Topics of Interest

An interesting review by Joel Fishman of the book Divestment, Sanctions; BDS against Apartheid and the Occupation of Palestine by our old friend Omar Barghouti appears over at the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) site. If you’re not familiar with SPME, this group does yeoman’s work trying to provide a sensible voice in campus discussions of the Arab-Israeli conflict and their site is worth frequent visits.

I have some quibbles with material that appears in the beginning of the piece (I think Fishman is a bit too accepting of the current BDS timeline which dates the movement to 2004-2005, ignoring the failures of BDS in the period before then – especially on college campuses), and the extended analysis towards the end of Nazi support for the Palestinians and vice versa, while historically accurate, seems a bit out of place.

But his middle section on “The Operational Importance of the BDS Message” should be required reading for anyone dealing with the BDS phenomenon. I’ve often noted the role of BDS as a tool of social bonding between anti-Israel activists. Fishman looks at this concept within the framework of decentralized political movements trying to achieve critical mass through activism that is centrally inspired but not centrally organized. Those who have asked questions regarding “where the money comes from” or “who’s pulling the strings” with regard to BDS campaigns or why BDS seems to keep rising from the dead no matter how many stakes are put through its heart will find succinct answers to those questions in Fishman’s astute and timely analysis.

Two housekeeping matters:

* Expect to hear some good news on the Divest This Guide front in the coming days (I shall say no more)

*I threw myself into the ring in a Pro-Israel Blog-Off that looks like it may be a lot of fun (regardless of who wins). I’ve added a link to the contest over to the right so stop by and, if you feel so inclined, throw me a vote (or join yourself if you’re also a blogger)

Now it’s off to buy some rye-berries for my eldest to use in the sourdough he’s baking this weekend (ah, the pleasures and challenges of raising a kid with an analog disposition).

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2 Responses to Topics of Interest

  1. David Schraub January 10, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    [T]he objective of BDS activists is to undermine this consensus among Israel’s Gentile supporters abroad and where possible to undermine the alliance between Jews and Christians. In this context, one can understand that the purpose of related organizations, such as JStreet in the United States and JCall in Europe as well as their counterparts in Israel, is to undermine Jewish and Israeli consensus in support of Israel. Looking back several decades, we should remember that the Israeli “peace activist,” Ury Avneri considered his greatest accomplishment to be the cultivating of a consensus among Israeli intellectuals in favor of a Palestinian state.

    Wow. Just … wow. That's terrible on so many levels — labeling JStreet/JCall as “related” to BDS, saying that their “purpose” is to undermine support for Israel, lamenting(!) the emergent consensus in Israeli society in favor of a Palestinian state. Who's side is this guy on?

  2. Ben February 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    BDS wants more support from J Street than they've gotten (the official organization is not on BDS' side, IIRC, while some individuals who support J St. are either pro-BDS or have overall beliefs which make BDS think they would support BDS if the situation was tested), but the major point here in this well-written review is that BDS sees Left/Far-Left Jewish/Israel organizations as folks who could or would side with them instead of centrist orgs. like AIPAC or the AJC. Far-Leftists like Avneri were once very rare supporters of a two-state ME resolution, an idea which is now overwhelmingly supported among Israelis; it's not a stretch for BDS to think that the Israeli L/FL could go even further, fully embrace the suicidal “binational secular Palestine” concept, and work to eventually have THAT take on the same we-agree status among all citizens in Israel. BDS wants a one-state answer, they're going to try and make their case with Israeli/Jewish groups that could agree with/submit to that.

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