Aug. 16, 2018
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser led the Israeli government’s efforts against the BDS movement until 2014. He now works for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He headed the research division of IDF military intelligence during the Second Intifada, has good Arabic, and was appointed director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs in 2009.
Kuperwasser says the threat BDS poses to Israel is very real. “The core issue is not whether they are going to boycott us or not boycott us. The core issue is whether they are going to be successful in implanting in the international discourse that Israel is illegitimate as a Jewish state.”
“The Palestinians are taking a very big risk,” he said. “Because, in my mind, there is a good chance that the world will deny their conceptual framework. People will say: ‘This is what the Palestinians want?! We are totally against it. They are crazy; they want Israel to disappear.'” In Kuperwasser’s view, the BDS movement and the Palestinian leadership share the same goals; the differences between them are merely a matter of tactics.
“Abu Mazen [Abbas] understands more than the BDS movement that you have to be subtle.” The PLO’s acceptance of a two-state solution was merely a subterfuge designed to obtain a West Bank-Gaza state, which would then serve as a launching pad for continued struggle. “The Palestinian idea of struggle is so deeply embedded in their mind that they cannot actually think about the possibility of giving up the struggle in order to make peace.”
“We are saying there is no difference between a settlement boycott and a boycott of Israel. If you want to promote the boycotting of Israel, any part of Israel, you are not a friend of Israel. You are actually an enemy of Israel.”
Kuperwasser was confident that Israel was taking the right approach and would succeed, as it had against past assaults: “We won the war on the conventional battlefield. To start with, our chances were very slim. We won the war on terror. Again, it wasn’t easy.”
“I remember when we went to the big battle – the Second Intifada – and many generals around the world were telling me, ‘Listen, Kuper, you’re wasting your time: nobody ever won a war against terrorism,’ citing Vietnam and other cases. And I said: ‘No, we shall win this war as well. We are innovative and determined enough. And unlike many other battles, we don’t have a second option, an alternative. We have to win.’ The same goes here. We shall win.”