When looking at the title of this article, a question that one is tempted to ask is: What is the connection?  BDS and culture have nothing to do with each other. If we examine this, we can see that BDS does affect culture freedom and democracy in Israel. How? One may ask.

The new Israeli Coalition Government is now right wing,  if not more towards extreme right wing. The Likud Election Campaign played on the feelings of many apolitical citizens, who were not motivated to vote. PM Benjamin Netanyahu is an expert at fomenting fear of Israel's Arab citizens, when he felt that his Likud Party was going to lose. His perspiring face and tactics, bordering on racism towards Israel's Arab minority citizens, worked to his advantage at the last minute.

Israel today is being threatened by BDS groups in Europe, the US and many parts of the world. This has created a "siege" mentality within the government as well as amongst many Israelis. The BDS threat against Israel is not really anti-Semitic (BDS encompasses a heterogeneous range of groups, including many anti-Semites identifying with BDS and Palestinian terrorist groups, such as Hamas that climb on to the BDS bandwagon, irrespective of the government's settlement policies in the occupied territories supporting the destruction of Israel), but against the occupation in the West Bank and the establishment of settlements there, whose legality in international law is questionable. BDS is a negative group that has nothing to contribute in any solution to this conflict. Much of the BDS propaganda is based on many hearsay falsities concerning Israel.

The lack of progress in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas's leadership is part of the problem. There are many reasons for this which I have delved on in previous articles and will not go into that here. One reason that does stand out is the failure of Israel's leadership to freeze settlements and continues to build new settlements in the West Bank. This is the official reason for the BDS movement to threaten Israel. The Israeli Government has not shown any desire to negotiate a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict because they are not even prepared to raise the issue of settlements in the West Bank, even as a preliminary for trust-building measures between the two sides. The lack of movement towards a Two-State Solution is a potential danger to peace. The instability in the Middle East with ISIS, Jabat al Nusra and a host of other Islamist terrorist groups, complicates the issue even further. The Israeli Government must be viewed as partly to blame for the strengthening of BDS movements against Israel because of their lack of vision in moving forward towards a solution of the impasse that exists. So the negotiations will be tough but at least there could be some hope in allowing the ball to fall into the Palestinian court if Israel gave some hint of concessions, even if the Palestinian negotiators view them with distrust.

How does this affect Israel's democracy? The government has developed a "siege" mentality because of the very complicated and hostile environment with its players surrounding Israel. Anybody in Israel, who does not agree with government policy and is viewed as left-wing, has the mark of Cain. Peacemakers are viewed as traitors to the siege mentality of the right wing government.  Dissent to government policy is not encouraged and is often viewed as a threat to national interests. This is a threat to democracy in Israel.

This threat seeps down to cultural activities as well. The Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev and the Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett are well known for their right wing views. They have formed a cartel  refusing to subsidize cultural activities that are not in accordance with their respective party ideology. The taxpayer's money goes to the Culture and Sport Ministry that should be non-political. After all, not all Israel's taxpayers are right wing supporters. The Regev-Bennett cartel claims that the voters have given them their support and this allows them to adopt their party line as well as their own criteria for subsidizing cultural activities. These two "paragons of culture" have made decisions on hearsay and not from being present at theatre performances of plays that they view as being anti-Israel. They have appointed themselves as the watchdogs of culture in Israel. They even decide that actors who do not wish to perform in settlements that are in the West Bank will not receive subsidies for the theatre groups to which they belong.  

The "siege" mentality of the government is a threat to Israel's democracy. This pathetic, self-righteous government is digging a trench and pulling its supporters into it out of fear.

Soon Israeli culture will be narrowed to the confines of non-controversial cultural projects in theatre, TV, literature, art and poetry. It will come as no surprise, if the government coalition will pass bills ensuring their criteria for subsidizing cultural activities. All this because of fear of open mindedness, even if it does not dovetail with their ruling, right wing ideology. 

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I am not quite sure as to what you are really trying to impart in this article. But you are right, cultural and sports activities must be non-political and once they delve into that realm than the government of the day MUST stop funding them. Nothing to do with democracy or "siege" mentality.

I also beg to differ on your definition that BDS is not antisemitic. This is no different than the boycott imposed by Muslim states after 1948 on companies that did business with Israel. Lets not forget that Israel was not "OCCUPYING"  Judea or Samaria or Jerusalem at that time. Terror and Boycotts still existed.

We must not start history in 1967 but look at the totality based on pre and post 1948.

I would like your opinion as to what would happen if  Israel withdrew from Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem as they did from Gaza and Lebanon. Would the Terror and the Rockets stop, would peace break out and would Boycotts and resolutions against Israel at the UN end. Would the Palestinians be happy and not try to flood Israel with "Refugees". would they accept an end of conflict clause and Israel as the Jewish Homeland?

I am curious as to what the peace camp is hoping for at the end of negotiations and in reality!

I do hope that what I have written below will give you an idea of the reality as I view it. It may not coincide with how the Peace Camp sees the reality. There has not been any initiation of negotiations and whatever the peace camp hopes for will remain a hope:

The idea of a two-state solution has been doing the rounds for many years to achieve a peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. Most countries in the world including the US, EU have expressed support for a two-state solution. A solution to the Israeli Occupation since the Six Day War of June 1967 has been discussed in international forums for many years, including negotiations with the Palestinians. There has been no progress towards a two-state solution.

While we all want a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, there is no sign that this is going to happen any time soon. The reasons are numerous and complicated. It is not because PM Netanyahu said that under his watch, there will be no establishment of Palestinian State. There is no situation on the ground that is conducive to negotiations.

In order to even arrive at negotiations, there must be a desire on both sides to reach a settlement. The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas and his chief professional negotiator for peace, Dr. Saeb Erakat represent nobody but themselves. According to the latest polls, Hamas support in the West Bank is on the increase and support for the PLO- oriented PA (Palestinian Authority) is on the wane. Even if a peace agreement between Israel and the PA is reached, Abbas will never sign because Hamas will never accept it. Hamas will only accept a "Peace Treaty" that delegitimizes Israel's right to exist. Israel’s establishment of settlements in the occupied West Bank is not an issue. As far as Hamas is concerned, Israel is occupied territory since 1948 and this is their mantra that is well outlined in the Hamas Charter which has not changed. The PA has had no general elections since 2006. It has no democratic institutions and no accountability to its people. Transparency in government is non-existent. They know that Hamas is breathing down other necks waiting to take over the West Bank if elections would take place. The result for Israel would be disastrous!  The PA and Hamas have signed an agreement even though it is shaky.

There is total instability in the Middle East with warring factions ranging from ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, the genocide of the Yazidis and Christians. Hezbollah, who are allies of Hamas, Salifis and many other Islamist terror groups are engaged in partisan terrorist activity. With all due respects, how on earth can one see a fertile ground for a two-state solution? One must also bear in mind that all these groups have an insatiable, pathological hate for Israel. These terrorist nationalist groups are hell bent on Israel's destruction. The UN is impotent and many of its members spend time on bashing Israel on "human rights abuse" concerning the Palestinians. The chaos in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon is hardly an issue. Iran and Turkey are also involved. The former is supporting Hezbollah and Syria’s butcher, Bashar el Assad, while the latter sits on the fence. The occupation and building settlements are opposed by many of us, however, we realize that the alternative is worse. If Israel relinquishes the occupied territories, it will be filled by Hamas and the West Bank will deteriorate into a second Gaza and Hamas terror, tunnel digging for the infiltration of Hamas terrorists into Israel will increase. This will be the alternative to the occupation. It is a reality and not an ideology. Ideology against the occupation and the reality of a barbaric scenario without the occupation is obvious. This is the choice we really have. Sorry for this pessimism! If only this was not the case. The biggest enemy of the Palestinian Leadership (Hamas and the PA) is the strong belief in their fantasy world of glory.  They create a reality based on their fantasies. In this attempt, they have much in common with ISIS and their terrorist ilk, despite their constant denials.

The Gaza War - Operation Protective Edge - broke out in July 2014 and lasted 50 days. Of course, the Palestinians in Gaza underwent traumatic suffering no matter how one views it. Large densely populated areas in Gaza were destroyed, leaving many people homeless. This was not the result of a natural disaster but Israel's military reaction to Hamas aggression, which Gideon Levy and his colleagues of like mind, ignore. The attempts at firing missiles into Israel by Hamas terrorist militants as well as digging tunnels to carry out murderous acts of terror created a situation whereby the IDF was forced to act in order to defend Israel's citizens. Hamas was warned but they took no heed. The result for the Palestinian population was tragic. It was grist for the mill of human rights activists sympathetic to the Hamas-oriented Palestinian cause and all that it entails.

This would be against their interests of portraying Palestinian suffering at the hands of the “cruel occupier - Israel”! There were cases where Palestinians did arrive in Israeli hospitals for medical treatment. How can one expect Israel to rehabilitate Gaza when Hamas was responsible for the tragedy as well as declaring war on Israel and not a natural disaster? Hamas was the cause of Palestinian suffering and destruction! The "peace loving" NGOs and their journalistic ilk avoided publishing the truth. Truth in Hamas eyes is based on fantasy in most cases as well as dishonest reporting.

The Hamas use of innocent Palestinians as human shields is well documented with Hamas rockets being fired from UNRWA property and from civilian areas added to the tragic death rate of many innocent Palestinians. One must also note that the Hamas leadership was hidden in shelters underground and not a squeak was heard from them while Palestinian human shields surrounded their “hidey holes” and took a battering. The "brave-fearless-in-rhetoric" Khaled Mashaal sitting on the gold pots in Qatar, Ismail Haniyeh as well as many other Hamas leaders in an underground shelter were conspicuous by their absence. They came out of their holes when a cease-fire was declared to sprout their rhetoric of bravado and fantasy victory.

After Operation Protective Shield, a ceasefire was declared and the destruction to Gaza was horrendous and the toll in death and destruction in Gaza was high. The blame for this must be laid at the doorstep of Hamas, who acted irresponsibility, crippled by their fantasies of victory, glory and irreconcilable hate for Israel that goaded them on to create a disaster for the Palestinians.

Today acts of terror against Israel still occur. Individual Palestinians go on the rampage periodically ramming their vehicles into innocent bystanders or stabbing people in the streets. These terrorists are imbued with an irreconcilable hatred for Jews and carry out individual terrorist acts.

The reality as portrayed in this article is not conducive to a Two State solution. It is a sad truth. It will remain a figment of the imagination to those, who are naive and ignorant to the reality on the ground in a sea of enemies surrounding Israel and the chaos in the Middle East of today.

Now I am really confused. If Netanyahu is right and there is no hope in the immediate future for peace , than why is  Peace Now and organization like them even relevant?  Are you saying that the Right has been on the right track all along and that the Left has been burying its head in the sand?

Democracy was never intended to be a suicide pact and there are limits as to what the red lines are in a democracy.  I am not even sure what the definition of Democracy is. Israel is scrupulously observing the freedoms that are part of democracy. Freedom of speech, Freedom to vote, Freedom of religion, Freedom to judicial access etc. These freedoms are not absolute and Freedom of speech has limits and does not have to be subsidized by the government-that is common is most countries including the greatest democracy that is the USA. However in one way or another all our freedoms are curtailed by rules and regulations. In Canada we have a freedom to life clause but in certain illnesses life saving drugs can be withheld if one cannot afford to pay for them. A person with an infection disease cannot knowingly infect another person. Religious schools are not subsidized- So why must Israel subsidized culture that is against the state. Israel does not curtail freedom of speech in culture, it just refuses to fund hateful speech.

Contrary to what the left is saying the status quo is sustainable and should only be changed once there are  ironclad guarantees rather than a piece of paper written in disappearing ink.In fact from 1967 to 1993 there was relative quiet a cold quiet but quiet nevertheless. Large scale death, terrorism and bombings occurred when Israel made "peace" with the Palestinians via the Oslo agreement  and some in fact have righteously labeled what happened since 1993 as the Oslo War.

Israel must ignore the Palestinians and get back to the Social problems Ashkenazi vs Sephardi, Orthodox vs Secular, Housing Prices, Cost of Living, Eradication poverty. That is what Israel was created for. If the Palestinians want a state let them dissolve the Terror groups, stop the culture of death, recognize Israel as the Jewish State, forego the Right of Return and Pledge an end of Conflict resolution. Until than lets keep the status quo and defend Israel at all costs.



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