How to beat BDS at its own game

Jewish media from Mosaic to Yediot have sounded the alarm: BDS – a coalition of anti-Israel forces devoted to boycotting, divesting and imposing sanctions on Israel – is gaining momentum, particularly on campuses.

A shot of well-aimed satiric barbs packaged as street drama would be far more appropriate and effective in combating BDS than polite and ‘dignified’ rational argumentation which fails to reach the uninformed and presents an easy target for BDSers to sabotage and silence with heckling and harassment. It’s time to take the battle into the streets to discredit BDS.

BDS cadres have set up an ‘Apartheid Wall’ on the campus green? They’re staging street drama with Israeli soldiers harassing or beating Palestinians at mock checkpoints? Let Jewish students crash the party in numbers: Respond by sending in activists dressed as school kids with a pipe bomb or a butcher knife in their backpacks, as a pregnant woman laying on a suicide belt in a mock ambulance, as a teenager disguised as a hawker selling snacks to drivers off a tray, to get close enough to knife those manning the BDSer’s mock checkpoints. Drive this message home in the finale….with the actors holding up placards with a relevant news clipping with the real cases reported in the press, declaring “YUP, THIS REALLY HAPPENS IN ISRAEL”…including the woman patient from Gaza given a permit to enter Israel on humanitarian grounds who planned to blow herself up in the very Israeli hospital treating her. Or stage a bogus BDS demonstration…where our street actors play both the ‘Apartheid Wall’ demonstrators and ‘our people’ who challenge their accusations with the same dramatic ‘reality check’ suggested above…

Organize a picket line of the BDSers’ ‘Apartheid Wall’ holding signs each entitled “BEFORE THE WALL” with a tally of the number killed and wounded in ‘one successful terrorist attack’: The Park Hotel – Natanya (38 killed, 138 wounded). The Matza Restaurant – Haifa (16 killed, 40 wounded). Sbarro – Jerusalem (15 killed, 130 wounded). The #2 Egged bus in Jerusalem (24 killed – a quarter of them children, 130 injured). Accompany with photos of the carnage!

Have picketers chant/hold up appropriate slogans/graphics that unmask BDS. Urge observers – “Don’t be sucked in by BDS’s BS.” Focus on undermining their credibility by portraying them as a bunch of hypocrites and liars.

Screen/beam footage of the same terrorist attacks on a wall (‘silent movie’ like) – loops of carnage after carnage – under the banner “What Forced Israel to Build a Security Fence?” Likewise, pro-Israel students should mobilize the wickedly clever ‘guide’ – So You Want to Boycott Israel and screen it on the quad or during BDS demonstrations under a banner declaring “How YOU can boycott Israel” as if it is part of their event. As a ‘chaser’ offer Ami on the Street that unmasks the duplicity of BDSing in Ireland.

Statistics can be deadly effective. Unfurl them from a ‘safe space’ – the roof of an adjacent building, or organize a second picket line near the BDSers ‘Apartheid Wall’ under a banner “WHAT BDS ISN’T TELLING YOU” with placards beaming messages such as: ● The Israeli government only decided to build a Security Barrier in June 2002 – after 20 months of carnage (‘the Second Intifada’). ● In the 36 months of attacks until a Security Barrier was in place in key areas (2000-2003) – 870 Israelis were killed – per capita equivalent to fifteen 9/11s. ● In 2002 at the height of terrorist attacks targeting crowded buses and eateries, a full 68.1% of all Palestinians in the Territories supported suicide bombing operations; every successful bombing was widely and publically lauded by run-of-the-mill Palestinians cheering and giving out sweets to celebrate (hammer this home with suitable incriminating footage or stills). ● 122 successful suicide bombings prior to construction of the security fence originated in the West Bank, while only one came from Gaza where a security fence had existed since 1995. ● Between September 1993 when the Oslo Agreement was signed, and the end of the Second Intifada in February 2004 (largely due to the Security Barrier’s effectiveness!), 1,197 Israelis lost their lives to Palestinian terrorism – per capita the equivalent of almost 50,000 American deaths if this was happening in the USA.

Or post the stats in the windows of college dorms facing out. Adopt the ‘guerilla tactics’ of Improv Everywhere who in 2005 took over the windows of the four-story Whole Foods Market in the heart of Manhattan, attracting and mesmerizing the crowd that gathered to watch. Think creatively – along the lines of the anti-prostitution flash mob in Amsterdam designed to engage and educate people on the street.

The BDS movement already has a step-by-step how-to kit for staging flash mob actions. Where is ours?

We need to adopt the tactics of Jewish students and Israelis in Amsterdam during the 2014 Gaza War (Protective Edge Campaign) who staged a flash mob demonstration in Leidse Square: A siren sounded and dozens and dozens of people strolling across the square hit the pavement and huddled there for 15 seconds as the siren blared, while two activists unfurled a banner saying “Imagine: In Israel you have 15 seconds to save your life.”

Will such challenge tactics work?

All one has to do is check out the number of hits on Andrew Klavan’s mini lectures unmasking the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize Israel – in One-State Solution (almost 1.3 million hits!) and what BDS is actually saying (168,619 hits) to know how attractive and effective thinking out-of-the-box (and using satire) can be. When the website “No Laughing Matter” took on Hamas, the UN and Iran with a scathing dose of dry, biting British humor, the spoof ‘interviews’ received 99,624, 89,516 and 38,132 hits respectively (but the project folded for lack of funding). Latma’s parody “We Con the World” on the Marmara Flotilla received more than 2.7 million hits, “The Three Terrors” almost 1.3 million hits. I wager that these short bursts of political satire unmask Israel bashers far better than dozens of rallies and learned lectures. Yet, on campuses, Israel’s response remains studied, overly cerebral and ‘respectable’ – tactics that are totally inappropriate and ineffective for the battle being waged against us.

People, it’s time to abandon the lecterns and hit the streets. The State of Israel – which according to media reports has earmarked $100 M to the battlefront – should be supporting such unconventional warfare – both in cyberspace and on the streets.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniella Ashkenazy is a seasoned bilingual Israeli journalist who operates Chelm-on-the-Med Online – a news website with the wildest and wackiest news stories ‘hiding’ in the Hebrew press, tidbits that often speak volumes about how Israeli society actually ticks, breaking down warped preconceptions from overly conflict-driven news – one chuckle at a time. Israel advocates are invited – in fact, urged, to apply these stories to enhance serious Israeli advocacy with a shot of humor/satire that can enhance effectiveness and win over audiences and neutralize BDSers.

FYI: Since the start of the “Jihadi Wave of 2015/16” in September 2015 to date, the Chelm Project has been publishing special weekly columns dubbed Backpage News from the Front that combine the antics that Israelis continue to do even in the worst of times, and piquant aspects of heightened conflict – from the galling, to the touching, to the downright bizarre.

About the Author
Daniella Ashkenazy is a bilingual Israeli journalist and the founder and CEO of Chelm-on-the-Med Online, a news outlet in English of zany news from Israel culled from the Hebrew press, designed to transform preconceptions about Israel – one chuckle at a time