A topic alluded to, but not discussed separately, in last year’s extended essay on the strategy and tactics needed to defeat BDS (and other anti-Israel campaigns), is timing.
When teaching my kids to cook, I tell them to treat time as an ingredient that needs to be taken into account during the planning process and “added” when called for, given that messing up timing can screw up your bread dough just as badly as forgetting to add the yeast.
Moving on to more serious business, Gulf War General Norman Schwarzkopf’s habit of wearing two watches illustrated the vital role time plays in warfare where battle and war plans are as much about the clock and calendar as they are about weapons and terrain. An army not showing up where it is needed is obviously a problem, but no more so than the same army showing up at the right place too late (or even too early).
The purpose of this site is not to praise anti-Israel propagandists, but with regard to using time as a tool of combat, the BDSholes seem to “get it” better than our side does. Scheduling propaganda events during Sabbat or the Jewish holidays – while devious and cowardly – does have the intended effect of lowering the number of opponents that can mobilize against them. Similarly, the Leninist tactic of pushing meetings of decision-making bodies into late hours and then voting in their own agenda after everyone else goes home exhausted – while dishonest and manipulative – does demonstrate the BDSers understanding of how to wield time as a weapon.
Whenever friends of Israel find themselves scrambling to pull together fliers and posters for a rally or debate taking place in a few hours or days, that should be an indication that time (like the initiative) is not on our side.
Obviously the enemy must be met, and given that we’re not the ones perpetually demanding that third parties condemn our political foes, it’s likely that we’ll be responding to situations created by others more often than we’d like. But preparing in advance for likely occurrences, such as entirely predictable Israel Apartheid hate-fests cropping up in the Spring, seems like a good use of time in the Fall. Similarly, snarling up anti-Israel votes in student government through aggressive procedural challenges so that they can’t be voted on during an academic year seems a more effective use of time as a weapon than does a direct confrontation with the enemy at a time and place of their choosing.
Even (scratch that, especially) when you’re riding high politically, timing can mean the difference between small (and often temporary) victories, and long-term real ones.
For instance, it’s taken as axiomatic that a new President should press his advantage during the first hundred days of his presidency, shoving through as much game-changing legislation and rule changes as possible before political opponents regroup and figure out ways to thwart the new administration’s agenda.
We’re seeing this now as the new Trump administration continues to issue an avalanche of Executive Orders in order to implement campaign promises (like restricting immigration and walking away from trade agreements) while foes are still in a daze. But the very aggressiveness of this activity helps give those foes a focal point for resistance.
For instance, Bill Clinton in 1992 and Barak Obama in 2008 used their victories (which included the Democrats capturing both houses of Congress) to rapidly push through game-changing agendas that did not need to take into account the needs of the Republican minority. But this very haste led to Republicans retaking Congress two years into each new administration’s first term, becoming the majority and thus an enormous barrier to any new Presidential initiatives.
Might patience reward the new President (or any President) with longer-lasting legislative (or even cultural) victories vs. controversial administrative decrees? Hard to tell, but precedent seems to say that “all glory is fleeting” which implies the need for strategies above and beyond “full speed ahead!”
There is a lesson here for Israel and her friends abroad. The replacement of a hostile US administration with a friendly one is an obvious source of relief, but the controversial nature of the new American President means we are faced with yet another multi-faceted challenge which needs to be managed skillfully and strategically.
Some thoughts on what this can include next time.