I’ve been waiting for a trip to Washington state to materialize, both to spend time at “Ground Zero” of the BDS “movement” (or “BDSM” as a friend recommended rebranding it) and to give me an opening to use the gag that starts this piece (which I’ve been told was originally composed in hieroglyphics in 4004 BC).
Sorry… where was I? Oh yes, Olympia!
For those of you tuning in late, Olympia Washington is the location of the first (and only) food co-op to boycott Israeli goods. Since that boycott was enacted (as usual, behind the backs of the membership and in contravention of the organization’s own rules), other co-ops that were asked to follow Olympia’s lead instead fled from the boycotter’s blandishments appalled at what BDS unleashed upon the Olympia community.
I had the chance to meet with members of that community, some of the citizens of Olympia and members (or former members) of the Co-op who have had to bear the brunt of anti-Israel bullying in the area for years. Olympia represents one of those few small pockets in the country where individuals and organizations holding anti-Israel sentiments have the majority (or at least the upper hand). And, as a result, there does not seem to be a single institution in town that remains un-infiltrated by “Israel-is-Always-Wrong” Palestinian Hasbarah.
Go to the movies and you’ll see signs for the Middle East film festival which, unsurprisingly, features a Middle East consisting entirely of Israeli gargoyles and Palestinian virgins. Take a walk down Main Street and see a lovely mural juxtaposing Israeli treatment of Arabs and European treatment of Native Americans (subtle). Go to Evergreen College and watch local BDSers collecting signatures from students who never have (and never will) set foot in the Olympia Food Co-op on two documents: the first, a free co-op membership sign-up form, the second a ballot allowing these freshly minted members to cast ballots for the pro-boycott slate running in recent Co-ops board-of-director elections.
That last sentence may need some further elaboration. You see, once the previous board rammed the boycott down the throat of the membership, some board members started to at least think about the mayhem they had unleashed. And so elections for a new board could have become a referendum on the boycott.
Except they didn’t. Partly because anti-boycott forces decided to maintain a non-confrontational stance (which included not endorsing any candidates solely because of their position on the boycott), and partly because pro-boycott forces decided to play it safe by simply changing the rules (again), making it possible for the first time for people (i.e., Evergreen students) to join the Co-op without physically visiting the store. With that rule change in place, it was a simple matter to recruit students to simultaneously become members then vote in a pro-boycott slate for an organization they will probably never visit.
Now I actually don’t have a big problem with people playing hardball, Chicago-style politics, even in a situation where only one side has chosen to treat a local controversy like a knife fight.
It’s just that ever since this board election took place, BDSers have been bellowing about how it represents the will of the membership (i.e., that this manipulated board vote somehow substitutes for the utter lack of community involvement in the original boycott decision). As stated earlier, if the boycotters are ready, willing and able to do whatever it takes to have their way, rules be damned and regardless of the impact on their community, so be it. So long as they don’t get annoyed when the rest of us roll our eyes when such manipulation is portrayed as some kind of honest referendum, much less the conscience of a community the BDSers continue to screw.