North American, pro-Israel organizations and philanthropists held a meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada to plan their fight against rising global anti-Semitism and delegitimization of Israel.
Jewish business tycoon Sheldon Adelson, Hollywood entertainment mogul Haim Saban, Israeli-born real-estate developer Adam Milstein, Canadian businesswoman Heather Reisman and some 50 representatives of pro-Israel organizations gathered in Las Vegas over the weekend for an emergency summit discussing ways to stem the growth of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Representatives from the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), StandWithUs, EMET and the Middle East Forum, Hillel, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Jewish Federations of North America met to devise ways to fight the growing tide of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity, primarily on college campuses.
Speaking to Israel’s Channel 2, convention organizers Adelson and Saban vowed to reverse the trend.
“The BDS… and anti-Israel and anti-Semitic organizations similar to it, are making a lot of headway on [university] campuses in the United States,” in addition to success in other spheres of influence, Adelson said. His vision is to have the various pro-Israel organizations work together in the fight against the delegitimization of Israel.
“It’s a challenge to get Jewish groups to work together,” he said. “We have to see what they all have to contribute… They need to put boots on the ground.”
Fighting the ‘Anti-Semitic Tsunami’
Haim Saban, a primary shareholder in Partner, whose rights to the name of Orange, the French telecommunications company, are being withdrawn, stressed the need to fight the “anti-Semitic tsunami.”
“One thing is for sure,” he asserted. “This [fight] isn’t over. This is the beginning. Any company that chooses to boycott business in Israel is going to look at this case, and once we’re done they’re going to think twice whether they want to take on Israel or not. Trust me, this is just the beginning.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu endorsed the summit and commended the participants for their efforts.
“Delegitimization of Israel is a major challenge facing the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” said Netanyahu in a letter read at the event, pointing to the recent attempt to throw Israel out of FIFA, the National Union of Students in the UK’s vote to support boycotting Israel, and Orange telecommunications CEO Stephane Richard’s intention to end the company’s business dealings with Israel.
“Delegitimization of Israel must be fought, and you are on the front lines,” he declared.
Netanyahu stressed that BDS and its cohorts were not merely protesting any particular Israeli policy. “It’s about our right to exist here as a free people. Our right to defend ourselves. Our right to determine our own future. There is no Jewish future without the Jewish state.”
The Israeli leader thanked the participants for their efforts, “so everyone will see that Israel, the most embattled democracy on earth that seeks a genuine peace while fending off the forces of barbaric terrorism, deserves their support.”
Adelson, on his part, said the Israeli government “has a strategic interest in fighting against BDS” and that his new group of pro-Israel advocacy groups would “love to” cooperate with Israel. “Their intelligence is a lot better than ours is,” he said. “They can tell us probably who’s involved in Europe.”
On Sunday, Netanyahu remarked at the start of the Cabinet meeting that Israel was in the midst of establishing an offensive network against the BDS movement. “As far as those pushing the boycotts are concerned, the settlements in Judea and Samaria are not the focus of the conflict, but our settling in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Be’er Sheva, Haifa and – of course – Jerusalem.”
“Against attempts to attack Israel with lies, false accusations and boycotts, we must line up – Right and Left – to rebuff the pressure, expose the lies and attack those who attack us. We will gather forces in Israel and around the world to shatter the lies of our enemies, and we will fight for Israel’s right to live in peace and security, to live at all,” he vowed.