Continuing from where we left off; having run down items on the BDSer’s own list of “victories” that were either fake, outdated or simply descriptions of their own inconsequential activities, let’s move onto items that could be considered genuine wins for them.
Major items in their win column include the Olympia Food Co-op, the British Methodist Church and the Irish Trades Unions, all of which in some way or another have passed resolutions in support of BDS and (at least in the case of the Olympia Co-op) have actually implemented a boycott.
The issue with this category is that they are presented in a vacuum, implying that this is just the first step in a potential set of similar victories with other food co-ops, churches and unions.
But as we have seen over the last several years, each and every one of these categories has been visited again and again by BDS campaigners and in each and every case examples like Olympia and the British Methodists are exceptions that prove the rule.
To take the most obvious example, boycotts have been attempted not just at Olympia but at many, many other food coops over the last year, with most of those campaigns brandishing Olympia as an example that other co-ops should follow. But at every co-op where members had the chance to have a say on the matter (whether in Sacramento, Seattle or just up the street from Olympia in Port Townsend), these co-ops have soundly rejected boycott calls, often citing the Olympia as an example of what NOT to do.
The same can be said for the British Methodists who passed a resolution despite the fact that the Methodist Church as a whole rejected BDS unanimously at their most recent international conclave. In fact, divestment has been on the agenda of several regional, national and international church meetings over the last 5-6 years where it has been voted down again and again (most recently by the Episcopal Diocese of California). BDSers have actually targeted Mainline Protestant churches for years, ever since the US Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) passed a divestment resolution in 2004 (a year before the BDS tell us their “movement” was actually born) which anchored the BDS project for two years until PCUSA members soundly rejected divestment by a margin of 95%-5% in 2006.
Unions are a more complex issue, given that the trade union movement is the most Zionist community in the US outside of Jews and Evangelicals, while trade unions in Europe have been flirting with boycotts. But even here, the few BDS “successes” either come at the end (or at the expense) of a long string of defeats the boycotters are not willing to admit to, even as they insist that momentum is on their side.
The other category of BDS “victories” has to do with their attempts at cultural boycott, which includes a list of celebrities who have chosen to not visit or to cancel appearance in the Jewish state. This includes the late Gil Scott-Heron, Elvis Costello, the Pixies, The Yes Men, Snoop Doggy Dog, Meg Ryan and Dustin Hoffmann (whoops! actually that last one is another BDS fraud).
But the rest are genuine examples of celebs bagging out of playing Israel for political reasons. So what to make of this category?
The most obvious thing that can be pointed out is that it represents, at best, anecdotal evidence of success. And using such individual decisions as the basis for alleging political momentum begs the obvious question of why don’t the decisions of hundreds, even thousands, of other entertainers who are more and more choosing to add Israel to their tours constitute an enormous outpouring of political support for the Jewish state? After all, if the decision of a Greek Oud player to skip the 12th annual Oud festival held in Israel proves that the BDS movement is “alive, and well and GROWING!” don’t the dozens of musicians ignoring boycott calls and performing in the same festival similarly communicate that BDS is FLOPPING?
The whole pop-culture boycott (or non-boycott) presents a final challenge to the entire premise behind the BDS “movement,” a premise which says that cultural boycotts and other BDS activities will eventually create such pressure on Israel that the country will be forced to concede on a variety of political issues (such as the creation of a Palestinian state and the so-called “right of return”) in order to make such divestment and boycott activity stop.
But given the history of the last 60+ years, BDS proponents should be asking themselves if a country that survived (and even thrived) despite seven wars, constant terror, regional isolation and economic blockade, and world-wide propaganda and vilification campaigns is about to be brought to its knees because Meg Ryan decides not to vacation there.