At a panel discussion last week on “The global media assault on Israel”, the limelight was stolen by five Ethiopian students who are studying at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) and who had attended Apartheid Week in Cape Town last March.
Beth Protea manager Lynn Lochoff behind the five students who addressed the panel
More than 260 people crowded into the dining hall at Beth Protea in Herzliya to attend the panel moderated by IBA English News personality Leah Zinder with panelists Gerald Steinberg president of NGO Monitor and professor of Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University, David Olesker founder and director of the Jerusalem Center for Communication and Advocacy Training, international lawyer Trevor Asserson, well known for having successfully challenged BBC bias and Simon Plosker managing editor of Honest Reporting.
The event was organized by Truth be Told (TbT), a new and very active organization of concerned citizens dedicated to countering misinformation and disinformation about the Middle East by providing verifiable, accurate, objective and credible factual information.
Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual series of expensive events in over 250 cities across the world sponsored by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). The professional, well funded activities of BDS include huge, expensive billboards, lectures, music shows, films and workshops that are superlative examples of the scientific marketing principles practiced by international commercial institutions. The no-expenses-spared nature of the events, and the extensive professional organization involved, are mind-boggling.
Many well-meaning people are hoodwinked into supporting BDS in the belief that the objective of the movement is to achieve the peaceful two-state solution to the Arab-Israel conflict called for by President Obama and the Quartet. They would be shocked to learn that in reality, the leaders of BDS categorically reject this peaceful solution and in the words of Omar Barghouti their true aim is a Palestinian state next to a Palestinian state as recorded here
These well-meaning persons will be even more shocked to learn what BDS leaders really think of the Palestinian Authority. Omar Barghouti is a founder and leader of BDS and this is how he described the PA in a 2004 article in The Electronic Intifada
“In the West Bank you have a largely quisling [traitor] government that is completely supporting Israel in anything it wants to do. They get immediate support from the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah, which is an unelected authority imposed by an American general”
On October 2009 he wrote in Electronic intifada
“The PA government there has illegally appropriated the PLO’s authority to conduct Palestinian diplomacy and set foreign policy, conceding Palestinian rights and acting against Palestinian national interests, without worrying about accountability to any elected representatives of the Palestinian people”.
Though BDS claims its protests are peaceful, it is inevitable that its vicious, distorted attacks on Israel lead to violence. In Johannesburg at the once liberal Wits university a musical event featuring Israeli-born pianist, Yossie Reshef, who lives in Berlin, was disrupted by thugs who burst on the stage blowing vuvuzelas forcing cancellation of the concert before the audience heard the first note.
In another violent incident a concert at GoldReefCity celebrating Israel Independence Day turned ugly when BDS members used stink bombs and clashed with private security forces.
But this year in Cape Town it was different. The Jewish students decided to be proactive. Three months earlier, the Cape Town Jewish community sent three students to Israel to see for themselves. They spent five weeks learning about Israel with all its warts as well as positive aspects. They met many left and right leaning persons including members of TbT.
This is what Ilse, a member of the CapeColored community had to say
“We know little about Israel in my community except that as Christians Israel is important to us as the place where Jesus was born, but we are of course influenced by the criticism we read daily in the local papers calling Israel an apartheid state. I was therefore surprised to see easy mixing of Arabs and Jews in malls and hospitals and I’ve even taken pictures of public benches to show that there are no signs for Jews or Arabs only. I saw no apartheid at all.”
Although totally outmatched by the well-financed and professionally organized BDS movement, the Cape Town students including Luigi Bonfig and Carla Frumer who had participated in the visit to Israel arranged “Israel Peace Week” with an enormous “Abraham’s Tent” on the main plaza of the University of Cape Town campus, dispensing the patriarch’s hospitality including falafel, humus and pita.
In Cape Town, supporters and opposers of BDS could engage in civil discourse in Abraham’s Tent.
And this is where our Ethiopian students participated so admirably in Cape Town. At the panel discussion, Dvora Desta told the audience how pleased she was to be able to engage in conversation with BDS supporters in Cape Town. She told for example, how she was approached by a woman fully covered including the traditional hijab who opened the conversation aggressively by saying she is pro Palestinian. Dvora’s response that she too is pro Palestinian and that more importantly she is pro PEACE, opened the way to a worthwhile meaningful conversation. You can hear more of Dvora’s report by clicking on the arrow below.
Professor Gerald Steinberg, spoke of the war against Israel continuing from the 2001 Durban Conference, its program having been prepared in Iran ironically using the language of human rights. 5,000 people representing 1,500 organizations were involved at a huge cost in this declaration of war against Israel. One of the main speakers was Yasser Arafat. The organizations are wealthy. When he last checked, Amnesty International’s budget was 200 million British pounds and the EU and its constituents provide between 70 and 100 million Euros towards this war. Click on the arrow below for excerpts from Professor Steinberg’s address.
The obvious conclusion is that there is much to be done and that TbT is ready willing and able to provide a credible response to the prevalent misinformation and disinformation about Israel.