‘Secret’ London conference seeks to link BDS to… terrorism

Israel/Palestine
on 30 Comments
Ronald Lauder

Ronald Lauder

The Jewish Chronicle in England has a report on a “secret” conference last week in London that wasn’t all that secret, aimed at the greatest threat to Israel these days, the movement to delegitimize the idea of an ethnocracy. Israel’s intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz was there, joining “dozens of leading politicians, campaigners and grass-roots activists… for a secret conference on tackling delegitimisation of Israel.”

I’m not sure how you have a “gala” dinner at a “secret” conference, but Ron Lauder, the American billionaire/philanthropist who heads the World Jewish Congress, spoke and described the “lawfare” methods for taking on this existential challenge:

Ronald Lauder told the 140 guests that countering the boycott movement might be the most important work they ever do.

He said: “…We will send the message that a campaign against Israel is a double-edged sword. We are not powerless — far from it. We have the resources. We have the intelligence. Most important, we have unbounded determination.”

Mr Lauder promised greater use of legal means to challenge boycotts.

“We will draft and lobby for legislation that will withhold government funding from academic institutions that boycott Israel,” he said.

“We will draft and lobby for federal anti-discrimination statutes in the United States against banks, businesses and governments that target only Israel. We will follow the money to find out just who is funding these attacks on Israel and if there is any connection to terrorism.”

Nancy Kricorian of Code Pink said that this is a refrain on the anti-BDS front: that somehow Palestinian solidarity folks are getting a lot of money to protest occupation.

My favorite moment was at a big Ahava demo outside a Ricky’s in Brooklyn, a reporter for Israel Channel Ten waved her hand at the assembled and asked me, “Who pays for all this?” I laughed and said, “For what? The poster board and felt-tipped markers? Everyone here is a volunteer, except for two part-time employees for local organizations.”

They really think there is money being funneled to us via, I don’t know, Saudi Arabia or Iran or something. 

For a relatively small, underfunded, mostly volunteer movement, we seem to be having a big impact. Working with the Stop SodaStream media/social media team, I am struck by how smart and strategic our partners are. Ron Lauder may have the millions to throw at this problem, and the lawfare thing is going to be rough because it will suck up our resources, but we have the brains and courage. 

Speaking of lawfare–if you know people who want to give money to support the BDS movement–we should be throwing checks at Palestine Solidarity Legal Support. It’s run by Dima Khalidi, and my friend Radhika Sainath is one of the staff attorneys.

Asa Winstanley at Middle East Monitor offers this analysis of the London conference, pointing out the weakness of its position:

Although that last reported quote from Lauder was probably meant to sound intimidating (especially with the article’s multiple references to Israeli “intelligence”) it actually reads more like preaching to the choir: the die-hard anti-Palestinian faithful are still trying to convince themselves.

Israeli lawfare represents at its heart, a movement that has so thoroughly lost the debate it has to increasingly resort to bullying tactics…

In those circles, there is a perception that Israel’s case is so self-evidently correct that the only problem is explaining it in the correct way – an image problem. Hence the failed “Brand Israel” strategy of a few years ago.

If Israel has an image problem, it’s only because it ultimately has a morality problem. As long as it tortures Palestinian fathers to death, and leaves millions of people whose lives it controls without some of the most fundamental human rights, Israel will continue to have an “image problem”.

As long as millions of Palestinian refugees are refused their inherent right to return to their homes in current-day Israel, for the crime of simply not being Jewish, the Palestinian struggle will continue. “Lawfare” is just a finger in the dam.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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30 Responses

  1. ritzl
    April 14, 2014, 12:20 pm

    To riff on Kricorian… “we have the brains and the courage.” They also have the fundamental facts, compelling morality, and underlying desire of most normal people to do right.

    That’s a tough combination to suppress, in the long run.

    Thanks Phil. Happy (if that’s the right word) Passover to all…

    • Kathleen
      April 15, 2014, 9:29 am

      Yes

      I have attended about 15 Passover gatherings. I almost choked the first time I heard this part of one of the prayers said. How can you not think of the Palestinians being seriously oppressed by Israeli’s and Jews and Evangelical Christians etc sending money to oppress the Palestinians?

      ” And so we pray for all who are still fettered, still denied their human rights. Let all God’s children sit at his table, drink the wine of deliverance, and eat the bread of freedom:

      freedom from bondage
      and freedom from oppression,

      freedom from hunger
      and freedom from want,

      freedom from hatred
      and freedom from fear,”

  2. Talkback
    April 14, 2014, 12:26 pm

    I don’t understand. What’s wrong with linking it to antisemitism? Wasn’t it stupid enough?

  3. CloakAndDagger
    April 14, 2014, 12:28 pm

    Ronald Lauder told the 140 guests that countering the boycott movement might be the most important work they ever do.

    For all those who pooh-pooh how effective BDS is, this should be proof of exactly the opposite. This is what has them scared above all else.

    Time to shovel more coal into the locomotive…

    • Krauss
      April 14, 2014, 1:03 pm

      For all those who pooh-pooh how effective BDS is, this should be proof of exactly the opposite.

      Or Netanyahu mentioning BDS 18 times in his AIPAC speech.

      Yeah, BDS has no effect whatsoever!
      We’ve already won the mental battle. They are fightning on our turf.
      Now we’re slowly starting to win the broader cultural battle.

      Lawfare is a doomed project. Pretend and extend.
      Not only is it wrong in terms of tactics, you can’t stop Palestininan solidarity by “outsuing them”, it also reinforces the image of Zionists as a bunch of isolated bullies with no grassroots support and a willingness to corrupt with money.

      As I like to say: if these are our enemies then let them multiply! They are providing themselves with rope and a gallows, hanging themselves on their own volition. We can only watch in amazement as they commit intellectual and cultural suicide before our eyes.

    • DaBakr
      April 14, 2014, 1:11 pm

      its just the ‘next’ thing cad. no need to get all that excited. yes, bds has succeeded in inserting itself more prominently into the conversation (or ‘war of ideas’) and it is a very clever ploy. how to push what seems like a legitimate campaign of protest while disguising the fact that the movement actually DOES call for the destruction of Israel as the nation/state of the Jewish people. In fact-if bds was not linked to the complete delegitimization of Israel it would probably be an even more effective strategy to bring about peace. But as usual, the enemies of Israel can not contain themselves and once past the surface gloss-it is too easy to find the fine print (now bolded) that its not just about a negotiated settlement-Its about returning whatever the number now is-6 million?- descendants of Palestinians from pre-48 back to inside the green line while also giving up the old Jewish quarter of Jerusalem along with all of the WB ……AND!! the elimination of Jewish sovereignty over ANY of the land. period.

      • Woody Tanaka
        April 14, 2014, 2:21 pm

        “how to push what seems like a legitimate campaign of protest ”

        No, it actually IS a legitimate campaign of protest.

        “disguising the fact that the movement actually DOES call for the destruction of Israel as the nation/state of the Jewish people”

        If that is the euphamism you’ve chosen to mean “end the anti-Palestinian Judeo-supremacism within the greenline and the occupation and oppression of Palestinians outside the greenline, then there is no disguising that fact. Yes, BDS supporters are explicitly calling for the liberation of the Palestinians from the oppression of the Zionists.

        “In fact-if bds was not linked to the complete delegitimization of Israel it would probably be an even more effective strategy to bring about peace.”

        The problem is that you Zionists define “peace” as: the Palestinians being grateful to suffer under whatever oppression you desire to inflict on them, but you promise that the lash will be a supple one.

        “its not just about a negotiated settlement”

        It’s never been that, except for some over-lawyered Zionists who are looking for another weapon to use against the Palestinians and are just po’d that they won’t give it to you.

        “Its about returning whatever the number now is-6 million?- descendants of Palestinians from pre-48 back to inside the green line while also giving up the old Jewish quarter of Jerusalem along with all of the WB ……AND!! the elimination of Jewish sovereignty over ANY of the land. period.”

        No, it’s about the people of Palestine having justice. The problem is that the Zionists are unable or unwilling to provide justice to those they’ve preyed upon. Stop blaming other people because you are unwilling or unable to provide justice to your fellow man.

      • Annie Robbins
        April 14, 2014, 4:13 pm

        cad? lol

        also giving up the old Jewish quarter of Jerusalem

        worried it will get the israeli treatment? razed perhaps? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moroccan_Quarter

      • Dutch
        April 14, 2014, 8:40 pm

        @ DaBakr

        That BDS-course is really paying off.

      • puppies
        April 14, 2014, 11:00 pm

        Bakr – “Its about returning whatever the number now is-6 million?- descendants of Palestinians from pre-48 back to inside the green line while also giving up the old Jewish quarter of Jerusalem along with all of the WB ……AND!! the elimination of Jewish sovereignty over ANY of the land. period.”
        Thank you! You have summarized my program. Unfortunately I am in a minority here, what with a lot of people who want to give away land or rights expecting peace from Zionists, or for other reasons.
        What is important for you, though, is the following: the most important part of the DBS practitioners are Zionists. Intelligent Zionists, who read the wall and see that the only way to stave off defeat at this point is to join the boycott, which they limit of course to the post-1967 occupation. I see you don’t belong to them.

      • talknic
        April 15, 2014, 12:41 am

        DaBakr “AND!! the elimination of Jewish sovereignty over ANY of the land. period”

        There is no “Jewish sovereignty”. The sovereignty of a state belongs to ALL its legitimate inhabitants, Israelis, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.

        “whatever the number now is-6 million?- descendants of Palestinians from pre-48 back to inside the green line”

        The GreenLine was a ‘ceasefire’ line from 1948, taken as the Armistice Demarcation line of 1949.

        2. The Armistice Demarcation Line is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary… http://pages.citebite.com/t2b2w2a6b6cig

        The Palestine refugees ask for their legal rights under UNGA res 194 (1948), adopted 12months before UNRWA was formed in 1949. The UNRWA definition bears no relation to the RoR of 1948 refugees or final status. http://www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id=87#final_status

        Furthermore Israel has never legally acquired ANY of the territory it has illegally acquired by war and never legally annexed. http://wp.me/pDB7k-Xk#googlemap

        It should be of no concern to Israel that the vast majority of those with RoR should return to non-Israeli territory. Except of course that Israel has illegally acquired so much non-Israeli territory it cannot now afford to adhere to the law without being sent bankrupt as it tried to pay rightful compensation and remove a million or more Israelis back to Israel’s ACTUAL territories. There lies Israel’s fear. There lies, apart from war crimes, what Israel doesn’t want adjudicated by the courts.

    • seafoid
      April 14, 2014, 4:29 pm

      They are afraid of the public turning on them. Like the News of World that weekend.

  4. adele
    April 14, 2014, 12:38 pm

    Izzy Raelly built a great wall,
    Izzy Raelly had a great fall.
    All the rich pockets and all the “intelligent” minds
    Couldn’t put Izzy Raelly together again.

  5. American
    April 14, 2014, 1:03 pm

    ‘“We will draft and lobby for legislation that will withhold government funding from academic institutions that boycott Israel,” he said.

    “We will draft and lobby for federal anti-discrimination statutes in the United States against banks, businesses and governments that target only Israel. We will follow the money to find out just who is funding these attacks on Israel and if there is any connection to terrorism.”…grand master Lauder
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Go ahead…declare war on American freedom and democracy and laws.
    Just do it faster please.
    We want to bring this fifth column takeover thing to a head so we can get rid of it.

    • a blah chick
      April 14, 2014, 9:13 pm

      Indeed, bring it on. We’ve got several generations of civil rights lawyers in this country who can take them on.

  6. ritzl
    April 14, 2014, 1:14 pm

    Gosh, Lauder wouldn’t be advocating for forming and prosecuting a “culture of fear and intimidation,” would he?

    If you could look in the ear of Zionism, you would see daylight.

  7. Abierno
    April 14, 2014, 3:01 pm

    Please look at the next article – The Israeli role in the US serveillance machine
    and the link to Max Blumenthal. Lauder’s reference to intelligence on the surface
    appears to reference “capability,” but to the cognoscenti, it references human intelligence gathering, sweeping up all communications – phone, text, email,
    etc, of all in the US, even those of politicians, corporate heads, the man or woman
    in the street. When he says follow the money, his group – interfaced seamlessly
    with the Israeli government, can actually identify the bank accounts of those
    supporting BDS as well as a trove of other personal information. This threat goes far beyond lawfare, which actually has to stay within the purview of the legal system, and suggests the possibility of some very troubling actions against those who support BDS.

  8. seafoid
    April 14, 2014, 3:47 pm

    “We are not powerless — far from it. We have the resources. We have the intelligence. Most important, we have unbounded determination.”

    Even moster important- they don’t have the popular base.
    It’s Estee Lauder lipstick on a pig.

    Maybe Ron should try advanced night repair for sagging hasbara.
    http://www.esteelauder.com/products/542/Franchise-Skincare/Advanced-Night-Repair/index.tmpl

    Special offer now. Get a free hasbara bag worth over $175 when you buy 5 hasbara memes. Bag includes torture, home demolitions, militarization, abuse of minors and the return of the Messiah.

    • Kay24
      April 15, 2014, 1:38 am

      Good comment and funny too. Even advanced night repair cannot undo the damage done by Israel, and it sure has a sagging, ugly face, brought on by evil actions. UGH.

  9. Henry Norr
    April 14, 2014, 4:16 pm

    The Jewish Chronicle was obviously trying to attract attention by using the word “secret,” but this conference was anything but secret. Haaretz had the story last week, the World Jewish Conference put out a press release about Lauder’s speech, and Google finds a slew of other reports about it.

  10. weareone
    April 14, 2014, 4:45 pm

    Why does BDS have to be limited to Israeli companies? Why not extend it to all companies owned by Zionist supporters of Israel (beginning with Mr. Lauder’s)? This is a list of Estee Lauder’s brands:
    Aerin
    American Beauty
    Aramis
    Aveda
    Bobbi Brown
    Bumble and Bumble
    Clinique
    Coach
    Darphin
    Donna Karan
    Ermenegildo Zegna
    Estee Lauder
    Flirt!
    Goodskin Labs
    Grassroots Research Labs
    Jo Malone
    Kiton
    La Mer
    Lab Series Skincare for Men
    M A C
    Marni
    Michael Kors
    Ojon
    Origins
    Osiao
    Prescriptives
    Smashbox
    Tom Ford
    Tommy Hilfinger
    Tory Burch.
    I’ve used several of these brands without knowing that Lauder owned them. Now I know. C’est tout!

    • Kay24
      April 15, 2014, 1:36 am

      What a long list of well known products. No wonder dear leader Ron is agitated, he is going to feel the consequences of BDS in his pockets. This is one “secret” meeting we know of, I wonder how many other “desperate” meetings and conference calls have gone on, to halt BDS.

  11. weareone
    April 14, 2014, 4:55 pm

    Anybody have a list of the other 139?

  12. weareone
    April 14, 2014, 5:09 pm

    Why should BDS be limited to Israeli companies? Why not extend it to include all
    companies owned by Zionist supporters of Israel (beginning with Mr. Lauder’s).
    Here’s the link to Estee Lauder brands. I’ve used several of these brands without knowing that Lauder owned them. Now I know. C’est tout.
    http://www.elcompanies.com/pages/our-brands.aspx

  13. surewin
    April 14, 2014, 5:29 pm

    Lauder said “…We have the intelligence…”

    Yes.

    Moving on to our next story, “It’s time to reveal the Israeli role in the US surveillance machine.”

  14. Pixel
    April 14, 2014, 8:00 pm

    I say, “Go for it.”

    Overuse and misuse of “Terrorism” (big T) will only hasten the demise of the term and the destruction of its Chimera.

  15. ToivoS
    April 14, 2014, 9:16 pm

    One sign that the Zionist and their supporters do not understand BDS is that they seem to think that all political activism is purchased for dollars. If they see a demonstration of thousands, they see a few hundred thousand dollars that purchased it. In Lauders speech he is implicitly threatening the movement with his big dollars. The notion that millions of people around the world are willing to donate their time and meager resources to the cause of BDS is totally alien to people like Lauder.

  16. Kay24
    April 14, 2014, 11:53 pm

    It seems the BDS movement is making some who show false bravado, and who pooh-poohed their efforts, afraid. If they really are not making headway in the BDS campaign as hasbaracuda like to say, they would not be having these urgent meetings, and trying to attack BDS by calling it “antisemitic”.
    In that case the world boycotting Iran must be called anti Islamic, and when the world boycotted South Africa, it should have been called anti Afrikaners? Again the antisemitic card is overplayed to stifle criticism and calls for boycotts. Lame.

  17. Susan A
    April 16, 2014, 12:27 am

    “We will draft and lobby for federal anti-discrimination statutes in the United States against banks, businesses and governments that target only Israel”.
    Good luck with that one; there are so many countries under some form of sanction by the US and others that they would find it very difficult to find ones that ”..target only Israel.” Indeed, it is precisely because so many other countries are under embargoes and sanctions by banks, business and governments APART from Israel that has made it incumbent upon Palestine solidarity supporters to actually push for BDS against Israel and its co-profiteers.

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