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Israel creates rapid response unit to combat BDS

An activist holds up a placard during a protest supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) [Heri Rakotomalala/Flickr]

The Israeli government has established a specific “public relations commando unit” to tackle pro-Palestinian projects such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, according to Ynet News.

Minister of Strategic Affairs and Information Gilad Erdan pushed the cabinet to authorise the decision yesterday, in a bid to “step up” and provide a fast and coordinated response to criticism of Israel on the world stage.

The decision authorised the creation of a “civil infrastructure to assist and be used by the State of Israel and the pro-Israeli community in combating the de-legitimisation campaign against the country.”

The project will reportedly be mostly used following Israeli military operations, in the aftermath of Palestinian resistance attacks or after denunciations of the Israeli occupation at the UN.

The operation will reportedly use a variety of public campaigns, lobbying, Israeli delegations, extensive media presence and communications with other pro-Israeli organisations abroad, to purport the Zionist narrative where government bodies might be restricted.

Read: Israel envoy asks to meet Lorde over cancelled show

The decision comes just days after singer Lorde announced that she was cancelling her show in Israel in support of the BDS campaign.

“Imagine that right after Lorde announced she was cancelling her Israeli show, she was hit that same day with a viral campaign in websites all over the world and full-page ads in all major world newspapers,” a source with knowledge of the new initiative said. “That’s something the official State of Israel could not have achieved.”

The project is estimated to cost over $75 million and will the see the government look to foreign donors for at least half of the funds, as well as management of the programme.

#BDS

“A joint response from the government and pro-Israeli organisations will be a significant force multiplier to the government’s own efforts and will assist us in turning back the tide of BDS and defeat it,” Erdan concluded

Israel has increased its campaign to combat the BDS movement over the past year, attempting to pass legislation that could see campaigners fined or jailed and has continued to frame BDS supporters as anti-Semites.

In October it was revealed that Israel has secretly been using a US law firm in order to fight BDS activists in Europe and North America. Israeli ministers have also been fighting against the publication of a UN list of firms operating in the illegally occupied West Bank.

Read: Timeline: International attempts to boycott BDS

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