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The Anti-BDS Toolkit

Omri Nahmias, New York

Foot Soldiers Needed to Fight Israel’s Digital Wars

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

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CENTER STAGE The mayors of Jerusalem and New York take center stage but much happened behind the scenes at the Celebrate Israel parade (Photos: AP, Flash90)

M ore than 40,000 Israel backers marched down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan Sunday in a show of support and appreciation for the Jewish state.

The annual Celebrate Israel parade included some 250 organizations, 30 floats, 11 marching bands, and a list of dignitaries, including Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, Israel consul general in New York Danny Dayan, and nine members of the Knesset.

“I am very proud to march today in the streets of New York and to see the tremendous support here for Israel,” said Danon, who has fought for Israel on the front lines at the United Nations. “In the march, in the UN, and everywhere, the alliance between Israel and the United States is stronger than ever.”

But these days, it takes more than thousands of feet to show support for Israel. In the electronic wars of the mobile age, Israel and its supporters must also show technological savvy.

Gilad Erdan: “Today, through a cellular phone, it is possible to disseminate lies and incitement 24 hours a day to the whole world. Here, we want to give a tool to repel the lies and the incitement”

Gilad Erdan, who holds the cabinet posts of minister of public security, minister of strategic affairs, as well as information minister, told Mishpacha at the parade that his ministry is set to launch a new app for Israel lovers to fight the BDS movement. Called IL4, Israel will introduce the app in the coming months with an international advertising campaign in Europe and the United States.

“It’s a tool for all supporters of Israel around the world to rally against the lies on social media networks,” Erdan said, adding that the app will feature facts about Israel and explanatory videos. “When there are actual issues on the table, such as pressure on an artist not to perform in Israel, we don’t want to leave the scene as it is. We will [use the app to] turn to the network of Israel supporters and contact the singer and urge him or her not to believe the lies.”

It is very difficult, Erdan said, to persuade a BDS activist to think differently about Israel. So the goal is to build a counter-network that shows support for Israel everywhere that BDS is active, especially on the social networks. Erdan says the goal is to “expose the truth about their ideologies.”

“Today, through a cellular phone, it is possible to disseminate lies and incitement 24 hours a day to the whole world,” he said. “Here, we want to give a tool to repel the lies and the incitement.”

Erdan noted that, despite the penetration of the BDS movement, there have been victories, most notably laws passed by state legislatures in the United States that ban companies that support the BDS movement. In late May, Nevada became the 20th state to pass such a law.

“Over the last two years, we have succeeded, with coordination and intensive work, to advance institutionalized decisions against BDS,” Erdan said.

In Europe, as well, anti-BDS movements are gaining momentum. At stake, Erdan says, is nothing less than the hearts and minds of an entire generation poisoned by anti-Israel animus.

“We need to recruit as many social civil groups as possible to stand up for us, and to give them the tools, the push,” he said. “This app is another tool for the civilian network to use against incitement.”

Also attending the march were New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York. Governor Cuomo announced that from this year forward the first Sunday of each June will be known as “Shimon Peres Day.” Chemi Peres, the late prime minister’s son, attended the march, and expressed his appreciation for the state of New York and Governor Cuomo.

“My father worked all his life to strengthen the strategic ties between Israel and the United States,” Peres said. “There is no greater friend to Israel than the United States. Today I came to say thank you in the name of my father z”l, and we are continuing his legacy with this march.”

In his speech, Governor Cuomo noted that Shimon Peres told him two years ago that terror attacks will no longer be confined to the streets of Israel but will become a global phenomenon. “Regretfully, it is happening,” said Erdan. “The [security and military] cooperation between the United States and Israel is more important than ever before.” (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 663)

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