Headlines

In case you haven’t visited there yet, I recommend you stop by and bookmark the new BDS Global Digest site which is doing a job this site’s never been able to do adequately: providing ongoing reports of BDS and BDS-related stories in the news.

Two of their stories seem to point to the Israeli economy reaching a tipping point with regard to the relationship between the Jewish state and the rest of the world.

This piece highlights Apple Computer’s decision to open its first development center outside of the US in Haifa, Israel.   If you add this remarkable accomplishment to decisions made by two other technology behemoths – Intel and Google – to double down on Israel, we have at last gotten to a point where a BDSer can’t touch a mouse or keyboard without busting their own boycott (and, in effect, becoming a scab to their own cause).

The second story tells of a $100MM+ partnership between Cornell University and Israel’s Technion Institute which will create a new applied sciences campus in New York City.  This bid beat out proposals by other major institutions, all of which brought plenty to the table, albeit without an Israeli partner.  So far from being an albatross around the neck of Cornell, academic linkages with the Jewish state have proven to be the source of fantastic success.

Which brings up this interesting headline regarding the University of Pennsylvania’s decision to distance itself from a major BDS conference that will take place there in February.  In this case, the school is not preventing the event from taking place but is simply making it clear that the opinions of the Penn BDSers and their guests are not shared by the university itself in any way, shape or form.

Needless to say, the organizers of the event are blaming this dissing on the usual bogeymen, while all the time claiming that endorsement of the university means nothing to them anyway (a strange claim indeed from a movement which exists solely to get its words to come out of the mouth of major institutions like the U Penn).

In a way, Israel’s foes are also trying to create their own tipping point, hoping if they can get enough schools, churches, rock stars and food co-ops to join their little boycott that this will create precedent which (they hope) will lead to similar groups signing up for the BDS program automatically.  This need to create an illusion of momentum is why they play up every win (no matter how tiny) and ignore every loss (no matter how huge).  It’s why they today claim to not give a damn about what U Penn thinks, even though PennBDS (sponsors of next year’s conference) are allegedly working morning, noon and night to get that school to share their opinion on the Middle East (and act accordingly).

There will be more (a lot more) to say about the U Penn event in the new year, but before wishing everyone a happy Kwanznukamas and signing off, I wanted to end with this final headline I stumbled across during my semi-regular Google search for BDS-related news:

OK, OK, in this case “BDS” refers to the dental examination, not the “mass movement” designed to bring the Israeli economy to its knees through song, dance and kvetching.  But still, it’s got nice ring to it so I thought I’d leave it with you to savor for the rest of the holiday season.

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33 Responses to Headlines

  1. fizziks December 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    Just wanted to say that I love this site and its a great resource. Long time reader, first time commenter here. Keep up the great work!

  2. Anonymous December 27, 2011 at 4:34 am #

    “…even though PennBDS (sponsors of next year’s conference) are allegedly working morning, noon and night to get that school to share their opinion on the Middle East (and act accordingly).”

    What's your source on this?

  3. Jon December 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Fizziks – Merci for the kind words!

    And Anon – If the PennBDS were indifferent to “Divestment,” (at U Penn or elsewhere) wouldn't they simply call themselves “PennBS” to avoid confusion?

  4. Anonymous December 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    So, you basically admit that you just invented that assertion. Which is what I thought. Between you and StandWithUs, it seems that the anti-BDS crew has a difficult time arguing its case without flat-out fabrication.

    My name's Matt, and I'm a PennBDS organizer. Contrary to the lie you just made up, we have exerted no efforts whatsoever to “get the school [i.e., the administration] to share our opinion” on BDS. As students of UPenn, we are well aware that the administration's Zionists commitments run deeper than they may at, say, Berkeley or Hampshire College. For that reason, we don't focus on institutional divestment. We work on the TIAA-CREF campaign, which makes no claims on the administration or the student government.

    But the key point here is that you fellows have no compunction about lying. If you believe you have a legitimate case, why make things up?

  5. Anonymous December 27, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    To Matt:

    I've had the pleasure of having beer with this blogger. I can personally vouch for his integrity, his honesty, and his commitment. And if he says Pinky and the Brain are the driving force behind the divestment fiasco, I believe him. It would certainly explain the wave of sucess you've had in the last 10 years with BDS in America

    http://www.divestthis.com/2009/12/hampshire-and-brain-party-1.html

    Truly. What reason would he have to lie?

    Narf.

  6. Jon December 27, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    Dear Matt – I appreciate the piss and vinegar you bring to your cause, but suggest that – as an advocate for BDS – you avoid the “L-word” that litters your last response.

    After all, that very response includes two examples of BDS hoaxes, frauds and – yes – lies, upon which your “movement” has been built: Hampshire College (which never divested from Israel, but which SJPers continue to claim did) and TIAA-CREF (which BDSers claimed had divested in 2009, before they flushed that hoax down the memory hole in order to start the campaign you are embracing in 2010).

    In short, a “movement” as steeped in dishonesty as BDS should avoid crying “liar” at the drop of a hat (unless, of course, you hope to avoid facing the truth about hoaxes like Hampshire and CREF by simply accusing others of your own sins).

  7. Anonymous December 27, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    Right, so, I catch you–you personally–publishing a fabricated claim, and your response is to deflect responsibiity by invoking statements you attribute to nameless “SJPers.” Your response to me is essentially, “Some anonymous other people I happen to associate with you/BDS have made claims I believe to be false, therefore it's entirely permissible for me to publish lies.” Why don't you just accept responsibility for publishing a totally baseless claim simply in order to make a rhetorical point? If you don't have the integrity to do that, then how can your readers trust anything you have to say?

    Matt

  8. Anonymous December 27, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    Matt- you create your own definition- the school = the administration and base your claim on that.
    Can you say “red herring”? I think you can.
    Well, to me, the school = the administration, the students and the staff and yes, you are working hard to convince the school to take on your highly unpopular cause.
    Matt, why don't you just accept responsibility for publishing a red herring simply in order to make a rhetorical point? If you don't have the integrity to do that, then how can anyone trust anything you have to say?

  9. M December 27, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    Actually, even under your interpretation, his claim would be false. PennBDS came into existence about three months ago. We are still at the stage of internal organizing and planning, and have done absolutely no campus outreach on TIAA-CREF to students, professors, or staff. So his claim that we are “working morning, noon and night to get that school to share [our] opinion on the Middle East (and act accordingly)” is simply false under any interpretation. We have been working “morning, noon and night” to program and fundraise for our BDS conference, which is an internal solidarity and education event that will largely be attended by BDS activists. So everything we've done so far has been entirely unrelated to convincing the “school” to share our views.

    Not that I expect Jon to know any of this. I only expect that, since he made no attempt to reach out to us and ask us what we're up to, he would refrain from making something up out of thin air. Now that he's been called out, he should own up to his lie and move on.

  10. Reuven December 27, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    I read about both Apple and the Cornell-Technion joint venture and was really happy about both. I've joked that if I ever run into one of the BDS people in front of a store I'm heading into, I'll ask them for their list of Israeli products, and, once they hand it over, I'll thank them for letting me know which products I should be on the lookout for to buy.

  11. Anonymous December 27, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    My goodness! A virtual ocean filled with red herrings. This must be what they call a “red tide”. Now you've changed the definition AGAIN to involve outreach on TIAA Cref. Thats not what Jon had said.
    And looking at the twitter record, why yes, it appears that Jon is accurate. Morning Noon and Night. Given your 10 year record of failure as a movement, maybe there simply aren't enough hours in the day to popularize BDS in America.

    Jon, may you go from strenth to strength in 2012. And for you, Matt- just keep doing what you've been doing. Dont change a thing.

  12. Jon December 27, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

    Nice riposte Matt, but I fear that it places you in a bit of a rhetorical pickle.

    For to prove that I was in error when I stated that an organization that has named itself “PennBDS” might want to continue a ten year tradition of trying to get the University of Pennsylvania (the Penn of your group’s name) to divest (the “D” of “BDS”), you would need to show that – despite your group’s name – the official policy of the PennBDS organization is to NOT pursue divestment at your university.

    And to prove that this was not a simple error on my part, but part of a deliberate deception (or lie), then the fact that PennBDS is NOT interested in getting any divestment accomplished at Penn must be such common knowledge that anyone stating otherwise must be participating in a deliberate campaign of lies against your group.

    Now since you seem to be officially involved with the PennBDS group, perhaps you can explain to us the policy of your organization and the reasons why it has not, is not, and will not seek to get the University of Pennsylvania to divest from Israel (the threshold for proving my original assertion was in error).

    And once you have provided us factual information proving that a group named PennBDS is not interested in divestment at Penn, you can then show us that this information is so well known and so publically available that anyone daring to claim that your group is interested in divestment is telling deliberate lies.

    That’s all it will take to prove me wrong (or worse). So have at it!

    Jon

  13. M December 27, 2011 at 11:34 pm #

    Your claim wasn't that we hope the school will one day divest. Of course we do. Your claim was that we are “working morning, noon and night to get [the] school to share [our] opinion on the Middle East (and act accordingly).” Which is false. We have, in our three months of existence, done no such thing. Not that we won't in the future. Just that we haven't yet, contrary to your fabrication.

  14. Anonymous December 27, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    Just curious , Matt. Was it your little group that triggered the mass purchase of Sabra hummus just last week in Philly?

    http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/22282/In_West_Philly_Hummus_Stands_In/

    Nice Job, Matt. Way to go, helping to support the only real democracy in the Middle east – though I should mention- Sabra hummus is manufactured in New York

  15. M December 28, 2011 at 12:16 am #

    No. Read the article you just cited. That was Philly BDS. An unrelated group.

  16. Anonymous December 28, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    IAN just issued an update about this planned meeting: “We anticipate that it will be primarily attended by the outside community and not students, since learning that just a single student is behind the group “PennBDS,” the student organization implemented for the sole purpose of hosting this conference.”

    Jon. looks like you found him!
    Happy Holidays and keep up the good work.

  17. M December 28, 2011 at 1:40 am #

    That update contains two errors. (Again, the nature of what we're doing is not secret. Ask us and we are happy to share. No need to make things up.) To correct the record: there are about 12 core organizers, and three executive board members, of which I am one. I am, in fact, the least senior of the three. Second, the group was not formed solely to put on the conference. The conference will serve as the kickoff event for our TIAA-CREF campaign.

    But the other part is true. As I said above, we anticipate the conference will attract BDS activists, just due to its nature and the fact that it's an open event.

  18. Jon December 28, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    So wait a minute Matt. Now you’re telling us that a goal (if not immediate) of the PennBDS organization *IS* to get the University of Pennsylvania to divest from Israel. (Which makes perfect sense, given the name you chose for your group, and given that divestment has been pushed at Penn on and off since 2002.)

    And yet when someone points out that a group that names itself PennBDS might be dedicated to BDS at Penn, you declare them a damned liar and start to split hairs because this year’s re-configuration of BDS forces at your school happens to have other items topping their agenda over the next couple of months.

    Honestly, I thought I was actually debating someone who was ready to become a serious interlocutor in support of the BDS cause (something sorely lacking from your friends at JVP, by the way), not someone looking to make a lawyer’s point that describing you as working “morning, noon and night” for BDS at Penn is a “damned lie” because you happened to have slept in until 1 this afternoon.

    PennBDS is a BDS organization. Live with it. And one of your goals is to get the University of Pennsylvania to do what you want. Live with that too. And Penn, like every college and university in the country over the last ten years, has said they’re not interested in what you have to sell. And that’s something you’ll also have to live with, no matter how much faux outrage you manage to muster to befog the air in avoidance of the one point that won’t be on the agenda next year: that BDS is probably the biggest political loser seen in a generation.

  19. M December 28, 2011 at 2:57 am #

    If you consider BDS to be such an insignificant phenomenon, then why do you spend your time blogging about it? Clearly you view it as a threat. Otherwise you wouldn't bother.

  20. Anonymous December 28, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    Matt, ever see a gelatinous object on the beach, and feel the urge to poke it with a stick?
    This blog is a virtual poke with a stick to you and your friends, who apparently reject the notion that closer social, economic and cultural ties are an appropriate path to peace.

  21. M December 28, 2011 at 5:09 am #

    When you figure out how closer social, economic and cultural ties are going to halt the expansion of West Bank settlements, please let us know and we will consider your advice.

  22. DrMike December 28, 2011 at 5:20 am #

    Matt, many things start as insignificant phenomena but if unchecked become dangerous–to use a medical analogy, like a virus that mutates and spreads among a population. So to make sure that it doesn't spread, we immunize people. In instances like this, with information–not only about the truth of the situation in Israel/Palestine, but also by exposing your own lies about your goals.

    For example, your own website states: “PennBDS is a recognized student group at the University of Pennsylvania that advocates for, and educates the Penn community about, the growing global campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction (BDS) the State of Israel until it complies with its obligations under international and human rights law.” Now, most BDS groups (you and your handful of colleagues as well?) include within this the “obligation” for Israel to accept millions of descendants of refugees from the 1947-8 war– you remember that one, when the Arabs vowed to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state and carry out a “momentous massacre”? So can you please describe for us exactly which documents of “international and human rights law” require any country to do this? (And don't quote GA resolution 194, which is not any type of law nor does it mention any “right” of return for refugees).
    Or would you like to state publicly here that you are breaking with the BDS Movement and NOT insisting on the end of Israel as a Jewish state?
    I look forward to your response.

  23. M December 28, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    I'm not going to have an argument about international law with some stranger in the comments section of a blog. But if you're interested in an international legal account of the right of refugees to return that I find persuasive, you can read Akram, Susan M. “Myths and realities of the Palestinian refugee problem: Reframing the right of return” in International Law and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, eds. Akram, Susan et al., Routledge 2011.

    In short, the right seems incontestably to have a legal basis. In the (unlikely) event of a negotiated peace, I presume the parties will find some mutually-agreed resolution as to that right's degree of implementation. But it's my understanding that the right itself is not really disputed by any serious legal authorities. See the article for details.

  24. Jon December 28, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Matt – I’m glad to see you’ve gotten past the “you’re a damn liar for saying PennBDS is a BDS organization targeting Penn” cul-de-sac you were stuck in. And as for measuring the significance of BDS by the opposition to it, couldn’t I make the same argument saying that Israel’s stupendous success must really be getting up your nose, otherwise why run a BDS conference targeting it?

    No doubt you would reply that it is not jealousy and fright of Israel’s wonderfulness that triggers your protests, but your perception of injustice. And that is exactly what motivates me, not the success of BDS but its venality, ugliness and ruthlessness. I target it because of what I’ve seen it do to communities (including the city I once lived in) turning people against one another solely so a bunch of narrow minded partisans can attempt to punch above their own limited political weight at someone else’s expense.

    Now I can only speak for myself, but I suspect that the reason other people seem to have gotten on the anti-BDS bandwagon over the last few years is because in addition to being a component of nasty propaganda war (not the “peace movement” it claims to be), BDS is also relatively easy to defeat (which is why even risk-averse mainstream Jewish organizations are comfortable giving it the boot).

    So you see, there are numerous reasons why this blog and other similar anti-BDS activities might exist. Although, if you want to use our existence as your sole criterion for success, I can understand that. After more than a decade of failure trying to get anyone to actually boycott, divest from or sanction Israel (including at U Penn), I can understand your desire to find any other metric to measure your success against.

  25. Anonymous December 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    PennBDS looks like this year incarnation of Penn for Palestine (PFP), which was formerly known as UPenn Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). PFP no longer looks active. Funny how these things work. Is it, Matt?

  26. M December 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    No. PfP is even more active on campus than PennBDS is, having held at least 6 or 7 Palestine-related events this year. The groups have separate mandates. PfP is cultural and educational, PennBDS is action- and advocacy-oriented. This relates to issues of University club registration, funding, and also the ideological preferences of the members (i.e., PfP is more “ecumenical” on BDS, and includes students who don't support it as a tactic).

  27. DrMike December 29, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    Matt: Not surprised to see that you can't refer to any actual document of international law. I don't have to refer people to unlinked sources if I know the content. Is that how you answer people you don't know at Penn when they ask you about this issue?
    But since you apparently do endorse this fiction, at least you make it clear that PennBDS, like all other BDS groups, is not in any way a peace group. It insists on the elimination of the national rights of the Jewish people. That's not promoting peace, that's war by other means.
    PennBDS should at least be honest that your goal, though not your methods, is the exact same one as Hamas.

  28. uncle yo-yo December 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    Forget about Mike. He is singing from the same songbook of half-truths, grudging admissions, and deceit as every other BDSer. Look at how he pretended it is all about the settlements in his 12:09 AM comment (because that is how you appear reasonable to the rubes and the dupes), and then, when called on it, had to grudgingly admit that he will continue to pursue BDS even if the West Bank become judenfrei, because there is always the right of return as a reason for BDS.

    Mike, like every other one of his ilk, is maximalist in his demands. Why? Because in his fantasies he likes to think of himself as a wonderful person and warrior who is willing to shed blood (not his) and treasure (not his) and bear terrible suffering (not his) to see “justice” done (even though the “justice” he supposedly seeks is obviously not true justice).

    Mike, I hope you are young and have time to grow up.

  29. fizziks December 29, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    Matt: I vociferously oppose BDS because they don't support a two state peace for I/P, but rather the destruction of Israel and Jewish self-determination within any borders.

    I wish you guys, and every other anti-Israel compaigner and organization, would at least be honest about your goals. You don't really care about settlements, defensive walls, or anything else. You oppose the existence of Israel, and wouldn't stop your activities even if Israel retreated right to the green line.

    I support a two state peace and final settlement and that is why I oppose, and will continue to oppose, BDS. I also oppose you because you are unethical liars, and because you are just so banal.

  30. Anonymous December 29, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    His name appears to be Matt, not Mike, uncle yo-yo.

    But everything else you said nails it. As for his hopes for growing up, it tends to take a lot of time, but it does sometimes happen. I suspect that the self-esteem dearth that drives him to seek inner redemption in this hobby of his (anti-Israelism) has to heal, allowing mature morals and logic to assume their natural authority.
    Johnny

  31. Anonymous December 30, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    Dr. Mike, it's worth noting that BDS shares not only the same goals as Hamas, but that Hamas is part of the BDS movement. Often, the first group listed in the call for BDS is the National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, which includes Hamas and the PFLP if I remember right.

    So what we should remind people of is not only that BDS groups share goals with Hamas, but that Hamas is actually a coalition partner with BDS groups like Penn BDS. Just another sign that these groups aren't interested in peace.

    But as Uncle Yo-yo points out, rational argument is lost on Matt and others in the BDS movement.

  32. Anonymous December 31, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Matt, you mentioned that PennBDS is a separate group than PFP because, at least in part, not all PFP members support BDS and your new group registration relates to issues of University club regulations. Your supporters seem to be up in arms however over a statement on your BDS conference website noting “that speakers do not necessarily support the BDS movement.” Are you sure these multiple student groups were not created to trick Penn administration and to just double up on the University resources?

  33. DrMike December 31, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    Anon, can you give us some more information on this internecine battle over BDS?
    I wonder– was that statement just put up there to give political cover to Jewish Voice for Peace, whose leaders take every opportunity to speak out in support of BDS yet still claim that they don't actually support it? After all, Rebecca Vilkomerson will be featured at this conference– and will be speaking out in support of BDS.

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