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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