Israel is facing a worldwide outbreak of boycotts, divestments and sanctions from academia, church bodies and corporations. The vast majority are by uninformed persons and groups which have taken anti-Israel propaganda as fact and not even considered due diligence for verifying claims. Academics and professional associations have voted to boycott conferences, speakers and other events within their intellectual sphere. In a number of cases the decisions were reversed.
Unfortunately the Christian churches are in great turmoil over many social issues and several denominations are dividing. The Presbyterian Church has moved to boycott Israel and to remove any mention of “Israel” literally from worship. This unfortunately is contrary to Biblical injunctions (Deuteronomy 4:2) against adding or removing anything from the Scriptures. Sadly, doctrine has overruled the Bible in many cases. There have been instances of several institutions granting “equal time” to Islam and rejecting Israel. So much for Judeo-Christian roots of American civilization.
The recent issues over Soda Stream and now Orange have brought BDS into a larger framework where France has entered the fray and a back and forth tennis match of denials gets airtime.
Social media has become the most effective way to oppose BDS on a large scale. Most institutions, church bodies and corporations use this platform. But this can degenerate into rant and rave fits and damage the necessary work at hand. Here are some effective ways to deal directly and effectively with bds. The ultimate weapon is “money talks”.
Perhaps the most vulnerable group is academia. Usually it is student groups that propose bds from Israeli associated programs or products. Students are very pliable and can be easily convinced to take on a pro-Palestinian or pro-Muslim movement. Many faculty support these drives and seem to use “academic freedom” and their bully pulpits in the classroom to promulgate their anti-Israel views. However both groups seem oblivious to where their financial support is based. Students are on scholarship or financial aid. Faculties are paid by the institution. This is where to place a declaration of support for Israel. If you are an alumnus of a college or university which has been considering BDS actions, inform the administration of your disapproval and your decision to withhold any gifts, donations or estate and planned giving until that decision is changed. Administrators are constantly raising funds and a decisive move by pro-Israel alumni will send a shot across a vulnerable bow.
Professional associations are similar. Grants and gifts are their lifeblood. An email, call or letter from an influential member can interrupt any fundraising campaign and cause media issues that will necessitate online “damage control”. Polite and firm posts on social media channels are also very effective.
Church groups are the most disappointing instance of BDS activities. Unfortunately this is a result of the fractioning and divisiveness in Church society today. At last count at least 50,000 Protestant denominations are in existence and divisions within the Roman Catholic Church due to many social issues are having effect. Vocal support for Israel is from organizations such as CUFI and AIPAC and smaller groups within the Evangelical community. Spokesmen for Israel such as Pastor John Hagee and Pastor Franklin Graham command an audience and see even mainstream media coverage for their efforts.
Social media is the most available and immediate anti-BDS weapon. Posting and commenting on sites that promote BDS activities can be useful. Posts should be literate, spell-checked, and civil and link to a reliable site to demonstrate the point being made. Be selective and thoughtful and avoid rant/rave sites since this activity is time consuming. This can also be an open door to online criticism; if you cannot engage opponents online without being overly sensitive this is not the best medium for you. Be sure to update computer security software as well since Israeli sites are under constant hacking and malware assault. Starting a social media page is another tool. Make sure posting rules for content and up to date and the site is administered on a regular, almost hourly basis.
The best way to combat BDS is with its own weapons. Those who engage in BDS are open to being “hoist with their own petard”. Money talks and losing donations, gifts from alumni, grants from foundations or just spending hours “putting out social media fires” can make BDS and make people think before they act. This is a war after all. Israel supporters must be fully engaged and ready to act in what they believe is a battle for survival by the only democracy in the Middle East.