By Alexander J. Apfel/TPS
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan addressed the threat posed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement Sunday night before an audience of Jews and Israel supporters from around the world.
During the Global Coalition for Israel conference at a Jerusalem hotel, Erdan outlined Israel’s strategies for combating the movement that has gained momentum in recent years.
Erdan, whose Strategic Affairs portfolio includes the fight against BDS, told the audience he hoped that the meeting would signify a turning point in the fight against delegitimization. “BDS is spreading to more and more countries and fields. It is successfully building relationships with mainstream groups. They are making use of modern technology to spread their propaganda. The threats are known,” he said.
Calling for “cautious optimism,” Erdan went on to share several methods being developed that are designed to counter BDS activities.
These included responding to individual challenges such as attempts to prevent Israeli artists from performing, attempts to blacklist businesses that deal with Israel and attacks on Jewish advocates for Israel on college campuses.
“We are developing the capabilities to identify threats before they are publicized. Once we identify them, we will bring all of the relevant bodies together and use one of the many options at our disposal, which can mean using diplomacy, operating behind the scenes or implementing legal measures. For too long, BDS has attacked Israel without paying any price,” Erdan declared to applause from the audience.
Attacking sources of funding and degrading BDS activities were also mentioned as strategies. “Wherever they operate, we will make sure there is no safe space for BDS.”
Erdan praised the various foreign governments that have already set about implementing anti-BDS legislation in their respective countries including the United States, Britain, Canada and France.
Erdan also turned to technological initiatives and social media platforms that he said Israel intends to utilize with greater force. “Finally, we are going to become much more active on social media. We aim to spread the truth as quickly as our enemies spread lies,” he told the audience. “The BDS [movement] might not realize it, but pretty soon it is going to be a whole new ball game.”
Finally, Erdan concluded by stating that Jewish communities around the world play a crucial role.
“In Israel, we understand that we don’t understand everything and don’t have all the answers. You are on the ground and know what is going on. This consultation is so important to me because in this battle, cooperation between Israel and the pro-Israel community is not just a good idea but a necessity. I can’t do it alone. We are all on the front line together,” he said.