August 19, 2019

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The Network (Divest This!)

The Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy just published research that describes the links between various BDS-promoting entities and terrorist organizations such as the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas.   The report confirms (as if more confirmation was necessary) that – far from being the grassroots human rights movement it poses as – BDS is in fact an operational asset in the ongoing war against the Jewish state.

The infographic that accompanied the report, which has been making the rounds over the last week, reminded me of other illustrations of how propaganda and “direct action” (i.e., terrorism) fit together into an integrated militant strategy. 

This work represents two strands of public diplomacy being carried out by the Israeli government that demonstrate their seriousness with the propaganda as well as kinetic battlefield: high-profile exposing of war organizations posing as peace groups, and keen use of communication methods (in this case infographics) that cut through the word clutter often characterizing pro-Israel commentary. 

Given how well organizations much less resourced than government agencies have made use of such tools (I’m thinking especially about NGO Monitor and its BDS Sewer Systemanimated graphic that eloquently communicates the way politicized NGOs launder accusations against Israel to fuel BDS and other propaganda campaigns), it’s nice to see Israeli political leaders leveraging modern communication techniques to spread the truth as well as our opponents use them to spread lies.

While specifics are always vital when planning strategy and tactics, it is equally important to keep in mind the big picture into which these specifics fit. 

For instance, the prime movers in the war against the Jewish nation state are the other nations who declared war on that state at its birth, a war that continues to this day.  As I noted when describing the odds Israel faces in her military situation:

A majority of countries that make up the Arab League are in a formal declared state of war against Israel and, taken together, these states have a combined population of close to 350 million and combined armies of over a hundred million soldiers.  This number does not include irregular forces like the terrorist armies of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.  If we also want to take economics into consideration, Israel’s economy (with a GDP of approximately $300 billion) is one twentieth the size of the economies of her combined enemies.

The years 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 (and possibly 1982) are often invoked to mark times when this long-term war erupted into actual shooting between national armies, but every year in between these dates can also be characterized as periods when formal military clashes were replaced by irregular action (referred to as guerilla warfare and terrorism, depending on who you talk to and when).  This supports the notion that 1948, 1967 et al should not be considered distinct wars, but rather seen as battles in a long-war that stretches back almost a century.

Alongside kinetic actions involving people actually shooting at one another, there has also been a parallel propaganda effort that again begin with Israel’s nation-state enemies (i.e., the countries making up the Arab League).  Coupled with allies, including another 20+ non-Arab Muslim states and states who once described themselves as “non-aligned”) this “automatic majority” exercises power inherent in numbers to corrupt organizations like the United Nations, turning them into a propaganda arm for a war against a member state. 

The purpose of the propaganda branch of the war against Israel is to (1) make Israel’s destruction seem virtuous vs. horrifying; and (2) provide support to military actors by limiting Israel’s options with regard to allowable military responses.  Again quoting previous analysis of this situation, current activity by BDS and similar anti-Israel propaganda campaigns can be characterized as follows:

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