I’ve been a little tardy reporting on a couple of BDS stories that have been in the news over the last week. Part of this delay has to do with a project I’m working on regarding the upcoming Presbyterian Church General Assembly (GA) in July (a subject that will be a focus for the next month at Divest This), although another part has to do with the painkillers I was put on after getting a hernia fixed last week (medications that make the latest Gaza Boatnik crowd seem even more laughable than the last one).
Anyway, in Soft Targets I mentioned that failure tends to create its own momentum. In other words, when divestment loses on a college campus and is denounced by the school’s administration, word of that failure/denouncement travels and makes it that much harder to win a divestment fight on at another university. And thus a whole category of potential BDS allies gets closed off. This forces the boycotters to seek new categories of well-known institutions or individuals to try to exploit.
Food co-ops have been on the BDS radar over the last several months, and earlier this week, the Madison Market in Seattle gave boycott the heave ho, just as Davis Food Coop rejected proposals to boycott Israeli products earlier this year. The story played out in the usual predictable pattern:
(1) BDS activists (in this case, the Palestinian Solidarity Committee and Jewish Voice for Peace) put boycott on the Market’s agenda
(2) Their case for boycott includes only Israeli witches/tyrants and Palestinian virgin/victims with all information needed to make intelligent decisions intentionally left on the cutting room floor
(3) Members of the organization (in this case, Madison Market) become aware of what is being asked in their name and organize a response, providing the context missing from presentations from propagandists like PSC and JVP
(4) The organization realized that, despite what it’s been told by divestment advocates, it does have more than one choice in the matter and politely kicks the BDS crew down the stairs
It’s too early to tell if food co-ops are fully inoculated against the divestment virus, but after Davis and now Madison, we’re clearly making progress.
The second story is a blast from the past regarding a financial institution’s alleged divestment in an Israeli electronics firm. The contours of this story follow similar stories in 2009 where BDS advocates sent out press releases hailing a financial firm (such as TIAA-CREF or Blackrock) for their alleged anti-Israel divestment stance. It was only later that the public discovered that no such divestment had taken place and that the divestniks were projecting their own political opinions onto the generic buying and selling decisions of third parties.
Now I’m ready to believe that Deutche Bank sold shares in the Israeli firm Elbit (although, apparently, even this fact has yet to be confirmed). And I’ll even accept the fact that various anti-Israel groups in Germany had lobbied the bank to sell these shares. But where is the causal link between the two (other than the post-hoc fallacy that says if A proceeds B, than A must have caused B)? The story on this sale also mentioned that Elbit shares has fallen 30% this year. From what little I know of the world of high finance, I would suspect that this fact influences bank investment policy more than complaints by Pax Christi.
Now those pushing the Deutche Bank/Elbit story as being about BDS (vs. a general sale of stock which is losing value) can clarify the issue for us quickly by providing us a statement by Deutche Bank the unequivocally states that they have made this decision to sell Elbit shares for political vs. financial reasons. This is not such a big thing to ask if divestment has actually taken place. In fact, unless such information can be provided, then it’s safe to say that divestment has NOT taken place since divestment (vs. the generic buying and selling of stock) is a political act, and thus it makes no sense whatsoever to divest in secret.
Given the number of BDS hoaxes we were subjected to last year that fit this pattern, the onus is really on those who insist that Deutche Bank has made a political divestment decision to provide us the evidence that this is the case (in the form of a statement by the bank explaining clearly that they sold their Elbit shares for political vs. financial reasons).
If such evidence can be provided, I would be happy to acknowledge that BDS has scored a victory. But absent such evidence, I think we’ll have to assume that the BDSers are simply up to their old tricks of trying to create fake victories by projecting their own wishful thinking onto the financial decisions of others.