Avi Benlolo
Avi Abraham Benlolo, Founder & Chairman, The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI)

Another Tumultuous Week

Jeremy Corbyn’s narrow defeat is an earthquake. If, as the saying goes, Jews are ‘the canary in the coal mine,’ Britain is in for a rough ride over the next four years. Theresa May has been a staunch defender of common sense values – anti–terrorism, pro-freedom and democracy, and pro-Israel. Conversely, it was reported that Corbyn recently laid a wreath at a remembrance ceremony for one of the Palestinian terrorists from the 1972 Munich massacre – despicable! The clash of values cannot be starker and sets the UK on a collision course with itself.

The shifting sand in the UK was somewhat overshadowed by the James Comey bombshell testimony to the US Intelligence Committee this week, and even Saudi Arabia-et al’s blockade of Qatar over its support of terrorism – even while the Saudis are often accused of the very same. All this international intrigue unfortunately camouflaged Nikki Haley’s important visit to Israel this week. The outspoken US Ambassador to the United Nations made a point of giving prayer at the Western Wall and visiting Israel’s southern region – most affected by Hamas rockets and tunnel incursions. Principled in action, Haley matter of factly advised that the US was considering withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council for its bias against Israel and called the UN a global bully.

Here at home, we fought hard against the bullies of anti-Semitism. Fighting off the Niagara Centre NDP Riding Association that asked the Ontario NDP to support the antisemitic boycott, divestment and sanction campaign against Israel, the Niagara Regional Council overwhelmingly voted to condemn it by a margin of 12-2. Fort Erie Councillor Sandy Annunziata, who brought the motion forward said, “Even though I am not the one who should be making the apology and begging for the forgiveness of the Jewish community, I feel compelled to ask for forgiveness for residents who have shared their remorse that something like this should be festering and lurking in Niagara.”

And in an unbelievable revelation this week, it came to light that the anti-Israel propaganda machine had infiltrated massive and prominent North American retail chains. Sears USA, Walmart International and even Kmart were selling violence, promoting defamatory and misleading anti-Israel T-shirts with numerous designs. The same shirts were also found on eBay and Amazon. Slanderous statements adorned them – meticulously designed – some with fists raised (promoting violence); others with the slogan “Free Palestine” overlaying a full map of Israel (an apparent call for the replacement of the Jewish state with a Palestinian one); while others accused Israel of “apartheid” (which it is not) and still others had the slogan, “Free Gaza” (Gaza is free).

I am proud of the online social activists who participated in having Sears USA, Walmart International and Kmart remove these items within twelve hours. Letters were sent, petitions were signed, telephone calls were made and social networking sites were inflamed by this shanda. I am confident that Amazon and eBay will follow their lead shortly. For its part, Sears Canada distanced itself from the lack of judgment exhibited by the American retailers and promised that the Canadian company would never sell the items.

The infiltration of hateful and anti-Semitic Palestinian propaganda merchandise into traditional retailers requires analysis. It is a strategic investment of capital resources in an attempt to normalize the campaign to destroy the Jewish state. Who can forget the cultural normalization of the anti-apartheid movement against South Africa? Clothing, music, books and exhibits were widely available in a wonderful effort to bring down the racist nation – where white supremacy was at its core. Israel is not South Africa by any stretch of the imagination. Its freedom and democracy for all people regardless of race, faith and ethnicity is celebrated.

Complete with models wearing their hateful shirts and a sophisticated product ordering process, the Palestinian propagandists are taking a page from the anti-apartheid campaign that brought down South Africa. Target marketing to youth, they want their merchandise to be as readily available as any other brand with a connotation of “cool.” The more ingrained and normalized their messaging, the more acceptable will their destructive ambition be to the masses.

There is nothing cool, however, in wearing shirts and products that promote the destruction of the only free and democratic state in the Middle East. Instead of calling for peace, an end to terror and hateful incitement on the Palestinian side, propagandists are investing time and resources in promoting violence. While these were major victories for the pro-Israel camp this week and those who believe in freedom and democracy, the same activists are continuing their campaign by placing ads on these very same sites.

Unfortunately for them, as their truthful intentions come out, our resolve is only getting stronger.

About the Author
Avi Abraham Benlolo is the Founder and Chairman of The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) He has been described as the nation's most prominent and noted expert in Holocaust studies, in countering Antisemitism and promoting human rights.