“In addition, as Hasbarah Minister, Erdan will be given 100,000,000 shekels ($25.7M) in his first year of office exclusively for coordinating international events to counter the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. ”
“While the global, Palestinian-led BDS movement for Palestinian rights has proven to be a truly tough challenge for Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, we think there is substantial exaggeration in the recent panic-driven, racist and patently propagandistic Israeli attack on the movement.”
Musician and self-professed propagandist for Israel, Idan Raichel is scheduled to play in New York at the World Music Institute on November 18. More than 4000 individuals and 50 groups have called on the WMI for Raichel’s concert to be cancelled due to his role as a ‘cultural ambassador for Israel who provides “uncritical support for the Israeli military and government.”’
‘Idan Raichel has publicly endorsed torture and explicitly describes his role as an artist in terms of uncritical support for the Israeli military and government. He wrote in the Jerusalem Post in June 2014 that “In creating this musical project we feel as if we are cultural ambassadors for Israel.” He added, “When I look back over the past few years, I see an Israel I am happy with … Raichel summarized his views in 2012, saying, “I believe that our role as artists is to enlist in the Israeli propaganda campaign [Hasbara]… I would like to encourage our soldiers, yes, who are so moral, and encourage the IDF, a more moral army you will not find in the entire world.”’
Palestinian Campaign for Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI) representative, Samia Botmeh commented:
‘PACBI calls for boycotting Idan Raichel’s performances because he is a cultural ambassador of Israel, as both he and the Israeli foreign ministry have boasted. Raichel is willingly lending his name to the Israeli government to re-brand itself and perform damage control after its latest massacre in Gaza. No matter how hard Raichel and other cultural, scientific and academic ambassadors of Israel try to whitewash Israel’s horrific crimes against humanity, people of conscience can see right through their propaganda.’
Usually it is proud Zionists and Israel right-or-wrong supporters who malign actions for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). However, responding by email on 1 November 2014 to a request for support for a petition against Raichel’s culture-washing performance, the Deir Yassin Remembered Board labelled the Raichel boycott campaign as “gatekeeping”, ‘a tactic used often by Zionists and by people like Ali Abunimah. Hence we would oppose DYR gatekeeping anyone, including this fellow.‘
BDS, a Palestinian-led human rights-based movement with overwhelming support from Palestinian civil society, is aimed at applying pressure on the Israeli regime in order to achieve justice and rights for Palestinians living under Israeli rule, whether in Israel or in the territories it occupied in 1967, as well as the refugees scattered around the globe. Scurrilously, the DYR is attacking both the BDS tactic chosen by oppressed Palestinians themselves, in effect making Palestinians superfluous to their own liberation movement, and more specifically Ali Abunimah, well-known Palestinian journalist and activist.
The DYR organisation, a 501c3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization (EIN 20-2681812), has been described by one ex-Board member as a one man show, the work of Daniel McGowan, a retired professor of economics, who set it up in 1995. McGowan expressed his rightwing views on the boycott of apartheid South Africa in 1995.
“As a conservative professor of economics at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, I disagreed with such prohibitions and political obstructions to the free flow of capital.“
In 2009, McGowan blatantly defends Holocaust denial and trumpets noxious pro-imperialist apologetics: ‘The Holocaust narrative of systematic, industrialized extermination was an important neo-conservative tool to drive the United States into Iraq.‘
“Overarching strategic doctrines issued by successive administrations articulate how the U.S. government conceives its long term maintenance and aggrandisement. It is here that one locates the basic imperatives driving U.S. foreign policy: containing rival imperial powers, advancing the powers of markets through pro-U.S. and pro-capitalist regimes and defeating indigenous and popular challenges to capitalism in general and to friendly regimes in particular. It is at this level that Israel fits in to U.S. foreign policy. Israel is part of a network of states under U.S. hegemony. It must be defended not only for what it does for the U.S., but primarily for what it is, namely, an element of the global assertion of western power. The strategic importance of the Middle East and Israel’s own lack of alternatives further make it one of the U.S.’s safest allies.”
“Although the main purpose of Deir Yassin Remembered is to build a suitable memorial, the organisation also has a broader, more humanitarian objective. It will work to eliminate prejudice against Palestinians and to promote the human side of a people who have been the victims of the Zionist colonisation of their land and of the apartheid conditions under which they now live.”
From its email dated 1 November 2014 above, however, it appears the current Board Directors believe DYR can fulfill its goals by attempting, as do Zionists, to tarnish the chosen BDS tactic of Palestinian civil society and dehumanise Palestinian activists like Ali Abunimah who critique white supremacist opportunism posturing as solidarity. This phenomenon demonstrates the nexus between white supremacism, zionism and imperialism.
While for a few years from 2007, the organisation began to provide educational scholarships for Palestinians, this was abandoned in 2011. Around 8 scholarships were delivered through donations received by the organisation.
The advisors of the DYR Board have changed over the years yet the names of people who have left often remain on the site for many years after their departure, despite requests to remove them. Human rights lawyer Lea Tsemel left the board in 2005 along with Michael Warschawski. Lea’s name remains on the board list to this day.
To the Directors of DYR
We have been supporters of DYR from its very first days, and identified fully with its goals and objectives. During a recent tour in the US, we discovered that Israel Shamir has been included in the advisory board of DYR.
There is no room for a racist in an institution aimed to fight for the memory of the Deir Yassin victims of Ethnic cleansing and massacre. We therefore ask you to clarify whether or not Israel Shamir is indeed part of DYR. If it is the case and you have no intention to exclude him in order to keep the moral integrity of DYR, we will have to disconect ourselves from it.
Please forward this letter to all the members of the Advisory board.
Lea Tsemel, Michael Warschawski
Norman Finkelstein, Marc Ellis, Neta Golan and Jeff Halper also resigned from DYR around that time. Neta’s name was not removed until 2008. As Gabriel Ash commented wryly, “The Deir Yassin Remembered board is like Hotel California, you can check in any time you like, but you can never leave).”
‘First, he deflects the discussion from the essentials of Deir Yassin onto the supposed characteristics of the perpetrators. To cast all “Jews” as perpetrators of such heinous crimes, which is exactly how the discussion has been going for the past number of months, is racist, absolutely unacceptable – and deflects entirely from the issue of Deir Yassin itself. Just look at his response to Uri Davis: “a Jew is called upon by his religious law to do utmost damage to one who accepted Christ …” Anyone who knows Uri Davis would know that such a statement is beyond absurd, but the bigger question is: Who in the hell is “a Jew”? Paul’s comment about “Jewish Power” is also outrageous. “THE Jews” is a construct just as false, simplistic, racist (biologically so, it seems) and unacceptable as any other ethnic label used to tar all members of that group with – inevitably negative – characteristics. (I know our “fully human” psychotherapist from Australia will read into this primordial “Jewish loyalty.”)
The inane discussion that has come to characterize the DYR discourse is not even sophisticated racism; its just plain old-fashioned stupid racism. That’s enough to get me to leave.
When I hear diatribes of non-Palestinians against the Palestinian Ali Abunimah because he raises concerns over Shamir’s racism and the entire tone of the DYR discussion, a red light goes off. Has Deir Yassin been hijacked by a cult more intent on pursuing hate campaigns against the fictive “Jews” than in searching for the humanistic, universal, critical and truly relevant elements of the Deir Yassin story? Is Deir Yassin’s memory being sullied by those who claim to honor it?
The resignation of any one of the people who left DYR, Jewish or not, should be a cause of soul-searching, especially among the non-Palestinian “gatekeepers” of Deir Yassin who may be finishing off the job – massacring the memory of Deir Yassin by making it synonymous with racism and anti-Semitism. ‘
Although he was never actually on the Board, Uri Davis’s name appears there as a consultant during 2005 and is removed by 2006. Our source relays that Davis said he would accept the invitation to the Board if he could then argue for the removal of Shamir.
Our sources tell us that in 2005, the late Hanna Braun complained that McGowan had placed her name on his list of “Righteous Jews” on his DYR partner website, without her consent although she made it clear that she found the whole concept racist and offensive. McGowan also placed Braun’s memoirs on the DYR site without asking her let alone her consent.
In 2005, Mark Elf at Jews Sans Frontieres relates that Holocaust denier and Board Director Paul Eisen: ‘has finally come out as, or at least gone over to, supporting a full-blown neo-nazi take on Hitler and the holocaust. … Shamir seems to take the view that Jews should renounce being Jewish or forever take the rap for killing Jesus. Jazz saxophonist, Gilad Atzmon, takes the view that if you do not renounce being Jewish then you are a crypto- or under-cover zionist.‘
Tony Greenstein recounted in 2012: “Over a decade ago, Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish issued a statement ‘Serious Concerns About Israel Shamir’ concerning the virulent anti-semitism of Shamir. Like Atzmon, Shamir too traded on his Israeli connections, yet his language about Jews as ‘a virus form of a human being’ set alarms bells ringing. His cause was not support of the Palestinians and anti-Zionism but anti-Semitism and holocaust denial. Yet in an e-mail to me (12th June 2005) Atzmon described Shamir as a ‘unique and advanced thinker’.“
In October 2012, Eisen published an antisemitic blog post which was later removed in which he attacked the Free Gaza Movement. After becoming aware of this article, Avigail Arbananel, a director of the Board since 2004, “resigned from DYR because of Paul Eisen”. On the Board since 2007, Palestinian writer Susan Abulhawa also left at this point.
Another name which remains on the Board despite having left is Ilan Pappé. Our source informs us that in 2012 during a visit to Sydney, Pappe was asked ‘if it is the case that they are a current member or whether DYR need to update their website’ and he replied that ‘DYR needs to update their website‘.
“I have seen her engage, accept, and encourage anti-Semitic rhetoric, and this is incredibly damaging to the Palestine solidarity movement. What she, and this group, represents is dangerous to our movement in solidarity with Palestinians: a complete disregard for the basic principles of anti-racism and anti-bigotry most of us hold dear.”
At that time, Professor As’ad Abukhalil emphasised: “Anti-Semites belong to the Zionist side, and not to our side.” Along with a declaration by leading Palestinians, the BDS movement has made a strong statement affirming its “rights-based approach and an anti-racist platform that rejects all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism“. The 1 November 2014 DYR email represents a full frontal assault against human rights-based BDS, a principled Palestinian-led movement for justice which seeks to educate people away from racism, to end the human wrongs of colonialism and apartheid inflicted on Palestinians.
Toxic white supremacist ideology – including Zionism – underpins current and past colonial, imperial oppression. Palestinians require better than to have the 1948 genocide at Deir Yassin (perpetrated by Zionists and facilitated by imperial powers) hijacked as a front for DYR white supremacists, in the same manner as settler colonial Zionists appropriate and utilise the Holocaust.
DYR declared a hate group (2017): “Deir Yassin Remembered, a local group famous for its weekly protests outside Temple Beth Israel in Ann Arbor, has been placed on a list of hate groups compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center under the subcategory of Holocaust denial.”
“As much as I want to play Israel, I have decided not to in solidarity with Palestinians who will not have access to my show. After days of discussions with many, I’ve decided to try & visit Israel & Palestine with those who fight to end the state of apartheid rather than use my art to force the issue on those who would rather not deal with it.”
As much as I want to play Israel, I have decided not to in solidarity with Palestinians who will not have access to my show…
An acknowledgement that the impressive impact of the BDS campaign could not be ignored came in the form of another Facebook page, which is fake and seeking to disrupt and subvert. Unlike the official page, the fake Facebook page posts erroneous and racist material to discredit BDS, BDS activists, reliable sources of information about the campaign, like Electronic Intifada and even the Rolling Stones themselves. Though their identities are unknown, the creators of the false page are clearly using familiar Israeli propaganda techniques.
The Call to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is Worthy of Respect by The Rolling Stones
Aimed at pressuring the Israeli regime to end its crimes against humanity of settler colonialism and apartheid, to institute equal rights for all in Israel and recognise the right of Palestinian refugees driven from their homeland in 1948 to return to their homes, the BDS tactic is solidly grounded in international law and human rights. Consistently, the BDS movement and Palestinian civil society leaders reject all racism and bigotry. Thus, BDS seeks to achieve justice, freedom and equal rights for all, ending the unsustainable, undemocratic and oppressive impasse engendered and sustained by the racist, expansionist Israeli state and its enablers who provide it with impunity, in particular, the US.
Boycott Challenges Israel’s Apartheid and Settler Colonial Crimes
Recently, PM Netanyahu again increased the prominence of the BDS campaign at the annual AIPAC Conference in the US, reiterating that BDS is a core threat to Israel. Yet this perception of a BDS threat by Israel is not new. For several years, propaganda tacticians at the Israeli Reut Institute have sought to counteract BDS success by ‘delegitimising the delegitimisers’, attacking the BDS movement, its human rights and justice aims, Palestinians and BDS activists with false narrative redolent with seductive right entryist mythology, libel, and initiation of hasbara networks in strategically located ‘hubs’ around the world to proliferate anti-BDS agitprop, including employees in Israeli embassies paid to monitor and counter BDS. Israeli university and student union courses train recruits to join the battle to disguise Israel’s crimes. Israeli propaganda – hasbara – is coordinated from the top down – from Netanyahu’s office to a chain of formal and informal actors.
Hasbara Social Media Infiltration
Consequently, in response to global awareness and effective implementation of BDS, Israeli hasbara initiatives have mushroomed. On Facebook alone, there is a maze of groups and pages devoted to hasbara dissemination. Armed with lists of sloganistic ‘talking points’ and associated dogma, paid and unpaid ‘defenders of Israel’ are coordinated to post throughout social media, attacking BDS campaigns and BDS activists, attempting to obscure the truth about Israel’s criminal behaviour perpetrated against Palestinians, whose prior existence in the region as an Indigenous community and whose Nakba (catastrophic mass expulsion by settler colonial zionists in 1948) Israel denies. Israel has even passed a law to punish people in Israel who commemorate the Nakba.
“Israel has confiscated my land and has started to define me as the invader of the land. They call us in the Knesset, in the courts, in the media the invaders of the land … when they confiscate our land in the Galilee and the Negev, they said they are going to redeem the land, redeem, I don’t know this word, I ask about it – salvation from me, the indigenous people, there. It is not about stealing the land, it is about stealing my homeland, my relation with my homeland. They are trying to transmit, to rewrite history, they don’t like history, they don’t like to read history, what happened before 1948 and that means we were there, the Palestinian people … they like more to write history. And they say I am a risk, they must reserve the land. So the crime is not really just to steal my land, they are trying to redefine my relation with my homeland. It is not my homeland anymore. I cannot claim it. They rewrite history and I am the invader of the land.”
The falsehoods presented in Israeli hasbara form part of the duplicitous rewriting of history, relying upon repetitive saturation and intimidation to provide a transparent, shabby defence of the faltering “Brand Israel”.
Fake, Racist BDS Page
On the 10th February, 2014, a fake BDS page titled “Boycott Israel: Rolling Stones” appeared, which claimed that the page administrators had been in contact with the Rolling Stones and a few days later, that the Rolling Stones were going to cancel their gig. While some news sources were taken in by the hoax, Electronic Intifada exposed the page’s opportunistic sabotage on the 14th February. For its laudable journalistic endeavours, Electronic Intifada has been abused since by the hoax page administrators with ridiculous slurring jibes like the ‘Zionazis have infiltrated Electronic Intifada‘, Electronic Intifada has been ‘compromised‘ and then posting a graphic equating Nazis with Zionists, titled “Join the Electronic Intifada“. Israeli propaganda outfit, NGO Monitor has maintained an ongoing smear and attack campaign against Electronic Intifada for several years.
Posts on the fake BDS page seethe with racist memes, abuse, and threats, padding Zionist hasbara confections which wrongly accuse BDS of being ‘antisemitic’ and threatening performers. Racist comments on the page, posted predominantly by Zionists, are not moderated. Zionists are targeted extensively by the page admins as ‘Zionazis’ to give the false impression the page is against Zionism, whilst conflating Nazism with Zionism and Israel. In fact, as Israel perpetrates the crimes against humanity under international law of apartheid and colonialism, BDS acts directly to create accountability for these crimes. There is no ‘crime of Nazism’ for which to prosecute the Israeli regime, even if it was applicable. For sure hasbara agents know that BDS does not target individuals or Jews – BDS is squarely focused on the Israeli state and its institutions.
Attacks on the Rolling Stones
On the hoax page, the administrators post vile abuse and threats to the Rolling Stones like ‘Together we can convince this group of ailing rockers that supporting apartheid and genocide will not pay‘, ‘Return what is ours or you, and whichever shitty bands choose to tie their destiny with yours, will meet a horrible fate‘ and ‘cancel your performance in front of the Zionazis or live to regret it!‘
As one of their well-evidenced tactics, Zionist hasbara agents have propagandised that BDS advocates threaten performers. In the absence of real evidence of BDS threats against performers, the hoax page saboteurs have manufactured substitute data to confuse people without a background in the issue and to discredit the BDS campaign.
The hoax page has also posted the header image of the real BDS page in an apparent attempt to blur the distinction between the two.
The BDS movement persuades performers to support the boycott through ethical human rights education and campaigns. In contrast, the hoax page owners have now posted audaciously on the legitimate BDS page with comment designed to create a negative view of the BDS campaign, specifically accusing the Rolling Stones of having “declared themselves to be Nazis“. The legitimate BDS page moderates all racist and threatening comments as a matter of course and thus these saboteur comments were removed. It is the Palestinian people who pay for Israel’s crimes of apartheid and colonialism with ongoing daily calamities inflicted upon them, and it is Palestinians who suffer when performers break the boycott, which they are asked politely to respect.
This was not the only assault on the real Rolling Stones Boycott Israel page. An Israeli hasbara organisation called “Ambassadors Online” advertised itself there as ‘a page created to fight against the ‘New Antisemitism’ and also to ‘improve Israel’s global image’. ‘New Antisemitism’ is a hasbara newspeak term which intentionally and misleadingly conflates all Jews with Zionism, in order to protect the oppressive behaviour of the Israeli state and delegitimise BDS. Boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel are supported by many Jewish organisations and individuals. However, in Israel since July, 2011, advocacy of boycott invokes heavy financial sanctions. Elsewhere the Israeli Shurat HaDin legal apparatus has been attempting to conduct lawfare suits against individuals who advocate boycott in countries as distant as Australia. By ignoring, belittling and vanishing Jewish voices who dissent from Israel’s state policies and ideology, the hasbara marketeers are indulging in antisemitism themselves, debasing the problem of real antisemitism which the BDS movement and leading Palestinians who support BDS explicitly oppose.
The use of abusive terms like ‘Zionazis’, ‘Zionist suckers’ ‘baby-murder’, ‘Zionist dogs’ by the saboteurs diverts focus and plays into the ‘new antisemitism’ mythology and reinforcing hasbara that Israel and its nationalists are singled out for special approbrium. In fact, the Israeli regime singles itself out for impunity for its very real crimes of war, apartheid and settler colonialism and it is these state practices which BDS addresses, to achieve legally guaranteed rights, justice and freedom for the Palestinian people whom Israel has oppressed for the past 65 years.
Currently, the Palestinian Authority has applied to join 15 UN treaties including the Geneva Conventions. Former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren points to the potential for the BDS campaign to gain additional strength from this move:
“Palestinians turning to UN institutions potentially exposes Israel to massive sanctions and Tel Aviv has to deal with all these threats seriously.”
The BDS campaign is now mainstream, both for the Israeli regime and in the media. No music, not even that of The Rolling Stones, can bridge Israel’s apartheid, a racist, cruel system of institutionalised inequality and oppression. Playing Israel’s Sun City and crossing the boycott picket line affects the image of performers, an impact which can only increase over time as the BDS movement for justice and freedom of Palestinians continues to grow.