First, some housekeeping. My friend and fellow blogger Jimrecently alerted me to Blogger’s helpful spam comment catcher which apparently stopped 18 legitimate comments from being posted on this site over the last year. About a half a dozen of these were mine, which will give you an indication of the sophistication of Google’s spam algorithm, as well as how closely I pay attention to comments on earlier posts. So if anyone feels like an old conversation was terminated prematurely, please restart it here or on future postings.
Secondly, some readers have been recently asking about the lack of breaking BDS news on this site (often in conjunction with requests to stop yammering on about Aristotleand get back to business). It’s a fair criticism, one which can only partially be answered by the fact that big BDS stories have been a bit hard to come by this year (at least here in North America).
There have been no university divestment stories like last year’s blowup at Berkeley, for example, or even any food co-op boycotts like Olympia making headlines in months. And stories like BDS being rejected by UVM, or the Sacramento Food Co-opgiving boycott the heave ho yet again are simply repeats of that decade-long meta-story: “BDS Loses Again”.
It’s also worth mentioning that lots of other peoplehave caught on to the lameness of boycott, divestment and sanctions, which means these defeats are getting coverage in a wider range of places than ever before. And that’s as it should be, now that the nakedness of the BDS emperor has been exposed for all to see for over ten years.
Abroad things are different, and some goings on in Europe and South Africawill require coverage over the coming days and weeks (promise). But in the meantime, it is worth exploring one other reason why anti-BDS activists may no longer need to tap into outside resources (like this one) as much as they used to: the concept of immunization.
I’ve frequently compared BDS to a virus that preys upon civic organizations unfamiliar with its tactics and ultimate propaganda goals. But like a virus, BDS has created its own antibodies that contribute to its rejection within whole categories of civic institution after a troubling infection breaks out and is then cured.
Take colleges and universities for example. In the early 2000s, BDS campaigns were big news when they were cropping up at schools around the country. But once these campaigns existed, so did counter-campaigns which provided sound arguments for rejecting divestment, arguments accepted universally by college administrations. And after student council votes created mayhem at places like Berkeley, that taught other student government organizations (like the one at UVM) to steer clear of the divestmet whole mess.
Food co-ops provide almost perfect laboratory conditions for studying this immunization process at work. For until co-ops were targeted by BDSers looking to get Israeli products stripped from the shelves, they had little reason to really scrutinize their organization procedures for beginning and ending boycotts. After all, until last year boycott calls were relatively rare and could be implemented or rejected even if the policies used to begin a boycott were flawed and potentially subject to abuse.
It was only when the BDSers began to abuse the loopholes in these policies that co-ops were forced to look at them more closely, to the point where at least one co-op finally threw up their hands and realized that the only way to get the boycotters to back off from continuing their eternal campaign after having been rejected again and again was to get out of the boycott business altogether.
But why do we now know that divisive boycotts are in contravention to the Rochdale Principles upon which the co-op movement was founded? Or that BDS hands decision making to a third party (BDS) that has no fiduciary responsibility to a co-op or its members? Or that the script BDSers read from every chance they get can only be seen as interpretation and not fact upon which to base a boycott decision? Because BDSers forced the issue (notably at Daviswhere these questions were asked and answered), creating a framework for rejecting BDS within similar organizations. Coupled with the fiasco caused when one co-op (Olympia) decided to reject this advice (voting in a boycott motion behind the backs of the membership), we are now at a point where boycotts are being spontaneously rejected at every other co-op where they are introduced.
And thus anti-bodies are born which prevent the BDS infection from spreading, antibodies in the form of people of courage and good will unwilling to cave to BDSers demands, simply because those boycotters insist we must.