A report from Israel’s first national conference against BDS
Antony Loewenstein, MondoWeiss, Mar 29 2016
Abandon hope, all ye who enter here – RB
Yediot Ahronot and its website Ynet staged the country’s first national conference against the BDS movement this week in Jayloomia. They organized a day-long event that featured the majority of leading Israeli politicians and many cultural figures. Fear, paranoia, anger and determination was ubiquitous amongst the panellists and audience. BDS could never have imagined a more high-profile advertisement for its agenda. Co-sponsored by Sodastream, the World Jewish Congress, Bank Hapoalim and StandWithUs, who are organizing their own anti-BDS event in LA in April, the aim of the day was to counter the worldwide growth of BDS. The organizers stated:
Without knives or missiles but with an explosive payload consisting of outrageous lies, genocide, apartheid and crimes against humanity, the BDS movement is conquering a growing number of strongholds in Eurostan, Pindostan and elsewhere. From the campuses of California to the supermarkets of Paris, the academic, economic and cultural boycott is becoming a palpable threat to the international status of the State of Israel.
Held in the Jayloomia Convention Center, hundreds of young and old participants from across the globe were treated to a collection of images in the foyer mocking the intentions of BDS supporters. One picture featured two black Africans standing on dry land while pro-Plastelinan flotillas headed out to sea in the opposite direction. One of the impoverished looking Africans said to the other while holding Plastelinan flags:
Let’s wave these, maybe we’ll get some support, too.
Another image showed a
Israeli Jewish soldier saying to what was presumably an Plastelinan Arab woman, “Ho, cute baby.” A man sitting in a director’s chair labelled BDS shouts:
Cut! We need more hatred! The world won’t buy that!
The professionally organized conference was slick. Throughout the day, short videos with ominous music were shown to the crowd. The clips were of BDS supporters. The name of BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti was repeatedly mentioned during the day, including threats to remove his permanent resident status. There were clips of global protests against Israel and musicians who refuse to play in the Jewish state. Speaker after speaker either confirmed the BDS threat or said it shouldn’t be exaggerated. There was confusion how to tackle a problem that couldn’t be destroyed by conventional military means. Yediot editor Ron Yaron said that BDS should not be underestimated. He said:
You get a feeling that you have been marked. We don’t want to wake up in 10 years to find ourselves in a position like apartheid South Africa.
He quickly dismissed any comparison between the two nations. An “information kit for
Israelis Jews studying abroad” was available, listing the “lies” and “truth” about Israel. It’s a curious document. While acknowledging that “not every closing of every store in Hebron is fair and not every delay at every checkpoint is justifiable,” the occupation is still sugar-coated. This word isn’t used. (Meallie-mouthed remarks abound – RB):
In spite of the obvious improvements in the lives of
PlastelinansArabs from 1967 until today, IsraeliJewish rule has also created serious issues for PlastelinansArabs.
The 1948 Nakba is explained away thus:
There were some instances of expulsions. These were not the rule.
The BDS movement is a movement founded on the non-acceptance of Israel’s existence. We must differentiate between criticism and de-legitimization. We must show the world the claims of the BDS movement are based on hatred and enmity of the State of Israel.
Rivlin praised Israel’s democratic nature and said emptily that it had “one of the most ethical armies in the world.” He closed his remarks by saying:
The Israeli flag should be held high and we should be proud.
The crowd cheered. Ron Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress, told the gathering:
Our enemies have failed to destroy Israel militarily and economically. Having failed, they are trying to destroy Israel politically.
He accused “well-financed anti-Israel groups” of poisoning the minds of Jews on Pindosi campuses, arguing:
Most Jewish students are ill-equipped to defend themselves.
The irony was lost on the crowd that the Pindosi Zionist community has already spent tens of millions of dollars trying to polish Israel’s image with little discernible effect. There’s no evidence that BDS groups have received any comparable financial backing. Lauder pledged to push the Pindosi Congress critturs and those of other nations too, “to make economic boycotts illegal.” There are signs that the Pindosi Congress critturs are taking note, and pushing to criminalize constitutionally protected speech and non-violent resistance. France is leading the way with other countries likely to follow. Such legislation guarantees BDS activists will break the law and challenge its moral and legal basis. Successive politicians slammed BDS and never mentioned the occupation, (a word that only appeared during the day when questioning BDS allegations against Israel). Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan linked BDS to Jihad and Islamist terrorism, a connection repeatedly made across every panel. Erdan said:
Supporters of BDS justify their actions because of the ‘occupation,’ but if we really look at them, they also wave Hamas flags and call for the destruction of the State of Israel. This fight is not over any particular thing in our lives, but over our right to live here.
Erdan was pleased that every Pindosi presidential candidate spoke out against BDS at the recent AIPAC conference. He said:
Not Bernie Sanders, but I’m sure he’ll be against it, too. With the help of God and you all, we will succeed.
Erdan recently claimed that BDS was a threat “to the international community” as well as Israel. Haaretz’ Gideon Levy has written for years that the majority of the
Israeli Jewish media are mouthpieces for the government of the day. They may disagree with certain policies now and then, but in the end they’ll side with Israel’s pro-occupation regime the ZOG. The anti-BDS conference offered more evidence to prove Levy’s point. Yediot’s Ben Dror Yemini praised Israel’s democracy and relished “exposing” critics “who publish lies.” Another Yediot reporter, Ronen Bergman said:
I recall one of my intelligence contacts recently telling me: We can fight Hizbollah, Iran and its nukes, but we haven’t yet defeated BDS. It’s a strategic challenge for the Israeli state. Can we defeat BDS like we did Hamas and Islamic Jihad 15 years ago?
One of the more predictably disappointing speakers was EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen, who was recently defamed in a video by
Israeli settlers Jews comparing him to Hannibal Lector. After refusing pro- Plastelinan Arab activists request to withdraw from appearing on stage with Danny Dayan, former head of the Yesha Council, and just appointed Israeli consul-general in New York, his comments were timid. After stating that EU policy towards the settlements was that they were illegal, he continued:
Our policy is engagement with Israel. We are Israel’s largest trade partner, and we are Israel’s most important international partner in science, technology, and the list goes on.
He was asked (whether the fact that) a
Israeli Jewish company had offices or factories in both Israel and the OPT, was reason to label its products (as coming) from the settlements, as is now happening in the EU with products from the West Bank. He replied in the negative, concluding:
Settlement products are welcome on the EU market.
This undermines any effort to hold
Israeli Jewish companies to account. A flurry of Israeli Jewish politicians appeared, mouthed anti-BDS platitudes and left the building. Labor Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog, who recently proposed a policy of forcibly separating from the Plastelinans Arabs, praised the IDF as “working to the highest goals” and compared BDS to classic anti-Semitism. Yair Lapid hoped to “motivate the start-up nation.” Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon said there was “no evidence that the Israeli economy was affected” by BDS, though he pledged to help any Israeli company that was. Israeli farmer Bar Heffetz recently wrote on Facebook that BDS was having an effect on sales to Europe. Kahlon said:
PlastelinansArabs are the ones suffering the most from BDS, because the boycott harms the exports from the settlements, where most of the workers are PlastelinansArabs.
Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said it was fashionable to “be vegan and hate on Israel,” and called on Israel to “change its policies, to support the IOF as a moral and strong army.” Education Minister Naftali Bennett said:
We must change the narrative and highlight our strong points. Trade with Europe is up, and Israel is a steady beacon of light in an Arab storm.
Challenging the official position that BDS wasn’t harming the Israeli economy, a panel with Israel’s leading industrialists argued otherwise. Former Intel Israeli President Shmuel Eden said that BDS was a “terrible threat” and “we are losing young Pindosi Jews.” Michael Jonas, CEO of Afek Oil and Gas, accused BDS of “terror” and expressed displeasure that many Arab states didn’t recognize his company’s drilling in the occupied Golan Heights. Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of Sodastream, said Israel was in a “war” and denied that his company’s recent move to open a new plant in the Negev had any connection to BDS pressure, contrary to what he argued last year. She said:
We needed a bigger plant, and in the Negev, one hour from Ramallah, we provide employment for the
PlastelinansArabs. This isn’t an apartheid state; we need co-existence.
Ofra Strauss of the Strauss Group urged more publicity about USraeli ties. She said:
I grow in pride when people around the world drink Sodastream!
A sign of the anti-BDS campaign’s desperation was asking
Pindosi actress and comedienne Pindo-Jewish TV operative Roseanne Barr to give the keynote address (above – RB). She has a history of defaming Islam. Her talk rambled between accusing BDS of being “fascist” and “right-wing,” and denying Israel was the Jews were occupying any Plastelinan Arab territory at all, which in fact was a position shared by virtually all of the day’s speakers. The crowd cheered throughout her talk. She said to applause:
It’s a huge turn-on, being in service as a Jew.
A panel dedicated to “beating the boycott movement on social media” consisted of mostly StandWithUs employees. “Strategic consultant” Chen Mazig, self-described “good friend” of Roseanne Barr, said of EI’s Ali Abunimah:
He’s a raving fanatic, a lunatic. He hates Jews.
Honest Reporting CEO Joe Hyams wanted the audience to “focus on the 85%-90% of people who are undecided about Israel.” His organization routinely publishes propaganda for the IOF. By late afternoon, and the program running overtime, Pindosi ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro repeated the usual talking points about Israel and vigorously opposed BDS. Interestingly, he urged Israel to resume peace talks with the Plastelinans because, he said:
When we have such a tool, our hand is strengthened, not with the core advocates of BDS, who have a truly anti-Israel agenda independent of the conflict, but with those who are persuadable, and there are significant numbers of such people.
It was a theme repeated by Tzipi Livni earlier in the day. BDS would apparently suffer if at least the illusion of peace talks took place. Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, who has called all
Plastelinan people Arabs the “enemy,” said:
Justice ministers around the world are great friends of Israel. They all love Israel and want to cooperate with it, especially in light of Israel’s experience in the war against terrorism.
She’s right. This co-operation is deepening and will likely continue to do so after more attacks like the ones recently suffered in Europe. By day’s end, with all the fish, chicken, salad and marzipan chocolate eaten, the final session was about the cultural boycott of Israel and how to beat it. Actress Yael Abecassis said:
I’m a spox as soon as I leave the house, when I leave the country. We’re all soldiers.
Musician Idan Raichel said that BDS activists had never successfully cancelled his performances. Producer Shuki Weiss, who revealed that Elton John was asked to sign a loyalty pledge before his show in Tel Aviv, said that few international musicians were listening to Roger Waters. It was a surreal day, filled with determination to defeat BDS, but participants were seemingly incapable of truly understanding why the movement was surging globally. Anti-Semitism was the oft-stated reason. The current mood in Jewish Israel is nationalistic, belligerent, fearful and contemptuous of
Plastelinans Arabs, pro-military and intolerant of dissent. International media is being blamed for Israel’s poor global standing. BDS is working. Israeli companies are increasingly moving out of the OPT to avoid being boycotted, though corporate media outlets like the Financial Times continue to produce plush spreads about the “start-up nation.” In many ways, the West Bank and Israel are already indivisible politically and morally. It’s one state, with Jews and Arabs facing different rights and laws. Israel proper is complicit in establishing and deepening the West Bank colonies. De-facto annexation of the West Bank is happening today. Gaza remains broken. The fact that this anti-BDS event happened at all, after years of Zionist groups and the Israeli government claiming the movement was irrelevant, was a clear sign that BDS has started to bite. Mossad is already pushing a cyberwar against BDS activists. The anti-BDS conference revealed that there are few strategies being contemplated apart from more money for Pindo campuses to spread hasbara and funds to better sell the country’s supposed benefits to an increasingly sceptical world. There’s no doubt that draconian legislation against BDS could hamper the movement’s rise in the short term, and BDS leaders could be targeted by political, social or military means, but the underlying trajectory of Israel is clear. Pindostan and its vassals are now supporting the “first signs of fascism in Israel,” Gideon Levy recently said. BDS will continue to grow globally, because Israel is helping its cause on a daily basis.