While I made mention of debates I’ve had with members of the Olympia Co-op regarding the procedural violations that have since become the subject of a member lawsuit against the organization, articles produced by BDS supporters since the suit was initiated spend almost no time discussing these matters, beyond insisting (without any elaboration) that everything done by the co-op board was completely on the up-and-up.
Rather, their focus seems to be on the fact that Jewish organizations (well, one anyway) might be helping local Olympians with their effort to reverse the boycott. This charge was breathlessly announced on The Electronic Intifada (a web site with a global readership dedicated to supporting BDS campaigns), as well as on the Olympia BDS site where it was picked up by some of the dozens of organizations they list as their supporters (and, no doubt, read by some of the many individuals from outside Olympia who signed their petitions, joined their Facebook page and mailing list).
Now I would never describe BDS advocate’s reaching out for support from around the globe as some kind of conspiracy. They are, after all, political individuals with rights of assembly, free to draw in allies from wherever they wish. But given that Olympia BDSers have historically reached out around the planet for friends to celebrate their boycott and condemn their critics (i.e., their neighbors), their rage over support opponents may receive from the wider Jewish community seems like a rock fight taking place in the world’s biggest glass house.
This situation is even more hypocritical when you realize that Olympia BDSers, as part of a wider BDS “movement,” immediately used their success to try to convince other food co-operatives around the country (including in my hometown of Boston) to also boycott Israeli products. In other words, a group which has no problem trying to inspire imitation on the other side of the country cries foul when anyone from outside Olympia (including me) tries to “interfere” with local politics by supporting boycott opponents.
Fantasies of dark, mysterious moves by the Israeli government (which began when the local Consulate sent a representative to address a meeting of the Port Townsend Food Co-op, which eventually rejected BDS) also litter BDS stories regarding the Olympia lawsuit. This recalled for me similar condemnations that rained down on the New England Israeli Consul when he “dared” speak at an open meeting in Somerville, MA regarding an early municipal divestment motion that also failed. As usual, the BDSers like to place their opponents (including Israeli government spokespeople) in the lose-lose situation of: stay silent and let us do whatever we please (at your expense) or speak up and be condemned for being conspiratorial interlopers in local politics.
At the political level, this tactic by the Olympia boycotters and their many supporters (most of them “outsiders” themselves) makes perfect sense. Like most militant efforts, BDS would like to have as many allies as possible by its’ side while simultaneously trying to minimize the allies of its opponents (in this case by getting them to question their right to have any).
But there is another element to the X-Files like tone of dark conspiracy that permeates their description of “outside involvement” by boycott opponents: our old friend fantasy.
Remember that the biggest impact of the Olympia boycott has had to date is to inspire other co-ops around the country to avoid similar moves at all cost, given the mayhem the boycott unleashed Olympia. But for local BDSers, this reality never enters their frame of reference. For in their eyes, they are noble knights, fighting against insurmountable odds, against a ruthless foe that will stop at nothing to end a BDS crusade inspired only by courage and virtue.
This is why local Israel haters will testify in co-op meetings of having personally witnessed Israeli soldiers shoot infants in the head (without evidence, naturally). It is also why they routinely claim to have been the subject of hundreds of death threats which has forced boycott-supporting Jews to go underground for fear of murderous retribution by boycott critics (again, meaning, their neighbors).
The same motivation that causes them to spin BDS&M fantasies about Israeli villainy and to portray themselves as the victims of non-existent murder threats also causes them to look at third-party involvement with their opponents not as a mirror images of the alliance building they do themselves (at a much larger scale), but as part of a global conspiracy against their noble project
So at the end of the day it is fantasy that drives local Olympians to continue their efforts, regardless of the negative impact the boycott has had on their own community (which they clearly don’t care about). And despite the fact that the Olympia boycott (and the way it was brought about) has become the chief weapon in the arsenal of those of us successfully ensuring that such a boycott never be enacted anywhere else.