A fake boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign disseminated by pro-Israel media appears aimed to discredit Palestine solidarity activists.
On 13 February, several blogs and publications reported that the BDS movement has called on The Rolling Stones to cancel their recently announced performance at the National Stadium at Ramat Gan in present-day Israel.
The Jewish Daily Forward picked up and tweeted JTA’s report:
However, the Facebook page is by all indications a deceptive hoax, including its false claim that it has been endorsed by The Electronic Intifada.
Attempt to discredit activists?
The perpetrators of the hoax may aim to discredit Palestine solidarity activists by making it appear as if BDS activists disseminate false information and post anti-Semitic and racist content.
Instead, the hoax exposes the low journalistic standards of the publications which reported it as truth.
False attribution and plagiarized content
Soon after the publication of the JTA report, a post was added to the Facebook page that is actually a near exact copy of a 2007 letter from the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) to The Rolling Stones.
However, instead of the 350 signatories on the original 2007 letter, the perpetrators of the hoax attribute the letter to three signatories: “Electronic Intifada,” “Rolling Stones: Boycott Israel” and “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.”
The Electronic Intifada’s executive director Ali Abunimah told me:
We did not sign this letter or have anything to do with it whatsoever. While The Electronic Intifada reports on the BDS movement and individuals who write for it – including me – may support BDS, we do not sign letters like this or endorse specific campaigns in the name of the publication. It should, moreover, be obvious to any serious journalist that the appearance of our name is suspect because the letter was not published on our website, nor did we disseminate it on our own Facebook page or Twitter accounts. The Electronic Intifada has absolutely nothing to do with the contents of the “Rolling Stones: Boycott Israel” Facebook page.
The BDS Movement Facebook page and website also make no reference to this alleged campaign targeting The Rolling Stones.
The “Rolling Stones: Boycott Israel” Facebook page was created on 10 February by people whose identity is unknown. Its logo is lifted from the bdsmovement.net web site.
Some of the content can be found on other sites and is not original to the Facebook page.
No apparent effort was made by the publications who reported on the supposed campaign to contact any known activists to verify the content on the Facebook page. None of the stories mention any attempt to contact the maintainers of the hoax campaign page, either.
So far, there has been no call by any known BDS activists for The Rolling Stones to cancel their show.
The statements on the Facebook page, some of which were reported to be anti-Semitic, are made anonymously and cannot be attributed to known BDS activists or groups with established records.
Anti-BDS page participants
JTA and The Jerusalem Post should have been suspicious that Zionists were the very first to be informed about the existence of the campaign while Palestine solidarity activists and BDS movement sources were completely in the dark about it.
False claim of victory
At 22:30 UTC on 13 February, the hoax Facebook page posted a message claiming victory:
Our sources with The Rolling Stones confirm that there will be no announcement about a tour. The Zionists jumped the gun on their announcement and it looks like the whole thing is falling true. Thank you to the good people on staff that realize that playing in Israel is like supporting Apartheid South Africa. To those who already bought fake tickets from other Zionists ripping you off. You deserved it!
In the past, JTA has accused BDS activists of misrepresenting victories, so it will be interesting to see how they report this hoax campaign’s hoax victory.
The Jerusalem Post, Algemeiner and JTA should retract their false and misleading stories.
They should also stop following leads from right-wing Zionist propaganda blogs who were the first to promote the hoax campaign outside Facebook.
In light of this transparent hoax, serious readers should consider whether The Jerusalem Post and the JTA (and the publications that syndicate it like The Jewish Daily Forward and The Times of Israel) are reliable sources on Palestine solidarity activism.
Following the publication of this post, JTA has now reported on the campaign as an “apparent hoax.”
“A Facebook page claiming victory in getting the Rolling Stones to boycott Israel is an apparent hoax,” they report. They have asked the maintainers of the hoax campaign page to “explain” themselves.