Battle Stations!

While life required taking a break from new writing in August, it’s time now to get ready for what is likely to be an ugly year with regard to BDS battles brewing on campuses and elsewhere.

One of the reasons BDS hasn’t gone into remission (as it did between 2006 and 2009) is that it remains the tactic of choice for Israel haters eager to mobilize supporters into action.  For, despite all its flops and failures, frauds and faux-pas, the “movement” derives certain advantages from its choice of the BDS tactic, namely:

  • BDS campaigns are easy to explain and implement.  Set up a survey monkey account and BANG!, you’ve got a petition-driven divestment campaign up and running at a college or university.  Sign up a few volunteers to march in front of a local hardware store and POP! a SodaStream boycott effort is underway.
  • Because virtually every institution in the world retains some tie to the Jewish state (investments in Israeli companies or US companies doing business with Israel, academic exchange programs, sale of Israeli consumer products and technology), that gives the BDSers license to inflict themselves on any civic organization they please.
  • And because the boycotters could not care less about the damage they might cause to those civic organizations, there are not bound by the limits normal people confine themselves to (such as the need to tell the truth and not use others as mere means to an end).

As always, geopolitics beyond any of our control is what has allowed BDS to chug along since it was resurrected in 2009 (or – to be more accurate – when it was reborn in fraud with the Hampshire College hoax that took place that year).  For whenever Hamas decided to restart hostilities (as it did in 2009, 2012 and this summer), carefully orchestrated outrage brought people into the streets.  And those orchestrators have been ready to give anyone who shows up to their rallies desperate to “Do something” something to do: start a BDS project in their neighborhood.

Traditionally, anti-Israel activity on campus is more of a second-semester phenomenon since it often takes a few months for a chapter of groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) to get their act together, recruit new members, get funding, and plan and execute programming.  This is why events like Israel Apartheid Week (no matter how tired and loathsome) tend to be scheduled for the Spring.

But with this summer’s carnage still fresh in people’s minds, we have already seen the anti-Israel bandwagon rolling on college campuses and beyond.  And given that physical assault seems to now be on the SJP menu, I think we can expect the out-of-control behavior we saw in places like Northeastern and Vassar last year to spread and escalate.

As depressing as it might be to have to start dealing with the attack on Israel’s legitimacy (including its legitimate right to defend itself against endless rocket attacks) immediately and everywhere, keep in mind that our side brings its own assets to the fight.

First off, years of escalating anti-Israel activity on campus and beyond has created a counter-force in the form of enthused, energetic and informed pro-Israel groups fighting effectively against defamation of the Jewish homeland across the planet.    And both Israel and the diaspora have woken up to the fact that we need to take the battle against the propaganda weapon wielded by faux “peace-activist” war groups just as seriously as the IDF takes the threat of missile and tunnel weapons.

Finally, the sheer volume of lies people are being asked to believe in order to embrace the SJP/BDS/Hamas storyline of pure Israeli villainy and Palestinian pristine innocence is pretty much ready to not just snap the camel’s back but flatten him into a millimeter-thick camel pancake.  And with ISIS running amok in Iraq, Boko Haram kidnapping and raping their way across Nigeria and Syria racking up more Arab casualties per month than Israel has in decades, the notion that we must ignore the rest of the world and talk only about Gaza casualties (based on figures provided by Hamas, of course) becomes an ever-harder sell.

But how should we be framing our message during a period when SJP and the like minded will be doing all they can to manipulate the uniformed and shout down (or beat down) those with opposing views?

Some thoughts on that tomorrow.

3 Responses to Battle Stations!

  1. Michael Lumish September 2, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    I think that you are more optomistic than I am, Jon.

    While it is unquestionably true that political Islam is running amok in Iraq, Syria and much of northern Africa, and that the notion of “pure Israeli villainy and Palestinian pristine innocence” is a prominent anti-Jewish hallucination, it remains the case that Israel is vilified within the western left and that trend is probably increasing, not decreasing, after the recent spasm in Gaza.

    We are also seeing a fragmentation of the small pro-Jewish / pro-Israel contingent along partisan lines mainly due to the fact that the Democratic Party is at least as important to American Jews as Jewish identity, itsef.

  2. J.J. Surbeck September 2, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

    Michael Lumish is correct to point out the perennial problem of the political divide regarding Israel, but that’s only half of the overall problem. The other half, if not more than half, remains the absurd and extremely counter-productive competition that remains the name of the game between Jewish organizations. At a time when one would have expected everyone to get battle-ready, precisely, to face what is likely coming down the road, and very soon, it’s business as usual. No coordination, no strategizing together, no contingency planning for a host of possible if not likely incidents. It seems that every organization is too mired into their own fundraising concerns to be able to put their organizational ego aside for once and work together. As long as they don’t grow up and behave like responsible adults, the pro-Palestinians, who have nothing else to show for in terms of achievements, will keep the upper hand, and the pro-Israel camp will remain stuck in strictly reactive mode. There is very little time left.

  3. Barbara Mazor September 3, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    J.J. Surbeck – I wish there was a like button for your comment.

    As always, Jon, a good analysis. Waiting to see what you have to say next time.

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