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Israeli Entrepreneurs, Fearing BDS and UN Recognition of Palestine, Announce New Peace Initiative

israeli peace initiative

Caption: 'Bibi Take the initiative, stop being dragged, start leading'

In a sign of the rising specter of BDS and its potential impact on Israel’s export driven economy (50% of its value is in exports), a group of 80 of the nation’s most important business leaders, met in closed session (Hebrew) sponsored by a peace group called Israel Initiates (website), to address their fears.  The outline of the initiative roughly follows that of the 2002 Saudi peace plan.  They agreed that if no political initiative was taken by Israel, the country’s financial stability was in grave danger.  Though it wasn’t clear what specific political plan they were advancing, their call was clearly a criticism of the quiescence of the Netanyahu government:

We’re fast becoming like South Africa.  The economic damage that will result from the boycott and sanctions will be felt by every Israeli family from the wealthy classes to the middle class and most harshly on the underclass.

These words were spoken by Eyal Ofer, son of the recently deceased Israeli billionaire Sami Ofer.  The Ofer conglomerate is one of Israel’s largest and most profitable with strong alleged ties to Israel’s defense and intelligence apparatus.  So a peace initiative originating from the Ofers must truly indicate a split of some sort among the Israeli far right political and military echelons and the more pragmatic elements.  The passage above and what follows is a summary of an article in Calcalist, Israel’s leading business journal, on the meeting.

The attendees expressed their fears of a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood by the UN General Assembly in September and the resulting political freeze to which Israel would be subjected as a result.  Ofer believes that if nothing is done Israel’s legitimacy will be seriously eroded on the world stage.  While businessmen don’t usually interpose themselves into the political process, said Ofer (quite naïvely or fatuously I might add), this is a situation that requires taking action to protect the Israeli economy.  Israel faces a very real threat that its major businesses and industries will be devastated by the actions that might follow upon a declaration of Palestinian statehood:

“Therefore,” said Ofer, we must exploit every resource we have to call upon the State of Israel to initiate a political process which will prevent such a boycott [or literally, “excommunication”].

Ofer revealed to the assembled business leaders that international labor associations have with difficulty prevented the adoption of resolutions which would call for boycott of Israeli products and forbid the unloading of Israeli ships containing imports from Israel.  Though such efforts have met mostly with success, the implication of Ofer’s words seemed to be that this success might not last for long, especially if the international outlook worsens.

Dan Gillerman, until recently Bibi’s UN ambassador told the assembled multitude that the day after the UN vote recognizing Palestine a process of “South Africanization” (how’s that for a political neologism?) of the State of Israel would begin.  He warned that the economic success enjoyed by the country today could easily explode in the aftermath of such a UN vote.  Gillerman claimed he’d received assurances from senior Palestinian officials that they preferred a genuine peace process to a unilateral approach.  Which means that a genuine peace initiative is demanded of the current Israeli prime minister [as opposed to the shame current policy] which would avert such a catastrophe.

Ofer told Calcalist that he wanted to remind the government that those in attendance at this session employed hundreds of thousands of Israelis and that their voice should be heeded.  That seemed a shot across Bibi’s bow for sure.

The initiative as outlined by Ofer and his co-founder, former Shin Bet director Yaakov Perry, focussed on the exchange of territory involved in a return to 1967 borders.  It proposed that some of the holy places would come under Israeli sovereignty and some under UN sovereignty.  The ultimate goal is to turn the Initiative into a social movement that goes beyond the business leaders featured and becomes more widely rooted like the Geneva Initiative.  Last month, representatives of the group met with the secretary-general of the Arab League and Egypt’s foreign minister to relay to them the substance of their initiative.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Adam Neira June 13, 2011, 10:37 PM

    This Israeli Peace Initiative has potential. Good luck to Iran Offer and his team. Glad to see that some creative ideas are coming from the business world. Entrepreneurialism has its benefits in many realms. If they need some help I know someone who could assist. Any good organisation must have a sound philosophical base, vision and command and control structure. Here is the divinely mandated corporate plan…

    A global population target of 8 billion by 2050. Current global GDP is approx. $60 Trillion. At a 5% compound interest growth rate this would equate to $383 Trillion by 2050. If 5% sounds high think Africa and South America. The collective GDP of Israel, Gaza, The West Bank/Judea and Samaria, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon. Egypt and Saudi Arabia is only $1.6 Trillion. By 2050 the average GDP per capita globally would be $47,875. If violence had been eradicated and there were no nuclear weapons hanging like a Sword of Damocles over the world then you could almost call it Ganeden. So World Peace by 2050 is not an esoteric idea. I can prove that the universe really is stable, ordered, benevolent and expansive. Violence is not innate.

    P.S. No matter how diabolical the configuration a Rubik’s cube can always be solved in 27 moves.

    • Shai June 13, 2011, 11:12 PM

      I know someone who could assist.

      I can prove that the universe really is stable, ordered, benevolent and expansive.

      I’d love to hear more! :D

  • shmuel June 13, 2011, 11:52 PM

    I’d always be very wary when very rich (what we used to call “capitalist pigs”) businessmen start involving themselves in politics.

    They invariably only think of their own enrichment, usually at the expense of the working classes, and any apparent altruism is only scheming and eventually will lead to their own betterment.

    The above applies to the Ofers and the al-Masris equally. These people will sell out the Palestinian refugees or Zionism or their own mothers for a quick penny.

    I’m surprised that the progressive camp (used to be socialist once) sees these figures as potential saviours.

    • J. June 14, 2011, 4:30 PM

      Nobody should see them as saviors — rather their action is some small indication that BDS is putting fear into them, as is it’s goal. It’s clear that the current leadership of Israel will legitimately negotiate for an end to the occupation only under duress (and military duress won’t work for a variety of reasons). If the BDS campaign, and/or the Palestinian ‘threat’ to get UN recognition, are applying such duress, that means they are working.

    • Richard Silverstein June 14, 2011, 5:37 PM

      That’s pretty ironic for an Israeli lawyer who serves as a military judge in the Territories when on reserve duty to slum with the working classes, which he hasn’t likely been part of for decades if ever. When was the last time you used the term capitalist pig in everyday conversation? I thought so.

      It’s interesting that all of sudden you develop class consciousness when you don’t like an entrepreneur’s politics. These business people employ hundreds of thousands of Israelis allowing them to put food on the table. YOu want their businesses to fail in the face of international boycotts, sanctions & divestment? You want them to move their businesses to countries where they won’t face a boycott & take the jobs w. them?

      As for al-Masri selling out the Palestinians, I’m offended by such impertinence. You don’t know him. You don’t know the suffering he’s faced & his family as well. When you know the least thing about him you can come back & speak. Till then, talk about what you know & not about things you’re totally ignorant of. It makes you look mean & shabby & morally obtuse.

  • georgy44 June 14, 2011, 1:16 PM

    these are no ” business leaders ” these are old faces
    of a politicians of dying political party

    these people dont know what is takes to earn a dime

    they have always been a the state payroll

    actually the list of sign is a clear evidence as to lack
    of real big and important faces

    in the meantime exports are inreasing
    some recent examples

    turkey which on public comes down on israel is buying more isr defence items then ever exposing itself to isr scientists

    fm china meets with isr fm for what the chinese fm calls
    “most important historic” talks

    nobody is worried but few irrelevant chickens . you well know most non military exports are “implanted” in semi finished products – manufactured by amer europ chinese
    plants held indirectly by isr businessmen

    the military stuff is sold all over world including states
    that come real hard on isr in public

    the military business opens up the market
    for mon military goods

    • Richard Silverstein June 14, 2011, 5:28 PM

      What stupid nonsense. Pure hasbara. Idan Ofer & his colleagues are not politicians which is precisely why this initiative is important. You haven’t even read the list & you claim they aren’t important. The Ofer family companies represent fully 25% of the value of the Israeli stock market. And that’s ONE participant alone. Which makes the rest of yr comment nonsense not to mention off topic. The topic of the post is not the details of the Israeli export market & whether it’s increasing or decreasing. If you publish off topic comments again you will be moderated.

  • marko polity June 14, 2011, 1:29 PM

    Eyal Ofer is not even an israeli resident

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