Want to defeat BDS? You need an army

The campaign against BDS is flailing, largely ineffective and, as presently constituted, will more than likely fail.

Activists from the BDS movement against Israel [File] (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Activists from the BDS movement against Israel [File]
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The state comptroller’s report on Israeli government efforts to tackle the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement does not make for pleasant, much less reassuring reading. It speaks of failures, inter-departmental fighting and a lack of a clear plan to deal with the scourge that is the BDS movement. In short, the report claims that the campaign is flailing, largely ineffective and, as presently constituted, will more than likely fail. And it leaves me, and countless other pro-Israel advocates deeply frustrated. But there’s something we can all do with this frustration. We can take matters into our hands.
I was at the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on Sunday. It was a packed hall, full of inspirational people who want to help, who want to do something. But as panel speaker Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein rightly noted, it’s not enough.
We can’t do it on our own, we need help and support from Christians, atheists, in fact from whoever we can find that is committed to the cause. I’m talking about building an army. No, not that kind of an army. I’m talking about an army that fights with its mind, that fights with its collective intellectual muscle to exert unstoppable pressure on governments in Europe who might be swayed into anti- BDS initiatives.
One of my media adviser colleagues, based in our Paris office, went to meet a French parliamentarian who was planning to vote in favor of “La Republique” recognizing a Palestinian state. In his office, the parliamentarian showed my colleague one of nearly 400 identical letters from the public calling on him to recognize such a state. The parliamentarian added, very matter of factly, that he is elected to serve the needs of his constituents, and if he receives such a volume of mail on such an issue he feels compelled to act.
So there you have it. It’s not rocket science. Politicians, like everyone else, respond to pressure. So where was our pressure? Where were our 400 letters of rebuke? That’s where an army comes in. And I’m 100 percent convinced that a cross-European army would defeat BDS here.
So we are building one. In two of the organizations that I direct, Europe Israel Press Association and Europe Israel Public Affairs, we undertook two test cases of online advertising.
We increased interest in our work by as much as 3,108%. So it’s clear that there is interest. But interest is not enough. It’s action that counts.
In the coming weeks we intend to campaign online, advertise and visit shuls, churches, universities, think tanks, you name it, to recruit active participants in this army.
We will be working with other Jewish groups, Christian organizations and will be taking a leaf out of AIPAC’s book on how to mobilize and defeat anti-Israel activities and initiatives wherever and whenever they arise.
We will mobilize whenever there’s a pro-BDS media article, whenever a politician or student leader speaks up in favor of a BDS campaign.
We are in a war, ladies and gentlemen. And contrary to current military thinking, this war can only be won with boots on the ground.
You see, as our online advert noted, Israel’s greatest asset isn’t its army, or its public representatives. It’s you, the public reading this. You have the power, by hitting the dislike button, by leaving a comment, by writing a letter, by picking up the phone. Combined, we are powerful force for pro-Israel advocacy and defeating the BDS movement.
It’s not a lost cause and never has been. Together we can do this. So I’m calling you to arms. Join the EIPA army today. You can do so at http://eipa.eu.com/publicaffairs/get-involved/
The writer is the director of EIPA-Europe Israel Public Affairs.