I told a person in another forum that I’d post something on the Rachel Corrie affair, about which they were interested in continuing a debate. But truth be told, most everything I’ve wanted to say on the subject I said many years ago in a piece that can be found here. So I’m going to leave it there and if a debate over the matter must continue, so be it. The comments section awaits.
In the meantime, a quick update on the co-op front. The best news is that there’s been no news since Sacramento joined Port Townsend and many other co-ops before them in a long line of stores that have rejected calls to boycott Israeli goods. I had it on pretty good authority that the Olympian BDS group was working to export their boycott “revolution” to 4-5 other co-ops in the Northwest, but have heard nothing concrete regarding any subsequent boycott-related activity since then.
Now it may be that these things just take time to percolate through an organization, although I suspect that the BDSers are beginning to realize what a weapon they have handed their opponents who can simply contrast the thoughtful and public debate at co-ops that have said no to boycott (which resulted in zero controversy within the organization) vs. Olympia where a less-than-open process (to put in mildly) has led to disunity and chaos.
And speaking of Olympia, the local BDS group recently tried to throw what I refer to as a “long bomb” (the football, not the military term) in response to having been put on the defensive in recent weeks. Their “Open Letter to Boycott Opponents” combines every self-congratulatory trope (we’re peaceful, we fight oppression, we are globally significant) with a long list of accusations against their opponents (i.e., their neighbors) as being uncivil, dishonest bullies, a finger-wagging diatribe that only pointed out their desperation to regain the role of prosecutor, judge and victim.
Fortunately, local anti-boycott activists did not rise to the bait and a debate over the Open Letter (to which I contributed) got shut down when the kitchen got too hot. It’s actually been more interesting to observe discussions where outsiders such as me did not distort things by becoming lightning rod. To site just one example, in this discussion (which includes a number of people highly critical of arguments made in this blog) boycott supporters are realizing that upcoming co-op elections may be decided based not on who is the best candidate to deal with the broad array of needs of the organization, but based instead on where people stand on one issue: the Israel boycott.
Add to this distortion the fact that the organization must now bring in paid mediators to help deal with divisions between the membership and between the staff over this issue and you begin to get the impression that even vocal boycott supporters are starting to realize the true costs of giving local BDSers bragging rights at everyone else’s expense.
On a purely strategic level, Olympia continuing to suffer and act as a shining example of what not to do is probably the best asset for me and my fellow anti-BDSers. But having gotten to know a number of locals who are POed about this decision beyond belief, I can’t bring myself to just think about this community strategically. These are real people who have put up for far too long with others in the community assuming they shared the exact same opinions in the Middle East (or of assuming Israel supporters are too cowed to buck incessant provocations on the matter). But as with so many communities, the red line gets drawn at BDS. And the local boycotters are just now discovering what happens when that line has been crossed.