Continuing on the topic of tactics (hey! alliteration!), one of the main elements of the “even-when-we-lose-we-win” tactic of the BDS “movement” is their declaration that even when they lose (which is always), they have actually “won” because the subject of their choice (Israel’s guilt) has become a topic of conversation within the community or organization upon which they have inflicted themselves.
Putting aside any value judgments one might make about such behavior, as a political tactic this way of operating has some merit. For if the long-term propaganda goal of BDS is to brand Israel the new Apartheid South Africa, what better way to accomplish this than refusing to talk about anything else?
Anti-boycotters have seen the effectiveness of this tactic whenever they have tried to put BDSers on the defensive by bringing up issues such as Hamas rocket fire, repression, or the general human rights quagmire of Israel’s neighbors, especially with regard to the treatment of minorities (both religious and racial), women and homosexuals.
But hopes to use such accusations to put the divestniks on notice that two can play the accusation game inevitably runs into the problem of the BDS cru absolutely refusing to listen to matters outside their agenda, much less respond to them. Thus, accusations against Hamas, the PA or the Arab states are either ignored, dismissed with a scoffing laugh or insincerely accepted and then immediately met with another broadside of accusations against the Jewish state.
This same tactic is used when Israel’s friends and supporters, or even just people seeking reconciliation between conflicting parties, try to find common ground between warring factions in a BDS war dragged into a college campus or other civic institution. This behavior reached a perverse highlight at Columbia University where petitions calling for dialog were met with a refusal by Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine (CSJP) to engage in any dialog that does not begin with an acceptance of all of their arguments regarding who is right and who is wrong in the Middle East conflict.
In one sense, it is a risk for organizations like CSJP to be perceived (accurately) as refusing to participate in attempts to find common ground. But the value of maintaining control of the language is so valuable that BDS advocates will go to almost any length to avoid having to acknowledge that another point of view even exists, much less has merit.
This leaves us with an interesting challenge of what tactics to pursue that must take into account that BDS champions, as part of their founding principles, will never allow other opinions into the conversation. Is there a way to gain control of the language in such a situation?
Perhaps… (to be continued).