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.

14 thoughts on “Immunization”

  1. Einstein once described insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a differnet result. Apparently rumors of the death of BDS at UC Berkeley were exaggerated- Students for Just Us in Palestine were just biding their time until they could load up the Student Senate with their divestment slate
    ( Notice that they don't say a word about on-campus issues- the entire nature of their endorsement is the candidate's BDS orientation)

    The SJP email follows
    The international attention garnered by last year's divestment campaign would not have been possible without like-minded allies in the student government. We encourage all our members to vote in this year's ASUC elections (


    This year, SJP member Nairi Shirinian #136 is running as an independent candidate for ASUC senate. She is a staunch ally of SJP, was a pivotal force behind divestment last year, and has been on SJP board for the past two years. She is being endorsed by the following pro-divestment student leaders:

    Margaret Zhou – Board Member, Students for Justice in Palestine*

    Waseem Salahi – ASUC Senator, 2010-present*

    J.P. Shami – Former ASUC Senator, 2009-2010*

    Jonathan Gaurano – Former ASUC Senator, 2009-2010*

    Emily Carlton, Former ASUC Senator, 2009-2010; Squelch Party Chair*

    Raymond Hajduk – Former President, 2010, Internal Vice President, 2009, Queer Community Development Manager, 2008, of the Queer Alliance Resource Center, No On 8 Volunteer Campaign Coordinator 2008, Yes On Equality Campus Director 2009-present, Youth Outreach Counselor 2009-Present*

    Voting in ASUC senate elections is done by ranked-choice voting (you assign 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. preferences to the candidates). Other candidates for senate include Sahar Pirzada (#129) and Shahryar Abbasi (#174), both prominent members of the Middle Eastern community.

    In addition, the Calserve party, which is currently running a whole slate of senators, officially supports divestment.

  2. Actually, Mr. Anonymous 1, you can see right now what lack of legitimacy looks like. It looks like people in the streets in the capitals of all those countries upon whose shoulders the BDS movement rests, people shouting (and some dying) to end the tyrannies they have been forced to live under. And it looks similar people like yourself tirelessly working to lay the groundwork for the next war while simultaneously hailing yourself as the embodiment of all virtue.

    Point of fact, Israel has never faced a “de-legitimization” crisis. It has simply faced the problem of ruthless, immoral propagandists who will keep doing their thing no matter what, regardless of their own total lack of legitimacy as anything other than the perfect embodiment of selfishness.

  3. Anonymous 2 – My first response is that if pro-Israel students are not running their own candidates or building their own alliances to ensure that the BDSers don’t take over Berkeley’s student government then shame on them.

    I still think this is the case, but it needs to be supplemented with sadness that elections for a student government may now be won or lost not on any issue actually impacting students or the school, but on partisan positions regarding an ethnic clash half a world away. I have yet to see Indians and Pakistanis or Brits and Irishmen, or Mainland Chinese and Taiwanese for that matter putting their energies into packing a student government council or co-op board just so they can use this power to shower abuse on their ethnic and political adversaries. There is only one conflict, it seems, in which one side has decided that its own interests are so much more important than anything that might actually impact the communities they are trying to subvert that their partisan goals must take precedence over every other issue and every other person, be it at Berkeley or anywhere else they are selling their BDS snake oil.

  4. Which “facts” are “those” that you don't “like” so “much” that you put inappropriate “scare quotes” around them “?”

    Is it the fact that the Israeli economy doubled in size during the BDS decade? Or the fact that BDS partisans can't seem to pull off a win outside a ten mile radius around Rachel Corrie's house? Or the fact that they lied about divestment activity at Hampshire College and elsewhere?

    You really must be more specific if you don't want to be perceived as simply a dolt on the BDS third string being sent in because no one else is willing to confront the “facts” that have been presented (and will continue to be presented) here.

  5. I know, It makes me sick too when loser hypocrites like Mondoweiss try to spread their BS propaganda against the region's only democracy. Fortunately, you and I are here to keep a**holes like him honest.

    That is what you meant, isn't it?

  6. Ah yes more Jews who have the courage to tell the truth about Israel and are called “loser hypocrites” who “spread their BS propaganda”. Lets be thankful Jon is here to keep “assholes like him honest”.

    What's going on Jon? What's with all these Jewish critics of Israel? Maybe it's some (UN backed) conspiracy led by Arab dictators throwing their oil money around? They must have bought Roger Cohen, Remnick, Julian Schnabel, Phil Weiss, Adam Horowitz, Amy Goodman, JVP, J Street, etc.

    Want to see a real asshole? Try the mirror.

  7. Why? Are you standing behind me?

    Wasn't it just two weeks ago that you and your friends were telling us that Richard Goldstone was the world's most righteous Jew and that the fact that a Jew (did I mention he was Jewish) of his virtue and caliber condemning the Jewish state meant that Israel was doomed?

    But now that Goldstone has walked away from the accusations you've been leveraging for more than two years, he must be cast aside in favor of Roger Cohen (this week's flavor of righteous Jew whose greatest virtue is that he's written something criticizing the man who was your hero just two weeks ago).

    It's all a bit dizzying until you look in the streets of the Arab world to see what dissent from tyranny really looks like. And hint-hint, it doesn't consist of columnists or bloggers who use their own ethnicity to kevetch about their own people – that's called free speech, democracy and the marketplace of ideas.

    Now, if in that marketplace of ideas Mssrs. Cohen, Remnick, Horowitz et al are in a tiny minority, and that their accusations are quickly and routinely debunked by other Jewish writers, that simply means you will have to give equal pride of place to the opinions of the countless Jews (including 67% of American Jews who strongly support, rather than just support or don't support) the Jewish state.

    After all, only a ridiculous hypocrite would claim that we must give pride of place to Jewish opinion when it agrees with their beliefs, but that Jewish opinion must be ignored when it flies in the face of those biases. And you're not one of those, are you?

  8. I agree that the people listed above are in the minority, however

    1. The Remnicks and Cohens of the world are mainstream jews (working for the NY Times and the New Yorker, hardly fringe groups) that are harshly critical of Israel. This is a very new phenomenon in this country, thanks to Israel's multi decades “un Jewish”behavior of occupation and settlement enterprise.

    2. This group is on the increase.

    3. Goldstone has not “walked away” from the majority of what was stated in the report, and contrary to your comments, I have the greatest respect for him, unlike people like you who have routinely trashed him because of the report. So please, no lectures on righteousness from you.

  9. Anon – I'm not exactly sure what planet you've been living on, but Jewish critics of Israel have been a feature of the landscape since before Israel was a state. In fact, the history of Zionism was one of changing the majority Diaspora opinion from being anti- to pro-Zionist, something that took nearly half a century to happen and one which left large segments of the community still averse to the creation of a Jewish state for a whole host of reasons (some religious, some political, some reasonable, some not).

    So the Jewish critics you find so useful have not grown (or shrunk), but have simply found more use among anti-Israel activists hungry for Jewish writers and thinkers to embrace (even as they ignore the much larger number of Jews who provide reasonable counter-arguments to ones presented by the Cohen's and Horowitz's of the world).

    In an era when Israel (even with all of the troubles it faces) continues to thrive while those nations that have made war upon it for over 60 years continue to burst into flames, I believe that predicting imminent doom for the Jewish state based on an allged growth of a phenomenon that has been with us for over a hundred years (longer if you take into account the centuries long history of Jews who find their identity in lashing out at their fellow Jews) is a bit foolish (or at least self serving).

  10. Of course, there is a difference between criticism of Israel and what the BDS movement proposes, which is the elimination of the right to national self-determination of the Jewish people (and only the Jewish people, if you're counting). Criticism of China, or Iran, or Syria (and so on) for their murderous human rights records does not include the demand that the Chinese/Iranians/Syrians et al must give up their existence as a nation.

    And as to the Anon above who posted the link to Mondoweiss, let's do a quick spin around the globe:

    “Foreigners blamed for poverty”

    “Calls to shut down US-Mexico border grow in flu scare”,8599,1894775,00.html

    “Pro, Anti-Immigration Rallies Lead to clashes with police in Athens”

    Yes, democracies have people of various political persuasions in them. Yet your standard for Israel's political discourse suggests you might require a higher standard from them to abandon your insistence on “BDS until death”.

    I don't condemn all critics of Israel. Heck, if you want to hear my criticism of the role of the ultra-religious parties in its government, I'm happy to oblige. But there's a rather significant gap between legitimate criticism and the use of double standards, delegitimization, and demonization against Israel. And the entire BDS movement relies on those tactics, which is why it has failed to build traction even among legitimate critics of Israel (such as Tom Friedman and J Street, both strong opponents of BDS).

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