BDSers: Please Don’t Listen to Hussein Ibish

Hussein Ibish is back again with his take on the recent defeat of BDS at Berkeley. I’ve written on the interesting politics of Mr. Ibish a few months back and, once again, he seems determined to play the iconoclast within Palestinian partisan politics, asking the obvious question of why, if BDS is truly on the march, it can’t seem to take hold even in one of America’s great strongholds of liberal politics.

Remember that BDS is only ever tried within progressive institutions (universities, Mainline Protestant churches, unions, etc.), meaning that if divestment from Israel was ever voted on (or even polled) within the US as a whole, support for punishing Israel economically would barely register as something the public supports. But if even a toothless, symbolic, student divestment resolution (one which would have no impact on the college’s administration or investment strategies, even if it had passed) can’t make progress at Berkeley, then it’s a good question as to where it can ever succeed.

Ibish identifies on place where Berkeley, like other BDS “victories” are being celebrated: within the fantasy world of BDS activists. And, indeed, BDS is seeming less and less like a political movement and more like a sexual act normally performed by one person being taken up by large groups of anti-Israel activists simultaneously.

To extend this vulgar metaphor one step further, given that the one success BDS has had has been to create anti-bodies in the body politic of every institution it infects (political victories for divestment opponents at Berkeley, 95-100% majorities rejecting divestment at the Presbyterian and Methodist churches, college administrators put on notice of the true face of BDS, me and the Mayor at Somerville, etc.), the tendency of activists to double down on their boycott and divestment bets each time they get thrashed begins to look more like the political equivalent of auto-erotic asphyxiation than rational politics.

As the title of this piece indicates, I truly hope that those who hug BDS to their chests and condemn all those (including friends and supporters) who argue against this tactic win the day. Not only does it provide me an endless stream of material for my little hobby, but it also creates an environment where we can assume whatever tactic the Israel-dislikers try next, it is likely to blow up in their face and further de-legitimize the attempts to de-legitimize the Jewish state.

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