Whazzup BDS? – Part 1

Because BDS activity tends to follow the academic calendar, I thought it might be useful to determine how the “movement” is doing as it finishes up Year 10 of its ignoble existence.

First off, good news seems to be coming in from North America where BDS hoped to replicate last year’s student government “victory” at Berkeley (otherwise known as a defeat) with similar student council resolutions across the country this year.

Now divestment proponents have long ago given up on getting colleges and universities to actually divest (which is why they had to rely on fraud to just get one school in their “win” column – even if only to fool themselves). But with student governments, they at least stood a chance of convincing a dozen or so undergraduates to strike a pose, rather than getting grown-ups who manage a major institution and its investments to do their bidding.

Unsurprisingly, BDS student government resolutions have turned out to be as big a flop as anything else they’ve tried in North America. UVM said no, as did Carleton and UC San Diego. In fact, the latter was one place where BDSers (who had high hopes for their cause last year) couldn’t even maintain the momentum needed for a vote this time around. One student petition seems to have passed (at Evergreen College in Olympia Washington), but other petitions (which targeted American-made hummus based on some typically convoluted BDS logic) flopped in Princeton and DePaul.

As we have discovered again and again, BDS just doesn’t do well when exposed to daylight. And after last year’s Berkeley fiasco, student governments seem to now know how to avoid being manipulated for someone else’s gain.

On the retail front, it’s been surprising that boycotts (mostly a Canadian phenomenon, which have found little traction in the US) have nevertheless made it to the lower 48 over the last year. But as in Canada, the Buycott phenomena means that anytime an anti-Israel boycott is even threatened, it leads to an immediate massive selloff of the Israeli goods in question.

Food co-ops (still considered the “great green hope” for boycotters) have but one taker for the BDS program (once again, in Olympia Washington). But Olympia too proved to be a Pyrrhic victory since anyone fighting similar boycotts at other co-ops need only point out the misery such a boycott created in Olympia to demonstrate why similar decisions should be avoided at all costs.

While I could go tit for tat on celebrity boycotts (actually tit for tat-tat-tat-a-tat since celebrities are now not just keeping their commitments to play Israel, but dissing those that cave to the boycotters loudly from the stage), or point out that BDSers have decided to substitute temper tantrums for political activity, I think the most positive sign this year comes from within the Jewish community itself.

As anyone familiar with the multi-faceted (and multi-alphabetical) Jewish organizations knows, one thing that characterizes them is their near universal inability to claim that someone is outside the tent.

As controversy here in Boston demonstrates, the ability to not give someone a seat at the table (much less to kick someone out) is something people who inhabit this world can barely conceive of, much less act upon. And yet, for the first time since I can remember, this highly diverse community has been willing to draw a line with BDS.

I’ve speculated in the past about what makes BDS so loathsome that it has managed to unite parties across the political and religious spectrum against it. But suffice to say, it’s good to see the notion of “Don’t Panic, Don’t be Complacent,” turning into a description of what is happening, rather than simple hope or advice.

Now all news is not good news in the land of BDS and, as I’ve described previously, Europe is a continent where ideas that would be rejected out of hand in North America have managed to convince some. And no country on that continent has been more infected by the BDS virus than the United Kingdom, the subject of the second part of this “state of the union” run down on the fate of BDS at the end of its first decade.

9 thoughts on “Whazzup BDS? – Part 1”

  1. Coldplay? That will probably be an embarrassment for them down the road. A bit like Jane Fonda's cringeworthy Khmer Rouge endorsements of the early 70s. Especially as they are English, and Britain is now steaming toward an historically unprecedented antijihad civil war, in the course of which, many are likely to re-assess the BS about Israel your kind retail.


  2. At a JVP meeting in NYC a while back, executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson mourned the fact that her cause had no celebrity spokemodel to make it oh so cool and hip and appealing. The US Boat to Gaza was so desperate for some kind of celebrity endorsement- well, so desperate they convinced a rap artist M-1, to accompany them. Not exactly A-list, but at least he has a following

  3. Anon – Firstly, I'll assume that your choice of talking about a rock band, rather than the subject of this posting (that BDS still has no institutional support in the US after a decade of effort and is thus – what's the word? – oh yes: a loser) is one more acknowledgement that you agree with this analysis or, at least, have no argument to counter it.

    Secondly, you win. You've finally convinced me. For years, I’ve never had much time for the political statements of rock stars (or Hollywood performers for that matter), and have chosen not to draw conclusions based on what they do and where they perform. But, as you make it clear, the decision of a rocker to play or not play Israel is incredibly profound and says more than anything else about the world’s support for the Jewish state.

    In which case, what are we to make of this list of entertainers who have played Israel over the last twelve months or will be playing there soon (the first three of which not just played to packed houses, but told BDSers to piss off while on stage):

    Elton John
    Johnny Lydon (formerly Johnny Rotten)
    Deep Purple
    Paul Simon
    Abu Gosh
    Duran Duran
    Jane’s Addication
    Bob Dylan
    The Doors
    Justin Bieber!
    Bon Jovi
    Iggy & the Stooges
    Juliet Lewis
    Chick Corea
    Nine Inch Nails
    Paul McCartney
    Sean Lennon
    Tokio Hotel
    Joe Jackson
    Mediski Martin & Wood
    Joe Cocker
    Lauryn Hill
    Erika Badu
    Branford Marsalis
    The Streets
    Lord of the Dance
    Macy Gray
    The Breeders
    Pet Shop Boys
    Lady Gaga
    Kaiser Chiefs
    Faith No More
    Cypress Hill
    Jethro Tull
    LCD Soundsystem
    Paul Anka
    The Wailers
    Depeche Mode
    Lou Reed
    Susan Vega

    Etc… etc… etc…


  4. Palestinians reject BDS. Oops.

    ?1,000 Arabs from the Palestinian Authority town of Tulkarm were fitted with hearing aids this month. The team of 20 Israeli doctors and hearing specialists, with representatives from the Starkey Foundation, traveled to Tulkarem to do fittings in April. They returned in May to distribute the hearing aids & train users over the course of three days


  5. It is truly mind boggling that a highly respected Israeli spy official with access to the best intelligence has repeatedly stated that Bibi and his ilk are dangerous war mongers, are foolish to start a war with Iran, should have accepted the 2002 Arab League peace initiative ….while at the same time our AIPAC bought members of congress give this fool multiple standing ovations. Go figure.

    A Former Spy Chief Questions the Judgment of Israeli Leaders


  6. Hmmm. I don't see anything in this original article about Mossad, The New York Times, or anything else referred to in the last comment. Before responding (and making sure this is not just another Social Forum “bogger-bomb” designed to propagate a link by posting it in endless open comments sections), let me confirm one small detail.

    Given that the commenter had nothing to say about the main point of my original posting (i.e., the BDS is a loser), is it safe to assume you are in full agreement with my analysis (or, at the very least, have no response to it)?

    Once we confirm that, I'd be more than happy to respond to your comment, regardless of its lack of relevance to this posting.


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