TZAHI GAVRIELI Director, National Campaign for Countering Delegitimization and Deputy Director General, Ministry of Strategic Affairs..
(photo credit: COURTESY MINISTRY OF STRATEGIC AFFAIRS)
Over the past two decades world Jewry and the State of Israel have invested billions of dollars toward strengthening the connection between Jewish youth and Israel. This vital endeavor reflects the values we Jews strive for, which includes mutual responsibility, preserving our heritage, and a historic commitment to care for each other. From generation to generation, these principles have been passed on as an integral part of our people.
Solidifying this connection is of paramount importance, not only in keeping us united as a nation, but also against a threat that raised its head a decade ago– the Israel delegitimization campaign (DLG). Unlike the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, DLG consists of wider scope attacks against Israel’s legitimacy as the Jewish state.
Propaganda, incitement, lies, threats, boycotts and divestment, law suits, and millions of dollars have been used in campaigns aimed at undermining Israel’s legitimacy. A network of anti-Israel organizations have spread throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America, South Africa and the Palestinian Authority, conducting globally coordinated anti-Israel activities on a daily basis.
They openly state their desire to drive a wedge between world Jewry and Israel, under the guise of “human rights.” Their language is filled with antisemitic tropes, sharing alarming similarities with darker times from Judaism’s recent past.
World Jewry is fighting back. For the past decade, more than 150 organizations around the world have been actively exposing and combating anti-Israel organizations.
Through their hard work, Jewish student organizations are thwarting boycott initiatives on campus; Jewish leaders are actively speaking out, anti-boycott legislation has been enacted in 22 US states, and BDS protests are consistently countered by brave pro-Israel supporters.
Since 2015, under the leadership of Minister Gilad Erdan, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy has focused on combatting DLG. This has included the creation of Ha Ma’aracha (The Campaign), a special governmental task force charged with leading the international fight against Israel delegitimization and BDS. Thanks to these actions and along with the exceptional work of pro-Israel organizations around the globe, within the United States at least, the DLG’s leadership is becoming increasingly anxious.
In Europe, the situation is different. Dozens of well-funded anti-Israel organizations are working over-time in leading campaigns against multinational companies invested in Israel, calling for sanctions, and demanding boycotts of Israeli cultural performances.
Furthermore, due to the continent’s varied geopolitical and demographic nature, European pro-Israel organizations face greater challenges in countering DLG. With limited funding and manpower they still manage to act, including blocking seven city councils in Spain from boycotting Israel and assisting the passing of a resolution in Germany equating BDS with anti-Semitism.
Unfortunately, this is not enough to block the torrent of anti-Israel delegitimization efforts stemming from the continent.
Meanwhile, the intricacies of the global DLG network are all too apparent, especially between the United States and Europe. This is highlighted when organizations in Britain, France and Ireland openly share materials and tactics with their American counterparts. British studies quickly become the template for a boycott campaign in France, and American activists join their Italian counterparts in con- ducting economic warfare against Israel.
To counter global threats, we need to think and act globally. There is a need to equalize the asymmetry between the US and Europe and fill this strategic gap by shifting our efforts, know-how, and resources from stronger to weaker parts of the pro-Israel network.
Together, we have accomplished the seemingly impossible by building a home in our land after 2,000 years of exile. Seventy years after Israel’s establishment, World Jewry continues to be an inseparable part of the country, intertwined in its existence and heritage as the national homeland for every Jew.
Now is the time to unite and rein- force the pro-Israel network, wherever they may be, while striving to- ward mutual cooperation. We can, and should work toward building a strong global network of pro-Israel organizations to ensure Israel’s future as the national homeland of the Jewish people.Written in cooperation with Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
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