How to Beat the BDS Movement
In recent years, the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement has gained significant ground in its war against Israel.
It has a strong presence on many university campuses across the world, including in the United States. Many of the groups most actively involved in anti-Israel activities are offshoots of radical Muslim organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and Hamas, and even though they are officially considered terrorist groups by the US government, they are allowed to function nonetheless.
These groups are typified by student organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Muslim Student Associations on many campuses and even Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). They work hard to include more “leftist” Jewish students in hopes of appearing to be inclusive and to refute claims that they are, at heart, antisemitic.
Their more well-known activities include “actions” such as placing fake eviction notices on student dormitory doors, holding annual “Israeli Apartheid Week” activities, replete with “die-in’s,” checkpoints and propaganda walls, organizing very loud and vocal protests, working to pass divestment resolutions in student governments, pushing to exclude Jewish and pro-Israel students from any discussion, posting billboards and posters equating Israel with Nazi Germany and preventing people with pro-Israel perspectives from speaking on campuses. This activity has spilled over to other “leftist”-oriented groups, such as Black Lives Matter, LGBT networks and women’s rights organizations.
To date, opposition to these tactics has been scattered, disorganized and largely ineffective, in spite of some successes, such as the recent passage at the University of California of a somewhat watered-down antisemitism policy.
I believe that we, as a community that supports a strong, democratic, tolerant Israel, must do a much better job of combating the BDS movement.
The short version of what we need to do is:
- Vigorously promote Israel through advertising campaigns, public relations, free trips to Israel, movies and television shows showing positive images of Israel. Show positive images of Israel at every opportunity. Put up billboards advertising travel to Israel, showing as often as possible the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic nature of Israel. Enlist prominent advertising and public relations firms to assist in any way possible.
- Organize strong and large rallies in every major city in support of Israel. Utilize existing organizations, recruit on campuses, bus in participants from other cities in order to make rallies large, march on Washington DC in mass numbers, making sure to have great pro-Israel signs and slogans, based 100% on incontrovertible truth.
- Mount large, well-organized counter-demonstrations to every BDS-related event, whether on campus or anywhere else. When a BDS-related or anti-Israel event is announced, show up en masse outside with protest signs, loudspeakers, signs and banners, and provide the truth. Don’t let them get away with simply presenting their lies without opposition, which is largely what happens now. Always obey the law, don’t prevent their speakers from speaking, but ask pointed, probing questions during Q&A sessions, and, if possible, set up speakers directly opposite to present truths to counter their lies.
- Lawfare – sue them for slander, have them arrested for disturbing the peace when they disrupt speakers, and pressure university administrations to shut them down when they violate campus policies on both antisemitism and free speech. Enlist the help of “The Lawfare Project” in understanding what is possible and how to start the process. If they initiate physical contact (assault), file complaints with both campus and local police. Make sure to have video of everything, and provide it as evidence as well as publicizing it on social media.
- Go after (legally) primary supporters of BDS. Find out who they are, expose them, and encourage supporters of Israel to avoid doing business with these people and their companies.
- Support organizations such as AMCHA Initiative, StandWithUs, Canary Mission, join Facebook groups such as Stop BDS on Campus, Fighting BDS, Stop BDS Now, and others, while at the same time pushing them to coordinate activities more effectively.
- Involve the Israeli government to a much larger extent in support of these activities. Utilize the resources of the Israeli Intelligence community to expose the backers of BDS. So far, Israel has not seemed to take BDS as seriously as it I think it should. While I’m sure there are “behind the scenes” activities going on, they are clearly not as effective as they need to be. Israel needs to be a key player in this fight.
The bottom line is that we need to shine a light on the lies promulgated by the BDS movement. It is a movement based on untruths, and the voices raised in opposition are, so far, largely ineffective.
This is, effectively, a war. It is a war for the survival of Israel as an independent nation accepted by the majority of the nations of the world. Just like any war, we have to have an effective strategy to defeat the enemy. Our tactics need to line up with our strategy, and we need to fight to win. Winning is crucial in this war, and so far, our strategy and tactics are unclear and ineffective, as can be seen by the successes of the BDS movement.
The worst thing we can do is to underestimate the capabilities and resolve of our enemies, or believe that this will just “blow over.” It won’t. It’s time to fight strongly, smartly and effectively, and to mobilize all the resources at our disposal.