The network of Jewish Federations is set to launch an innovative initiative to catalyze the North American Jewish community response to the campaign to advance Israel’s delegitimization. The project, called the Israel Action Network (IAN), will be directed by Senior Vice President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) Martin Raffel, who introduced the concept in a recent Jerusalem Post piece.
The IAN is designed to mobilize an anti-delegitimization network to respond to the networked threat posed Israel’s delegitimizers, and its role will be to support the efforts of local federations and JCPA national and community member agencies. This role dovetails with the Reut Institute’s logic of ‘letting the locals lead,’ which is rooted in an understanding that local units of the pro-Israel network are likely to have greater sensitivity to local contexts and nuances, enabling them to operate with greater effectiveness.
In the language of networks, the IAN will act as a catalyst, which Reut describes as a unit of the network that dedicated to its cause by mobilizing financial and human resources, collecting information and turning it into knowledge, and developing the ideology.
The potential of the initiative to mobilize a relevant response is evidenced by a relevant concept of the origins and dynamics of the threat. According to Raffel:
- Delegitimization is an urgent threat that originated at Durban I conference.
- It is generated by governments and “a loose global network of NGOs.” It has organized under the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement banner, which consolidates a “Red-Green Alliance” – comprising far left and Islamist elements – seeking to weaken Israel politically and economically.A Reut Institute document exposes the BDS Movement’s purported focus on promoting human rights, international justice, and peace, while advancing the delegitimization of the State of Israel by undermining – whether explicitly or implicitly – its right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.
- Delegitimizers “are not simply criticizing particular Israeli policies, but seeking ultimately to bring about the dismantlement of Israel as the Jewish state.”
- Delegitimizers focus on arenas with “key constituencies, especially mainline Protestant churches, college campuses and labor unions. They have also targeted cultural elites, corporations doing business with Israel, and certain states and municipalities.”
General response strategies Raffel refers to include:
- Enlisting the help of sympathetic non-Jewish allies to counter these initiatives.
- Leveraging personal relationships, building coalitions, and promoting engagement based on non-Israel related shared values and concerns.