Stalemate

I had the good fortune to address a group of student activists recently who were just beginning school and were trying to anticipate and prepare for whatever anti-Israel activity might take place on their campuses this year.

The good news is that after years of having to run gauntlets of “Israel Apartheid Week” and “Apartheid Wall” protests, pro-Israel students have started to fight back, organizing themselves and launching their own varied programs and events to counter the ugly propaganda that has infected too many US colleges and universities over the last decade.

While there is no single organization linking these various groups, a dynamic seems to have emerged after years of Jewish students and Jewish organizations trying to figure out how to deal with the situation on campus (and each other).Within this dynamic, students who understand the specifics of their own school environment are running the show, knowing they can reach out to the wider Jewish community for training, speakers and other forms of help and support.

Having seen firsthand the success of such a protocol (at a nearby college, the local SJP actually cancelled their “Israel Apartheid Week” hate-fest, knowing the local pro-Israel group was more than ready to successfully counter them), it’s nice to know that Israel supporters on campus no longer have to take it on the chin year after year, or tear their hair out in frustration of not getting the help they need.

In the meantime, the opposition is not standing still.Their latest organizational incarnation of Students for Justice in Palestine had a national conference last week and, from looking at their agenda and statements, it’s clear they will not be keeping quiet during the current academic calendar.

Looking at the arrangement of forces in play, I predict stalemate with regard to campus Middle East politics during the 2011-2012 school year, at least with regard to the furtherance of the BDS agenda.This prediction is based on the following factors:

* Campus administrations and investment management groups have long ago decided they want nothing to do with the BDSers and their creepy campaign.This being the case, the chances for any actual divestment success remains stuck at zero

* Since Berkeley, pro-Israel student groups are no longer indifferent to what is being discussed and voted on in student government meetings.And since divestment votes only tend to get passed at these institutions when no one is paying attention, SJP groups can, at best, propose such legislation but the chances of seeing it passed remain extremely low

* That broad 90% of students who are largely indifferent to Middle East affairs seem to be showing a preference for the positive campaigning of Israel supporters vs. the negative messages and theatrics of Israel’s detractors

* School administrations are finally putting their foot down with regard to the type of violent disruptions and protests we saw in California last year (protests I always interpreted as a sign of weakness, resembling as they do the type of temper tantrums thrown by people who know they have lost the argument)

But SJP et al have a few aces up their sleeves, notably their imperviousness to setbacks and indifference to criticism which means they will keep up their campaigning regardless of whether it leads to any genuine BDS payoff.They also have the advantage of having clear (and militant) goals, which makes choosing attack-based strategies and tactics much easier (especially in a networked political environment where ideas can be shared and put into effect quickly on numerous campuses).In contrast, Israel supporters (like Israel itself), harbors hope not for the destruction of their political enemies but the opportunity to live in peace with them (or at least be left alone).As such, their choice of tactics is far less clear, no matter how well organized they might be.

The big wildcard to this prediction of stalemate (albeit a noisy one) is what happens over the coming months in the Middle East itself.For if there is another eruption of violence in the region (or, more specifically, if Israel decides to respond to attacks on it as they did in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008-2009 since violent attacks on Israel are never a cause of protest on the part of alleged “peace activists” like SJP), then the dynamics on campus and everywhere else will change overnight.

But since the decision of whether there will be war or peace resides in places like Tehran and Damascus, more so than even Washington or Jerusalem (much less US campuses), there is not much to be done to control that dynamic.And so a stalemate at colleges and universities is likely to persist, coupled with silent prayers by SJP and its supporters for a new war to break out that can help give their “movement” renewed energy (regardless of how many people might die in the process).

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4 Responses to Stalemate

  1. downtown dave October 21, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    It is important to be a blessing to Israel, and not a curse. http://483years.blogspot.com/

  2. Anonymous October 22, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    Jon,

    You made a very good point when you said:

    …Israel supporters…harbors hope not for the destruction of their political enemies but the opportunity to live in peace with them (or at least be left alone).

    This is the reason why all groups that oppose the liberals/BDS will never have a clear cut victory. The liberals, including all the groups inciting against Israel, clearly understand that to win, their opponents must be destroyed.

    We, on the other hand, want a level playing field. We also do not want to stop conflicting opinions from being heard, we just want a fair and balanced discussion. This is never going to happen. The BDS movement have had plenty of opportunities to modify their stance on Israel. Yet they choose, not only to maintain their fictitious narrative, but to demonize and marginalize any dissent. They will continue to use these tactics, because in the mind of the BDS, they work. They work because the dissention and animosity they spread affects everyone, it causes strife and makes the BDSers’ agenda the most important one, at least for a short time.

    We bemoan that fact that they invite speakers that use lies as a weapon, beguiling people too lazy to think for themselves. They one-up-us by not allowing our speakers to be heard at all.

    We will never win this war until we realize that our end goals allow the enemy to retreat, regroup and rearm. We think we have won during these periods of calm until they come roaring back with new lies and new tactics. Even if these tactics are reworked versions of the old tactics, they still show that the liberals will never give up. We cannot change them but we can change ourselves.

    W must think like the French general Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929), who said, ‘My center is giving way, my right is in retreat; situation excellent. I shall attack.’ The BDSers have declared war on everything we hold dear. We must not fight to a draw, but fight to the finish. Winning means destroying the enemy. Anyone who does not agree will be fighting the same fight until the end of time.

    SarahSue

  3. DrMike October 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    It's hard to actually “destroy” the BDSers. After all, their raison d'etre is the very existence of a Jewish state of Israel, so as long as Israel is there, then they will continue to agitate.
    The only way to end their influence is to thoroughly discredit both their message and their tactics, to take away their audience. After all, if a BDSer calls for boycott without anyone listening, did s/he really make a sound?
    I view this site as a public service to our side– it's information you can take back into your local community to expose BDS for the fake “peace” movement, and for the fraudulent “human rights” movement, that it claims to be.

  4. Anonymous October 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    The BDS'ers are like the whack a mole game- they keep showing up, no matter how many times they are beaten back.

    From UC Berkeley- after divestment was defeated years ago, it is rearing its ugly head again. This years baffling target is Sabra Hummus -the made in NYC chickpea spread.

    What can we say as we gear up for another food fight? How can we urge Students for Just us in Palestine to spread peace, love understanding and creamy hummus, and not just intolerance?

    Another interesting year ahead, I imagine

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