The furor over Secretary of State John Kerry’s prediction of a devastating boycott if peace talks fail, flared anew on Tuesday as Anti-Defamation League chief Abe Foxman joined Israeli critics while National Security Advisor Susan Rice came to Kerry’s defense.
In a letter to Kerry, Foxman said that the remarks about Israel’s likely ostracism if no deal is reached will only encourage boycott advocates and the Palestinians to become less flexible in negotiations.
“In speaking about the price Israel will pay if the peace talks break down and Israel is blamed, you may have thought you were merely describing reality,” Foxman said. “But as the key player in the process, the impact of your comments was to create a reality of its own.”
“Describing the potential for expanded boycotts of Israel makes it more, not less, likely that the talks will not succeed; makes it more, not less, likely that Israel will be blamed if the talks fail; and more, not less, likely that boycotts will ensue,” Foxman wrote. “Your comments, irrespective of your intentions, will inevitably be seen by Palestinians and anti-Israel activists as an incentive not to reach an agreement; as an indicator that if things fall apart, Israel will be blamed; and as legitimizing boycott activity.”
Foxman’s letter was in line with reactions from Israeli politicians. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejected the boycott campaign as “immoral,” and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with a gun at its head.
National Security Advisor Susan Rice came to Kerry’s defense on Tuesday with a series of on-line comments:
“Personal attacks in Israel directed at Sec[retary] Kerry [are] totally unfounded and unacceptable. The U.S. government has been clear and consistent that we reject efforts to boycott or delegitimize Israel.”
Rice followed a State Department statement earlier in the week citing his “proud record of over three decades of steadfast support for Israel’s security and well-being, including staunch opposition to boycotts” and accusing critics of distorting his position.
Meanwhile, the diplomatic storm did not deter the European Union’s ambassador to Israel from issuing his own boycott warning on Monday.
Lars Faaborg-Andersen told Israeli media that “If Israel continues to expand its presence beyond the Green Line, without a peace agreement being signed, it will find itself increasingly isolated. Not necessarily because of any decisions taken at a government level but because of decisions taken by a myriad of private economic actors, be it companies, be it pension funds, be it consumers who will be choosing other product on the supermarket shelves.”