Speaking of Apartheid

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.

8 thoughts on “Speaking of Apartheid”

  1. I think it an excellent idea. I, for one, would be happy to circulate either the card images or merely the memes on the “Comments” sections of articles and in social network postings. I think I’d even be willing to buy physical cards (if they came with a peel-and-stick backing) to make them ubiquitous in public spaces. Bat Ye’or’s research on Dhimmitudeh would be a productive source for suitable material. [http://www.dhimmitude.org/archive/by_lecture_10oct2002.html]

    1. Went to copy the card to begin circulation and found I have quibble with the text. IMHO it should read: “The Middle East oil used to fuel. . .”
      This image might be more emotive on the topic of “blood gold (South Africa) but may be encumbered with copyright restrictions. There may be other similar images [https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bz2jMtOIcAIG3TH.jpg:large]

  2. I’ve done work up but don’t know how to send it to you. There may be multiple issues with it copyright, nudity; but it’s a gobsmacker.

  3. Yes please. But also counter haters and BDS lies. I’ve spent time each day this past week ripping down off electric poles in my neighborhood the map that lies, context-free posters accusing Israel of killing Rachel Corey, etc. All printed in full color on heavy stock paper. Next, think I’ll just write, using a Sharpie so it’s visible, “Lies” with a website for the map that lies on top of the cards.

  4. The falseness of the Israel/Apartheid South Africa comparison peddled by BDS is that one can be pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian on the I/P issue but one could not have been pro-Apartheid and pro-black African rights. The South African issues were mutually exclusive whereas the I/P problem is not. BDS compounds the problem because it seeks a one state outcome, not a settlement.

  5. If you can make a game that’s fun AND educational, then this is a good idea. BDS refuses to “debate” pro-Israelis under the excuse that doing so promotes “normalization” but what they are most afraid of is that the pro-Israel side has good and reasonable arguments. This is why the South African BDSers were trying to bribe black student leaders not to go on a fact finding trip to Israel. They are terrified that people might see the situation as extremely complex, that Israel is not an apartheid state, and that Israelis are entitled to live in peace and security and to determine their own fate.

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