As exciting as it is to see sanctions breaking out around the world that target those who have spent two decades trying to get these same entities to pass sanctions legislation targeting Israel, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that BDS is simply a tactic used by the propaganda arm of a war movement, a movement that will continue to find ways to deliver a steady drip of bile into the body politic.
For instance, popularity of the libelous Israel Apartheid Week has not diminished, despite increasing hostility to those who instigate it on most college campuses. And while I never assumed the general meltdown of the Middle East would lead to reflection on the part of Israel’s critics, their increased level of invective and hysteria seems to indicate that they are ready to go to any lengths to make sure no one talks about any issue about which they disapprove.
Which got me thinking back to a few Israel Apartheid Weeks ago when I was trying to flog a concept that never got off the ground, one that would attempt to use an artifact from popular culture as part of a jui-jitsu campaign called “Speaking of Apartheid.”
The BDSers “Apartheid Strategy” assumes that non-stop, unyielding propaganda that repeats the same simple messaging again and again will, over time, seep into the consciousness of the public. This is especially the case with the Israel-Apartheid Week’s target audience: college students with limited knowledge or understanding of either Middle East or South African history. Thus the endless repeating of the “Apartheid Israel” mantra in editorials, letters to the editor, fliers, posters, handouts and speeches in hope of establishing the Israel=South Africa analogy over time, even if any one particular speech is forgotten or BDS battle lost.
Arguments against the Israel=Apartheid analogy are either complicated (such as run downs of Israel legal and civic institutions) or defensive (including both the “It is NOT Apartheid” argument, as well as seemingly offensive “well the Arabs are worse” arguments which comes off as defensive in debate). In all of these cases, the initiative is ceded to Israel’s opponents.
The “Speaking of Apartheid” campaign I was noodling with tried to use a form of political “jui-jitsu,” which leverages Israel’s opponent’s incessant incantation of “Apartheid” by highlighting the similarities between Israel’s foes and Apartheid South Africa without making mention of Israel at all. Thus, the need to defend oneself against accusation of Apartheid (or support for Apartheid) would be transferred from Israel’s supporters to its critics.
This was to be accomplished by delivering a rapid fire set of accurate Apartheid accusations against Israel’s foes via multiple delivery channels (hard copy, Internet, etc.) that utilize short messaging, arresting visuals and a common format that would be immediately recognizable to a college audience: the collectable card.
The Collectable Card Game was popularized in the US with the enormously successful Magic: The Gathering series, which was followed by numerous imports from Japan including popular Pokeman and Yu-Gi-Oh series. These cards have a common design for information delivery which consists of:
- A single arresting image (usually of a mystical creature or magic spell)
- A brief description of the concept covered by the card
- Color coded categories which distinguish different card types (monsters, spells, etc.)
Collectable Cards also utilize a variety of point systems for game play, but for purposes of this project I was thinking that we’d simply borrow the format for information delivery (ignoring elements related to gaming), leveraging the fact that every college student today will have had some exposure to this type of format in the past.
The design of game cards would include:
- A color coded category
- A simple title
- An arresting image
- A description of the category and sub-category of the card
- A short text description (ideally accompanied by a quote)
While this project eventually morphed into something different (and probably less complicated), I still own the speakingofapartheid URLs and even got this far with one card:
So what do you think? Might this be something worth revisiting? Discuss.