[Marxism] Anti-BDS conference news reports

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jun 1 06:41:36 MDT 2016

NY Times, June 1 2016
Israeli Officials Seek Ways to Combat Boycott Effort

UNITED NATIONS — Alarmed at the spread of a Palestinian campaign to 
boycott Israel and particularly its resonance on college campuses, the 
Israeli Mission to the United Nations and World Jewish Congress held a 
conference on Tuesday aimed at galvanizing support for an effective 

Precisely what that countermessage will be, and how it can successfully 
be conveyed, were among the goals discussed at the conference, titled 
“Build Bridges, Not Boycotts,” held at the United Nations headquarters.

Many of the speakers and guests, who included Jewish students, educators 
and policy experts, agreed that the Palestinian campaign, known as the 
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or B.D.S., had made popular 
inroads that Israel advocates had failed to stop.

A range of speakers, including Danny Danon, Israel’s United Nations 
ambassador, and Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish 
Congress, described B.D.S. as a dishonest effort to delegitimize and 
destroy Israel.

Mr. Danon called B.D.S. “the 21st-century incarnation of an old disease: 
anti-Semitism.” Mr. Lauder described B.D.S. activists as hypocrites who 
should be exposed “through every means possible.”

At the same time, there was an acknowledgment at the conference that the 
B.D.S. movement is not monolithic and is supported by some who also may 
support Israel’s right to exist. B.D.S. backers include some church 
groups as well as Jews who are sympathetic to Palestinian aspirations 
for statehood and are strongly critical of Israeli government policies.

“Not every Jew who supports B.D.S. is an ignorant, self-hating Jew,” 
David M. Sable, the global chief executive of Y & R Advertising Inc., 
said during a panel about the B.D.S. message on campuses and how to respond.

Mr. Sable, a strong opponent of B.D.S., bluntly criticized the 
approaches taken so far to present Israel’s side of the story, which he 
said were not working.

“B.D.S. is driving the conversation, and the anti-B.D.S. side is 
reactionary,” he said. “Ours is a negative message, just not that 
inviting. We look like a corporate brochure. So we have a problem, my 

Frank Luntz, a Republican political consultant and public opinion 
specialist, told the conference that his own data suggested that the 
B.D.S. effort to ostracize Israel was winning more sympathy in the 
United States.

“This is the Palestinian narrative,” Mr. Luntz said. “This is what 
happens if you remain silent.”

The conference was held against the backdrop of a prolonged deadlock in 
the process for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian 
conflict, as well as a hawkish political shift in the Israeli 
government, already dominated by right-wing parties.

Mr. Danon said in a telephone interview before the conference that he 
had been motivated to organize it partly because of what he described as 
a B.D.S. expansion at the United Nations.

He pointed to a measure passed by the United Nations Human Rights 
Council in Geneva a few months ago to establish a database identifying 
companies doing business in Israeli settlements. The database, which 
some Israel officials have described as a blacklist, was viewed as a 
victory by the B.D.S. movement.

The conference, Mr. Danon said, was meant “to send a clear message that 
we have to fight.”

Riyad H. Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, said 
in a telephone interview that he was paying little attention to the 
conference, which he described as a futile effort by Mr. Danon and his 

“He is trying to convince the international community to promote 
occupation, and the international community is saying this Israeli 
occupation has to end,” Mr. Mansour said.

Naomi Dann, a spokeswoman for the Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that 
supports B.D.S., said the high level of planning for the conference was 
“a sign of the growing power of the B.D.S. movement.”


Israel Fills UN Hall for Anti-BDS Conference

UNITED NATIONS — Over 1,500 students filled the United Nations General 
Assembly on Tuesday for a conference sponsored by the Israeli mission on 
how best to combat a movement on many U.S. campuses calling for a 
boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel over its 
treatment of the Palestinians.

Taking place in the same hall where 40 years ago 72 nations voted to 
equate Zionism with racism, Israel's Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon 
called the conference an "historic" event. Separately, Palestinian 
Ambassador Riyad Mansour dismissed the conference as "no big deal."

The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) seeks to ostracize 
Israel by lobbying corporations, artists and academic institutions to 
sever ties with the Jewish state. Supporters say the boycott is aimed at 
furthering Palestinian independence, and they have modeled their efforts 
on an earlier campaign against Apartheid South Africa. Critics say the 
campaign is aimed at delegitimizing Israel itself.

"BDS is not about helping the Palestinians or bringing peace. Their only 
goal is to bring an end to the Jewish state. This is the reality and we 
won't be afraid to say it out loud, everywhere. BDS is the true face of 
modern anti-Semitism," Danon said in his opening remarks.

Danon cited a recent resolution passed by the Human Rights Council that 
calls on the U.N. human rights chief to set up a database of businesses 
operating in settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights as evidence 
that BDS movement had spread beyond college campuses.

"With this disgraceful resolution the U.N. crossed a red line. Can you 
imagine that seventy years after the holocaust the U.N. is creating 
lists to encourage the boycott of Jewish companies? This is exactly the 
kind of hatred that the U.N. was founded to eradicate," Danon said.

The conference entitled "Build Bridges Not Boycotts," united members of 
Jewish organizations, business people and academics to discuss 
strategies aimed at countering the narratives of the BDS movement. It 
also featured a performance by Jewish-American reggae singer Matisyahu, 
who had a concert in Spain cancelled over pressure from a local branch 
of the BDS movement. The festival later welcomed him back amid a barrage 
of criticism.

Gilad Skolnick, director of campus programming for the Committee for 
Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, or CAMERA, said that of 
the 26 U.S. college campuses that voted on BDS resolutions last year, 12 
were approved and 14 were rejected.

"So while it is a problem, BDS is often times a symptom of hatreds and 
anti-Semitism that starts on campus so CAMERA's strategy is to set up 
before that happens so that it doesn't become an issue," Skolnick said.

Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of SodaStream International Ltd, whose factory in a 
West Bank was forced to close after it was targeted by the boycott, 
urged the students to do all they can to fight the movement but he added 
that wouldn't be enough.

"At the same time we do that, give a chance to the bridge that's the 
name of this conference," he said. "Build trust and the only way to 
build trust is to get to know them as human beings, not as Palestinians, 
as terrorists. Find a Palestinian friend.

There were even a couple of Palestinians on hand to address the students.

Mosab Hassan Yousef, who worked undercover for Israeli intelligence 
between 1997 and 2007, and Bassam Eid, founder of the Palestinian Human 
Rights Monitoring Group, voiced messages critical of the Palestinian 
leadership that were greeted by applause from the students.

In a telephone interview, Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador, dismissed 
the conference as "an admission by the Israeli leadership that they're 
losing ground at American universities and colleges to BDS."

He added that BDS is not on the agenda of the U.N.

"Is (Danon) suggesting to bring it to the agenda of the U.N? If he is, 
bring it on," Mansour said.

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