Action Plan: Antisemitism in the Guise of Delegitimization and Anti-Zionism

Action Plan: Antisemitism in the Guise of Delegitimization and Anti-Zionism

Co-Chairs: Dr. Mitchell Bard and Dr. Pascal Markowicz

The effort to delegitimize Israel has been ongoing since the rebirth of the state. The campaign gained momentum following the Durban Conference, which laid out a strategy promoting “a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel."
5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism

The effort to delegitimize Israel has been ongoing since the rebirth of the state. The campaign gained momentum following the Durban Conference, which laid out a strategy promoting "a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel ....the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel."

We now see the campaign manifesting itself in a variety of ways, including efforts to mobilize boycotts of Israeli universities, to discourage artists, musicians and others from the world of culture from visiting and performing in Israel, to prevent sporting events and Israeli participation in international competitions, to convince universities, trade unions, churches and others to divest from Israeli companies and/or domestic companies doing business with Israel, and to isolate Israel in international forums.

Fundamentally, we see the delegitimization campaign as antisemitic and a clear case of Israel denial, by which we mean that supporters of BDS seek to deny the Jewish people the right to self-determination in their homeland - Israel - that they claim for the Palestinians. Moreover, the BDS movement has no interest in peace, the welfare of Palestinians or a two-state solution.

This task force aims to show the link between antisemitism and delegitimization of Israel, to determine where overlaps between agencies dealing with the issue occur and might be merged, and what new legal, political, and economic strategies may be employed to preempt and defeat BDS campaigns. We also want to share our information concerning the global boycott campaign to improve communication and intelligence about the Israel deniers to better anticipate their activities so help can be provided to those who need assistance. Besides defensive measures, our goal is to identify offensive steps that can be taken to set the agenda with regard to discussions about Israel, to help create a more positive image of Israel and to educate the majority of people who are ill-informed or ignorant about Israel and can potentially become friends.

Action Plan

  • Going on the offensive
  • Emphasize the Jewish consensus that BDS is antisemitic.
  • Need to address the narratives of the BDS movement - Apartheid, occupation, settlements, and human rights.
  • We need to reassert the legitimacy of Israel’s founding as a state for the Jewish people.
  • Expose connections between the BDS movement and antisemitism.
  • In Europe, labeling someone as antisemitic isn't always effective.
    - Some BDS supporters are progressives, and exposing them to how the BDS campaign can harm Palestinians might persuade them to withdraw their support.
    - We need to find creative ways to show it is possible to help Palestinians and advance the peace process without affiliating with the Israel deniers.
  • Have visitors meet with Palestinian workers in Israeli companies in the territories who oppose BDS because they fear for their livelihood.
  • Intensify the focus on coalition building; do not take for granted that liberal progressives cannot become allies. We need to work at the grassroots level as opposed to only to higher ups.
  • Naming and shaming anti-Israel organizations and funders.
  • The BDS people are more loosely linked and they work very hard to cover their tracks. We need to analyze their strengths and weaknesses.

Supporting those targeted by Israel deniers

  • Celebrities are pressured to avoid Israel and need reassurance.
  • Support and replicate organizations like Creative Coalition for Peace that support artists invited to Israel.
  • Anticipate that anyone invited to visit Israel will be targeted and offer them reassurance and support.


  • Emphasize the BDS movement is represented by an antisemitic fringe of Israel deniers who are failing in their efforts to ostracize and demonize Israel - and deservedly so.
  • Use statements signed by 61 international Jewish organizations and others signed by Nobel Prize winners denouncing BDS.
  • Use social media to emphasize BDS failures; e.g., using hashtags such as EpicBDSfails.
  • Never use the "A" word when refuting the smear that Israel is in any way like the racist regime in South Africa. Use of the word, even in defending Israel, serves the purpose of the antisemites by reinforcing the association.
  • Promote a positive agenda - Yisrael Hayafah, Israel Peace Weeks, an Israel Calendar with monthly themes - knowing that we cannot get beyond the conflict so long as there is a conflict.
  • "Bang the Drum" with pro-Israel messaging to counter the drip, drip, drip of criticism of Israel. Every day, week, month, quarter depending on resources have a program related to Israel such as lectures about politics and non-political issues, cultural activities such as dances, concerts and art exhibits, social service projects, etc.
  • Tamp down unjustified hysteria. The Israel deniers are losing!


  • Faculty are a far more serious issue than students. More than 4,000 professors around the world have signed BDS and related petitions.
  • Bringing Israeli scholars to teach can help introduce students and faculty to a real live Israeli, introduce new courses, expose students to Israel through a variety of lenses as opposed to solely the prism of conflict, and serve as catalysts for creating permanent positions in Israel studies.
  • Visiting professors can also be active in community education and media relations.
  • Pro-Israel students should become part of the cultural fabric by joining clubs and bodies at the university to create a setting for lobbying.
  • Identify professors that are not necessarily pro-Israel but are against BDS and create alliances.
  • Encourage trips to Israel for non-Jewish students and faculty.
  • Expand Birthright/Taglit to include high school students.
  • Report the intimidation happening on campuses.
  • Work more closely with donors, trustees and high-level university officials to make them aware of antisemitism on their campuses in the form of BDS, hateful speakers and faculty engaged in academic malpractice.


  • Pursue legislation at the local, state and federal level to constrain BDS.
  • France has existing laws that should be replicated where possible elsewhere in Europe.
  • Challenge universities that use student and, especially, tax payer money to fund antisemitic programs, initiatives, and BDS resolutions.

Resources required

  • Create a more effective channel to share best practices more efficiently.
  • Ideally, resources will be managed more effectively if organizations with comparative advantages in particular areas focus on them rather than try to be engaged in everything related to Israel denial.
  • Invest in more accurate analyses of the threat that do not rely on anecdotal evidence and measure the impact of BDS on the Israeli economy, public opinion, and Israeli foreign relations as well as new trends in the delegitimization campaign.
  • We need a cadre of instructors who can educate and teach an objective narrative.
  • Greater efforts should be made to coordinate activities, strategies and messages.
  • Countries with smaller Jewish communities and weaker institutions such as Sweden need more support from European Jewish institutions. 

General remark: The Action Plan was formulated under the leadership of the 12 Working Groups Co-Chairs at the 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism 12-14 May 2015. It reflects the collective thinking and work of the Working Groups, and does not express an official position of the Government of Israel.

Press for print versionPrint version
Send To Friend