Apologies to my reader for the quiet around here the last week. In addition to vacation, I’ve been working on a little project that should be of interest to the anti-BDS community which I’ll be writing about sometime next week.
In the meantime, some quick thoughts about a topic I’ve mentioned here before: how to best measure the success (or failure) of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) “movement.”
In thinking about this subject, I was reminded of the one and only performance review I ever received at work. Having led my own company for 20+ years, I was anxious to be on the receiving end of one of the external reviews I had been giving others for so long once I sold my company and now had a (what’s the word for it?) oh yes, a “boss.”
It helped that I was growing fond of this relatively new supervisor, and was sure she’d be impressed by the fact that my division was the only one in the company that had managed to hit its numbers in the midst of the 2008 economic meltdown.
Imagine my surprise when that achievement was met with a grade of “Meets Expectations.” Her explanation was simple: we had promised to hit a certain threshold of revenue, we accomplished that goal, and thus we met the expectation we had set for ourselves. The fact that we had done so under extremely challenging economic conditions, and were the only group to have accomplished this goal in the company did not change the fact that the results we had obtained were no more than what we had set out to do at the start of the year.
I think about this lesson in consistency and the importance of measureable results when looking at how the BDS movement not only asks it be graded on a steep curve, but also demands that it be allowed to constantly change the terms under which its’ success is to be judged.
After all, the BDS “movement” started close to ten years ago at the now notorious Durban I conference. And during that period, it certainly achieved some early successes (raising the profile of BDS on college campuses and getting divestment passed within Mainline Protestant churches), only to see those successes collapse as colleges across the country rejected their divestment calls, and churches voted down divestment by margins of 95-100%.
So what did divestment advocates do? They simply erased those troubling first five years of their project, and now claim that all of their activity was inspired by “a request from Palestinian Civic Society,” by which they mean the PACBI organization which began in 2005. Now I’ve have issues with PACBI which I’ve discussed in detail here and here, but even putting those aside, a restart of BDS in the second half of the last decade turns out to be an ideal way to flush half a decade of failure down the memory hole.
Divest-niks also seem to want to be given not an E, but an A+++ for effort rather than be graded based on any actual success.
They spend a decade calling for colleges and universities to divest. None do. But then the BDSers insist their movement be judged by the fact that they still have people on the ground pushing their project after so many years of failure.
Boycotts target Israeli products in the US and Canada. Counter-boycott activities drive up sales of Israeli goods by hundreds of thousands of percentage points. And yet the Internet is strewn with stories, photos and videos of boycotters hailing not any achievement, but simply their own existence. And whenever they do announce (or, more frequently, thunder) a “triumph” (like Hampshire College), more often than not this turns out to be a complete fraud.
When you add it all up, the BDS crowd seems to want to be given credit for simply talking, writing and doing stuff, in hopes that no one will peer behind their curtain of words and hand-waving and notice what a bust their “movement” has been, even after a decade of intense effort.
So here’s a challenge the divestment crew can take up if they want to prove the potency of their squalid little project. In December of last year, Israeli exports were up 30%, representing billions of dollars in new income for the Jewish state. Now by the boycotters own standards (which says economic activity translates to political support), the world loves Israel several billion dollars more than it did in November of last year (when the BDS movement was telling us all their support was exploding worldwide). That being the case, perhaps the divestment crew can tell us what they accomplished in December to match this figure. Comments remain open for their input.