Report: Secret Jerusalem confab coached world Jewish leaders on combating BDS
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Report: Secret Jerusalem confab coached world Jewish leaders on combating BDS

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli government ministry held a secret conference in Jerusalem with international Jewish leaders on ways to fight Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns against Israel.

Some 150 leaders and activists attended the conference Sunday and Monday run by the Strategic Affairs Ministry, the Hebrew-language news website NRG first reported.

They were asked to keep the conference secret because, according to NRG, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said that “exposing the information about the conference participants could be life endangering.” Journalists were not invited to attend.

The participants were coached in language choices that would be more effective at discrediting BDS activists, notably calling them anti-Israel rather than anti-Semitic. And it is better to offer to hold a dialogue instead of a discussion.

U.S. pollster Frank Luntz told the conference that Israel’s marketing to American Jewish students was not successful.

One of the participants told NRG that “the Ministry of Tourism came out badly at the conference. According to the organizers, they sell Israel in this way:  ‘We have girls in bikinis, we have beaches, we have beer and bars – come to us,’ and this does not work.”

An unnamed participant told The Jerusalem Post that most of those who attended the conference were middle-aged or older and similar in their viewpoints.