PennBDS: Hamsphire Conference Planning Transcript

22 Jan

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series More Silliness

I’ve been attempting to generate all new material in this month’s series of postings paralleling the PennBDS conference agenda, rather than fall back on a “clip show” of previous postings.  But the next item up on their program (entitled “BDS On Campus I: Divestment Workshop”) didn’t really provide an issue to which I could hook a response.  But it did remind me of a more light-hearted parody piece I wrote right before the last big BDS conference at Hampshire College in 2009.

Now the piece below was originally posted on a friend’s site, so technically I’m keeping to my original plan of only adding things now that have never appeared at Divest This before.  So with apologies to people who’ve seen this previously, I now give you what our divestment friends might call an example of “BDS and Literary Expression,” the secret transcript of the planning meeting for Hampshire BDS:

Hampshire BDS Conference Planning Meeting (2009)

A friend from Northampton slipped me a transcript of a recent planning meeting for next weekend’s divestment conference at Hampshire College. Apparently some of the original audio recording was garbled, so forgive any dead patches.

Freddy (Student for Justice in Palestine leader): OK gang, we’ve got to start this conference off with a bang. Now we’re still hoping Omar Barghouti can give the opening speech addressing the compelling need for a comprehensive boycott of Israeli academia. But in case he’s still taking his finals at Tel Aviv University, I thought we could begin with a stemwinder about the outstanding successes BDS has had this year.

Unknown Student (Female): Yeah! We could talk about the Norwegian government’s decision to pull out of Elbit!

Unknown Student (Male): Norway! Give me a break. They’ve already got squishy on us, highlighting the fact that they continue to invest in over 40 Israeli companies. Besides, who gives a sh*t what Norway thinks. Whoever heard of Norway?

Sven: I have. I was born there.

Unknown Student (Male): You know what I mean.

Yakov: As I Jew, I understand where you’re coming from. So why don’t we skip Norway for now and focus on university divestment. After all, most of the attendees will be college undergrads, and many of them – like me – will be Jewish.

Freddy: Yakov’s right. So who’s got the list of colleges that have divested from the Zionist Entity? Carlos – you’re head of the academic subcommittee of the action committee of the steering committee. What’s the number of wins have we had on the college front?

Carlos: [Sound of shuffling papers]. Well, according my latest research and calculations, the number of schools that have heeded our call and divested from Israel stands at [coughs].

Unknown Student [Female]: What was that Carlos? I didn’t hear you.

Carlos: [Coughs a few more times.] Well, zero actually.

Freddy: You mean after eight years of BDS committees working tirelessly on every college in the nation, not one school has actually divested a single dollar from the NaZionist Colonial Power?

Carlos: Well it sounds bad when you put it that way.

[Unintelligible arguing. Sounds of papers being thrown in the air and doors slamming.]

Freddy: OK, OK so we know what to say if the subject of academic divestment comes up. Here on the East Coast, we would have won a series of unending triumphs except for the ugly intervention of Lawrence Summers who tried to muzzle us at Harvard by calling us anti-Semites.

Sven: Actually, I am an anti-Semite.

Freddy: Sorry, Sven. I was just making a point. OK, so by invoking knee-jerk accusations of bigotry, that tired old misogynist “Sexism Summers” censored us by having the gall to state his opinion about what Harvard should or shouldn’t do, just because he as the college’s President at the time. And then his lackey Alan Dershowitz forced our own President here at Hampshire to say he’d never divest from Israel.

Carlos: Actually, the President of Hampshire said he’d never divest a year before Dershowitz showed up.

Freddy: That’s beside the point. After all, who gets to decide the school’s investment policies, the administration and investment managers, or us? Of course they’re going to use the excuse that we’re just a bunch of undergraduates who don’t speak on behalf of the college. But do any of them even know how to Tweet?

Yakov: I’ve got to agree with Freddy’s interpretation of events. While we may not have won any actual “victories,” I think it’s fair to say we’ve already won the war on campus. Oh, and did I mention I’m Jewish?

Freddy: OK, we have our storyline. While we may not have won any actual “victories” in the campus BDS wars, that’s just because of the stranglehold on discourse by the You-Know-Whos. And besides, it’s just a matter of time before some Left Coast college goes our way. After all, look how successful we’ve been at San Francisco State where we get to shout our message from the rooftops as well as shout down (I mean disrupt the Zionist narrative) whenever any ZioNazis dare to express their point of view.

Carlos: Actually, the President of S.F. State just condemned BDS as a “campaign to limit other’s free speech and reign in the free exchange of ideas [that] runs counter to everything S.F. State stands for.”

Unidentified Male Student: Carlos, can you please stop being such a killjoy. As we just discussed, it doesn’t matter if no colleges or universities actually divested. If a group of undergraduates like us just pretend they did, shouts loud enough and sends out enough press releases, then we can call it victory.

Yakov: Exactly. In fact, I just wrote a paper for my Physics and Class Conflict in the Middle East course entitled “Objective Reality is Whatever I Say it is” which clarifies this very topic. I brought some copies if anyone wants to read it now [sound of papers being pulled out of a knapsack].

Freddy: We’d better take that offline Comrade Yakov. We’ve still got a lot of ground to cover. OK, we have our storyline for declaring victory on campus, and – as usual – our friends at Sabeel have been working tirelessly to bring the Mainline Protestant churches in our camp.

Sven: Religion is the opiate of the masses!

Unidentified Female Student: That’s true Sven, but we should keep that to ourselves, especially since the Presbyterians and Methodists are just about the only major organizations that have squarely come out in favor of divestment. Carlos – has anyone else been added to this list in the last couple of years? I heard that the United Church of Lasertag has been flirting with a BDS resolution.

Carlos: Can I go to the bathroom?

[Door slams.]

Freddy: OK Carlos, come clean. Before you can take a bio-break, what are you trying to avoid telling us?

Carlos: Well, it’s just that…

Sven: Out with it.

Carlos: OK, the Presbyterians rejected their 2004 divestment vote in 2006. And they reiterated that choice in 2008, the same year that the Methodists rejected divestment unanimously. And with all due respect for our comrades at Sabeel, just this summer, the United Church of Canada voted down divestment, even after Sabeel made a passionate plea to stay on the BDS bandwagon. So basically, we’ve got nothing in the churches either.

[Long silence.]

All: Religion is the opiate of the masses!

Unidentified Female: To hell with those Bible thumping Presbyterian rednecks.

Freddy: OK, calm down everyone. Now we can’t start next month’s meeting just pretending that we’ve won on colleges that have rejected us, or shitting on the churches we were celebrating just two years ago. We’ve got to have some real victory to boast about, or everything will think we’re a bunch of ineffectual losers holding celebratory meetings as a substitute for real wins.

Yakov: Well we can’t talk about municipalities. Somerville and Seattle are the closest we ever got, and BDS was rejected unanimously in the former, and didn’t even get onto the ballot on the latter.

Unidentified Female Student: And US unions are out, they’re the most Zionist institution in the country outside of Evangelicals (unless you want to count the Lawyer’s Guild).

Yakov: My Dad told me that the last member of the Lawyer’s Guild just resigned.

Freddy: OK, scratch the Lawyer’s Guild. But come on guys, we’ve got to have one victory to talk about, just one. Is that too much to ask for by a movement like ours which has been on the march and in the ascendency for the last eight years?

[More silence.]

Unidentified Female Student: Norway?

[More silence.]

Unidentified Male Student: How’s this: Our brave Scandinavian comrades have boldly stood up to the Zionist pressure from the massive, all-powerful Norwegian Jewish lobby, creating a bold vanguard which will soon sweep that brave nation, and then the world!

[Sound of cheers, loud whoops and singing of Abba songs.]

Sven: Guys! Guys. First thing, Abba is Swedish. And second thing, I’ve got a little more bad news

End of transcript.

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