Below are the remarks delivered by IAC CEO Shoham Nicolet at the United Nations during the Ambassadors Against BDS Summit.
BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is an organized network of dark forces – based entirely on a big and ugly fraud. We always need to remember that it attacks not only Israel’s existence, but also the values central to our future as Americans.
To face BDS, we must be creative and innovative. We must bring people and organizations together.
In my opinion the solution is building a community.
The definition of a community is a group of interconnected people that have a particular characteristic in common.
It only makes sense for us to build a community because we have much more in common than one particular characteristic. We have shared values and moral sense, a shared heritage and history, shared passion and love for Israel, and a shared future and destiny.
Second, a community is built to last. Today we face BDS, but tomorrow we may face something else. Building a community will allow us to handle any challenge, seen or unseen, known or unknown.
There are seven key elements that we can bring together to form this community:
- Connecting people. We have built a close partnership between IDC Herzliya, the Maccabee Task Force, and the IAC to develop a community called ACT.IL. If Israel is your passion, you should not feel alone. This is a community that will make you feel proud to be an Israel lover – no matter where you live and what your background is. Connecting and collaborating with like-minded people that share goals and desires makes every individual’s activism much more meaningful and powerful.
- Interconnected Online and Offline. There is no question that technology allows us to empower offline communities, and get everyone aligned no matter where they are in the world. At the same time, we believe that our online community obtains its power from local offline communities. This is why we work with every local pro-Israel organization and group that wants to join us. This is also why we launched our first “Media Room,” as a core of local offline community of activists. We already launched the first community in Boston in partnership with CJP (Combined Jewish Philanthropies). The next Media Rooms will be launched in New Jersey and New York, with the goal of opening 20 Media Rooms across the nation in the next couple of years.
- Training. To ensure our community’s effectiveness, we have created a cutting-edge simulator, which gives thousands of activists in our community across the country access to up-to-date tools to fight for Israel online and offline. Our biggest investment is in training new community trainers, who become force-multipliers within their local communities.
- No logo. The biggest enemy of our community is ego and competition. It takes us out of focus, and leads us to spend more and achieve less. This is why we adopted a “no logo” strategy: We allow anyone to share the content we develop without asking for credit. We see much higher engagement numbers as a result. I hope that this supports the development of a “no logo community culture,” where everyone develops content and works together – for the sole purpose of revealing the truth.
- Engagement. To engage our community we are using task-based gamification mobile application, which utilizes behavioral psychology. Since we are all already connected to our mobile devices 24/7, why not to use our time on our phones to make a positive impact for Israel? The tasks are beyond just content sharing and distribution, but give our community real challenges in public diplomacy, outreach and advocacy.
- Access to quality information. Our community is a great source of valuable information from which we can take action. We also believe that cyber technology can be an important asset in finding valuable information when fighting BDS. Sometimes, it’s all about understanding the manipulative language of BDS organizations. Our latest campaign has been based on discovering and translating SJP’s communications in Arabic to reveal their praise of terror and murder. When the truth is on our side, sharing facts becomes your most powerful weapon.
- Relevant content. To create relevant content for our audience, the first thing we need to do is listen, ensuring that we are speaking our audience’s language before we develop a campaign. Most of our campaigns are designed to share the dynamism and beauty of Israel, and to emphasize its common values with America. With that said, BDS is ugly, and sometimes we need to show its ugliness. Community-sourcing of content development, with the right quality controls, facilitates unlimited opportunities for advocacy and connection by our community for our community.
When you go back home, connect to us and each other. Join our connected and engaged community, which is not only about fighting BDS, but is about sharing and fighting for our joint love and passion for Israel, for America and for the truth. We are already making a difference. By working together, our community can be a game changer in fighting BDS, and building a much brighter future for us all.