Berkeley BDS: De-Klein and Fall

I was going to give the Berkeley divestment issue a rest for a little while, but the arrival of Naomi Klein into the Berkeley story warrants a quick response.

I’ve written on Klein’s contribution to the BDS debate in the past, so I won’t repeat my question about why Klein – allegedly the intellectual hyperpower of anti-globalization and now the boycott, divestment and sanctions “movements” – cannot provide a perspective beyond what you might find at any garden-variety anti-Israel blog.

That said, her letter is a reasonable articulation of most of the BDSers talking points which, while not deserving a point-by-point “Fisking,” does require a rejoinder to her call for Berkeley’s student leaders to fight against “intense pressure to reverse your historic and democratic decision to divest…”.

As I’ve pointed out, pressure to get Student Senators to vote one way or another on the veto override are clearly coming from both sides of this debate. Now one can try to determine the volume and nature of “pressure” coming from each side (as well as explain when a Berkeley student or third party expressing his or her opinion on the matter crosses from free speech to applying “intense pressure”). But given that she only seems to be discussing “pressure” when it comes from those who want to see Berkeley reject divestment, we seem to be in familiar Klein/BDS territory whereby those that agree with the divestment party line are simply exercising their democratic rights, while those who disagree are conspiring to “pressure” a decision (just as they are frequently accused of “muzzling” debate on the Middle East by contributing to it).

And speaking of democracy, from what I can tell the ASUC (a democratically elected body) passed the divestment resolution (which is their constitutional right), and that resolution was nixed by the Student President (another democratically elected office) who exercised his constitutional right to veto the bill. Now if a veto override does not go her way it will be interesting to see if Klein is ready to accept that particular democratic decision or whether, like most divestment advocates, she only considers votes that her sides win to be true examples of democracy.

Of course, Klein sidesteps the issue I’ve been discussing here regarding whom student leaders are representing when they take votes that are clearly outside the mandates upon which they were elected. I have yet to hear from anyone that divestment represents anything other than a minority opinion on campus (not a majority, not a consensus), so unless Klein feels that those in power owe nothing to those they represent (a strange position, given her other political stances), I would think the fact that these votes are being taken without any regard to whether or not they represent campus opinion would at least be worth mentioning.

But that assumes Klein, like other divestment advocates, actually care about Berkeley beyond the symbolic value they would love the university to provide their noisy but flailing BDS project. While her letter is steeped in flattery for those that originally voted to pass divestment, it fails to mention that BDS has been rejected by every campus in America for the ten year’s it’s been on the agenda (a start date of 2001, not the 2005 one that divestment advocates prefer since it helps mask the decade-long extent of their defeats at schools, cities, churches and other organizations).

Even for a political celebrity like Naomi Klein, it’s hard to throw up enough verbal fog to obscure a decade spent being rejected by every progressive institution in the country by overwhelming margins. And thus the hope of the divesetniks that by bringing in their “big guns” (i.e., Klein) they can make Berkeley’s student government swoon and do their bidding.

Time shall tell if they made a good bet.

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9 Responses to Berkeley BDS: De-Klein and Fall

  1. Anonymous April 1, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    I agree with you. If in fact she is not speaking to the majority in her request, then the elected student body has a choice to make. Do the “dictatorship” of the proletariat or “do what is ethical and right” with respect to the reasons for the divestiture.

    Why support a society that not only condons but embraces inhumanity as a policy to part of their population based on religion/or race. or both. A nation that signs agreements with the UN and then ignores them, who violates international law, the Geneva convention and the Nuremberg protocols. That is a rogue nation out of control.

    But lets take it a step further. Israel has killed More Americans intentionally for political gain then any arab nation has ever dreamed of doing.

    Israeli Terrorism against America

    Lavon Affair
    USS Liberty
    USS Cole
    OK City Bombing
    1993 WTC Bombing (fbi)
    911 WTC Bombings (conclusive)
    911 Coverup (accomplice; accessory after the fact)

    So, who is our real enemy besides the enemies they have engendered by their genocide policies in Palestine? Yes, the students now get learn about doing what is right and ethical as opposed to what is popular. Something our politicians have yet to learn.

  2. Jon April 1, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    Hmmmm. I've heard that the tin-foil hat brigade had been trying to somehow pin the Islamist attack on World Trade Center on the Jews, but the OK City bombing fantasy is a new one. Must be time to buy yourself a new roll.

  3. Jon April 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    Hmmmm. I've heard that the tin-foil hat brigade had been trying to somehow pin the Islamist attack on World Trade Center on the Jews, but the OK City bombing fantasy is a new one. Must be time to buy yourself a new roll.

  4. Anonymous April 1, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

    “Must be time to buy yourself a new roll.”

    Please. Hurry. Get it at Costco. You can buy the heavy duty foil at a really, really, good price.

    Must…keep…those Israeli drones….from reading your mind with microwaves…..

  5. Jon April 1, 2010 at 5:33 pm #

    Maybe he can buy some Israeli oranges and Ahava mud products while he's there.

  6. Mike April 1, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    “Anonymous,” you courageous and insightful individual, you forgot to provide YouTube links exposing how the Jews:

    Created the AIDS virus
    Spawned killer bees
    Killed the electric car
    Nearly caused the demise of the Bennigan's restaurant empire
    Did cause the demise of the incandescent lightbulb
    Forced all government institutions and Macy's department stores to only stock 1-ply, scratchy TP
    Murdered Jimmy Hoffa, Michael Jackson and the not-forgotten orange Telatubby
    Poisoned our wells
    Executed the Holocaust
    And raised the cost of cigarettes to 8 bucks a pack!

    Forget about imaginary Israeli terrorism against America. Don't buy your foil from Costco–it's run by Mossad, too. . . .

  7. Anonymous April 3, 2010 at 5:57 am #

    Dear Jon,

    You have no idea how much peace of mind you have given me since I discovered your blog, ‘Divest This’!

    I, like many supporters of Israel, read the headlines over the years and was horrified at the number of people portrayed as supporters of divestment from Israel. To hear the divestment people tell it, their supporters were in the millions. And like many followers of these stories, it was hard to find any articles after the initial headlines that told us what actually ended up happening.

    Thanks to you, I now know that nothing happened or has every happened. The press used them to generate readers and the divestment bunch used the media to inflate their claims and exaggerate their none-existent successes.

    Whew, what a relief to finally know the truth. I feel so much better. One less problem for Israel and her supporters to worry about. Now, rather that being horrified, thanks to you, I can laugh.

    One big disappointment for me has been that I am not in any of the places that have pushed for divestment, nor near any of the business that have been boycotted for selling Israeli/Jewish goods.
    If you hear of any plans for boycotting anything Israeli/Jewish in Lakewood, Colorado, please post it immediately. Me and my friends would love to converge on any store under ‘siege’ and buy everything in sight. Imagine being able to do something that makes you feel good and help local businesses at the same time. A true win, win.

    I hope that you acknowledge this post. If that nut job Anonymous generates a response, I hope someone sane will also merit some attention.

    Sincerely, loyal American citizen and supporter of Israel


  8. Jon April 3, 2010 at 10:43 am #

    Dear SarahSue – Many thanks for your kind words and keep in mind that in our online-connected world there are a number of places you can join to be kept abreast of counter-boycotts and other activies to fight the BDS “movement” (see

    The only thing I need to add is that while it's important to provide a reality check on the claims of the boycotters, we need to keep up our guard always since the two skills the BDSers have shown include (1) the ability to sustain their project by projecting fantasties of their own success, despite how long their string of failures; and (2) the ability to quickly capitalize on any real success they achieve (like the Presbyterian Church in 2004 – something I'll be writing about in the next day or so), even if it's only during a brief period before that success is reversed.

  9. Anonymous April 5, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    If the veto override goes against BDS, Klein will whine that it is due to fear/pressure and not that her pet cause lacks merit,just as she did when she and her band of friends tried to promote a boycott of the City to City Tel Aviv presentation at last fall's Toronto International Film Festival.

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