Let’s BEAT BDS – A Four-Step Approach

By this time, it should be clear to all informed individuals of good conscience that the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement is an affront to human rights and peaceful coexistence.  And while there are numerous examples of BDS’ evil nature, let’s consider an instructive incident from earlier this year when a friendly soccer match between Argentina and Israel had to be canceled after Argentine players (including Lionel Messi) reportedly received threats from BDS supporters.

Notably, this episode firmly underscores that the BDS philosophy and tactics of intimidation directed at the Jewish State are not merely an Israeli problem but a global problem.  In a telling manner, FIFA, the world soccer governing body, issued a suspension to Jibril Rajoub, the head of Palestinian Football Association, for his role in incitement against Argentine players.

All people of sound moral standing and especially those who care about Israel can play an important role in the fight against BDS and its hateful philosophy; and with this in mind, I would like to suggest a simple framework for repelling BDS that can be applied by anyone while going about their daily life.

B — Buy
E — Endorse
A — Act
T — Teach

Buy – The easiest way to combat BDS is to buy Israeli products. “Made in Israel” products and services can be found just about anywhere – your local grocery, a nearby locksmith, your smartphone’s App Store, etc.  One source that may help identify Israeli goods is BuyIsraelGoods.org (a partnership of StandWithUs and the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce).  Your friends may offer recommendations.  Interestingly, promoters of the boycotts often do an effective job of identifying Israeli businesses for you to support… As you see, finding Israeli products is not difficult if you pay attention to the information around you.

An even more powerful way to combat BDS is to visit Israel.  When you visit Israel, your very presence in the Jewish State and every purchase you make there are a statement against the boycotters. In 2018, tourism in Israel set a new record eclipsing the 4-million visitor mark for the first time.  At the same time, surprisingly many Israel supporters discount Israel as a potential vacation spot.

Recently, Israel has made a strong effort to change this lack of consideration by investing in infrastructure and in promotion by inviting influencers to show what the country has to offer. In October, Israel’s Foreign Ministry brought four Colombian beauty queens (including Miss Universe 2009 from Venezuela who currently resides in Colombia) on a promotional vacation to Israel.  Among their many experiences, the South American guests floated in the Dead Sea, prayed at the Western Wall, visited Yad Vashem and the Israel Museum, and explored Tel Aviv. The high-profile guests actively shared their captivating experiences on Instagram where they have a gross of 2.5 million followers.

Endorse – You too could be an influencer like the Colombian beauty queens, TV personalities, travel bloggers, and many others; when you go to Israel, remember to share with your network the things that may interest them: the food, the beaches, the diversity, the people, etc.  Allow you friends to form an emotional attachment to Israel by bringing back “Made in Israel” gifts.

Even when you are not in Israel, give your friends an opportunity to use various senses to connect to Israel.  Help them to visualize the wonders of Israel by sharing pictures and videos.  Take your friends out for Israeli food locally and introduce them to Israeli music.  When going to a dinner at someone’s house, consider bringing Israeli wine.

Establish a sense of proximity by showing how Israel benefits people in your home country. Leverage the ubiquity of Israeli products to illustrate your point. Even in life and death situations, Israeli inventions help the world.  As an example, Israeli Bandage, an innovative first aid device, is used by the US Military and was applied to save the life of Arizona Senator Gabrielle Giffords after she suffered a gun shot wound.  Israeli Bandage is just one example, as Israeli contributions abound in technology, medicine, security and sustainability.  Underscoring Israel’s proximity changes the perception of Israel from an abstract Middle-Eastern nation defined by the media to something local that adds value to every-day life.

Let the audience further relate to Israel by showing how Israel cares about people in general and particularly those with whom your audience may identify.  For example, share details about how in an event, unprecedented in history, Israel airlifted thousands of Ethiopian Jews from a raging civil war. Furthermore, Israel paid $35 million to the Ethiopian government to allow the rescue operation to take place.  Educate people about Israel’s current life-saving efforts in Africa, as Israel works closely with African nations to help them fight hunger and diseases by sharing advanced technology and farming methods.  You may want to tell your audience about IsraAID’s crucial involvement in Haiti and Puerto Rico.

If you enjoyed an Israeli product, share your experience with others.  A personal recommendation carries more weight, while an endorsement over the internet reaches more people.  Use both channels to deliver your message.  Be genuine and truthful, and do not endorse every product just because it’s made in Israel.  However, if someone had a disappointing experience with a particular Israeli product and you are aware of a better one, openly contrast and suggest the alternative.  Consistently, provide a positive message.

Act – Reward your allies. As an example, shop at stores that sell Israeli products or stand proudly with the State of Israel.  Consider supporting the public figures that come to Israel despite the pressure from BDS activists or those who are attacked elsewhere for their ties to the Jewish state.  Think of Radiohead and Enrique Iglesias who came to Israel despite intense pressure to cancel their performances.  Contemplate “following” such public figures on social media and adding comments of support when they talk about their upcoming or recently made visit to Israel.  They are facing relentless pressure from Israel-haters, so statements of support and affirmation matter!

Certainly, you could also express your displeasure with those who embrace the boycott of Israel.  If you are planning a vacation, and a country or municipality on your itinerary embraces BDS, consider whether that is really a place that you want to visit.  If a company embraces BDS, assess whether you want to continue using its product or whether there are acceptable alternatives.  If an entity supports the boycott of Israel and you decide to take your business elsewhere, consider verbalizing the reason for your departure.  Even if the offender will not change its policy, your action will send a message to others that boycotting Israel carries a price.

Rather than acting alone, get your friends involved.  The effort required to inform others is minimal, and there is strength in numbers.  Writing a letter?  Have your friends also send one.  Going to a rally or an event?  Check your network for enthusiastic participants.  Utilize social media.  Affirmation via a “like” or a “share” on social media goes a long way – it validates the speaker personally and to others, and it also draws your friends’ attention to the topic.

Try to act promptly, as the longer you delay your response, the more likely you are to be pulled away to other endeavors.  Frame your message or action according to the setting.  Consider if you are maximizing your impact.  We all have different strengths.  Are you leveraging yours?

Teach – Explain to people the essence of BDS.  Outsiders may not be as informed and may not be aware of the evil nature of BDS.  Provide examples of BDS proponents’ hypocrisy and juxtapose it with how Israel treats people.  Hamas leaders who laud BDS as a part of their overarching objective to eradicate the Jewish State don’t mind sending their own family members to Israel for medical treatment. Illustrate how BDS hurts the very people it claims to defend, as Palestinian Arabs lost the means to provide for their families when pressure from BDS and its allies forced SodaStream to leave the industrial zone in the Disputed Territories.  Inform your audience about BDS’ tactics to usurp other organizations and movements in order to use every available platform to attack Israel.  Relay that bridges are built through cooperation and not through boycotts.  As a matter of a useful article on BDS, please consider Exposing BDS.

You are now equipped to make a difference in this fight.  So, let’s get out there and BEAT BDS!

About the Author
Michael Yadov is a Director at the American Forum for Israel. Mr. Yadov is a graduate and current teaching staff member at Fuel For Truth. Michael is an active contributor at Russian American Jewish Experience (RAJE) and has served on the Executive Board of Pace University Hillel.
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