Sir Mick Davis is a lay leader of Britain’s Jewish community, described for his article in the online magazine Tablet, “How Israel Is Feeding BDS,” as “chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council in the United Kingdom and Founding Partner of X2 Resources LLP.” A business executive who grew up in South Africa (where he graduated from the Theodore Herzl School in Port Elizabeth), he lives with his wife and three sons in London.
Davis analyzes Israel’s current embattled situation sympathetically, but in a fair-minded and level-headed way. He has plenty of scorn for the current leadership of the Palestinian Authority, while also praising the earlier state-building efforts of former prime minister Salam Fayyad. Yet he sees Israel’s current political course as disastrous, and argues that Israel cannot be defended against BDS and against its enemies in general without embarking upon new policies. And this is how he criticizes the recent anti-BDS initiative launched in the American Jewish community:
No attempt was made in this latest initiative to ask how our story must change. Rather, their question is merely to ask how the same story could be retold, even louder. No questions are asked about whether some actions of the Israeli government, regarding its settlement policy for example, or demolitions in the West Bank, are tying the hands of Israel’s friends overseas in our struggle against BDS. No serious reflection is undertaken on whether there are serious steps Israel could take on the ground that might bolster efforts to seek peace, or to improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians.
The failure to ask these questions results in courses of action that may attract even greater financial resources but are incapable of succeeding—like appointing a right-wing Evangelical Christian Zionist to lead the fight against BDS in the left-liberal heartland of American university campuses. Like branding his group the “Campus Maccabees,” a name more suited to a university’s Jewish soccer team than to groups who need to make a contemporary, liberal-democratic, secular case for Israel to the policy elites of the future. It’s a strategy of putting our fingers deeper into our own ears while shouting louder.
Davis sums up his recommendations as follows:
Our fight against extremists, delegitimizers and boycotters will only gain momentum if it is accompanied by a new story that tells credibly of a renewed Israeli vision of how to move from the current stagnation to a viable two-state solution supported by concrete Israeli actions on the ground. This vision should be rooted in a set of core government policies that encompass, among other things,
1) The cessation of new settlement activity.
2) Arrangements within Israel that create clear conditions for voluntary resettlement now within the green-line of those currently living in settlements in the West Bank which are not within the major blocs likely to remain part of Israel under a peace deal.
3) The mobilization by both Israel and the International Community of programs to rebuild and renew infrastructure in both Gaza and the West Bank that will provide water, electricity and sewerage solutions which are both fair and affordable.
4) Constructive and continuous engagement by Israeli ministers with their Palestinian counterparts on specific programs that will incrementally facilitate free movement, investment, and entrepreneurship.
5) The recognition that today’s potential alliances within the greater region, as it grapples with the problems of an aggressive Iran and the march of ISIS, are a mechanism to find common cause in the resolution of the Palestinian conflict, which is essential to Israel’s security.
Our TTN booklet responds to some of the most common and inaccurate accusations made against Israel from the far left by activists trying to appeal to those who are committed to human rights and social justice.
Scholars for Israel & Palestine (SIP) Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine, Pro-Peace Scholars for Israel and Palestine comprises progressive academics who are pro-Israel, pro-Palestine, and pro-peace. We are committed to advancing a two-state solution to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine, bringing peace, justice and dignity to both sides. Click here for background, statements by the SIP and an application to join.
The Third Narrative engages with people on the left who suspect that it is wrong to lay all blame for the Arab-Israeli conflict at the feet of Israeli Jews but feel that too many Israel supporters reflexively support –or passively accept—the Israeli occupation. When it comes to this conflict, the truth is rarely black or white; it resides in a gray area where advocates on either side typically don’t like to venture.. » read more