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June 3, 2015 5:42 pm

The Insidious Marketing of the BDS Campaign

avatar by Jack Saltzberg

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BDS supporters. Photo: Mohamed Ouda via Wikimedia Commons.

The boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement promotes itself as a non-violent “civil society” human rights organization trying to bring peace to a victimized people and the world. It is not. BDS is, in fact, the marketing arm of the same Arab-Muslim people and organizations that have unsuccessfully tried to destroy Israel since its establishment. This includes the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Fatah, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Arab League, and Iran. BDS leaders also have direct connections with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

These entities are less known for their humanity than their brutal and long history of terrorism, extreme violence, murders, and human rights atrocities (against their own people and others).

Pushing peaceful propaganda while secretly promoting violence and human rights violations is nothing new. Look no further than the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and many of the revolutionary countries of South America.

However, unlike in the past when Arab-Muslims singularly waged conventional and terrorist wars against Israel, BDS brilliantly recruits legions of “well doers” (including Jews) who, either because of ignorance or agenda, help disseminate BDS’ lies, hatred, and anti-Semitism.

BDS revitalized the Arab-Muslim war against Israel and storm(troop)ed across Europe and North America, succeeding in getting many to believe utterly false accusations against Israel; foremost among them that Israel is a racist, genocidal, colonizing, apartheid state that abuses Palestinians at every turn.

People who know the facts struggle to understand how the public at large (both Jews and non-Jews), and supposedly educated college students in particular, can so easily embrace BDS’ fabrications, distortions, and outright lies.

The answer is simple: marketing.

The BDS movement took its marketing idea directly from the most infamously successful marketing campaign ever: Hitler’s Master Race concept. What was Herr Goebbels’ marketing strategy? “Tell a lie big enough and often enough, and people will begin to believe it.” That, along with P.T. Barnum’s “There’s a sucker born every minute,” is the complete foundation of the BDS movement.

BDS successfully uses four tactics while meshing all seamlessly and insidiously:

1. Obfuscating its ultimate goal

The world at large, and specifically most BDS supporters, believe that BDS seeks a two-state solution where a new country of Palestine will sit peacefully next to Israel. This is false. BDS’ written and stated goal is a “single state” of Palestine that includes present day Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Furthermore, by virtue of BDS’ several demands, Israel would no longer be a Jewish state, but rather would become – as BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti has publicly stated – “…a Palestinian state next to a Palestinian state.”

2. Leveling unadulterated lies against and about Israel

In a propaganda video (produced by Students for Justice in Palestine) to convince students to vote to divest from Israel, a female student from Loyola University Chicago states: “As an Ethiopian, I do not want the university that I attend to support a government that mistreats African immigrants seeking asylum and sterilizes 50% of the Ethiopian women upon entrance to Israel.”

Although this student most likely believes that her statement is true, her massive ignorance does not mitigate the irreparable harm that she causes. Even though this type of exaggerated lie is no different than BDS’ garden variety lies, there is no legal deterrent to stop them. A person or organization cannot be sued for committing slander or libel against a people, race, religion, or country, no matter how blatantly offensive it is.

Through the dissemination of lies, such as the mass sterilization of innocent women of color, BDS achieves several goals:

  • Equates Israelis and Jews to Nazis
  • Promotes Israel as a racist country
  • Strengthens BDS’ ties with minority and progressive groups
  • Places Israel on the defensive
  • Legitimizes armed resistance (violence) against Israelis and Jews
  • Wins over the uninformed masses
  • Drives a wedge between the U.S. and Israel

The only recourse to lies is education. Unfortunately, by the time their lies are promoted and embraced globally, it is often too late to overcome.

3. Rewriting history while creating a new narrative

BDS actively markets the Palestinian Authority’s ongoing rewriting of history: both denying Jewish historic and modern day claims to Israel, while creating a new thousand year Palestinian history.

In BDS’ history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, there are no wars caused by the Arabs (if wars are mentioned at all), no Palestinian terrorism, no missiles against Israel, and certainly no violence against Jews.There is only the reporting of Arab deaths caused by Israel. Look no further than the United Auto Workers Local 2865 website. They voted to divest from Israel based on, among other things, listing the deaths of Arabs killed in Gaza by Israel with no mention of the Palestinian terrorist tunnels, kidnappings, murders, and missiles fired into Israel.

4. Deflecting from true human rights violators

Throughout the Arab world (including in the West Bank and Gaza), some Muslims commit human rights violations of the worst kind (including against their own people). Yet, in a twist of unparalleled marketing, BDS succeeds in getting many college students to believe that Israel – a country with total gender, racial, sexual orientation, and religious equality – is the single greatest human rights violator globally.

BDS’ deflection of human rights abuses away from the Arab-Muslim world and onto Israel further removes the Arab world’s responsibility for failing to correct the West Bank and Gaza Arabs’ situation since 1948. Where the Arab world’s money and influence could have established a culture of peaceful coexistence with a willing Israel, for political reasons, it purposely fostered an environment of hatred and violence.

One of the greatest casualties of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been the truth. Many college professors, students, union activists, clergy, Jews, businesses, organizations, countries, and the world at large have embraced historical falsities because of agenda, laziness, or ignorance.

The saddest fact is that those who agree with BDS will continue marching until they accidentally or intentionally destroy Israel. And those who want to fight BDS simply don’t know how.

But the same question remains for the ignorant, who may one day realize their abhorrent mistakes, and those who want to fight BDS: Will it be too little, too late?

Jack Saltzberg is the founder and executive director of The Israel Group, the first nonprofit established to fight the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement in North America.  Saltzberg has been a nonprofit professional leader for nearly 20 years and he served in combat in the Israel Defense Forces.”‹

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  • Denise Nussbaum

    Excellent article, Jack! Right on point, as always!

  • Sharon Kesselman


    This if by far, one of the best articles I have read on the lies of the BDS movement and all of the Anti-Israel and Anti-Semitic news we have increasingly been exposed to. Thank you for your clear and reasonable communication on this subject.

    Perhaps if other national and international news outlets could disseminate this article, it might make a small dent in the ignorance most people have of the real Middle East.


  • Ron

    How do we fight the BDS?

  • Pam Buckroyd

    Because, as your article shows, words create realities, I would not say BDS will lead to destruction of Israel. I do not think they will succeed if only because God intervenes (which I expect to happen). And then anti-Israel (and neutral) groups will find themselves on the wrong side of history. Thank you for exposing BDS.

  • You missed one important promoter of BDS: the Netanyahu and ultra-right coalition governing Israel. Netanyahu has alienated almost every country in the world. Netanyahu has made the efforts of the promoters of BDS all to easy.

  • As stated in the article when the Nazis were riding the Hitler train under super progandist J Gobbels he did state that tell a lie, I’m tell it over and over again and eventually enough people will believe it to be the truth.

    The 21st a Century is seeing a reinactment of that very same libel and slander. Ant-Semitism is becoming the new truth for hate.

  • We the public seem to care more than the Prime Minister who still hasn’t appointed a foreign minister. This is gross incompetence, hubris and dereliction of duty. Although I put a white slip in the ballot box this last election; I always go to the polls; I will vote against Netanyahu when the next elections are called. The only reason I didn’t vote for Herzog, was because he aligned himself with that opportunist Tzipi Livni.

  • jack shnaier

    I am 86 years of age.I see the same Nazi style pattern emerging with the BDS movement.I agree with the writer of this article.The propaganda arm of the Arab world is rich & powerful.It has petro-dollars to spend to subvert the truth about Israel,Judaism visa vie the Arab Muslim world.The truth must be brought to the knowledge of all fair minded people ” BDS is a form of NAZI STYLE PROPAGANDA”

  • steven L

    BDS = Racism = Goebbels MO.

  • Leo Toystory

    Anti-BDS individuals and organizations should take a lesson from the “occupy” and “black lives matter” groups
    and begin publishing the home addresses of everyone associated with the BDS crime syndicate.

  • Boycott and divest all you want. However, please go beyond SodaStream and Israeli food exports. Stop using all products of Israeli origin including; microprocessors, cellular phones, hundreds of medical technological and procedural advances, groundbreaking agricultural technology and on and on.
    Israel stands up very well against any honest comparison with its neighbors when it comes to issues of human rights and treatment of religious and ethnic minorities. In many parts of the Islamic world openly practicing any religion other than Islam is a death sentence. Jews were driven from a number of Arab states usually only with the clothes on their backs. When tragedy strikes around the world, Israel sends relief supplies, medical personnel and rescue experts. How much assistance has been offered by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, etc. By my way of reckoning it is a big fat 0, zilch, nada.

  • Obama’s relations with Israel and other Nations r8
    Obama has no credibility or respect from many of the International community. Obama has no credibility, he has the least experience in real politics, he is the worst president the U.S. has ever had.
    Obama has alienated many nations and has caused foreign policy damage that is costing the American taxpayer trillions. His decisions are also costing numerous American lives in vain. Obama’s foreign policy is a joke. It is a failed policy.
    Obama has abused his executive powers and should be prosecuted for his violations. Obama is ignoring the true sovereignty of the Jewish people in Israel and the various treaties and international agreements entered into after WWI and the various congressional resolutions on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people since WWI. Obama’s blatant disrespect of Netanyahu and Israel’s International legitimate rights shows his naivety in International matters and foreign policy.
    Obama’s lack of etiquette is an outright embarrassment to the United States.
    Natanyahu is trying his best, but he will not compromise the security of Israel and that is the way a leader should perform. No other decent leader of the free world perform differently.
    It is interesting to note, that Jordan (Jordan territory has taken over 77% of the land allocated to the Jewish people under 1920 International Treaty) is a country that never existed in history before WWI and nobody is contesting its legitimacy or territorial sovereignty and control. The same powers that established 21 Arab States plus Jordan after WWI also re-established the State of Israel based on the Balfour Declaration and the San Remo Treaty of 1920 and confirmed by the 1920 Treaty of Sevres.
    On the other hand, Israel and its Jewish people have over 4,000 year of recorded history.
    Many Nations and people are questioning Israel’s control of its liberated territory. No one is mentioning that the Arab countries had ejected over a million adult Jewish people and their children from their countries which they have lived in for over 2,200 years, the Arabs confiscated their assets, businesses, homes and Real estate property. About 650,00 of these expelled Jewish people and their children were resettled in Greater Israel. The Real estate the Arab countries confiscated from the Jewish people 120,440 sq. km. or 75,000 sq. miles which is over 5-6 times the size of Israel, and its value today is in the trillions of dollars. The British as trustee for the Jewish people, violated the Mandate for Palestine and re-allocated 80% of the territories assigned to the Jewish people under International Treaty and gave it to the Arabs as a new Arab State Trans-Jordan, East of the Jordan river and prohibiting Jewish people from residing in Jordan.
    Let the 21 Arab countries resettle the Arab Palestinians in the land they confiscated from the Jews which is 5-6 times the size of Israel. Provide them with funds they confiscated from the million Jewish people they expelled and let them build an economy, This will benefit both the Arab-Palestinians and the hosting countries, The other alternative is relocate the Arab-Palestinians to Jordan, (originally land allocated for the Jewish people under the San Remo Treaty of 1920 and confirmed by the 1920 Treaty of Sevres and Lausanne) which is already 80% Arab-Palestinians, and give them funds to relocate and build an economy. This will solve the Arab-Palestinians refugee problem once and for all. It will also reduce hostility and strife in the region.
    If this is not discrimination against Israel, I do not know what is.
    It seems like nobody cares about land violations in other countries in the world, but when it comes to Israel, everyone has a say. Israel’s rights in the terms of the treaty of San Remo of 1920 are in affect in perpetuity, it clearly states that the Jewish people are the only ones with political rights in the British Mandate of Palestine and that the Jewish people can live anywhere in the British Mandate, confirmed by the 1920 Treaty of Sevres and Lausanne. The U.N. cannot create countries, it can only recommend its resolutions.
    If the U.S., Europe and other countries will stop meddling, and stop its criticism and involvement in the politics of Israel and the Arabs, than there will be a chance for peace.
    We know the great powers are only interested in the OIL and nothing else, that is the bottom line.
    A true and lasting peace in Israel will bring mammoth economic prosperity to The Israelis and The Arabs alike.
    An approach to peace starts by teaching your children and the people not to hate and condemn any acts violence that hurts civilian population and stop celebrating and rewarding the death and destruction of each other.…/July/San-Remo-Resolution-Revisited/
    YJ Draiman
    No Jew has the right to yield the rights of the Jewish People in Israel –
    David Ben Gurion
    (David Ben-Gurion was the first Prime Minister of Israel and widely hailed as the State’s main founder).
    “No Jew is entitled to give up the right of establishing [i.e. settling] the Jewish Nation in all of the Land of Israel. No Jewish body has such power. Not even all the Jews alive today [i.e. the entire Jewish People] have the power to cede any part of the country or homeland whatsoever. This is a right vouchsafed or reserved for the Jewish Nation throughout all generations. This right cannot be lost or expropriated under any condition or circumstance. Even if at some particular time, there are those who declare that they are relinquishing this right, they have no power nor competence to deprive coming generations of this right. The Jewish nation is neither bound nor governed by such a waiver or renunciation. Our right to the whole of this country is valid, in force and endures forever. And until the Final Redemption has come, we will not budge from this historic right.”
    at the Basle Session of the 20th Zionist Congress at Zurich (1937)
    “No country in the world exists today by virtue of its ‘right’.
    All countries exist today by virtue of their ability to defend themselves against those who seek their destruction.”

  • art

    THe BDS activity is directly in violation of Oslo, Wye the roadmap etc as well as the Madrid Conference and Federal law. This is another example of the Obama double standard since Obama is silent. Israel and its supporters must press the issue. Israel must identify its talking points and stay on message. Hezog Livni et al must grow up and subsume their ambitions to the good of Israel. THe emeny is NOT the Likud and government but the pa/hamas/fatah/plo/islamic jihad and bds

  • Fred

    Why the followers of BDS show ignorance in the origin of the move, beats me. BDS of to day is the continuing of the Hitler BDS of the 30. Its substance has not changed, first it was against the Jews of Europe now its again the Jews & Israel. The NAZI propaganda & hatred lives on in BDS. The Muslims and their followers have petro dollars to invest in propagating hatred on a grand scale & many in the West have sold their souls to support such hateful movement.

  • damita

    Just nuke all muz. They are all evil.

  • Jack Holan

    Many are Jews. I just don’t know how they can live with themselves when you know your actions will result in the death of other Jews.