Boycott network is like Al Qaeda, and Israel is gonna fight it like Stanley McChrystal. Got that?

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Gen. Stanley McChrystal (photo:USArmy via Times of Israel)

Last month we reported that the campaign against the BDS movement was about to ramp up. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is targeting college campuses, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is directly involved (along with a bunch of “Jewish millionaires”).

And what’s the battle plan? Turns out it’s the war in Iraq, that hugely-successful undertaking. “From the war in Iraq to the battle against Israel boycotters,” reports The Times of Israel, which says that the  Israel Action Network (IAN) seems to believe that “an idea honed on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan” will be “effective in defending against assaults on Israel’s legitimacy in North America.” 

The Israel Action Network (as Alex Kane reminds us) was formed by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs at the urging of the Israeli government and is the Jewish establishment’s number one vehicle for battling BDS.

And the posterboy for this official battle? None other than iconic retired US Army General Stanley McChrystal (who was unceremoniously dumped handed in his resignation to the chagrin of conservatives in 2010 after an article in Rolling Stone by recently deceased journalist Michael Hastings triggered his downfall). 

Not that McChrystal is taking part in the campaign. But he’s all over the Times of Israel’s story:  

The idea, in the words of General Stanley McChrystal — commander of the US Joint Special Operations Command — that “it takes a network to defeat a network” played a central role in his concept for fighting insurgents in the Middle East .

It was late 2003, and al-Qaeda in Iraq was running an extremely effective campaign against American troops and their allies. McChrystal met with his team in a small base near Baghdad, determined to understand the enemy. He quickly realized they were battling an adversary that did not adhere to the traditional military structure, but formed a decentralized network, made up of nimble, independent nodes.

“It became clear to me and to many others that, to defeat a networked enemy, we had to become a network ourselves,” McChrystal recalled in Foreign Policy. “We had to figure out a way to retain our… levels of knowledge, speed, precision, and unity of effort that only a network could provide.”

IAN came to the same conclusion.

OK, so IAN is going to use hardline tactics against the BDS movement like those used by the US military against al-Qaeda in Iraq. 

Is there any news in this article on IAN’s agenda? Not really, just a recap of recent battles on the BDS front. What the piece signals is a new tack in hasbara, using McChrystal’s image in the internet warzone. A fancy new red white and blue ” US Joint Special Operations Command” wrapping paper on the anti-BDS  messaging.

With the BDS movement’s 8th anniversary right behind us I’m reminded of the statement two years ago by Omar Barghouti, his prescient words about “cracks in the wall”:

This suppression reflects that they’re really scared and when people feel scared they do band together until the price becomes much higher, and then you’ll see cracks in this wall of silence in Israel…. We’ve learned if we keep at it with moral consistency with continuous pressure the system will start cracking and then we’ll see a lot of dissent…..

Since when does ending inequality destroy anything? It destroys inequality, it destroys apartheid, it destroys injustice. That’s what we’re deligitimizing in Israel: it’s occupation, it’s apartheid, it’s denial of our basic rights, it’s ethnic cleansing. Yes, we’re proud to be delegitimizing Israel’s oppression, Israel violations of international law.

That does not call for ending the existence of any person or any group or anything. It does not target people as people. It targets a system of oppression so that all people can live in equality and justice.

(Hat tip Esther Riley)

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I hope they don’t get too literal about adopting McChrystal’s approach to counter-insurgency to opposing BDS.

Cool Article, Annie.

“He quickly realized they were battling an adversary that did not adhere to the traditional military structure”
What insight!!

“We had to figure out a way to retain our… levels of knowledge, speed, precision, and unity of effort that only a network could provide.”
Uh…say what?

it takes a network to defeat a network

— which was why Global BDS was created in the first place.

Anyone who would invoke the legacy of our illegal Iraq War as a success model, deserves the inevitable failure such a comparison warrants.

The influential Israeli Reut Institute advocated “sabotage” and “attack” against groups advocating for BDS and Palestinian rights, now what does that mean? link Electronic Intifada here..

Attributing the network idea to al-Qaeda ignores earlier examples, like “Elders of Zion” (even if that book was a vile fiction, it surely spread the network idea quite widely, perhaps even inspiring al-Qaeda, the Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and others).