Understanding the Enemy on the BDS Battlefield
Of all human endeavors, war is least forgiving of wishful thinking and ambiguity. That is precisely why it is vital to judge opponents not by what they say but what they do.
This can be tricky in the case of a propaganda campaign like BDS, where words are both the weapons being deployed and the tools used by the enemy to persuade others (and often themselves) that their actions are just and justified. But if you look at how and when those words are deployed, a clear and important pattern emerges.
- When there is not a shooting war going on, BDS advocates run Israel Apartheid Weeks and similar programs designed to paint Israel as so hideous that any military or other action eventually taken against it should be considered moral.
- During those “quiet” periods when groups like Hamas and Hezbollah are patiently readying for the next war (by collecting weapons, building rockets or digging terror tunnels), these “peace advocates” say and do nothing to limit that war preparation.
- Once a shooting war does break out, they take to the streets condemning Israel’s counterattack and demanding a ceasefire as soon as the aggression of Israel’s enemies that triggered the war starts bearing a price.
Taken together, these actions demonstrate not just a political movement playing a military role — by justifying attacks against Israel and then trying to limit the Jewish state’s military options once those attacks begin — but a foe with clear-cut and militant goals: to see Israel destroyed or weakened to the point where someone else can handle the actual trigger-pulling.
As in any domain of life, having clear goals is a force multiplier since, only by knowing precisely where you are going can you make an efficient plan to get there. And, in the case of war, “getting there” involves selecting strategies and tactics that will help you achieve well-understood goals.
With regard to strategy, anti-Israel advocates themselves have spelled theirs out pretty clearly by labeling their project the “Apartheid Strategy,” one that involves “branding” Israel as the successor to apartheid South Africa through endless accusations of racism and human-rights crimes, with the implication being that what befell the white regime in Pretoria (dismantling) should befall he Jewish state, as well.
With its goals and strategy clearly spelled out, BDS is revealed as simply a military tactic in service to the Apartheid Strategy, all designed to achieve the movement’s militant goals. Given that the fall of apartheid was preceded by well-known institutions (churches, universities, governments) boycotting, divesting from and sanctioning apartheid South Africa, the theory behind the BDS tactic is that if those same organizations can be recruited to target Israel with similar punishments, this will demonstrate to the public the accuracy of the boycotters’ accusations.
There is a lot more to be said regarding the effectiveness of BDS and other tactics, as well our opponent’s overall strategy and goals. With that knowledge in place, we can then use what we know to plan effective counter-tactics, above and beyond “naming and shaming” Israel’s enemies by pointing out their true militant nature.
Before doing so, however, we need to understand our goals, our strategies and our tactics as well as we now understand those of our opponents. In other words, before going into battle, it’s best to answer the question: Who are we?
That is a very difficult question, but one we cannot avoid attempting to answer.