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Infiltration

11 Dec

Since returning to the anti-BDS fold earlier this year, I find myself doing more analysis of recent BDS-related stories, rather than covering breaking news as it happens (although I can’t resist pointing readers to the latest BDS hoax story, something we’ve not seen in a while).

But moving right along, today, I’d like to talk about the brouhaha over the recent defection of Holly Bicerano, the former Campus Out-Reach Co-Coordinator for Open Hillel, an organization you have met on this site previously.

It will come as no surprise that many on this side of the aisle understood Open Hillel to be just another attempt by BDS activists to infiltrate the mainstream Jewish community under the guise of “openness” and other words with positive connotations.  And I don’t think I’m the only person to have noticed that the groups that form the backbone of Open Hillel (notably Jewish Voice for Peace) or the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organization which Open Hillel warmly welcomed to their recent national conference have always erected high barriers around their own institutions and events to limit those of differing opinions from participating.

But Ms. Bicerano’s decision to publically break with the group and expose how much BDS and anti-normalization advocates are driving Open Hillel’s agenda is obviously newsworthy, given the former Open Hillel leader’s position in the organization she left, and her general attitudes towards BDS (which she supports, at least with regard to the Presbyterians) and Israel (which she blames for last summer’s Gaza war and for thwarting Palestinian democracy).

It is always interesting to see if this kind of “defection” represents the start of a journey by someone like Bicerano, or simply represents a red line over which even someone active in anti-Israel political activities and programming will not cross.  If it’s the former, I wish her well.  But even if it’s the latter, the activities that turned her off from Open Hillel provide an interesting window into why anti-Israel organizations tend towards instability.

Unlike Jewish organizations like Hillel (and the alphabet soup of community institutions – some of which have been in business for a century), anti-Israel organizations tend to form, rise, fall, break apart and either disappear or reform into new organizations with a cycle that seems to repeat every 5-7 years.

For example, when I first moved back to the Boston area, a group called the Middle East Justice Network (MEJN) got up my nose, but I was too busy to do anything about it.  Yet when I finally did get around to putting time into pro-Israel activism and tried to find out what the group was up to, no trace of it could be found.  But within a few years a new group (the Somerville Divestment Project, or SDP) was in the driver’s seat, pushing the first municipal divestment program in my then home city of Somerville MA.  And lo and behold, this group seemed to include the very same people I remember from MEJN days.

Today, SDP consists of a cobweb and new groups with names like The New England Committee to Defend Palestine and Ads Against Apartheid have come and gone (or formed for the soul purpose of engaging in a single activity – like running anti-Israel bus ads).  Similarly, while pro-Israel organizations are rightly concerned over the aggressive behavior of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on campuses, almost no one remembers the Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSM) that drove divestment back in the early 2000s.

The rise and fall of PSM provides an interesting window into why anti-Israel groups tend to be so unstable.  For once that group gained momentum (especially on college campuses where their petition-driven divestment activity was centered), everyone from every side of the anti-Israel continuum (Left to Right, Secular-Marxist to Islamist) vied to seize control of the organization – to the point where its leaders had to spend more time fending off infiltrators than tending to their own mission, leading to the group’s demise.

If this tactic of infiltration sounds familiar, it is exactly what BDS activists do all the time to third parties (student government, academic associations, Mainline churches, etc.) in order to drag those groups under the boycott or divestment umbrella (regardless of how much damage such moves cause to the organizations they have infiltrated).  So it should come as no surprise that the infiltration skills they use on outsiders also come in handy when it comes time to drag the latest ascendant anti-Israel organization under this or that partisan umbrella.

Reading Bicerano’s piece over with this history in mind, it is clear that what she calls anti-normalization activity within Open Hillel (“anti-normalization” refers to a policy which says all pro-Palestinian organizations should reject dialog with any Jewish group that does not accept their pro-BDS stance and opinions on the Middle East in advance) is really just another example of the infiltration of a group formed with one agenda (Open Hillel – which allegedly wants to up dialog on campus) by another group (anti-normalization activists who want to shut such dialog down).  And as the former Campus Co-Coordinator for Open Hillel discovered, when such infiltrators want in, they are ready to do whatever is necessary to get their way.

As I mentioned earlier, it will be interesting to see if her experience with Open Hillel opens Bicerano’s mind to what others suffer when BDS infects this or that civic society group.  But for the rest of us, the lesson to learn is that, left on their own, anti-Israel groups (including Students for Justice in Palestine) contain the seeds of their own destruction in the form of their allies rather than their adversaries.

In a way, this situation is analogous to what we see in the Middle East where an Israel which focuses on staying strong and tending to the needs of its own people (including the need to protect them from harm) can grow and prosper, even as more numerous, wealthy and politically powerful adversaries fall to pieces as they contend with the contradictions built into their own societies and historical choices.

As much as BDS has been in the news this year (and as important as it is to continue to fight it), Israel’s supporters abroad also need to be ready to play a long game which will never involve total victory but will hopefully involve more wins than losses stretched over enough time to let Open Hillel and SJP join their predecessors in the cemetery of anti-Israel organizations whose names have long been forgotten.

What’s Left? – Arguing with Mike

3 Dec

Continuing my conversation with Mike Lumish regarding the Left’s relationship to anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, those who were hoping to see sparks fly have probably been disappointed so far since that debate began in agreement that “The Left” is not the enemy, but the battleground over which much of the current anti-Israel battles are being fought.

But now that we’ve established the basis for our argument (with “argument” defined as a constructive engagement where people differ over important matters vs. a fight where people just yell at one another while never giving an inch), I’d like to take issue with a couple of points in Mike’s most recent response.

First, pointing out President Obama’s 2011 statement equating the Arab Spring with the struggle for civil rights in the US is a perfectly reasonable way to criticize the President’s lack of perception (as well as history, given how revolutions have historically gone when the ruthless are around to seize them). But I’m not sure it can be used to clinch an argument over the Left’s conflicted relationship with the Jewish state.

After all, this was just one of many daft things said during the heyday of Arab Spring fantasies.  And while I admit that the invocation of a sacred civil rights icon to describe what was happening in the Middle East seemed inappropriate even then, I’m hesitant to use such a statement as the basis of a critique of even the Obama administration, much less “The Left” that the Obama administration is supposed to be representing in Mike’s argument.

For there are all kinds of indictments one can bring to the current President’s foreign policy, from alienating friends (including Israel) while engaging in futile attempts to cultivate foes.  And any number of attributes of the current President can be cited to build that indictment (discomfort with the use of power, isolation enabling group-think that leads to poor decision-making, lack of experience in world affairs, etc.).

If this critique (which I will admit has not been a big part of my own writing) seems a bit subdued, keep in mind that I turn to (as always) Lee Harris to understand how to best criticize the person who holds the most difficult job in the world.  And for purposes of this discussion, while the President’s world view (which has been shaped by his emergence from the academic Left) certainly has a place in that critique, it would be a fallacy to lay all of President Obama’s failings at the feet of all holders of that world view (especially since the biggest brake on the President’s excesses – especially during his first two years – was the strong support for Israel among important left-leaning constituencies, notably organized Labor and Democrats in Congress).

The other point Mike made that I take issue with is the notion that we must decide between criticizing the Left for the fact that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism dwells within its ranks (which it obviously does) or staying mum out of fear of offending potential allies within that end of the spectrum.

The reason I see this as a false choice is that there is no shortage of criticism of Left anti-Zionism/Semitism within the Left itself (which I have seen first-hand in every BDS battle I’ve been directly involved with where direct combatants on both sides considered themselves left-leaning).

Now I’d be the first to say I wish Israel’s leftist allies were as fired up and organized as her enemies.  But the inability to act as ruthlessly as the BDSers (and the rest of the odious project BDS represents) is something all of Israel’s friends lack (for reasons I’ve talked about many times).

More importantly, we must consider criticism of something as broad and diverse as what we call “The Left” in the same way we think about criticism of Israel.

As many people have articulated better than I, there are all kinds of things one can criticize Israel and its leaders for, and many people (including many Israelis) exercise their democratic privilege to make these criticisms all the time.  But as others have also pointed out, another group often travels under the banner of “critics of Israel”: those who are at war with the Jewish state who want to use its failings (which are shared by all democratic states) as a weapon to de-legitimize and weaken the nation in hope that this will lead to its eventual destruction.

Along the same lines, there are many people (Left and Right) who sincerely want to see those ugly elements of the Left jettisoned from respectable company (as the Right did when they drummed Pat Buchannan out of “the movement”).  But there are also people whose primary political goal is to defeat the Left politically.

Now there is nothing wrong at all with such partisan politics (or making this form of partisanship one’s political priority).  In fact, most people use general political alignment to define many, if not all, of their political choices.  But I would be hesitant to say that since anti-Zionism/Semitism has been fighting for control of more and more of the Left agenda that the Left as a whole cannot be trusted (which leaves as the only option abandoning it and embracing the Right).

The reason this is a poor political choice is that anti-Semitism (as we have seen over the last two Millennia) is a highly opportunistic virus.  Today, for whatever reason, being associated with left-leaning principles and causes is considered a sign of virtue (which is why even the most ruthless dictators use a progressive vocabulary when they lie about their true nature or – more innocently – why profit-minded corporations constantly tout their Green and communitarian values).  But that could change in an instant and as history has shown us, no end of the political spectrum (or any political ideology save Zionism) has been able to keep the forces of anti-Semitism at bay long term.

Perhaps this is why when I look for critics of the Left, I tend to find the works of historians (like Robert Wistrich) and philosophers (like Ruth Wisse) more satisfying than the latest broadside against Obama and the Left over this or that outrage on Fox News (or even my beloved daily Commentary).  For their view is a long one, and I suspect that our survival depends on thinking past the next election (American or Israeli) as well as thinking about how our present situation is anchored in both the past and the human condition.

A Source of Optimism in a Time of Ruthlessness

16 Oct

Some recent communication crystalized thoughts regarding how to approach events in the Middle East (and their associated blowback at home) with anything but despair.

Most recently, a brief discussion in the comments section required me to think again about the conundrum of treating BDS as both a failure and a threat.

As I’ve explained in the past, failure creates its own momentum, just as victory does.  So there is ample reason to communicate the inability of a propaganda campaign like BDS to achieve any of its stated goals, especially since it is one of the few elements of the global anti-Israel de-legitimization/propaganda campaign we “civilians” can directly impact.

But the scope of things we cannot impact (at least directly) was brought home when my Rabbi (who I have come to admire more and more over the years) sent we congregants a series of missives over the summer which described his attempts to carry on a normal sabbatical in Israel while dodging missiles trying to kill him every other day.

After such a harrowing experience, we were braced for a post-sabbatical holiday sermon that would focus on events in the Middle East.  But what impressed me most about his impassioned first-hand description of front lines in the recent Hamas-initiated war was his ability to clearly articulate reality (which includes both the Hamas Covenant and the organization’s official policy of child sacrifice) while still holding onto his long-standing optimism that peace (somehow, some way) would eventually emerge out of so much violence and catastrophe.

In more cynical moments, I might wonder whether someone’s longing for peace when groups like Hamas and ISIS are holding (and gaining) territory might represent an inability to grasp reality.  And the argument that 20+ years of peace processing seems to have led to noting but endless war is one I wish more people (including more optimists) would confront.

But, at the same time, I maintain my own optimism about not just ultimately defeating BDS but the ultimate success of Israel and the Jewish people over the forces of chaos which are clashing and burning and killing across the globe.

Now this optimism is not blind to the fact that what we can expect in the coming years is more and more darkness and that even “victory” over the bloody forces arraigned against us represents nothing but a limited respite.  For, despite the slogans and costumes and Koranic verses, what we face on all battlefields is not ultimately Islam (or Islamism or Jihad or whatever euphemism we use to sooth the sensibilities and prejudices of ourselves and others) but mankind’s oldest enemy: ruthlessness.

If you read this series (or other things I’ve written in the past), you’ll recognize my cribbing from Lee Harris who describes history as the halting progress of civilization against a ruthless foe always dogging its heels.  When mankind was capable of nothing but foraging and hunting, it was the ruthless who discovered they could get all the food they wanted by simply killing others to obtain it, making the survivors their slaves in the process.

Moving ahead ten-thousand years, who could have anticipated that a blend of 18th and 19th century philosophy and economics, or the racial ravings of an Austrian paper hanger would harden into ideologies used to justify the murder of millions and the enslavement of billions?  But if you think of movements like Communism and Fascism as the intellectual infrastructure the ruthless use to justify their means, then everything makes perfect sense.  For the ends these ruthless Fuhrers and Commissars pursued was not the utopias they promised the public (and gullible foreigners), but their own absolute rule with a power of life and death beyond anything history’s most vicious tyrants and emperors could ever imagine.

Today, it is the Islamic world where a lethal blend of historic fantasy, cultivated grievance, and ends-justify-means ideology is driving the planet to a new brink.  But it is also a war-weary world that can’t bring itself to do what must be done to drive off the ruthless that has created the opening where a new group of warlords will fight to the death to win the right (and the power) to expand their war world-wide.

To be fair to folks like Neville Chamberlain, at least he and his generation made their decisions within living memory of the killing fields of World War I, which helps explain why they went to the lengths they did to ignore and appease evil until it was almost too late to stop it.  Our excuse is that we have become too comfortable with a half a century of non-war (or, more specifically, a half a century where most of us never had to make sacrifices in order to defeat a ruthless enemy).  Which is why it has become so easy to blame Bush, blame Israel, blame ourselves for the world returning to a state of nature we’d rather believe does not exist.

So what can possibly provide anyone a sense of optimism when facing a new conflict that is sure to lead to the re-ordering of the world (and not for the better), a re-ording likely to be accompanied by the death of millions (if not tens of millions)?  In a word: Zionism.

How can it be that the most loathed label in the global political lexicon can be a source of hope, even salvation?

The inspiration of a people at the brink of extinction creating a nation three years later which has grown into a successful, prosperous, mighty and humane democracy should be enough (dayenu) to justify a high degree of optimism.  But think for a moment about how much the history of the Jewish state defies the laws of the jungle that hold sway nearly everywhere else on the planet.

Israel has the might (and has always had the might) to actually commit all of the crimes it is routinely accused of, and yet it has chosen not to do so.  And as galling as it might be to be accused of genocide by the genocidal leaders of a Palestinian less-than-state whose population exploded under dreaded Israeli “Occupation” (rather than go down, as it has during all other genocides in history), as ludicrous as it might be to be accused of ethnic cleansing by Arab state who cleansed their nations of Jews decades ago (with Christians next on the hit list), as vile as it might be to hear nihilists and allies of the warlords bringing misery to the rest of the world declare “Zionism” to be the ugliest word ever uttered, Israel’s choices represent its determination to not let its soul be driven by the same ruthless nature that has historically guided those with power.

Want another example?  OK – How about an atomic-scale one?  For rather than use its nuclear arsenal to dominate the region (like any “normal” nuclear power would do), Israel simply shut up about it with the assumption that it would remain a last resort (rather than an asset to be pulled out for this or that strategic reason).  My guess is that a nuclear Iran will not show similar restraint.

One can find other examples, all of which add up to Zionism demonstrating to the world that a state can succeed without devolving into bitter ruthlessness or ends-justifying-means on a national scale.  And, given the mayhem that now engulfs virtually every one of Israel’s neighbors, it is a lesson worth considering – especially by those who might prefer to nail to the cross a nation that may have found a way to live with the many paradoxes (past vs. future, faith vs. politics, national vs. individual identity, power vs. humanity) that has made modernity such a vexing, thrilling, yet bloody experience for all of us.

Surviving the Upcoming BDS Onslaught – 2

5 Sep

I actually misspoke slightly when I said yesterday that a different set of rules apply when dealing with dyed-in-the-wool anti-Israel propagandists vs. those who have not de-normalized themselves through an embrace of BDS catechism and modes of behavior.

For when dealing with such people, the rules we should embrace (with some key modifications that I outline below) are the very ones the BDSers have spent years teaching us – the three tactics (The Pointing Finger, Ignore-ance and Pathos) – which define the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions “movement.”

For instance, in a normal conversation (or even a heated but honest argument), one can expect (and should provide) normal give and take: genuinely listening to what someone is saying, answering their actual points (rather than pretending they said something else), and so on.  But when faced with a faux-interlocutor only interested in making their own accusations and ignoring everything you have to say in response, we are allowed (indeed obliged) to return the favor.

In short, if SJP types insist we talk about nothing but Palestinian “casualties” (and also insist they be given full control over that term), we shouldn’t respond by highlighting male-to-female casualty ratios or explanation of IDF knocking strategies that will just be sneered at and ignored. Rather, the only topic on our agenda should be Hamas’ unquestionable war criminality, its viciousness towards both Israelis and Palestinians, and the cowardice of its leaders who hid in spider holes under hospitals and schools (or in luxury hotels in Qatar) while others suffered and died for those leader’s aggrandizement.

Rhetorically speaking, numbers (particularly specific ones) tied to evocative images tend to stick in people’s minds.  So when they talk about 1,891 or 2,127 “civilian” deaths in Gaza, best to ask them whether that includes the 160 Gazan children Hamas worked to death building their terror tunnels or the 21 people Hamas shot in the head towards the end of the conflict (ideally accompanied by this photo or this one) with a hint that this only represents a glimpse of the number of direct Hamas murders buried in their “casualty” figures.  And if (or should I say when) they ignore you and repeat their death counts, we should simply add their chosen number to the 4,517 rocket attacks directed towards Israeli civilians and thank them for helping us calculate the minimum number of Hamas war crimes.

While Hamas did their utmost to prevent photos of their own soldiers (living or dead) from reaching the world, enough evocative images exist (including the ones linked above) to give our side ammunition in the emotional image war that tends to define many a debate on this subject.  Again, bloody images of the killed or wounded (not to mention child abuse shots like this one) are not something you want to throw in the face of those who might be open to reasoned debate.  But when confronted by those trying to prevent reasoned debate at all cost, different tactics apply (or, should I say, both sides are allowed to use the same tactics, stupid and unpleasant through they may be).

While we are on the subject of rhetoric, keep in mind how much the BDSers are trying to claim the mantle of progressive politics, which is why we should keep asking them (over and over and over again) how they can support racist, sexist, homophobic, reactionary movements like Hamas.  In fact, when things get heated, I like attaching that “racist-sexist-homophobic-reactionary” prefix to Hamas with the same frequency the boycotters love to attach the term “Apartheid” to Israel.  Yes, this will cause them to howl and spit and hurl their own counter-accusations of Pinkwashing and God-knows-what else.  But that should just be your signal to keep ignoring what comes out of their mouths (or, better yet, respond that this just one would expect from apologists for a racist, sexist, homophobic, reactionary movements like Hamas).

During this period of Middle East implosion, I’ve noticed how prickly Israel haters get when you point out that Hamas is all but indistinguishable from other militant groups racking up huge death tolls across the region.  Which should be our signal to dial up the Hamas = ISIS = Boko Harem accusations up to eleven and never let up.  Their inevitable shouts of “Racist!!!!!” for continuing to make such (accurate) comparisons should not deter us from continuing this approach (especially since that’s just the type of projection we would expect from someone embracing a racist, sexist, homophobic, reactionary organization like Hamas).  Get the picture?

Now I mentioned that there are a few caveats to this type of approach, the first one being that we (unlike our opponents) cannot resort to lies – even when implementing an aggressive form of rhetoric.  This isn’t such a big deal, given how much the truth is on our side.  But we must avoid the peril of even inadvertent story-telling, especially in the heat of confrontation.

We must also forgo any strategy or tactic that would involve using “civilians” as mere means to our ends.  I talked about this issue at length in a previous discussion of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, but simply put: we cannot drag innocents into our battles just so they can be used to harm our political foes.  This does give our opponents an advantage in that they remain free to do things like drag anti-Israel bills before student councils while we eschew trying to get those groups to officially condemn Israel’s enemies.  But in the long run, avoiding manipulating others will accrue to our political advantage while simultaneously leaving our souls untarnished.

Finally, always keep in mind that the ultimate audience for our arguments is going to be those who have not yet chosen a side in the battle.  Which means that our rhetoric – even when aggressive – should be spoken and not shouted, with our endlessly repeated Pointed Finger presented more in sorrow than in anger.

Let the other side show their true colors as they howl and spew and punch and douse themselves with blood, demonstrating to the public that they represent little more than the propaganda equivalent of random Hamas missile fire targeting anyone and everyone (including themselves).  We, in contrast, should take on the role of Iron Dome, meeting the other side’s weaponry (in this case, propaganda weaponry) with a counter-measure that is directed, accurate and unstoppable.

Surviving the Upcoming BDS Onslaught – 1

4 Sep

A day late (but hopefully not a shekel short) vis-à-vis next steps as the BDSers ready to drag this summer’s Gaza conflict into a college campus, church, co-op and heaven-only- knows what other civic organization near you.

In theory, we could just stand back and let an anti-Israel community already showing signs of being out of control last Spring provide us ammunition by punching out their critics or dousing themselves with blood (embarrassing behaviors that have required apologies with the school year barely begun).

But I suspect we will need a broader set of options to deal with the upcoming propaganda onslaught.  And before we get into our choice of tactics, it’s important that we re-familiarize ourselves with theirs.

For if the goal of BDS is the elimination of the Jewish state, their strategies are to put that state beyond the moral pale by having it declared the successor to Apartheid South Africa (or, more recently, Nazi Germany) and de-legitimizing its right of self-defense in order to justify and limit the consequences for those who get to actually get to do the kidnapping, shooting and missile firing.

Because the message that Israel is a vile state that deserves whatever violence is directed at it is embraced by so few, practitioners of BDS work tirelessly to try to get their message to come out of the mouth of someone else, primarily progressive organizations such as student groups, liberal churches or unions in the hope that they can make their cause synonymous with liberal thought.   And even if they lose, the ability to force such organizations to hold endless meetings on boycott or divestment motions gives the Israel haters the chance to do what they love more than anything else: rail against Israel for hour upon hour before captive audiences.

With their goals and strategies mapped out, we now get to their tactics that have really never changed – regardless of how hot or cold things get in the Middle East.  These tactics include:

  • The Pointing Finger – That is, an endless string of accusations hurled against the Jewish state for every conceivable crime (real or imagined).  This blame-based tactic is chosen to ensure that the BDSers retain the role of prosecutor and place their opponents perpetually on the defensive.
  • Ignore-ance – This tactic goes hand-in-hand with The Pointing Finger since the best way to avoid being put on the defensive yourself is to refuse to acknowledge any point other than your own accusations.
  • Pathos – Since facts that make the BDSers uncomfortable, such as the unsavory and illiberal nature of those they defend or the violence roiling the Middle East, support logical arguments against their positions, BDS must rely on raw emotion in the hope that they can short-circuit reason altogether.   This explains why their case consists almost entirely of grisly stories and heart-rending images shorn of any and all context which they hope will shock an audience into relying on their gut instinct vs. their brains (and thus do what the BDSers tell them to).

As anyone who reads this blog knows, my preference is towards reasoned argument backed up by accurate facts.  And the good news is that if you are a student on a campus where the Middle East conflict is a live issue, you will likely find many people (possibly a majority) who are open to reasonable (if heated) discussion.  But you are also likely to have to deal with an aggressive and noisy SJP (or the equivalent) minority who will fight to prevent reasoned debate from occurring at any cost.

If you are dealing with someone of good will whose opinions may be based on misunderstanding or lack of knowledge, the normal human practice of education and reasoned argumentation should take priority.   But if you find yourself confronting the SJP tactics noted above, then a different set of rules apply.

What those rules are and how to apply them will be the subject for tomorrow’s entry (promise).

Battle Stations!

2 Sep

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.