If the BDS cru has anything to crow about after another year of being shown the door in North America, they can probably point to the UK to encourage the ranks.
Here in the US, student councils were thought to be fertile territory for getting divestment resolutions passed (a weak substitute for convincing schools to actually divest, but a desired booby prize given that real college divestment remains a fantasy after a decade of tireless divestment effort on campus).But alas for the boycotters, student councils refused to take the bait (especially after the Berkeley BDS fiasco last year).
In a period where boycott is still on the agenda in the umbrella Trades Union Council (TUC), these wins have given a shot in the arm to BDS advocates working both the student and union “beats.”
Why such a difference between student and union groups in the UK (who seem to be giving a hearing to BDS) vs. the US (which continues to be barren territory for any type of boycott or divestment win)?No doubt the BDSers would point to Europe as the source of all enlightenment creating a path that we mouth-breathing Americans will eventually follow.Meanwhile, critics point to dynamics particular to Europe (where Jews have limited political clout vs. Muslims whose political strength is growing).The fact that Europe has become an uncomfortable place for Jews generally has caused many to highlight general European discomfort with people of the Hebrew persuasion (which, in England, is unrestrained by Holocaust guilt you find on the Continent).
Personally, I suspect that these particular votes can be explained with more pragmatic reasoning based on the general BDS strategy of: (1) finding civic organizations with a progressive bent, ready to make statements on international issues beyond their purview; (2) infiltrating said organizations in order to get them to subscribe to the narrow BDS political agenda; and (3) refusing to back down under any circumstance, regardless of how much BDS politics poisons the organization they are trying to subvert.
And, in truth, the NUS and ULU votes seem to be modeled on similar votes in Britain’s teacher’s union (the UCU) whose leaders continue to try to pass anti-Israel resolutions despite these being abhorred by the membership.At the student union events, decisions to brand Israel an Apartheid state were passed in the waning moments of long meetings by “majorities” of one and then declared the will of 120,000 student union members, most of whom had no idea these words were being voted into their mouths.
So these votes seem to say more about the inability of British civic organizations to avoid being manipulated than it does about England, Israel or the Middle East.
In fact, if you look at other BDS “successes” in the UK, they seem to be following a trajectory into deeply troubling, if not grotesque, territory.At Covent Garden, a group of thugs harass an Israeli shop into closure and this stormtrooper-like activity is declared a win for enlightened virtue.
In Scotland, a council representing a region whose child mortality rate is twenty points worse than Gaza’s is putting their energy into keeping Israeli products out of the region and then strutting with indignant rage when they’re accused of book banning (with the excuse that “we’re not banning Israeli books, just books printed in Israel”).
But you have to go back to the aforementioned UCU to see the ultimate endpoint of the BDS “consciousness.”
For, in addition to struggling to get an academic boycott passed in the face of members uncomfortable with their union leading an assault on academic freedom, UCU has also had to struggle with the fact that their boycott has been declared as potentially violating European anti-racism law.
What to do about this little inconvenience? Why simply reject the EU definition of “anti-Semitism” of course!In a vote that is sure to cause even more Jews to flee the organization, UCU declared that any definition of anti-Semitism that defines as bigotry even outlandish or pathological criticism of Israel must be declared null and void.
While anti-boycott activists may have made a tactical error in stressing the role of anti-Semitism in UCU shenanigans over the last few years, I can’t imagine anyone thought the organization would have the chutzpah to simply define modern manifestations of the phenomenon out of existence.
But that just goes to show you the effectiveness of trying to prick the conscience of BDS fanatics without understanding that, at the end of the day (and despite their pose as the ultimate examples of human-rights enlightenment), with regard to conscience the boycotters have none.