Uncivil Society: Tracking the Funders and Enablers of the Demonization of Israel

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As in military confrontations conducted on the battlefield, soft-power conflict and political warfare require strategies, tactics, and resources to pay for the weapons and personnel.1 Instead of funding tanks, fighter jets, fuel, ordinance, intelligence satellites, and the soldiers to operate them, the financial backers of soft-power warfare support press releases, protest marches, social media posts, reports, and videos published under the banners of international law, human rights, and similar dimensions. These products are then disseminated around the world, requiring additional funds. The slogans of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and other explosive language are repeated and amplified in media reports, videos, campus, and church BDS resolutions, “Israel Apartheid Week” events, campaigns targeting entertainers, artists, academics, and others to reject or cancel appearances in Israel, and similar acts of political warfare.

The campaigns seeking to harm Israel’s standing internationally, and to stigmatize individual Israelis, are based on the strategy used against the South African apartheid regime. The core of this strategy begins by comparing Israel to South Africa, with a consistent flow of allegations claiming violations of international law, human rights, and other norms, as well as frequent references to Nazi-like behavior. The battlefields include university campuses, academic associations, prominent media platforms, parliamentary committees, United Nations frameworks, the International Criminal Court, religious institutions, medical frameworks and journals, and other venues.

Footnotes

  1. For an overview of the analytical framework for the exercise of soft power in international relations, see Joseph S. Nye, “Soft Power,” Foreign Policy 80 (1990): 153–71.

About the Author

Professor Gerald M. Steinberg

Professor Gerald M. Steinberg

Professor Gerald Steinberg is founder and president of NGO Monitor and professor of Political Studies at Bar Ilan University. He is the founder of the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation at Bar Ilan University. His research focuses on the changing nature of power in international relations, as reflected in Middle East Diplomacy and Security, The Politics of Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and Israeli Politics and Arms Control.