Imagine that Israel is invading the Gaza Strip once more. The usual killing, destruction and ruin.
Tens of thousands of civilians flee for their lives after losing the little they had. Buildings collapse like houses of cards – and Israel continues as is its wont: The pilots bomb, the tanks advance, the media and the population in Israel cheer. Suddenly the international community takes a decision: If Israel does not withdraw immediately it will face sanctions. If the Gaza Strip does not become a no-fly, no-bombing zone at once, all flights to and from Israel will be canceled. Israel tries to thumb its nose as usual, citing the arguments of self-defence, terrorism and the Holocaust – and the world pulls out the new doomsday weapon: It severs Israel from the international banking transfer and communications system. Israel is without SWIFT. What is right and just for the invader of Ukraine is right and just for the invader of the Gaza Strip.
Without SWIFT, Israel would immediately implode. Perhaps the tyrannical Russian giant could stand it for a while – but not Israel. Within days, the captains of the economy would come to the heads of the government and the military and tell them: Stop now. We can’t take it. Just as business leaders in apartheid-era South Africa came to the white government and said: Stop. The only question remaining is how much longer the Israel Defense Forces would continue to destroy the Strip. One day? Two? A week? The IDF would withdraw, the siege would be lifted, Gaza would open, for the first time in years. All in one SWIFT motion.
Up until two weeks ago, such a scenario would have been considered unimaginable. But perhaps a new world order is taking shape: To any brutal assault on the helpless and any act of conquest, the international community will respond with punitive political and economic measures. Tanks are not necessary in order to move to budge intransigent states such as Israel. A shuttered Ben-Gurion International Airport and empty ATM’s will do the job, certainly here, in this fragile and self-indulgent state. Israelis will not agree to pay a personal price forever for campaigns of destruction in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria or the occupied West Bank.
There is no question of whether Israel would withstand it – it wouldn’t. The indifference of Israelis to what their country and army are perpetrating will be replaced immediately by worry and fears for their pockets. Even the greatest patriots, the most inveterate, military-worshiping warmongers, will think again. The question is whether the international community will stand for it. It’s one thing to punish Russia, but Israel? The darling of the West? Who would dare? The words “Israel” and “sanctions” have never been paired up before. Up to now no one has ever thought to genuinely punish Israel for its ongoing, arrogant defiance of the resolutions of international bodies. Perhaps something important has occurred in Ukraine. Perhaps after Russia it will no longer be possible to pardon Israel for everything. Perhaps the world is waking up.
In a country in which even the war in Ukraine is considered a business and Zionist opportunity – see the statements by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked about the opportunity to sell more weapons to the world and those of Knesset member Zvi Hauser, who wishes to bring more Ukrainian Jews here due to the war – people may wake up to an opposite reality. The war in Ukraine gives the world an opportunity not to be silent any long. Neither in regard to Russia nor in regard to Israel.
Will Israelis be willing to pay out of their own pockets for Evyatar, a revolting place that is soaked with the blood of freedom fighters, a place most Israelis have not and never will see? Will they continue to applaud the air force after every bombing if they know that every crime is followed by punishment? In the new and unknown global reality, anything is possible. It is possible that when the cannons fall silent, things will return to their normal routine, with Israel doing whatever it wants and ignoring the world that arms, embraces and finances it. But maybe they will not. In Washington, where this column is being written, new voices are already being heard. They may grow stronger when the war ends and the world will finally have its say and begin to act not only against tiny Russia – but against that which is dearest to it of all, to which everything is permitted.