For a long time now, I have seen arguments within the Jewish community about how to deal with BDS.
Should we ignore them and hope that others will see the light?
Should we “get in their faces”?
Should we use their tactics against them?
Lately, these arguments seem to be coming to a head. A recent article “On Israel Apartheid Week, some pro-Israel students find silence is best response” By Uriel Heilman prompted me to join a discussion on Facebook about strategy and tactics.
While some, indeed believe that protests just draw attention to BDS and that any attention is favorable (similar to the old thought that “any media attention is good”, I disagree.
Frankly, I’m amazed at Jewish leaders who counsel ignoring BDS events like the so-called “Apartheid Week”.
Had the black community simply kept their heads down, there would have been no civil rights movement. Martin Luther King and other civil rights movement leaders brought about change by shining the light of day on extreme and pervasive racism, and the country has changed radically as a result. Today, there is not a single person in this country who doesn’t understand that negative comments or stereotypes about people of color are unacceptable, and doesn’t know that such comments will draw a rain of criticism down on them.
Jews and supporters of Israel are in a similar situation today with respect to BDS and bashing of Israel. There are basic, actual facts about Israel that have been distorted, hidden, or forgotten, while at the same time, a vast network of Israel-haters has sprung up, ready, willing, and eager to take any opportunity to portray Israel negatively, even in the face of a plethora of available, objective evidence that contradicts their claims. They have managed to tarnish Israel’s reputation around the globe, and today, on college campuses in particular, they are succeeding in turning those who should be supporters of Israel – young, smart, progressive, liberal, humanitarian students – into haters of Israel by using false narratives that pull at the heartstrings of these students.
The only way to beat BDS is to shine a very bright light on it. We need to expose their lies for what they are, at every possible opportunity. We need to expose their tight connections with Hamas, Hezbollah, and whatever highly objectionable organizations finance and support the BDS movement. We need to expose their funding and support mechanisms, and we need to create a strong awareness of, and disgust for these organizations, which are based on the desire to destroy Israel, kill Jews worldwide, and promote a version of Islam that should be anathema to any thinking, rational person in the Western world, in particular students concerned with human rights, LBQT rights, women’s rights, free speech, etc. etc. etc.
We need to prevent them from “disrupting” pro-Israel events, and we need to be proactive and aggressive about getting the truth in front of people, with incontrovertible proofs that our claims are true, and proofs that the claims of the BDS movement are based on complete and utter lies.
What this means is that there need to be protests (non-violent) with massive turnout of Israel supporters, displays countering BDS assertions whenever and wherever the BDS movement is showing their anti-semitic faces, there need to be positive articles about Israel in the mainstream media, billboards highlighting Israeli contributions to the world and even to the Palestinians, and most of all, there needs to be engagement on campuses to the point of “getting in their faces” and exposing their lies, every single day.
It means being organized and passionate, bringing pro-Israel and anti-antisemitism resolutions to student government, over and over again, if necessary. It means condemning BDS, anti-semitism, and discrimination against Jewish students in school newspapers, on social media, and in campus demonstrations. It means demanding that Jews on campus receive protections guaranteed to all students. And, it means demanding action from college administrations and security (and police, if applicable) when BDS “disrupts” meetings, classes, and lectures, violating both the first amendment rights of pro-Israel groups and campus and public laws. Find legal methods of making their “disruptions” painful and costly. And, it is crucial to make sure there is adequate security at events to quickly and effectively remove these jerks when they initiate their “disruptions”. Letting them strut, parade, and disrupt only makes them stronger and more confident that “The Jews” will just sit back and take it, since that’s what we’ve done for centuries.
While Jews are not as rich, and don’t have as much influence as the BDS movement would have people believe, there ARE any number of wealthy, influential Jews who should be solicited for support of these initiatives by donations, public statements, threats to end funding of universities that are “hostile” to Israel and Jewish students, and frankly, the state of Israel should be on the hook for supporting this – they have a lot to lose and it frequently appears as if they are unaware of the extent of BDS outside Israel.
Sitting back and hoping it will all just go away is insane. It won’t. We need to stand up and fight this insane movement before it poisons all the future leaders of this country and others.