I’ve decided to start my own branch of the organization Jewish Voice for Peace here in the Boston area. The mission of my new branch, which will be called JVP-DT for the time being, will be to communicate the Divest This message that all attempts to target Israel with Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions are not part of a non-violent “movement,” but are instead the cornerstone of a cynical propaganda war.
Very little will change here at the Divest This Web site (other than my new banner). We will continue to debunk BDS hoaxes and expose the hypocrisy of those who choose boycott and divestment as a tactic to morally blackmail civic organizations into parroting (intentionally or not) the real BDS message that Israel is an “Apartheid state.” We will continue to highlight the self-indulgence and excesses of the “movement,” and its monumental failure over the last decade. The only difference is that we will now be doing so under the valuable brand of “Jewish Voice for Peace.”
What is that you say? There already exists an organization called “Jewish Voice for Peace” and they are allowed to have some say in who is in the organization and who is not? That my mission to fight against BDS is the exact opposite of their mission to promote it and, thus, they might object to my simply demanding the right to membership in their organization in order to do whatever I feel like? That any organization, including Jewish Voice for Peace, has the right to decide who is in and who is out and what can be said in their name?
Well, I thought the very same thing. But come to find out, Jewish Voice for Peace itself has determined that it has the right to decide whether or not someone else can or cannot invite them into their civic space. As it happens, the Brandeis Hillel (as part of Hillel national policy) has decided that those promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions are far enough removed from the definition of “supporters of Israel” that even an organization as generous and welcoming as Hillel is ready to place them outside of the “big tent.”
Not that JVP cannot form a chapter on the Brandeis campus and do whatever the hell they feel like. It just cannot do so under the umbrella of Hillel which limits their ability to claim – falsely – that they represent anyone other than themselves.
Now there’s been some talk over the last few days (overblown I suspect) that institutions created to battle BDS are flirting with letting boycotts of Israelis and Israel products produced on the other side of the Green Line (i.e., in parts of the disputed territories) fall within the consensus of what is acceptable vs. what will be automatically fought against.
The reason I suspect this is overblown is that once someone tries to define the boundaries of such an “acceptable” boycott, they will quickly come to realize that it is not this particular Israeli company or product that is the target of BDS. Rather, they will realize that the goal of BDSers is to get a university, church or some other civic organization to boycott or divest from anything Israeli (regardless of geography). And once such a boycott comes to pass, the headline will not be “Organization X is no longer investing in Israeli Company Y located in the ‘Occupied Territories,’” but rather it will be “Organization X Agrees that Israel is an Apartheid State” that appears atop the press releases.
Now those who manage coalitions (such as Hillel or the new anti-BDS Israel Action Center) understand the benefit of broadening their coalition as much as possible. And, as a rule, Jewish institutions tend to be more inclusive than exclusive (sometimes to a fault).
Which is why I think the simplest option is not to let Jewish Voice for Peace join whatever organization it likes, but to simply allow anyone who wants to become a member of their organization and exercise the same latitude of action they demand for themselves. And so, if anyone wants to download a copy of the JVP-DT Guide to Defeating Divestment, or read more nutty stories mocking BDS activists, or simply find a home here under this new big tent I have created for myself at someone else’s expense, please feel free to do so. I’ll even keep my comments section open (something JVP has chosen never to do) so I can get your feedback on my new self-declared identity.
Now excuse me while I compose my next post (written in the name of Jewish Voice for Peace, of course) apologizing for JVP’s behavior over the last half decade.