May 15, 2011
The Hebrew online news site Calcalist reports that some of Israel’s most senior and powerful businessmen conducted a meeting last week to begin promotion of the “Israel Initiates” peace initiative in order to head off the growing international movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
“We are quickly turning into South Africa” noted Idan Ofer to the Israeli paper Calcalist, a prominent Israeli player in international ventures and future technologies. “The economic damage in the wake of boycott and sanctions will be felt by every family in Israel. The top percentiles, members of the middle class and first and foremost the distressed classes,” he added.
Together with Yaakov Peri, the former head of Israel’s General Security Services (GSS) and Dani Gilerman, the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Ofer initiated the meeting of some 80 of Israel’s most prominent businessmen.
“Global business provide us with heightened senses and in recent months we are experiencing signs of substantial erosion in the legitimacy of the state of Israel, stated Ofer. “If in the past the community of business people tended to desist from taking a position in relation to the political process, today’s situation obligates us to act in defence of the Israeli economy. In an age in which exports represent almost 50% of the gross domestic product, damage to Israel’s international position will immediately endanger jobs and households in Israel.” Therefore, said Ofer, “we must act with all the means at our disposal to call on the government of Israel to initiate a political initiative that will prevent any possibility of the imposition of a boycott on Israel.”
Dani Gillerman, the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, said “the morning after the expected recognition of a Palestinian state, a dramatic and painful process of South Africanisation of the state of Israel will commence. The economic quiet existing today in Israel is illusionary, and is very likely to explode immediately following the declaration. I continue even today to receive messages from senior Palestinian officials that the Palestinian side prefers a peace agreement over a unilateral move. Therefore, the (Israeli) prime minister must initiate a real political process which will allow this, and prevent a catastrophe from an Israeli perspective.”
Calcalist reports that “Until now”, Gilman added, “we enjoyed legitimacy despite the situation of occupied territories, but if the state will not do something we will be perceived as South Africa 2 and that will harm the economy.