Sunday, February 23, 2014

BDS: Losers and Liars

There is an interesting discussion taking place in the comments section of Divest this! (your one stop shopping for all things BDS).

Our old friend Mike asks:
 I have to say, Jon, while I very much respect the work that you are doing here and I value your insights, I cannot escape what seems to be a central contradiction.
On the one hand, you write about the BDS threat as if it is an actual threat to the Jewish people… which it is… but on the other hand you constantly inform us that BDS is failing. 
 If BDS is failing then it is not much of a threat and, therefore, why should anyone care?

Commenter Barbara nails it with her answer

What is BDS really about?
One might naively think its aim is to obtain a settlement between Israel and Palestinians, or perhaps even “justice for Palestinians” – whatever that might mean. The strategy is to apply pressure on an obstinate Israel to make concessions. The tactic is to use economic boycott. In actually recruiting boycotters, their success is minimal.

However, all that is a red herring, and at the same time a means to recruit unsophisticated, well-meaning, under-informed people to support their cause, and promote it.

However, the real aim of the BDS movement is to undermine popular support for the State of Israel (did the last Gallup poll say 72% of Americans hold a favorable opinion of Israel?) The strategy is to create a popular image of Israel as a cruel, evil, racist state whose creation was illegitimate and as a state, wantonly violates international law. The tactic is to use boycott efforts as a means of getting publicity to give voice for this narrative.

So while they don’t get institutions to join their cause, they do get plenty of platform for promoting their lies and distortions. Either way, those accusations cannot be left unanswered.

Why else would  various SJP's and MSA's throughout the UC system continue to put their student associations through the wringer, on a resolution that the Regents have guaranteed  will have zero effect?

Local divestment activist and UC Berkeley graduate Tom Pessah  has freely admitted the resolutions exist solely as a pressure tactic. He and his ilk have repeatedly shown their willingness to sacrifice their student governments' time and energy (for 13 years!)  for a symbolic "victory" worth no more than the paper its written on.
Its all about the noise level, and the student body, or the food coop, or the corner hardware store is just a means to an end.

Divest this! responds to Mike and Barbara:

 ...the war against Israel has always had multiple fronts. 

Originally, it was a traditional war in which the armies of neighboring states played the major role. But when that failed, some states (such as Egypt and Jordan) went for a grudging or de facto peace with Israel, while others moved the conflict to different fronts: unconventional warfare (i.e., terror/surrogate wars) coupled with a propaganda campaign designed to turn a conflict driven by an Muslim/Arab world refusing to accept a non-Arab/Muslim state in their midst to one perceived as the Jewish state refusing to accept a Muslim/Arab (i.e., Palestinian) state in *its* midst.

As that propaganda campaign expanded to include an attempt to characterize Israel as not just intransigent, but Apartheid and even Nazi like, the war moved to different fronts. But ultimately, it is still a war being waged by nation states (over which we have little control) which have succeeded in corrupting major institutions (like the UN), turning them into new fronts in the propaganda war. And when it comes to dealing with organizations like the UN (which represents states, not the people in those states), again there is not much we “civilians” can do (other than expose that corruption, as groups like UNWatch does so effectively).

But as the war moved to our backyards: to my home town, to Barbara’s food coop, to Will Spotts’ Presbyterian Church, that provided us an opening to actually join the battle and win. And winning has two advantages: (1) it empowers those who succeed and motivates them to fight further afield (which is why you’re reading what you’re reading now; and (2) it helps break the propagandists momentum and makes it that much harder for them to either corrupt a civic organization to their cause or have their accusations accepted at face value (since, remember, BDS has been exposed as not just a loser, but also a liar).

So that’s why I don’t see a contradiction between urging a continued fight against the BDS threat while also treating it like the loser it is. History is awash with little men and women who have been able to seize control and do huge amounts of damage because good people didn’t stop them. The fight against BDS both stops the bad guys and gives the good guys hope that they can achieve something if they just gin up the strength and resolve to join the fight.

In Summary.
BDS is full of losers and liars. Expose them. Because when we fight back we win.

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