YAIR LAPID: This government’s moves with the Russians have failed miserably.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
“The whole nation is in the reserves,” Ehud Manor wrote in his 1969 classic song “Rak B’Yisrael” (“Only in Israel”).
Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid is giving the song a different twist, trying to turn the whole country into spokespeople against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement by distributing small booklets, which give them brief arguments to combat the BDS talking points, at Ben-Gurion Airport to Israelis traveling abroad.
This is the second time in three years that Lapid is doing this, having done the same thing in the summer of 2015.
“The State of Israel needs you,” Lapid wrote in the intro to the booklet, entitled “Fighting for Israel: How to Fight the BDS Lies?” “We are at war,” he wrote. “The BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) spreads an unbelievable amount of lies about us, fabricated pictures and fictional witness accounts. The goal is to smear Israel’s name in the world, to isolate us, to turn us into a hated and illegitimate state. We cannot abandon this field.”
Lapid wrote that “not everyone is an antisemite, not everyone is against us; we just need to explain our side of the story. If we manage this struggle with determination and wisdom, we can win. But we all need to mobilize.
We are Israelis. And when our house is under attack, we stand ready to defend it. It’s in our genes. There is no right or left in this. When facing the outside world, we are united.”
The booklet presents a BDS argument, and then “Our Truth.”
For example, BDS activists say they are “human rights and peace activists.”
“Our Truth,” according to the booklet, is that “BDS is an antisemitic movement, founded by global Jihadi organizations. Its activity has been recognized as an antisemitic hate crime in France and the United States. Those standing behind BDS have discreet connections with Hamas, whose charter calls for the annihilation of the Jews no less than 12 times. Despite the attempt to portray the movement as non-violent, the BDS movement has never condemned violence directed against Israelis or Jews.”
To the BDS line that Israel is “an apartheid country with a separation fence,” the booklet responds: “The security fence does not create separation based on ethnicity or religion, rather it is meant only to prevent terrorists from entering Israel. It is an existential need and every country would act the same to protect its citizens.
Its purpose is only security related. A year after the fence was built, there was a 30% reduction in the number of terrorist attacks and the number of Israelis killed was reduced by 90%. On the day that Palestinian terror ceases, the fence will come down.”
Asked why Lapid is taking the initiative, when the Strategic Affairs Ministry is charged with battling BDS and has a budget to do so and the Foreign Ministry traditionally deals with public diplomacy, a spokesman for Lapid said the Yesh Atid leader has repeatedly called upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “rise above narrow political considerations” and appoint a full time foreign minister who can give back to the ministry areas of responsibility – such as the fight against BDS – that were taken away from it.
Neither the Foreign Ministry nor the Strategic Affairs Ministry wanted to respond to Lapid’s initiative.
Lapid’s idea is not particularly new.
In 2010, the Information and Diaspora Ministry, which at the time was headed by current Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, launched a program to train Israelis to serve as public diplomacy representatives abroad. Under this program, a book on Explaining Israel was also distributed to Israelis traveling abroad.