BDS to World: “We’re Not Losers” – Part 1

I’ve recently discovered two examples of the “But we’re not losers!” BDS argument mentioned at the end of my last posting (one from Australia, one from Philadelphia).Both of these make the case that programs promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel are doing marvelously well, with a recent string of victories providing “a strong wind to the back of the BDS movement.”

Whether this is a direct response to the growing perception of BDS as a “non-winner” or simply general BDS bombast, it occurs to me that if I’m going to continue to talk about the loserish nature of the boycott and divestment project, I am obliged to prove my charge (which I plan to do over the this and the next several postings).

The best place to start is with the very lists of BDS “victories” provided by our friends in Philly and Oz which we can assume represents their strongest evidence of success.

Looking through these lists, the first category that jumps out are outright BDS hoaxes such as Hampshire College, Blackrock and Deutsche Bank, all of which were exposed months or even years ago as fraudulent claims about other people’s behavior put forth by overzealous divestment advocates.And while pushing fictional claims that Hampshire or Blackrock were taking political stands against Israel through divestment could be dismissed as simple human error when these stories first appeared, continuing to headline a list of “success stories” with hoaxes points not to misunderstanding but to an intentional desire to deceive.

Continuing on the theme of BDS victories that aren’t, another category of faux BDS “wins” from the BDSers own lists are stories that are long outdated such as the British National Union of Journalists (NUJ), the University and College Union (UCU) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ), all of which once passed boycott or divestment votes which were reversed (or never implemented) by subsequent decisions shortly after that.Now it may be that recent news has not reached Philadelphia or Perth that UCU and UJ are no longer in the boycott business, but presenting NUJ (which rejected a boycott in 2007!) as a continuing BDS victory indicates either extremely sloppy research or extreme dishonesty.

Next we have a list of BDS “victories” that cannot be disputed because, in fact, they don’t involve actual boycott or divestment decisions.Rather, they are simply examples of the BDSers themselves doing things (such as presenting petitions to TIAA-CREF or casting a student vote asking the administration of Evergreen College to divest from Israel) which ignores the fact that both CREF and the administration of Evergreen has already responded to these requests (several times) with a polite but firm no.


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2 Responses to BDS to World: “We’re Not Losers” – Part 1

  1. Anonymous October 28, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    The latest BDS “victory” involves a French company losing a contract to build a rail service in Saudi Arabia. (Never you mind that the winning bid was from a consortium partially owned by a Saudi prince. Thats simply not relevant)The BDS holes claimed the contract was lost as a result of their pressure. But yesterday Alstom, the French company won a 325 million EU contract in Venezuela. Hmm. The BDS'ers haven't seem to have digested THAT yet.

  2. Jon October 29, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    I saw that “victory” statement, but couldn't quite figure out what to make of it. Who, exactly, is supposed to have engaged in BDS in this instance?

    Not Alstom, which has made no statement with regard to its policies involving projects in Israel (or whatever the BDSers seem to find distasteful about them).

    And if it's supposed to be Saudi Arabia that's performing a boycott, why is that news? After all, the Saudis have been participating in a primary and several secondary and tertiary boycotts of Israel and people who do business with Israel since before Israel was a state. So are we supposed to believe that they stopped with their boycotts and were pressured by BDS activists to resume them? Or do the Saudis simply do what they please (i.e., work with companies that do business with Israel when it suits their purposes, but condemn them when they compete with their own Prince's business affairs)?

    While complicated in some ways, this seems another simple example of the BDS brigades finding an economic decision that somehow fits their template than declaring they are responsible for it.

    Call me crazy, but back in the days of the fight against Apartheid, I don't recall boycott and divestment victories being this murky and convoluted. How hard can it be for the BDS cru to find someone to simply say “We are making this or that economic decision not for economic reasons but as a political protest against Israel.”?

    Unless no one is willing to take such an action (other than a couple of Scandinavian investment houses and one stupid food co-op in Olympia Washington).

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