Once again, the media gets BDS wrong. From Liam Hoare in The Forward:
BDS is a failed political movement, and the Israeli government stalks a tiger that walks on paper feet.
While BDS supporters are still able to muster enough people to gather outside stores selling Israeli products, underwrite letters to the Guardian, or pressure this or that artist into not stopping in Tel Aviv on their world tour, these are but demonstrative acts that, together, constitute a carnival sideshow.
In fourteen years, BDS has failed to attract support beyond those who were already inclined to dislike Israel to begin with …and has made no perceptible impact on the Israeli economy.
Like so many others, Hoare misses the point of what BDS is about.
Even BDSers admit that they choose their targets of boycott for maximum leverage and publicity, even as they use Israeli products themselves. The boycotts are indeed a sideshow to their real aim – to have average people associate Israel with racism and apartheid.
By repeating the lies that Zionism is racism, Israel is an apartheid state, Israel must be boycotted for human rights abuses, and so on – over and over again – it makes an impression on college students and people who don’t follow Israel closely.
When an artist boycotts Israel, it makes a huge impression on people who want to identify as supporting social justice.
When an academic group calls to boycott Israel, it puts an aura of respectability on hating Israel.
That’s the real goal. They want to make the very idea of being pro-Israel toxic. They want to put proud Zionists on the defensive. They want to make people question any dealing with Israel as if it is immoral.
Sad to say, The Forward itself is a major contributor to that mindset.
Every time a college student hesitates before defending Israel publicly because of the very real consequences that can happen, BDS wins.
This week we saw a perfect example of a BDS victory – one that in terms of boycotts is minor, but in terms of the real goals of BDS is a huge win:
In a first-of-its-kind incident, a European academic association has reportedly canceled a planned conference in Israel due to fear that it will come under pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Two weeks after the European Network for Mental Health Service Evaluation (ENMESH) last month concluded its 2019 meeting with a decision to hold its next biennial conference in Jerusalem in 2021, the chairman of its executive committee unilaterally canceled that resolution, Haaretz reported Sunday.
In a letter sent to board members, Mike Slade said his decision came after several members complained about the location, and that he was trying to preempt the resulting outcry from boycott supporters, the report said, citing sources who had read the letter.
Had he gone forward with the plans to hold the next conference in Israel, Slade contended, ENMESH’s work over the next two years would have been dominated by dealing with the controversy and the pressure from anti-Israel activists.
ENMESH didn’t choose to boycott Israel because it is anti-Israel; it chose to boycott Israel because it didn’t want to hassle with two years of anti-Israel idiots harassing its members.
Or look at this from the Hollywood Reporter this week:
“It’s much more difficult to get people to support Friends of the IDF and Israel, even those who are Jewish,” says Hollywood attorney and Friends of the IDF board member Marty Singer. “Sometimes people are afraid that it could have an adverse impact on them. It’s not politically correct.”
That fear is the biggest BDS victory, and it is not (yet) being effectively countered.
Just as we saw in the 1970s, where the fear by European nations of being the victim of Palestinian terrorism quickly morphed into a pretense that they support Palestinian nationalism, people don’t want to think of themselves as being susceptible to blackmail. It is much easier to pretend to be idealistic, and to change one’s self-view from a sniveling coward into a heroic defender of justice.
The constant threats by the Israel haters – along with the drumbeat of so-called social justice warriors who push the lie that being anti-Israel is progressive – results in a toxic environment where public support for Israel is eroded and derided. And where public opposition to Israel is done with pride.
BDS has already won in many venues. Any college, any European capital where a pro-Israel demonstration can be expected to be attacked and where an anti-Israel demonstration cannot is a BDS victory.
Similarly, every time J-Street style Jews says they are pro-Israel but they feel that they must emphasize the huge BUT more than their supposed love for Israel itself, BDS has won.
It doesn’t have to be this way, even for people who are critical of Israel’s policies or government.
When Nurit Baytch accepted a Hasby Award from me, she said to the crowd that she was a member of the far-left Meretz party in Israel. Yet she is a passionate defender of Israel online, one of the best there is.
Hen Mazzig is another perfect example. A gay Mizrahi Jew with a non-Jewish partner is not exactly a right-wing icon – but he is a lover and tireless defender of Israel.
They are as liberal as can be, they can criticize Israel when appropriate, but their overwhelming love for the country and ability to look at it in perspective show what Zionism from the progressive side can look like.
If J-Street would adopt the methods of Baytch and Mazzig, then we can believe that they are pro-Israel. As it is, J-Street legitimizes BDS’ aims with every single email and press release, even if they are officially against BDS. Because BDS isn’t about boycotts, it is only about turning Israel into a pariah state, and J-Street does more than its part in accomplishing that goal.
BDS doesn’t care about boycotts. Its aim is to make Israel toxic in the public sphere. It has been fairly successful by that standard. And it must be fought by showing that true progressives should support Israel and that those who oppose Jewish self-determination are simply bigots.
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.