A recent posting talked about some of the technical reasons BDS seems to continue as a campaign, despite its inability to actually win any battles. And there are benefits of BDS as a tactic (its simplicity, a wealth of potential targets – including any institution that holds a single share of Caterpillar or Motorola stock, etc.), at least with regard to “movement building.”
But there is one element of the BDS mindset, indeed the anti-Israel mindset generally, that provides its practitioners a significant amount of rhetorical power in any argument, protest or debate: their ability to ignore every inconvenient fact that gets in the way of their own narrative.
How many times at a rally or debate have we seen these “Friends of Palestine” confronted with questions about rocket and bombing attacks on Israeli civilians, about the killing of Palestinians by each other or by Arab leaders (like Assad of Syria), or about the abuse of women, gays and minorities in Muslim lands, only to watch them deal with such criticism by:
1. Ignoring it completely
2. When that fails, rolling their eyes and issuing a scoffing laugh while spinning on their heels and walking away
3. And when that fails, pretending to agree “yes, the killing of Israeli civilians is completely unacceptable…” followed by the usual “big but” (as in “…BUT those missiles, kidnappings and bombings would never have occurred if not for the Occupation™).
Unlike the small child who simply blots out that which they don’t agree with or understand, the effort to ignore so much history, so many facts, so much bloodshed performed by their allies actually takes a great deal of creative effort on the part of the BDS brigade.
For example, take a look at the elaborate constructs surrounding the need to ignore peace deals offered to the Palestinians over the last ten years, nearly all of which would give them 99-100% of the land they claim to have craved since time immemorial. Now one could make the case that those peace deals did not include things the Palestinians hold more dearly than land (such as the so-called “Right of Return”). Or you could highlight the obvious political division within the Palestinian camp to point out the difficulty of cutting any deal. Both would expose the Palestinian position as not ready for reasonable negotiations towards peace, but at least they reflect something approaching reality.
But rather than go down this route, the boycotters instead create an elaborate fantasy world in which peace deals everyone knows about down to the last detail were never actually made. And their constructs include maps, essays, articles, speeches, curricula and all kinds of other materials that require a huge amount of effort to prove that white is black (similar to the fantasy literature around faux “massacres” such as Jenin).
My favorite example of this kind of creepy creativity has to do with gay rights. As a blogger friend once described, the difference between Israel (which give homosexuals more legal rights than almost any other country in the world) and the rest of the Middle East (where homosexuality is legally and religiously outlawed and its practitioners killed) is “so true they can’t stand it.”
But when the magnitude of this truth became too huge to ignore, they came up with a novel solution to this problem by inventing the non-existent phenomena of “pinkwashing.” This term (originated by breast-cancer advocates for more virtuous purposes, as it turns out) implies that anyone bringing up the issue of gay rights in the Middle East is doing so as part of a nefarious propaganda campaign designed to distract from the dark, evil that is Israel and “the Occupation.”
Now I understand that homosexual rights is a challenge for BDSers, given that their main target are progressives who care about issues such as gay marriage. And you can only ignore an elephant this large for so long. But rather than simply accept the fact that Israel is in a superior position on this issue (and make the reasonable claim that it does not mean they should be given a pass universally), instead the Israel haters rant and rave about “pinkwashing” (and now “greenwashing” – which declares Israel’s entire green technology revolution is also part of a propaganda war) so as to make the debate about these manufactured controversies, rather than the genuine underlying issue under discussion.
Naturally, the rights of actual gay human beings in the actual Middle East (like the plight of actual Palestinian human beings killed by actual Hamas members and Syrian soldiers) gets lost in all of these creative efforts to ignore what is inconvenient to the boycotters. And yet they still demand the moral high ground be granted to them immediately and unconditionally and never be questioned as to why.
Well ignore, and scoff, and eye-roll and spin all you like BDS dudes and dudettes. For the rest of us have taken your measure, and all we see is a bunch of immoral creeps.