JUNE 3, 2015
The boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement promotes itself as a non-violent “civil society” human rights organization trying to bring peace to a victimized people and the world. It is not. BDS is, in fact, the marketing arm of the same Arab-Muslim people and organizations that have unsuccessfully tried to destroy Israel since its establishment. This includes the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Fatah, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Arab League, and Iran. BDS leaders also have direct connections with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
These entities are less known for their humanity than their brutal and long history of terrorism, extreme violence, murders, and human rights atrocities (against their own people and others).
Pushing peaceful propaganda while secretly promoting violence and human rights violations is nothing new. Look no further than the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and many of the revolutionary countries of South America.
However, unlike in the past when Arab-Muslims singularly waged conventional and terrorist wars against Israel, BDS brilliantly recruits legions of “well doers” (including Jews) who, either because of ignorance or agenda, help disseminate BDS’ lies, hatred, and anti-Semitism.
BDS revitalized the Arab-Muslim war against Israel and storm(troop)ed across Europe and North America, succeeding in getting many to believe utterly false accusations against Israel; foremost among them that Israel is a racist, genocidal, colonizing, apartheid state that abuses Palestinians at every turn.
People who know the facts struggle to understand how the public at large (both Jews and non-Jews), and supposedly educated college students in particular, can so easily embrace BDS’ fabrications, distortions, and outright lies.
The answer is simple: marketing.
The BDS movement took its marketing idea directly from the most infamously successful marketing campaign ever: Hitler’s Master Race concept. What was Herr Goebbels’ marketing strategy? “Tell a lie big enough and often enough, and people will begin to believe it.” That, along with P.T. Barnum’s “There’s a sucker born every minute,” is the complete foundation of the BDS movement.
BDS successfully uses four tactics while meshing all seamlessly and insidiously:
1. Obfuscating its ultimate goal
The world at large, and specifically most BDS supporters, believe that BDS seeks a two-state solution where a new country of Palestine will sit peacefully next to Israel. This is false. BDS’ written and stated goal is a “single state” of Palestine that includes present day Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Furthermore, by virtue of BDS’ several demands, Israel would no longer be a Jewish state, but rather would become – as BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti has publicly stated – “…a Palestinian state next to a Palestinian state.”
2. Leveling unadulterated lies against and about Israel
In a propaganda video (produced by Students for Justice in Palestine) to convince students to vote to divest from Israel, a female student from Loyola University Chicago states: “As an Ethiopian, I do not want the university that I attend to support a government that mistreats African immigrants seeking asylum and sterilizes 50% of the Ethiopian women upon entrance to Israel.”
Although this student most likely believes that her statement is true, her massive ignorance does not mitigate the irreparable harm that she causes. Even though this type of exaggerated lie is no different than BDS’ garden variety lies, there is no legal deterrent to stop them. A person or organization cannot be sued for committing slander or libel against a people, race, religion, or country, no matter how blatantly offensive it is.
Through the dissemination of lies, such as the mass sterilization of innocent women of color, BDS achieves several goals:
Equates Israelis and Jews to Nazis
Promotes Israel as a racist country
Strengthens BDS’ ties with minority and progressive groups
Places Israel on the defensive
Legitimizes armed resistance (violence) against Israelis and Jews
Wins over the uninformed masses
Drives a wedge between the U.S. and Israel
The only recourse to lies is education. Unfortunately, by the time their lies are promoted and embraced globally, it is often too late to overcome.
3. Rewriting history while creating a new narrative
BDS actively markets the Palestinian Authority’s ongoing rewriting of history: both denying Jewish historic and modern day claims to Israel, while creating a new thousand year Palestinian history.
In BDS’ history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, there are no wars caused by the Arabs (if wars are mentioned at all), no Palestinian terrorism, no missiles against Israel, and certainly no violence against Jews.There is only the reporting of Arab deaths caused by Israel. Look no further than the United Auto Workers Local 2865 website. They voted to divest from Israel based on, among other things, listing the deaths of Arabs killed in Gaza by Israel with no mention of the Palestinian terrorist tunnels, kidnappings, murders, and missiles fired into Israel.
4. Deflecting from true human rights violators
Throughout the Arab world (including in the West Bank and Gaza), some Muslims commit human rights violations of the worst kind (including against their own people). Yet, in a twist of unparalleled marketing, BDS succeeds in getting many college students to believe that Israel – a country with total gender, racial, sexual orientation, and religious equality – is the single greatest human rights violator globally.
BDS’ deflection of human rights abuses away from the Arab-Muslim world and onto Israel further removes the Arab world’s responsibility for failing to correct the West Bank and Gaza Arabs’ situation since 1948. Where the Arab world’s money and influence could have established a culture of peaceful coexistence with a willing Israel, for political reasons, it purposely fostered an environment of hatred and violence.
One of the greatest casualties of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been the truth. Many college professors, students, union activists, clergy, Jews, businesses, organizations, countries, and the world at large have embraced historical falsities because of agenda, laziness, or ignorance.
The saddest fact is that those who agree with BDS will continue marching until they accidentally or intentionally destroy Israel. And those who want to fight BDS simply don’t know how.
But the same question remains for the ignorant, who may one day realize their abhorrent mistakes, and those who want to fight BDS: Will it be too little, too late?
Jack Saltzberg is the founder and executive director of The Israel Group, the first nonprofit established to fight the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement in North America. Saltzberg has been a nonprofit professional leader for nearly 20 years and he served in combat in the Israel Defense Forces.