Demi Lovato, the Portland Trailblazers and you

Originally published November 4, 2019

Of all the enemies of the State of Israel, only one often harms more non-Israelis than Israelis: the BDS movement.

The BDS movement is so ineffective at damaging the Israeli economy that it can more accurately be categorized as an anti-associated-with-Israel group, not an anti-Israel group. Every day, Israel-supporting Americans, now including singer Demi Lovato and the Portland Trailblazers basketball team, become the targets of the BDS movement’s hate-filled agenda.

Lovato, a Christian with Jewish ancestry, traveled to Israel in early October, where she was baptized in the Jordan River, visited the Western Wall, met with special-needs children and toured Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. She posted pictures about these experiences to her 74 million Instagram followers.

She did not take a political position, meet with Israeli leaders or discuss regional issues. There are unconfirmed reports that she was paid approximately $150,000, partly by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, to take the trip in exchange for posting on Instagram.

For these actions, she was excoriated on social media. CodePink, a “women-led grassroots organization,” claimed on Twitter that Lovato’s actions were “unacceptable,” and that she was “legitimizing apartheid.” Lovato, whose career hinges on her likeability, rushed to apologize.

“I’m extremely frustrated. I accepted a free trip to Israel in exchange for a few posts,” she wrote on Instagram. “No one told me there would be anything wrong with going or that I could possibly be offending anyone. With that being said, I’m sorry if I’ve hurt or offended anyone, that was not my intention. Sometimes people present you with opportunities and no one tells you the potential backlash you could face in return. This was meant to be a spiritual experience for me, NOT A POLITICAL STATEMENT and now I realize it hurt people and for that I’m sorry. Sorry I’m not more educated, and sorry for thinking this trip was just a spiritual experience.”

Lovato, like others before her, had suffered the wrath of the pro-BDS left for her association with Israel. In 2017, Nick Cave received public criticism from fellow musicians Roger Waters and Brian Eno for scheduling two (sold out) concerts in Tel Aviv. In 2018, activists in New Zealand pressured American pop star Lorde into canceling her scheduled performance in Israel.

Indeed, praise for or association with Israel is a sure-fire way to show up on the radar of the militant anti-Israel BDS movement. Visits to Israel are not the only unforgivable sin; merely working with a company that sells to Israel is verboten.

A few weeks ago, for instance, it was reported that the Portland Trailblazers had disassociated from Oregon-based manufacturer Leupold & Stevens, which produces rifle scopes for the Israel Defense Forces. The team had partnered with the company as a sponsor with the aim of honoring U.S. service members, as part of the “Hometown Hero” program. The partnership was widely criticized by BDS activists in Portland, the streets of which have been taken over multiple times by Antifa protesters.

The Trailblazers deny that the disassociation was related to BDS pressure, saying in a statement that “Leupold’s sponsorship contract officially expired at the end of last season and Leupold & Stevens made the decision not to renew.” It was not the conservative right that scoffed at the Trailblazers’ claim of innocence, but rather the Socialist left.

The Portland chapter of the Democrat Socialists of America (DSA) tweeted a mocking reply to the Trailblazers statement, along with a victorious statement of their own.

“We are grateful for the hard work of the many community groups, activists, Blazers fans, and veterans who united around this important issue to stand up for Palestinian human rights,” Portland DSA co-chair Olivia Katbi Smith said in a statement. “We are relieved that the Blazers have done the right thing and finally ended this completely unnecessary partnership with a company that has provided sniper scopes to a brutal occupying force.”

This is not the DSA’s only experience with the Trailblazers. They organized a boycott of the team’s exhibition game against Maccabi Haifa, a visiting Israeli team. They proudly post a picture of their members holding a large banner outside the arena reading “Don’t Play Apartheid.” These incidents highlight the harsh realities of the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel BDS movement.

They cannot effectively target Israel itself, so they target anyone who dares associate with Israel, however remotely. Israel, thankfully, has not felt strong economic repercussions since the modern boycott movement was founded in 2005. Boasting an impressive 3.6 percent unemployment rate, the “Startup Nation” is fairing far better than its Palestinian neighbors in Judea and Samaria and Gaza (31 percent and 52 percent unemployment, respectively).

When an Israeli company needs to cut costs to combat BDS, it is the Palestinian laborers who are affected. When an Israeli company does business with Americans, it is the American organization or individual that is targeted. This is the danger of the BDS movement, which claims to be tolerant and pro-Palestinian. It is not pro-Palestinian, it is anti-Israel. It is not tolerant, it is anti-Semitic.

The BDS movement takes any association with the Jewish state as an excuse to attack. Israel is unaffected because it will not bow to their pressure. Those in America should follow that example and be unapologetic in our support for the only free democracy in the Middle East.

Moshe Hill is a political analyst who has written for “The Daily Wire,” “The Queens Jewish Link” and “The Jewish Link of New Jersey.” Follow on Twitter @TheMoHill.

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