Gilad Erdan’s ministry for strategic affairs has become a third intelligence branch (let’s call it “the third eye”) of the Israeli state alongside the Shin Bet and Mossad, It’s brief is to fight an existential battle against the world-wide campaign to destroy Israel, aka “delegitimization.” This primarily takes the form of a war to the death against BDS, a movement that is anti-Semitic and Jew-hating to its core (or so the story goes). The ministry is filled with current and former Israeli intelligence agents; and wannabes like the poor Shai Masot, caught on video trying to topple a UK cabinet minister for being insufficiently pro-Israel. It is run by Simcha Vakhnin-Gil, the former IDF censor, who seeks to bring her censorious old methods to a government ministry.
Erdan, unlike virtually all other Israeli government ministries, wants to be shielded from public scrutiny because his work is so critical to the survival of the state that exposure would not only damage his ministry, but the nation itself. He’s trying to pass a law to this effect. To be clear, Erdan is not merely compiling an enemies list, he’s taking concrete action to sabotage both individual activists and the entire BDS movement. Of course, he won’t tell anyone what that means. It could be a bluff; or it could mean he’s planning to assassinate Omar Barghouti. No one knows for sure. And that’s just the way he wants it.
972 Magazine recently reported that Erdan spent $2-million buying favorable articles in the Israeli press. These article were published in the most popular Israeli news sites and written by some of Israel’s best-known journalists. There was little uproar. Hardly anyone batted an eyelash. In contrast, when the Los Angeles Times published a profile of the Staples Center and didn’t label it as advertising, the newsroom revolted. In Israel: nothing. Because every Israeli knows the system is gamed and corrupt. They expect journalism to be the same way. And they’re largely right.
Now, the ‘Third Eye’ proposes to establish a $75-million fund under the auspices of a new non-profit organization. It’s worth noting that the reporter who wrote the Ynet story to which I just linked, Itamar Eichner, was himself one of those handsomely rewarded for his pimping on behalf of Erdan and the anti-BDS cause. The fund would accept both government subsidies and private donations from pro-Israel fat-cat donors. The official Israeli government initial contribution would be just over $37-million. Ten undisclosed Diaspora billionaires have signed pledges committing them to matching this one-to-one. They have also committed to double or triple this sum over time.
Of course, since this article could be part of Ynet’s paid shilling for the ministry, we don’t really know what’s true and what’s bluff regarding the entire enterprise.
The fund’s purpose would be to strengthen the to-the-death struggle against BDS. Without doubt, the fat-cats will be American Jews like Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban, Adam MIlstein, Ronald Lauder, etc. That poses an interesting question: if they give tax-deductible contributions via a non-profit organization which also accepts Israeli government money, then they’re in effect agents of the Israeli state. Therefore, not only should those gifts not be tax-deductible, but they should be compelled to register as agents of a foreign government (FARA). An aspect of the new group which supports the notion that it is an Israeli government undertaking is that it will be audited by both the government controller and legal counsel.
One of the key goals of the new non-profit is to take advantage of the supposed independent voice Diaspora Jews would bring to the campaign. Having such ‘civilians’ (Ynet’s term) involved would permit the group to say it was not the standard Brand Israel propaganda outfit (even though it would be). The organization would be most active during Israeli military operations like attacks on Gaza, when the country faces the most strident opposition to its wholesale slaughter of Palestinian civilians. It would also operate in the event of terror attacks (the Ynet article doesn’t make clear whether this means Israeli or Palestinian terror attacks!) or hostile UN votes. Among the activities would be lobbying, public campaigns, Israel junkets bringing opinion-makers to the country for hasbara briefings, new media training and outreach to world media, principally in Europe.
The new anti-BDS initiative would be structured along the same line as other private-public partnerships like Taglit which receives both Israeli state and private donations. It would also have a similar ideological purpose of promoting the image of Israel in the international community.
The Ynet article quotes an unnamed government source “involved in the initiative:”
Imagine that after an artist like Lorde cancels a performance in Israel that she faces a viral onslaught throughout the world and is forced to read full-page advertisements denouncing her decision in major newspapers around the globe. This is something that the state of Israel isn’t currently capable of.
BDS attempts to blacken Israel’s name and isolate it throughout the world. Billions of people are subjected to its incitement and lying propaganda, which seek to damage the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state and to undermine the moral foundations of our [national] existence. A joint battle of the state of Israel with pro-Israel groups will act as a force multiplier of the efforts of the government and enable us to vanquish BDS.