Monday, 8 November 2010


At lunch with friends in Tel Aviv, as our argument grew more heated, my host said to me, “I hope that you are not talking like this when you are abroad, causing damage to Israel’s reputation in the UK.” “No”, I was able to reassure him, “there is no need for me to do so; damaging Israel’s reputation is adequately taken care of by the Israeli government.”

Several days later, this time at dinner with friends, I spoke about the possible effect of external pressure on Israel. If one considers Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories to be illegal why not boycott their produce? Or, would not the application of serious financial pressure on Israel make Israelis rethink their support of governments that are trying to widen their hold on the Occupied Territories? The reaction of one of my friends was that for an Israeli to support a boycott of any kind amounts to treason, adding that there were laws dealing with treason.

Most of my friends object to Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Territories and support a withdrawal from the territories within a framework of a peace agreement. They do not support any of the right wing parties that currently rule the country. However, there is a general discomfort with what in German is referred to as Nestbeschmutzer, one who soils his own nest. In today’s global world with open media, internet and travel, the notion of keeping criticism “secret” is rather unrealistic. Yet, even those who criticise their country internally shy away from criticising their country abroad.

I, too, would prefer Israel to act morally out of conviction and driven by its values rather than under external pressure. BUT, if the only way to get Israel to change tracks and get out of the mess it has got itself into since 1967 is for the USA and Europe to apply strong pressure, then such pressure should be applied. Sooner rather than later.


  1. Soon you will lose all the remaining friends in Israel...It's happening already to me.

    Shaul Zadka

  2. I can reassure your Israeli friends that you are definitely not a Nestbeschmutzer abroad. Is that good or bad…

    In Italy, the principle of stirring everyone into the same ugly soup, i.e. the equalization of politicians and, if possible, most citizens on the lowest moral and ethical standards for political and national issues, so that nobody dares to stand out against or even apart from assumed and manipulated main stream opinions, has been working quite successfully. Have Israel’s policy makers been learning from Berlusconi and his friends? In Italy, personal attacks (diffamation?) are also applied to shut up people: Ein bisschen Dreck hat doch jeder unterm Teppich, erst recht der Gegner, und wenn man es nur mit Hilfe von Pressekampagnen (basierend auf falschen Dossiers) erfindet.

    The sad fact is, if the situation doesn’t change completely and very soon in the Occupied Territories, it’s only a matter of time until Israel get’s destroyed. 200, 100, 50, 20 years? Do Israelis want to be forced to flee again one day? To Germany, England, the US, Australia, Canada…

  3. Asking Israel`s friends and foes to boycott its products?
    How quaint.

    Now Robespierre, there was a man who knew what to do if somebody didn`t share his minority view!
    He had everybody decapitated.

    And all the while he wore a spotless white shirt.

  4. aka don't piss on your own in front of the nice (or nasty) neighbours

    I'm interested in the juxtapostion of David the heathen Jew (Israeli?) , and scourge of the Pope (as the embodiment of the Church - but would you take him as seriously if he was Italian rather than German?). The interesting thing is that your objection to Israel's stance has less to do with religion - its morality or institutional perfidy - than the ruthless pragmatism of its political class, which it shares with with most Western democracies. This is a quintessentially secular trait, leaving aside the local peculiarities.

  5. reading your blog I am often surprised how openly you dare to criticise Israel politics. I was admiring both your boldness as an Israeli National and former soldier and the amazing freedom and liberality among Israelis that allows you to do so.

    From my remote perspective Israel appeared as a haven of civil liberties, taking into account the decades of constant threat and compared to other societies at war.

    "Treason" however is a threat severe enough to let me balance my admiration anew. Even more boldness on you side and less civil liberties in Israel.

  6. Friedemann, thank you for your comments.

    Civil liberties are probably fine for Jews, less so for Arabs. The "treason" comment reflected the feelings of my friend with regard to Israelis invovled in anti-Israeli propaganda. It does not desribe te legal situation.