Manufacturing Dissent

I tend to see a difference between the controversies that arise whenever a major event (such as the recent Gaza or Lebanon Wars) break out in the Middle East, and ones that are more typically triggered by a BDS initiative, such as a campus divestment or retail boycott conflict.

While both types of protests usually involve the same people and slogans, in the case of reaction to a Gaza War (for example), protestors against Israel are taking to the streets in reaction to an actual controversial event. And while those who rally to support Israel might disagree with their opponent’s characterization of the situation (for example, highlighting Hamas rocket attacks that Israel’s critics ignore), both sides are engaged in real politics about genuine, impossible-to-ignore crises.

But when a divestment battle breaks out on a university, for example, it is always the result of a BDS group first deciding to drag the Middle East conflict onto campus, then finding the pretext to do so in a school’s endowment or retirement portfolio.

As I’ve pointed out over and over again on this blog and elsewhere, the goal of BDS is to get their message that Israel is an Apartheid state, alone in the world at deserving economic punishment, to come out of the mouth of a well-known and respected organization. And, if they can’t accomplish that by actually convincing a college or other institution to divest (which they never have), at least they can brag that hostile accusations against the Jewish state are now part of the fabric of campus life.

Under this formulation, almost anything can be used as a hook to hang a controversy that will immediately divide an institution into armed camps, a dynamic that only serves to heighten tensions still further and make the Arab-Israeli conflict the Alpha and Omega of political/human-rights debate within a community.

Now BDS advocates will claim that a school’s ownership of this share of Caterpillar or that share of Motorola means they are currently “taking sides” in the conflict, and thus BDS is a proper response to an institution that is already making a political statement by holding such equities in their portfolios. But couldn’t that same argument be made to turn any investing organization of any size into a warzone?

After all, for every dollar these institutions invest in companies that in some way benefit the Jewish state, they invariably invest ten, twenty or even a hundred dollars in energy stocks such as Exxon that (by BDS logic) could be construed as a school or other organization “investing” in the Arab side of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

So why are protests not breaking out on campus to get schools to “divest from Saudi/Arab/Islamic Apartheid,” with posters littering the campus of Islamic slave traders in Sudan buying and selling black Africans, women being stoned to death in Iran or homosexuals being hung in Egypt? Simply because those of us who stand against BDS refuse to ruin the communities to which we belong just so we can score points against our political foes.

It’s the same reason we are not hounding artists to cancel tours to countries hostile to Israel, or placing photos of broken bodies on the sides of public busses, or inviting partisan speakers to present on the perfidy of Israel’s political foes to elementary school classes. For even the most aggressive campaigners on our side, this kind of invasion of public spaces is impossible to sustain for the simple reasons that: (1) we are not ready to make the lives of our neighbors miserable for our own political gain and (2) ultimately, our goal is for Israel to live in peace with its neighbors (which means we don’t want to spend morning, noon and night portraying those neighbors as demons).

BDS advocates take a completely opposite position. For them, setting members of a once-friendly community at each other’s throats is a small price to pay for their own political aggrandizement. And as for “peace” being their end goal, their behavior highlights the fact that just as organizations whose names included “The People” usually involves the smallest number of them, organizations that proclaim themselves “peace groups” while endlessly demonizing their political opponents look suspiciously like the propaganda arm of a war effort.

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3 Responses to Manufacturing Dissent

  1. DrMike January 22, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

    There are a number of aspects to this. Part of it may very well be the narcissistic aspect of “the struggle”– we certainly see many people who could not even explain the origin of the name “Palestine” eagerly standing up for the “rights” of the Palestinians (which by the definition of too many Palestinians means the “right” to eliminate Israel). This phenomenon leads to turning ANY public event into a pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel display (see http://www.bluetruth.net/2011/01/bay-area-anti-zionists-ignore-dr-kings.html).

    The other part is that their effort is offensive in nature (double entendre fully intentional). They are trying to change the status quo–not (only) by the establishment of a Palestinian state, but also by the elimination of the world's only Jewish state. So they will attack, while we defend. Ruth Wisse (as you have noted) and others have written about the need to turn this around– to take the initiative and attack the very fundamentals of the other side's worldview. Which is exactly what you are doing here.

  2. Anonymous January 26, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    “we are not ready to make the lives of our neighbors miserable for our own political gain”

    Saw the willingness of the Palestinian supporters to do this when they attempted to hijack a Martin Luther King Jr. parade, locally, with anti-Israel signs and banners

    They couldn't understand why people backed away from them, as they began chanting their anti-israel slogans, and had no idea why people were so upset.

  3. Arab Islamic Racist Apartheid Slur July 11, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    ARAB-NAZISM & GENOCIDE = ROOTS OF 'APARTHEID-COMPARISON' THESIS

    Ahmad shukairy Arab-nazi has invented the apartheid slur (upon pluralistic democratic Israel, six years before the so-called “occupation” excuse came about) in 1961. [“Politics, lies, and videotape: 3,000 questions and answers on the Mideast crisis” – Page 392 – Yitschak Ben Gad – SP Books, 1991 – 479 pages] He helped the (ally of Adolf Hitler, al-Husseini, better known as the) Mufti and aided in extermination of Jews in WW2, according to testimony in Congress. [Congressional record: proceedings and debates of the United States Congress: Volume 113, Part 12 – United States. Congress – Govt. Print. Off., 1967 – Page A-525]. The same Shukairy admitted in 1956 that so-called “Palestine” is NOTHING but a part of Syria… [United Nations review: Volume 3 – United Nations. Dept. of Public Information, United Nations. Office of Public Information – 1957 – Page 8] Then, in 1963, he changed his mind, and the 'new nationalism' is 'conveniently' used -since then- by Arab immigrants' children who call themselves as “Palestinians” [mainly] since about that same year. He's more famous for coining the Palestine Liberation Organization's genocide slogan 'Drive the Jews into the Sea' [America's Two Holy Wars – John Tyler – Page 246].

    ARAB MUSLIM APARTHEID

    All the while the Arab world and the Muslim world are the largest practitioners of racial and religious apartheid. Where not one minority has equal rights with the governing power. Not to mention the still-practiced racist slavery on Asians and on blacks by Arabs. And the ethnic cleansing by the Arab world including by anti-Christian, anti-Jewish Arab-Islamic-Apartheid-Palestine.
    To quote from books: The Islamic world “the world's largest practitioner of both religious and gender apartheid.” [Israel: And the Palestinian Nightmare – Page 158 – Ze'ev Shemer – 2010 – 244 pages] “The Islamic culture of “religious intolerance, economic backwardness, gender apartheid, muzzled press, militarism, terrorism.” [A theory of international terrorism: understanding Islamic militancy – Page 153 – L. Ali Khan – 2006 – 371 pages] The “antisemitism of the Arab world and the Muslim world.” The racist “long history of oppression against minorities in Arab countries.” [U.S. news & world report: Volume 131, Issues 8-18 – U.S. News Pub. Corp., 2001 – Page 120]

    PALLYWOOD

    The lying Arab-Palestinian Goliath machine not only lies and denies Israel's extending more rights to Arabs than to Jews (like favortism in court, affirmative action and exemption from military service), but also fabricates “memorandums” like a supposed speech by N. Mandela which was actually written by an Arab residing in the Netherland… The Arab lobby also aided J. Carter (the one who wrote a hate book in 2006 with almost an exact title of that by Palestinian-Arab M. Bishara in 2002), who uttered anti-Jewish bigoted statements like: 'stating Freeman's recommendations for council board members contained “too many Jews.”' [Living in the Times of the Signs – Page 219 – David R. Barnhart – 2007 – 492 pages]

    AIM

    The racist Arab “apartheid” slander campaign (like infamous 'apartheid week') has been rocked by usual anti-Jewish hatred outbursts, including calls to kill Jews, Swastikas, etc. [M. Ignatieff: Israel Apartheid Week and CUPE Ontario's anti-Israel posturing should be condemned.” National Post, March 05, 2009] [“Swastikas and Ku Klux Klan Symbols during 'Apartheid Week…” Israel National News, 3 Mar 2010]

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