As much as I like writing sentences that include BDSFail stories and sentiments, it’s usually difficult to actually characterize their losses as our wins, if only because we were not seeking victory at someone else’s expense (be it Israel, Veolia or the government or people of Sonoma County), but instead just wanted to prevent these civic institutions from falling into a trap being set for them by the BDSers.
But I would chalk up last this weeks’ story as a win for our side, specifically because of the way the boycotters’ message was so effectively countered by not one, not two, but three distinct parties.
Given how much they talk, it’s sometimes hard to remember that those pushing boycott and divestment really only have one rhetorical trick up their sleeve: to fill a room with heart-wrenching words and images of human suffering (only Palestinian human suffering, mind you) and insist that anyone who is emotionally impacted by these images has only one choice which is to do whatever the BDSers say.
In order for their “narrative” to succeed, its proponents must leave all history, politics and any information that does not fit their simple-minded storyline of pristine Palestinian innocence coupled with black-hatted, moustache-twirling Israeli villainy on the cutting room floor. But their one-trick, pathos-laden tactic benefits from the fact that those who use it also have a near sociopathic ability to ignore any and all information they don’t want to hear themselves (or, more importantly, to have others hear).
But at last week’s meeting of the Sonoma Human Rights Commission¸ where the BDSers did their usual thing of demanding that any organization that has “human rights” in its title belongs to them, they faced three distinct challengers who had all independently come to the same counter-argument from different directions.
First, you had the extremely able West Coast community of Israel’s friends who have had years of experience dealing with the likes the North Coast Coalition for Palestine (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days), alerting the Commission that the last thing on the boycotters’ minds was human rights, peace and justice (quoting liberally from the BDS “movement’s” most prominent leaders who claim that their ultimate goal is the elimination of Israel – quotes which reduced the outraged BDSers in the room to childish hissing).
Our side’s arguments that BDS is a failed effort designed to manipulate institutions like Sonoma County into their propaganda campaign was echoed by none other than Veolia itself – the target for the boycott’s slanders– whose local representative both exposed the numerous lies the boycotters had just told the Commission, and also pointed out how other attempts to portray the company as a human rights violator had been rejected by other groups that, unlike the North Coast Coalition for Palestine, actually do fight for human rights, peace and justice (rather than just hiding their militant campaign behind these virtue words).
Finally, you had the Commission itself which gave the boycotters a hearing and then politely told them that their jurisdiction did not encompass the whole world (just Sonoma Country), and that even if they ever decided they would look into the matter, they would do so themselves rather than rely on the context-free “facts” presented by the “Israel is Always Wrong” community.
Taken together, the messages that BDS is working actively against peace and human rights, that its proponents have no problem using lies and manipulation to get what they want, and that every person or organization in the world that actually cares about human rights does not have to bow down before Omar Barghouti and Company just because they insist on it is a lethal combination to the single, emotionally charged, dishonest argument that is the Alpha and Omega of the BDS “movement.”
So let that story go forth for anyone who wants to make sure that the most common word associated with the whole BDS project continues to be “failure.”