In an exclusive report this week, Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which is tasked with fighting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to isolate Israel internationally, revealed that the BDS movement has deployed hundreds of bots to promote a campaign to boycott this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which is slated to be held in Tel Aviv later this month.
According to the Ministry’s report, the BDS campaign has attempted to promote its agenda by using “coordinated manipulation” employing bots to tweet messages with the hashtag #BoycottEurovision2019.  Such campaigns are prohibited according to Twitter’s terms of service.

Twitter confirmed that it had suspended a “small network” of accounts based on the Israeli complaint.

The campaign, according to the Ministry was coordinated by “PACBI (The Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), the academic arm of the BDS National Committee (BNC) operating from Ramallah with close ties with the PNIF (Palestinian National Islamic Forces), an organization which is comprised of many Palestinian organizations including five terror groups, among them; Hamas, the PFLP and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”

(The ties between BDS and terror groups have been established elsewhere. Armin Rosen and Liel Leibovitz reported in Tablet Magazine last year that the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, an umbrella group for BDS in the United States, which is registered as a non-profit in Virginia, facilitated donations to PNIF. In 2016 Congressional testimony, Foundation for Defense of Democracies Vice President for Research Jonathan Schanzer, a former Treasury Department anti-terror official, noted that seven former employees of the Holy Land Foundation, which was found to have funded Hamas, went to American Muslims for Palestine, a major BDS-supporting group.)

Nor is this the first that the BDS movement has resorted to such tactics,

“Past cases include a fake-user Twitter campaign launched late last year against the singer Lana Del Rey, in which Twitter bots were found to have partaken in pressuring the artist to cancel her planned visit,” the report stated. “Such actions are in line with practices employed by the cultural boycott campaign against artists and cultural figures intending to perform in Israel – which range from exerting indirect pressure to behind-the-scenes physical threats to the individual or his/her family, intimidation and shaming.”

In the case of Lana Del Rey, the intimidation was successful and the singer canceled her performance in Israel.

The deceptive tactics of the BDS movement, show that their campaign needs to be scrutinized. Their stated goal isn’t to change Israel’s behavior, but to destroy Israel.

As Prof. Jacobson has shown, singling out Jews or Israel for boycotts has a long dishonorable history. BDS is simply the repackaging of an old idea going back to anti-Semitic Durban conference of 2001 (not 2005 as many like to say.)

2001 is significant too. The Oslo peace process began in 1993. From then until the end of 1995, Israel withdrew from the main Palestinian population centers in the West Bank. At that point, roughly 90% of Palestinians were living under Palestinian Authority rule.

In 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat statehood at a summit in Camp David, presided over by President Bill Clinton. Arafat refused and two months later launched a deadly terror war that took Israel five years to defeat.

It’s pretty clear that the so-called Al Aqsa intifada was launched by Arafat as a way of deflecting blame for the failed summit. Durban and the boycott strategy adopted there, a year later, appears to be larger international effort to shift blame for the failed peace efforts on Israel and away from the Palestinians.

LI author Vijeta Uniyal has written up some of the important work that the Ministry of Strategic Affairs has done to fight BDS.

He reported on the Ministry’s revelation last year, that there are extensive ties between the BDS movement and terror organizations. The Ministry followed up with an extensive study detailing these links earlier this year.

But it’s not without benefits. Earlier this year, Vijeta was one of the bloggers fighting BDS who was invited to Israel by the Ministry to discuss strategies to fight the campaign to isolate Israel.

[Photo: Eurovision Song Contest / YouTube ]