BDS Thought Experiment – 1

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Thought Experiments

For Immediate Release

The worldwide movement to isolate the Apartheid Palestinian Authority and Hamas regimes gained significant momentum over the last year, as hundreds of artists and performers visiting Israel continued to avoid performing in territories ruled by human-rights abusing Palestinian governments whose very existence violates international law.

Meanwhile, a year after the murder of Italian journalist Vittorio Arrigoni at Palestinian hands, many international journalists refuse to work in Hamas-run Gaza, especially after a series of kidnappings and threats have made it nearly impossible to report from the Strip objectively.

World governments have also stepped up sanctions activities against the Iran-backed, fundamentalist Gaza regime in light of Hamas’ continued support of terror and well-documented record of human rights abuses directed at women, gays and religious minorities.

The international watchdog group Human Rights Watch recently condemned the government in Gaza for war crimes related to their behavior during the recent conflict with Israel.  “Palestinian armed groups made clear in their statements that harming civilians was their aim,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East Director at Human Rights Watch  (HRW). “There is simply no legal justification for launching rockets at populated areas.”

HRW and other respected human rights organizations also demanded an investigation into Palestinian Authority’s role in the torture and murder of 18-year-old Haitham Amer, one of many human rights violations attributed to the Palestinian Authority rule.

Meanwhile members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) have strongly condemned Palestinian acts of terrorist incitement which may ultimately lead to an increase in global sanctions against Apartheid Palestine.

These and other divestment, sanctions and boycott successes too numerous to list continue to demonstrate the ongoing strength of the DSB movement!

Consider the mock press release above as a thought experiment.

Before this experiment begins, notice how this release has all the hallmarks of a genuine BDS “Year in Review” news story or hyperventilating blog post.

First, there are the trademark ambiguous accusations (such as “Apartheid” or “violation of international law”) presented as unquestionably true facts.  Then, you’ve got specific political motivations (ones shared by the BDSers, or – in this case – the DSBers) attributed to individuals (performers, journalists) or organizations (governments) with no evidence demonstrating why we must accept these motivations over equally plausible alternatives.

Finally, you’ve got the juxtaposition of events, statements and quotes meant to give the impression that they are all part of a single coherent story, even though these components may have nothing to do with one another.  For instance, I just strung together the Human Rights Watch and Security Council stories and hitched them to my other two stories (of performers and journalists allegedly boycotting “Apartheid Palestine”) to give the impression that they were all part of the same narrative, in this case  of the success of my fictitious “DSB movement.”  And my use of quotes from Human Rights Watch glosses over the fact that this organization is far more critical of Israel than of the Palestinians (a background I purposefully ignored in order to give the impression that HRW condemnations of the PA and Hamas are far more typical than they actually are).

Oh, and also notice how each of the tricks I use provides just enough wiggle room to worm out of accusation of manipulativeness if ever I’m cornered.  For instance, the aforementioned quote from Human Rights Watch is genuine, so why should it be my fault if you choose to incorrectly interpret it in a way that suits my purposes?

OK, so given what we know of this type of propaganda tool, the two questions that will make up our thought experiment include:

(1)    If this is so easy to do, why don’t Israel’s supporter play this game too? and…

(2)    Given that this type of manipulativeness is so blindingly transparent, why do so many people (including many of us) continue to fall for or respond to it?



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7 Responses to BDS Thought Experiment – 1

  1. Stop BDS Park Slope January 28, 2013 at 1:19 am #

    So, if you were at an event at a college campus with Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler, what question would you ask?


    • fizziks January 30, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

      I would try to get them on record. Do they support a two state peace? And would they stand in the way of a peace treaty if it meant that they didn’t get everything they think they should? We know the answers to this, but it would be good to force them to say it, in front of the fence-sitters.

    • Captain C February 4, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

      As a follow up to fizziks’ question, if they answered that they did not find acceptable a two-state peace (i.e. something along the lines of the Geneva Initiative or the never-implemented Taba Accords), I’d ask them how they planned to convince the Jewish population of Israel to accept their solution, and if they didn’t know or care, whether genociding millions of Jews was really better in their eyes than one of the two-state peace plans mentioned above. Because if you don’t convince the Jewish population of Israel to peacefully go along with a one state solution dominated by their enemies, you’re going to have to kill an awful lot of Jews to get your way.

      • Stop BDS Park Slope February 5, 2013 at 5:03 am #

        I would ask Omar how he expects Arabs to live peacefully with Jews when he 1)rejects engaging in any peace-building activities 2)vilifies Jews and encourages hatred and 3)ignores the glorification of Jew killers among the Arab population.

        I would ask Judy if she really believes the Arabs would spare her life.


  2. Mike Lumish January 30, 2013 at 12:26 am #


    in answer to question number one, part of the reason that the Jewish people are so poor at propaganda is because we tend to think that we should not need to be good at it. If we take progressive-left notions of social justice to heart the case for Jewish self-determination and self-defense is self-evident.

    The reason for that, of course, is because from a moral perspective we have history on our side.

    The problem is that western “humanitarians” do not respond to Jewish history because they are ignorant of Jewish history and the reason that they are ignorant of Jewish history is because we do not inform of them of it.

    We don’t need propaganda.

    As Dan Bielak, one of my friends at Israel Thrives is fond of saying, all we need to do is tell the truth and he’s absolutely right about that.

    The Jews of the Middle East experienced 13 centuries under the boot of Muslim imperialism within the system of dhimmitude followed by 100 years of war against us because Jewish sovereignty on Jewish land is unacceptable to Islam.

    The Jewish people do not need propaganda any more than did African-Americans in fighting against Jim Crow.

    We just need to speak the truth of Jewish history under Islam, but we almost never do because we have convinced ourselves that to do so is somehow “racist” or even “Islamophobic.”

    Can you imagine if black people thought that discussing the history of slavery was racist towards white people?

    That is situation that we find ourselves in.

    • Stop BDS Park Slope January 30, 2013 at 4:25 am #

      Mike –

      That is such an on the money observation.

      Another problem that we Jews have is talking too much. Part of why BDS can succeed is because they have only one simple message, they repeat only that message and they stay on that message.

      OTOH, we can’t agree what should be our message, so we have many messages and we rely on nuance and relativism.


      • Mike Lumish January 31, 2013 at 5:47 am #


        thank you for the kind words.

        We’re all just trying to figure it out.

        We’re all just trying to figure out how best to respond to the fact that our bothers and sisters in Israel are under siege.

        And they are most definitely under siege.

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