What’s a Linewaiter?

For those following what’s expected to be this season’s big BDS co-op fight in Park Slope New York, it’s worth taking a good look at the latest issue of the co-op’s monthly newsletter, the Linewaiter’s Gazette.

The first reason to check it out is to read a piece by Joe Holtz, one of the organization’s founders, who (on page 5) makes an appeal to fellow members to reject the referendum being voted on at the group’s general meeting later in March.  Not since the leaders of the Davis Food Co-op published explanations as to why they were rejecting a boycott have I read anything so lucid and original.

Like the leaders at Davis, Holtz points out that a boycott vote would violate the very principles upon which the co-op movement was founded, which flies in the face of claims by boycott advocates that the co-op’s mission unquestionably requires it to take a stand on Middle East politics (because “food is political” ­– whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean).

But Holtz also points out that a referendum (in which the majority would prevail) makes no sense with regard to a vote on something that would be interpreted as representing the uniform belief of the membership of the entire organization.  Yet opinions regarding who is right and who is wrong in the Middle East are clearly NOT uniform in Park Slope, testified by the fact that over a thousand members of an organization bitterly divided over the issue will be getting together to fight it out in a few weeks time.

Under such circumstances, would a referendum (or any majority vote) on the subject mean that consensus had been reached that the co-op was ready to speak in one voice on a controversial political subject?  Or would it simply end up the means whereby a simple majority could try to win the right to speak in the name of every man, woman and child in the organization?

Holtz also points out those advocating for their political beliefs have the means to communicate their message, by publishing letters in the Gazette in which they can try to persuade fellow members to make individual decisions regarding what to buy (and not buy) that comports to the BDS (or any other) political agenda.  But convincing individuals to make individual choices is clearly not what the BDSers are after.  Rather, they desire to claim the name and reputation of the entire institution and all its memberships (past and present) as complying with their “Israel = Apartheid” propaganda message, the opinion of those who disagree with this political interpretation be damned.  And as Holtz implies, majority rule should not decide who gets to own the organization’s name and reputation.

Other articles on the same subject (especially the letters to the editor which start on page 12) are another reason for you to read this month’s Linewaiter’s Gazette since they help illustrate a phenomena that invariably visits an organization forced to host a BDS fight, a phenomena I dubbed “TheCircus.”

Did you know, for example, that those who oppose the boycott are guilty of violence and intimidation? (Or, to be more specific, the boycotters want to place their opponents on the defensive for the anti-social activity that may or may not have taken place by those who oppose the boycott.)

I say “may or may not” because this is not the first time BDS champions have accused their critics of using threats and violence to harass them.  After the Olympia Co-op boycott was stuffed down the throats of the membership, I heard similar accusations thrown into the faces of those who opposed this decision, accusations I took at face value when they were first made (assuming that there could very well be a deranged individual somewhere who thought he was doing the right thing by making harassing phone calls to the store).   But once these accusations escalated to where members of Olympia BDS were claiming to have received hundreds of death threats, I quickly realized that this was just another set of tactical lies designed to shut up the boycotter’s foes.

Keep in mind that the people trading accusations of harassment, violence, racism, cynicism and hypocrisy (on both sides of the issue) in the letters page are not strangers but neighbors, people who once came together in common cause to create and maintain a civic institution (in this case, a food co-op) designed to support and provide for the needs of all.

This degradation of civic life – all so a group of single issue partisans who refuse to take no for an answer – can claim to speak for everyone else gets at the heart of why I find BDS such a sickening phenomena.  My loathing of the lies behind the whole “Israel = Apartheid” propaganda message obviously plays a role, but the entire BDS “movement” would be far less contemptible if it didn’t prey on people with consciences (which the BDSers so clearly lack), just so they can leverage someone else’s reputation to try to punch above their own limited political weight.

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13 Responses to What’s a Linewaiter?

  1. Anonymous March 11, 2012 at 1:23 am #

    Most major civil/human rights issues are and have been met with extreme opposition. They are so divisive because they challenge the status quo. The Civil Rights Movement, Gay Rights Movement, and Feminist Movement were (are) all dividing forces and have caused “harassment, violence, racism, cynicism and hypocrisy (on both sides of the issue)” among “neighbors, not strangers”. The leaders of these movements also couldn't wait for “consensus” before calling for widespread governmental reform. In fact, it was because of new laws and institutional policies (food co-ops for example) intended to protect these groups that societal opinion eventually swayed in their favor.

  2. Jon March 11, 2012 at 2:21 am #

    Ah, but what if (just for the sake of argument), the BDS movement is not an example of a civil/human rights movement, but is instead the propaganda arm of a war movement that is using the language and symbolism of civil and human rights to try to sway people of good will towards their militant agenda?

    In that case, it is not BDS advocates that are fighting for justice, but their opponents. And, if you read the article above, I point out that BDSers have not – despite their endless complaints – encountered any actual harassment or violence, simply opposition which they declare illegitimate, regardless of what form it takes.

    In fact, if being targeted by harassment and violence is the sign of a real civil rights movement, then it turns outs to be Israel's opponents who routinely use tactics such as shouting down opposing speakers, indicating yet again that it is Israel and its defenders who represent the true civil and human rights cause, leaving BDS the inheritors of the South African Apartheid (not anti-Apartheid) tradition, resembling nothing more than apologists for Jim Crow complaining that their own right to behave as bigots is being infringed.

    • Anonymous March 13, 2012 at 5:12 am #

      Yes, Desmond Tutu is the inheritor of the South African Apartheid tradition.

    • Jon March 13, 2012 at 11:52 am #

      Ah, the Tutu blast shield gets rolled out. Funny how he's the only South African that actually exists any more, despite how his opinion contradicts others (such as Nelson Mandela as well as this chap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se5xTh8uwyo).

      If it's any consolation, it is you and your “movement” that are the inheritors of the Apartheid tradition (both directly and indirectly – given that the initial Israel = Apartheid campaigns were funded by your allies who earned money by selling oil to Apartheid South Africa in exchange for blood gold).

      Desmond Tutu, in contrast, is simply wrong about something (it happens to the best of us).

    • Jon March 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

      Oh no! Links to web sites confirming what you already believe! Whatsoever will I do! I'm doomed, doomed I tell you!

      Before taking the obvious route and posting links of my own, just two quick questions:

      * Where did South Africa get all that oil it used to run its machinery of repression (it certainly couldn't have been an Israel with no oil)

      * And where did Saudi Arabia and other Arab League states get all that South African gold they bought throughout the Apartheid years?

      Certainly someone who hates hatred, bigotry and Apartheid, and who cares about the suffering of black South Africans as much as you do will be honest enough to answer these simple questions.

    • Anonymous March 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

      Since when did I say I was pro-Saudi Arabia? I'm not. That generalization is like saying I'm pro-Japan because I support liberty in North Korea. I was only remarking on your failure to acknowledge Israel's complicity in the apartheid regime.

    • Jon March 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

      I know you'd prefer that the Middle East not enter a discussion about the Middle East, but the only reason why the Palestinian cause is on the map (as opposed other refugee populations such as Kurds and Tibetans who, at most, can count on the occasional bumper sticker) is because it is allied with and supported by these very regimes you claim to not be “pro-” of.

      The role of these regimes in supplying Apartheid South Africa the vital oil supplies it needed to survive (as opposed to the relatively piddly economic activity South Africa had with tiny Israel) is not just academic. For at the very time the whole “Israel = Apartheid” message was being cooked up at the United Nations (and elsewhere), those who were selling this message were scoring billions in an illicit oil-for-gold trade, currency that (among other things) bought the votes needed to condemn Israel as an “Apartheid State.”

      So before we take your claims to be morally bothers by Israel's relationship with South Africa seriously, I'm just checking if playing footsie with Apartheid is something that actually bothers you (at least to the point of self reflection), or if you only prefer to use it as a weapon against those with whom you politically disagree.

  3. the SFC March 12, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    Hello anonymous,

    Is there anything that could constitute a setback for BDS, or an indication that it might not be successful or righteous? Do you have any mechanism for an internal gut check? Or is every single loss just yet more 'proof' that you are somehow in the tradition of these other movements you mention?

    Do you ever consider that you might not be? Is there any mechanism for serious self-reflection. Do you consider the possibility that fundamentally those movements were about justice, while BDS, with its opposition to two states for two peoples, peace building, and Jewish self-determination is on the side of wrong?

    In any case, are you this David Harris Gershon character?

    • Anonymous March 13, 2012 at 5:30 am #

      Is there anything that could constitute a setback for BDS, or an indication that it might not be successful or righteous?

      Do you have any mechanism for an internal gut check?
      Do you? What more do I need than the hundreds of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and UN reports that ultimately come to the very same conclusions about the abysmal conditions under which Palestinians live? What is your reasoning for thinking the way you do? Where is your gut check?

      Or is every single loss just yet more 'proof' that you are somehow in the tradition of these other movements you mention?
      “Winning” or “losing” bears no indication of the worthiness of a cause. Sure, the South Africans were ultimately successful in their movement, but it took decades (and many failures) before anyone in the US cared enough to act. Admittedly, that movement didn't have to contend with a powerful American pro Afrikaners lobby. We're not so lucky.

      Do you ever consider that you might not be? Is there any mechanism for serious self-reflection.
      Repeated questions..

      Do you consider the possibility that fundamentally those movements were about justice, while BDS, with its opposition to two states for two peoples, peace building, and Jewish self-determination is on the side of wrong?
      “Two states for two peoples” You mean segregation? Apartheid? Read about the bantustans in South Africa, please.
      “peace building” Does this happen before or after Israel builds a few more settlements?
      “Jewish self-determination” 'Jewish' self-determination immediately delegates the Palestinian citizens of Israel to second-class citizens. Moreover, it's no different than the cry for “white self-determination” that became a focal point of the South African apartheid regime.

    • Jon March 13, 2012 at 11:56 am #

      To a certain extent, the utter lack of ability to reflect that SFC has drawn out of our visit also reflects an utter lack of ability to think (or at least square one's beliefs with reality). This is actually one of the more important reasons why the BDS “movement” keeps losing since it insists on living in its own reality where it's members represent all that is good and righteous, while its enemies represent pure evil. The fact that others reject this characterization overwhelmingly will not make them change their goals, the strategies or their tactics since this would require stepping outside the comfortable pseudo-reality they have constructed around themselves.

      So this kind of behavior (as bewildering and sometimes distasteful as it might be) is actually our secret weapon on a largely successful to not just defeat BDS but use those endless defeats to help discredit the entire effort to de-legitimize the Jewish state.

  4. DrMike March 13, 2012 at 5:35 am #

    BDS events aren't treated to this type of disruption:

    (Israelis disrupted at UC Davis)

    (Israeli shouted down at Hampshire College)

    (Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren shouted down at UC Irvine)

    Israeli ARAB diplomat Ishmail Khaldi shouted down in Scotland

    The difference between the two sides is that Israel has acknowledged Palestinian rights, and wants the rights of the Jewish people acknowledged in return. The BDS cru acknowledges only Palestinian rights and refuses to accept the national rights of the Jewish nation.

    Now, which side is actually a “human rights” movement?

  5. Anonymous March 13, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    Oh come on SFC, you had to know what our anon BDSer would say. They already know they are the most righteous of the earth and incapable of being wrong. That's why they will accept no compromises, why they partner with those calling for genocide, why they partner with Nazis (past and present), why they lie. They are saving the world, making it a better more perfect place just like Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin and Hitler.

    Now just watch the BDS BS anon spews back. Anon will make all sorts of false claims about Israel now.

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