will receive, but also because we view it as a snapshot of a work-in-progress. The delegitimizers' network is rapidly evolving, and we need to maintain a mode of constant learning and adaptation accordingly. To date, delegitimizers often operated under the radar, and many of their initiatives went uninterrupted and unopposed. Now, as Israel and its allies step up their activity, so will the delegitimizers. In other words, this is a struggle that will require the best of our innovation and creativity for years to come.
The Reut Institute has invested many of its resources in our work in London because we believe that an effective response in London will have global implications for our ability to counter this assault. We hold this to be true not only because London is the 'hub-of-hubs' of the delegitimization network, but also because network theory teaches us that many of our lessons from London will be relevant in other 'hubs,' such as the San Francisco Bay area or Toronto. To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, we say: "If it can be done there, it can be done anywhere."