Fighting BDS – The Power of Pro-Israel Images

camera-image-impact-380x217Anyone who spends time online, and especially on mega-sites such as Facebook or Twitter, can’t help but notice the centrality of images in the fight over Israel’s legitimacy. Shareable images or memes – usually photos or graphics that contain pithy  slogans -  may well be the most effective form of communiciation in a world of media overload.

In a recent article, Grant McCracken called photos “the secret ingredient of the Internet Economy”:

The reason they really matter is that they are the single, smallest, richest, cheapest, easiest token of value and meaning online.  We mint them.  We trade them.  We accumulate them.  We treasure them.

In short, photos and images get a message across quicker and with more depth than other media, including video. And when you’re fighting for hearts and minds against supporters of the BDS movement, that makes all the difference.

Chloe Uri Silberman who, along with Adrian Cojocaru, runs The Israel Network, which has produced some of the most striking images in the pro-Israel community, said pictures get better results on Facebook than text links or videos:

A picture or meme is something that quickly captures your attention, doesn’t require any extra mouse clicks, and isn’t time consuming. Most people run through their News Feed and only stop at something which captures the eye. What we are trying to do is to capture their attention within the span of a few seconds.

Most recently, The Israel Network has been capturing a lot of attention with a poster series featuring Israel supporters from all different religions and ethnicities, including some who are not associated with Zionism, such as Israeli Arabs, stating why they support Zionism. It’s the perfect antidote to the BDS lie that Zionism is racism.

“We want to make as many of these as possible in order to show the world that Israel supporters are diverse and come from very different backgrounds,” Silberman said, adding that he has been getting requests daily from people who want to be part of the series.

After all, if photos are the currency of the Internet economy, you can never have too many.

 

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March 25, 2014 14:43 By Category : Backspin Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS)

Jimmy Carter Rejects BDS

Jimmy_CarterJCWPJimmy Carter, whose book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid did more to legitimize the Apartheid smear than anything published by the BDS movement, is now publicly opposed to boycotts against Israel, including boycotts limited to the West Bank.

Carter told the AP this week that he and “The Elders”  – a group former world leaders that includes outspoken Israel critics such as Desmond Tutu, among others – had discussed BDS and decided against it. “We decided not to publicly endorse any kind of embargo, or so forth, against Israeli invasion, or occupying troops in Palestine,” Carter said.

The move represents a significant break with Carter’s previous rhetoric on Israel, especially since the publication of his book in 2006. After all, if he still believes that Israel is an apartheid state, why would he not support the same tactics of boycott and sanctions that brought down the apartheid regime in South Africa?

But Carter’s rejection of BDS should not be interpreted with a conversion to Zionism. In the same interview, Carter endorsed the policy of labeling products from the West Bank “so that the buyers can decide whether they want to buy them or not” and rejected the Israeli demand that the Palestinians reconize Israel as a Jewish state.

 

Join our Fighting BDS Facebook page and join the fight against Israel’s delegitimization.

 

Image: CC BY-SA Wikimedia Commons/BstarXO


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March 25, 2014 11:45 By Category : Backspin Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS)

Fighting BDS – Can We ‘Buycott’ the Cultural Boycott?

venn-diagram-happy-buycott-380x252One of the most effective strategies in fighting BDS is known as “buycott” – making a special effort to buy products from companies specifically targetted by the BDS for boycott.It’s effective because it not only undermines any economic effect of boycott on a particular business but also makes as much positive noise defending Israel as the boycotters make defaming Israel.

Ultimately, buycott is an effective tactic because it creates unintended consequences for the BDS for every boycott it calls.

The effectiveness of the tactic crossed my mind this morning after I began reading that the BDS was targetting the upcoming concert in Israel by Chris De Burgh and seeing numerous calls for people to go to his Facebook page and post positive comments to challenge a barrage of negative comments from BDS supporters. HelpChrisDeBurgh

By the time I went to visit the page, I found a significant number of pro-Israel comments thanking De Burgh for scheduling an appearance in Israel, though I’m sure the fight isn’t finished just yet.

The attack on De Burgh is far from an isolated incident. In fact, De Burgh is just one of 15 cultural figures targeted on a Cultural BDS Checklist published publicly on Facebook and updated regularly.

The list includes instructions on how express displeasure to all of the major international acts due to appear in Israel, including the Rolling Stones and Neil Young, on their associations with Israel and calls on people to “spare about 10 minutes of your time and add your voice to these wonderful initiatives.”

But in the spirit of buycott, the checklist might provide some “wonderful initiatives” for Israel supporters as well. These are the artists who are willing to stand up to the bullies and deserve to know that Israelis appreciate what it means to perform in Israel in the current climate.

March 24, 2014 16:06 By Category : Backspin Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS)

Fighting BDS – BDS is a Media War

BDS is a media warOne of the biggest misconceptions about the BDS, especially among people only casually exposed to the movement’s rhetoric, is that the BDS is designed to put economic and political pressure on Israel.

The truth, as numerous reports have made clear, is that Israel’s economy has remained robust throughout the years of BDS pressure, even while much of the world experienced major economic downturns. And the reality of political pressure on Israel was made clear during the recent visit by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who announced:

To those who do not share my ambition, who want to boycott Israel, I have a clear message. Britain opposes boycotts, whether it’s trade unions campaigning for the exclusion of Israelis or universities trying to stifle academic exchange.

But it would be a mistake to say that BDS is having a negligible effect on Israel. It is, in fact, having a significant effect on Israel’s image internationally. Every time a boycott is even discussed or a divestment measure voted on by a student group, even symbolically, a message is delivered. The message is that Israel doesn’t deserve its place among the nations, and it must be shunned as a pariah state.

While some supporters of BDS wrongly believe the movement is about forcing Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, the real intentions of the movement are to force Israel to withdraw its Jewish character. That means the pressure continues as long as Israel exists.

It is, in the end, the latest manifestation of the media war against Israel. The message is repeated over and over in the media until, as Larry Derfner wrote recently, it starts to have an effect.

All the boycott has to do is keep growing, drop by drop – yes, like Chinese water torture – for it to succeed. Because finally, the boycott is not an economic war against Israel, it’s a psychological war, and even the skeptics would agree that it’s already had a deep, damaging effect on this country’s will to continue fighting for the West Bank and Gaza.


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March 23, 2014 16:09 By Category : Backspin Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS)

A Polemic to Palestinian Victim-hood

Karma Nabulsi

Karma Nabulsi

How does Israel fare when it comes to its treatment of Palestinians compared to, for example, Syria?

Writing in The Guardian, Karma Nabulsi finds a way to make Israel equally culpable while arguing against Palestinian refugees “forfeiting” their “right of return.” She describes the harsh conditions of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East:

Forfeited if you consider what is now happening to the half a million Palestinian refugees in Syria without respite: entire refugee camps, established more than 65 years ago, utterly flattened; the people in them killed or having fled to safely elsewhere; other refugee camps under military siege for so many months that the people suffering in them are literally starving to death. Hundreds of thousands made refugees for the third or fourth time in their lives, spending the hard months of this past winter in the snow and rain, many without a tent or food, the children without a school or medical care, on the slopes of a Turkish hillside, crowded into already bursting camps in Lebanon, cordoned off under military jurisdiction in Jordan.

It is not all that different to the extreme pressures Palestinians are facing in Palestine, where everyone is more or less a refugee too.

Actually, it is very different to the conditions of Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian territories, where people are certainly not being starved to death or have no access to shelter, food, education or medical care.

But why stop there? What about Israeli Arabs?

In what is now Israel, people internally displaced from their homes in 1947 and 1948 are living in villages that still have no electricity; in Jerusalem more Palestinian refugees are created every day by the Israeli military, as people are illegally thrown out of their ancestral homes.

And the West Bank and Gaza:

In the occupied West Bank, people’s homes are demolished each week. And, of course, in Gaza, where the density and length of the siege, the despair of any change by the people there (the majority of whom are refugees from 1948), and the silence on their collective predicament, is legendary.

And just to top it off, a reference to “the continuing disaster of ethnic cleansing.”

It clearly doesn’t suit the Palestinian narrative of blaming Israel when the suffering of Palestinian refugees is infinitely greater in neighboring Arab states. The answer according to Karma Nabulsi – attempt to portray Israel as equally or more responsible for the plight of the Palestinians.


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March 23, 2014 15:17 By Category : Backspin UK News Tags:, , ,

Fighting BDS – Is BDS About to Go Mainstream?

road-work-ahead-sign-01As part of its mythology, the BDS movement claims it began in 2005 in response to a call from Palestinian civil society. That would mean that the movement sprang forth directly from the Palestinian people, as represented by the non-governmental organizations operating in the Palestinian territories.

But while it remains unclear whether the Palestinian people are actually boycotting Israeli products, or whether it’s even possible for the Palestinians to genuinely boycott Israel, one important player, the PA government in the West Bank, has remained aloof of the BDS call for full boycott of Israel.

But signs are indicating that the PA position is on the verge of change if the current round of peace talks break down, as expected.

In an interview with The Financial Times, PA official Nabil Shaath said explicitly what has been circulating as rumors for the past few months – the Palestinians are strongly considering a change in tactics after April.

Nabil Shaath, head of international relations of the West Bank’s ruling Fatah movement, said the Palestinians were considering “going the South African way” and supporting a full boycott of Israel, in addition resuming their push for recognition in international bodies, including the International Criminal Court.

“We are really at odds with most of the Israeli demands that somehow or another have been accepted by the Americans,” Mr Shaath said on Tuesday, a few hours after Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, met Barack Obama, US president, and John Kerry, secretary of state, in Washington on Monday.

While a change in tactics may or may not mean a change in Palestinian support for the two-state solution, it certainly means that Israel’s image in the international arena will take a battering. It means, in effect, that the Durban Strategy  - treating Israel as a pariah state – employed by the BDS and biased NGOs will extend to every international forum the Palestinians can reach.

It may not be the avalanche of boycotts Secretary of State John Kerry warned about in February. But it may have the same impact on Israel’s image.

It’s also likely to raise the BDS movement into the political mainstream of political discourse on Israel.

March 20, 2014 15:08 By Category : Backspin Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS)

AP Questions Barghouti’s Terror Conviction

Marwan Barghouti. Image: YouTube / FatahYouth Germany

Marwan Barghouti

Israel prides itself on the strength of its judicial system and the rule of law, which is certainly comparable to those of other Western democracies such as the U.S. or UK.

Palestinian terror leader Marwan Barghouti was convicted in a civilian trial in an Israeli courtroom in 2004. But how does the Associated Press describe him?

According to several top officials, the Palestinians are seeking the freedom of Marwan Barghouti, who is serving multiple life sentences for his alleged role in killings of Israelis, as part of any plan to extend negotiations with Israel beyond an April deadline.

The term “alleged” is commonly used, including by the media, to describe something yet to be proved. In the case of a criminal legal case, it would describe someone who has yet to be convicted.

As the Jewish Virtual Library notes, Barghouti was convicted

of murder for his involvement three terrorist attacks in Israel that killed five people. He was acquitted for 33 other murders due to lack of evidence of his direct involvement in those crimes.

Barghouti was also convicted of a charge of attempted murder, membership in a terror organization and conspiring to commit a crime. The prosecution was seeking to sentence him to five consecutive life terms. The court said in its verdict that “Barghouti was responsible for providing the field units with money and arms….” The judges said that the attacks were sometimes “based on instructions” from Yasser Arafat.

The court found Barghouti responsible for a June 2001 attack in Maale Adumim, in which a Greek monk was murdered, a January 2002 terror attack on a gas station in Givat Zeev, a March 2002 attack at Tel Aviv’s Seafood Market restaurant, in which three people were murdered, and a car bomb attack in Jerusalem.

That the AP still considers Barghouti to have been convicted for “his alleged role” in these terrorist crimes implies that the news wire service questions the credibility of Israel’s justice system.

Israel isn’t a police state or a banana republic where criminals do not receive a fair trial. That Barghouti was acquitted for 33 other murders due to lack of evidence is further proof that Israel does not convict without due process. So why then does the AP still refer to Barghouti’s “alleged” crimes?


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Image via YouTube / Fatah Youth Germany

March 20, 2014 11:45 By Category : Backspin Tags:, ,

Fighting BDS – Countering BDS Bullying

artists-israel-flag-01-773x403Every time an artist or culture figure of any sort announces plans to perform or even visit Israel, the BDS launches a campaign to bully the artist to cancel the appearance and denounce Israel.

The tactic is effective because it generates undeserved media attention for the BDS movement due to the celebrity of the artist being bullied, even if the artist completely ignores the campaign. And when the tactic succeeds, as it did with Elvis Costello and others, a whole cadre of the artist’s fans is influenced to believe that Israel is beyond the pale and unworthy of a place among the nations.

Cultural figures have immeasurable influence in society because their fans often adopt their views on political matters uncritically. So it’s possible that the cultural boycott against Israel is more effective than the economic, political, and academic boycotts combined, at least for now.

But we can counter the BDS movement by helping artists and musicians stand up to the BDS bullying. We can show them that they have enormous support from the pro-Israel community. That’s exactly what Liran Kapoano did after Scarlett Johansson withstood the pressure from BDS and sided with SodaStream, a favorite BDS target.

Kapoano, who works for the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, launched the “I Support Scarlett Johansson Against the Haters” Facebook page on a whim in his spare time when the actress was coming under daily attack from BDS in the run-up to her SodaStream commercial in the Super Bowl. The page quickly grew to over 30,000 members. He then turned his sights on another BDS intimidation campaign targeting Neil Young, who is scheduled to play in Tel Aviv in July.

Join the Fighting BDS Facebook page and join the battle against Israel’s delegitimization.

BDS bullying on TwitterHis latest Facebook page, “I Support Neil Young Against the Haters” has already gained 7,000 members, and generated a great deal of activity, which is even more important, as Kapoano explains in an article in Legal Insurrection:

People send us pictures of themselves smiling and holding up tickets to Neil Young’s concert or giving us the thumbs up with their SodaStream machines and get thousands of people commenting, sharing and liking. The average BDS post gets a bunch of comments that range from outright Israel hate to weird conspiracy theories about Jews running banks.

I think that’s the real indicator of the success of these campaigns. It’s not about “likes” – anyone can buy likes or advertise for them. The real issue is how people participate. So in that regard, it’s not that surprising then that when you have a campaign that is based on tolerance, civility and inclusiveness, you’re going to attract tolerant, civil, inclusive and fun people who want to include their friends and do so.

And Kapoano isn’t the only one working to help people show support for artists and musicians. A Facebook community known as the Creative Community For Peace has collected more than 25,000 names on a petition calling on Israel’s detractors to stop politicizing art.

These and other similar efforts not only get the public engaged but also send a message to the artists community and even the BDS that Israel’s supporters respect the artists willing to perform in Israel, and will make every effort to counter any negative effects brought on by the BDS.


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March 19, 2014 16:06 By Category : Backspin Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS)

Guardian Headline Fail Over Golan Heights Attack

Both the Daily Telegraph and The Guardian published a Reuters report on Israel’s response to a Syrian attack on its soldiers in the Golan Heights. But check out the respective headlines:

The Daily Telegraph:

telegraph190314

The Guardian:

guardian190314

Spot the difference? While the Daily Telegraph’s headline makes it clear that Israel was responding to an attack on its troops, The Guardian’s does little to dispel the impression that Israel simply carried out an act of aggression.

In addition, the use of the word “Syrians” implies actual human beings were the targets of the Israeli action, making no distinction between civilians and military personnel. In any case, The Guardian headline misleads on this point as the actual targets were military facilities i.e. structures and not people.

Yet another headline fail from The Guardian.


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March 19, 2014 15:35 By Category : Backspin UK News

Comments and the Roar of the Crowd – 6

A sampling of the latest from my inbox.

Christian Science Monitor1. Are some newspapers beyond the pale?

From: …@sympatico.ca
Date: Wed, Mar 19, 2014
Subject: Re: IDNS: What Does Unearthed Arafat Video Mean for Peace Talks?

Why are you quoting articles from the cult of the Christian science monitor? thank you for attention to this matter.

I cite articles in the Israel Daily News Stream which make points that I feel warrant the attention of our readers. And I link to those articles so readers can read them in full for themselves, form their own judgments, and perhaps share the article or take action if so moved. The IDNS links to a wide variety of news services — Israeli, US, British, Arab, Australian, Canadian, left, right, center, etc.

It’s okay for readers to have “favorite” papers or papers they’ll absolutely never read as a matter of principle. That’s everyone’s individual choice. HonestReporting doesn’t endorse news services.

As for your feelings abou the Christian Science Monitor, HonestReporting monitors the Monitor because:

  1. It has a correspondent in Israel (currently Christa Case Bryant).
  2. It publishes original commentary.
  3. Its readership is sizable.
  4. It’s viewed as a respectable, mainstream paper.

It’s a terrible disservice to HonestReporting readers to only criticize the media. When the Monitor — or any other news service — has content that contributes to a better understanding of Israel and the Mideast, it earns an appropriate mention in the IDNS.

Last but not least: IDNS links and references do not constitute endorsements of news services.

acronyms2. Acronyms, shmakronyms.

From: …@pacbell.com
Date: Thu, Mar 13, 2014
Subject: To HonestReporting Editors

You quoted a story today that was identified as originating with AFP – nowhere do you say who AFP is – Is that Americans for Prosperity? (they are generally a respected conservative group)

AFP refers to Agence France-Presse, a French-based wire service that competes with the Associated Press and Reuters.

For the sake of brevity, I don’t spell out the full names of news sites like — for example — British Broadcasting Corp. News, when BBC suffices. I take the acronyms for granted, but as you point out, this doesn’t mean everyone else does.


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March 19, 2014 10:35 By Category : Backspin Tags:, ,