BDS Flops in Sonoma

Well those crazy BDSers failed again, this time in an attempt to drag the government of Sonoma County in California into their propaganda web by trying to make Veolia, the European transportation giant that does business in both the Zionist and West Coast entities, the focal point for one of their “You must do what we say because we say so!” campaigns.

You can read the whole story here, as well read more about other BDS efforts related to Veolia here and here.

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.”

20 thoughts on “BDS Flops in Sonoma”

  1. Great news. I didn't even know about this Sonoma effort.

    If I was to give the BDSers some advice, I would say maybe give up on Liberals and try co-opting Conservatives for a while. If you can't win in Park Slope (at a Food Coop FFS) and you can't win in Sonoma, it is obvious that your Liberal appeal is severely limited.

    But yesterday I was reading the comments section of a Yahoo news article about Obama giving Israel $70 million for Iron Dome upgrades. And you should have seen the vitriol in those comments – from Conservatives. These people hate Obama, of course, but they also hate Israel, and aren't too crazy about Jews either. BDSers should try their extremist message on that side of the political spectrum for a while. At least for a change.

    1. Face value much? Message boards like yahoo, youtube, etc are filled with trolls trying to give each other a black eye by using inflammatory language.

      The reality is the vast majority of Conservatives see Israel as a close ally and are angered at Obama for how he has treated them. The Iron Dome upgrade is nothing more than a pre-election carrot.

  2. Fizziks. BDS is there on both fringes — left and right. Not surprising, as BDS is the very definition of a fringe movement.

  3. In my experience BDS is somewhat right wing when talking amongst themselves – such as Mondoweiss going gaga over Ron Paul, but switches to the language of the Left when trying to sell themselves to others.

    I am saying they should try to market themselves to the Right for a while.

    1. I've met a lot of BDS activists, none of which have been conservative. Many BDSers agree with Ron Paul on matters of foreign policy and vehemently disagree with him on most other issues. Personally, I think that Ron Paul analysis of Israel comes just as close to the ideal as any other politician's, but I would never vote for him, because unlike many of the Israel-firsters who patrol this blog, I care about other issues too.

    2. Let's parse thIs comment by Anon a bit.
      1. The first 2 sentences are quite accurate, though one could elaborate on the possible reasons behind it. Certainly in the Bay Area the so-called progressives lead the anti-Israel movement, which leads to the curious scene of gays and lesbians protesting the one country in the Middle East in which they can be open about their identity, in favor of a repressive Islamist regime (Hamas) that oppresses gays funded by an even more repressive theocracy (Iran) that hangs the gays that (according to Ahmedinejad) they don't have. The far right Israel haters tend to be old school anti Semites and while they show up at “Hate Israel” rallies they haven't mastered the technique of hiding antiSemitism behind the more politically correct anti-Zionism. No, not all of the “hate Israel” crowd are anti-Semites, but it doesn't mean that none of them are. So it is true that many of them would agree with Paul on Israel and disagree about the rest.

      2. The use of the term “Israel Firsters” has even been repudiated by such haters as MJ Rosenberg. So the use by Anon certainly places him/her farther out on the hate spectrum. As to the assessment that I don't care about other issues– I, as well as 60-70% of American Jews– who OVERWHELMINGLY support Israel's existence as the state of the Jewish people– will vote for Obama in November. If I were a one issue voter I would vote Republican; but like many of those who “patrol” this blog

    3. (finishing comment)
      I also care about many other issues: the environment, income inequality, and health care reform.
      Of course, if Israel and BDS weren't important to you, then you wouldn't be spending time posting snarky comments here, right?

    4. 1) The LGBT community deals with a number of rights-based issues. I presume that the gays and lesbians in the Bay Area recognize that Israel's openness towards its own LGBT community doesn't give it carte blanche to do whatever it wants with the Palestinians.

      2) Many gays feel like they're being used by the Israeli government, Dr. Mike, and people like Dr. Mike to distract from other important issues in Israeli society and to paint Israel as an island of liberalism.
      I won't elaborate much further on the idea of 'pinkwashing', because I think that this now-famous NYT op-ed does the job:

      3. I've never met any BDSer who supports Hamas, the dictator of Iran, or Islamism. I'm sure that such people exist, but they're a very small minority whose views aren't taken very seriously. To be honest, Hamas is a nightmare for our movement.

      4. Again, there are certainly some anti-semites who call themselves pro-Palestinian. There are also anti-muslims who call themselves Zionists. For the most part though, these people are a very small minority, and their beliefs aren't tolerated.

      5. Obama and Romney differ very little on Israel. Obama may be slightly more vocal on the issue of the settlements, but hardly. He's still very willing to pledge as much money to Israel as possible whenever politically advantageous.

    5. I gotta say Anonymous, you and I have somehow each become familiar with a completely different group of BDS people.

      My exposure to them has been through internet forums such as Daily Kos and Huffington Post, the comments sections of Yahoo and CNN news, and of course the limited amount of Mondoweiss that I can stomach (“drip drip”). And what I see in those places is pretty consistent across the board support for the Iranian regime, pretty consistent support for Hamas, pretty consistent flirting with antisemitic memes, and pretty consistent support for Ron Paul on a wide range of issues not limited to foreign policy.

      So what can I say, other than we seem to be familiar with entirely different BDS people? You, or that guy “Aaron”, coming in here and claiming that BDS people aren't like that after all can't make me unsee what I have seen for the past 4 or 5 years. You guys would need one of those red light things from Men In Black to do that. Otherwise I gotta call 'em like I've seen 'em.

    6. So the difference between me and you is that I've actually met and spoken with BDS activists (many at that) and you haven't. As a result, you decided to base your opinion of BDS on vitriolic comments you read in mainstream internet forums whose authors may or may not have anything to do with the movement. Why is it that you think that whenever anyone says anything negative about Israel they automatically belong to the BDS movement and their views represent the entire BDS movement? If someone tries to convince me that Obama is actually a Kenya-born Muslim terrorist, am I going to think that his views represent those of the Republican party or am I just going to think that he's a blithering idiot?

    7. Anonymous. Stop. Most people on this website judge BDS based not just on the statements of the leadership of BDS (is Omar Barghouti once of your “blithering idiots” who does not represent the views of BDS?), but more importantly on their actions (comprised mostly of lies, petulance, and efforts to destroy civic space as memorialized on this website time and again) and the “three pillars” of the BDS movement (the official goals of BDS which (i) would destroy Israel, (ii) encourages rejectionism and retards the likelihood of actual peace, and (iii) which places the inner fantasies of the BDS cru (“I am a super-moral fighter for good and justice fighting against the mighty Jewish lobby — how cool am I”) above the actual welfare of the actual Palestinians).

      I am willing to give you the benefit of believing that you are one of those well-meaning persons who is not allowing himself to see the real picture of what BDS means and intends. But eventually, as in every cult, you move from the innocent deluded to the active enabler.

      BDS is not a peace or human rights movement, it is a war movement dedicated to victory at all costs (to both the Israelis and, remarkably, the Palestinians too).

    8. Wow, Anonymous, are you now claiming that Mondoweiss is not a BDS site? Because that would be shocking, as almost every pro-BDS person who comes in here pastes some link to it.

    9. I haven't spent much time amongst Lyndon LaRouche's followers either, Anon, but I sure know enough of them and about them that I don't feel the need to camp with fifteen of them in the Poconos for a month.

      I'll also grant you the benefit of the doubt here, despite my concerns about doing so as regards anonymous internet commenters (see how that goes both ways?), but this “no really, you haven't shared enough apartments with all the really awesome and totally not bigoted BDSers!” thing, which seems to be getting more common here lately, doesn't really hold up to the smell test, if you ask me.

      Am I to also suppose that those I've seen at certain anti-Israel rallies in places like Portland, OR and Philadelphia are also not reflective of the BDS 'movement' as a whole? And that only your particular associates, who somehow apparently have zero web presence, are?

  4. Anon @12:38AM –

    I believe BDS is the psy-ops operation of Hamas, Hizballah and Fatah.

    I will tell you a true story from my successful opposition to the BDS attempt at my food coop in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

    Our BDS advocates vociferously claimed there opposition to terrorism, just like you. On December 4, 2011, I attended one of their presentations.

    One of the presenters talked about the “apartheid wall,” saying its purpose was to steel “Palestinian” land. I commented that from the start of the 2nd Intifada until completion of large sections of the Security Barrier in July 2003, 73 suicide bomb attacks, murdering 295 people and injuring more than 1,900, were carried out from the West Bank. The Security Barrier has virtually eliminated those attacks.

    One of the audience members responded, “But the Palestinians have no choice.” There was not a single protest from any of the BDS advocates in the room. No one said something like, “Murder and terrorism is never justified. A solution lies in negotiations between both sides, seeing each other as equals. The purpose of BDS is to put pressure on Israel towards a negotiated settlement that is fair to the Palestinians.”

    You know why? Because Arafat and Abbas have been offered a fair negotiated settlement and both rejected it without providing a counter-offer.

    You know why? Because they aren't interested in peace. Because Arab rejectionism of Israel (a.k.a. Palestinian nationalism) is a racist movement based on the idea that non-Muslims (Jews, especially) are not entitled to the same human, civil, and national rights as Muslim Arabs.

    And you, and your friends, have been brain-washed to believe otherwise. But the evidence doesn't support you. You are tools.


    1. Well first of all, rejection of the current “security barrier” doesn't inherently imply that one rejects Israel's legitimate security needs. Obviously, Israel has a right to protect its citizens. I don't think anyone really denies that. It is true though that the security barrier extends deeply into the West Bank, separates farmers from their land, divides villages, and de facto steals Palestinian land. If the wall were built on the Green Line, no one would care. I think that the removal of the wall from Palestinian land is a very basic, sensible demand that I would hope wouldn't be contested by the people here who say they oppose the occupation.

      As for the audience member's comment, I can't really respond without having been there. It sounds like it was a poorly worded variation of the argument that oppression tends to foster terrorism against the oppressor, and that ending the oppression will ultimately end the violence.

      Arafat and Abbas have never been offered a fair negotiated settlement. Yes, Arafat was offered something slightly better than previous offers, but it was still completely unacceptable.
      And I'm not even going to respond to that comment on Palestinian nationalism. Just replace Palestinian nationalism with Zionism, Muslims with Jews, Jews with Muslims, and Muslim Arabs with Jews, and you'll get the true statement.

    2. Interesting . . .

      Anonymous: Question for you:

      Does your definition of a “fair negotiated settlement” include the full right of return? In other words, if Israel offered all land taken in 1967 in exchange for peace, would that be enough for you? Would you consider that “fair”?

      If you do not support a full right of return, then you should not be a member of BDS, because a full right of return is one of the “three pillars” of the BDS movement.

      If you support a full right of return, then all your nattering about the Wall is happy horseshit designed to distract from your real agenda and essential support for ethnic cleansing (real ethnic cleansing fyi, where there will be no more than a handful of jews left at best — for examples, please look at Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, not ethnic cleansing where you still comprise 10-20 percent of the population — for example, Israel).

  5. Being on the other coast, i never heard of Sonoma county, so I thought it was about a department store, Williams and Sonoma. Happy to note that Williams and Sonoma carry Israeli products, including SodaStream targeted by BDS. Double win?

  6. Great post Jon, I particularly liked your two paragraph description of BDS tactics. So much that I quote it (with link) at today. Thanks for the great work… this is a fantastic resource.

  7. OT: fizziks, dr. mike, Jay and Uncle Yo-yo:
    Can you please write to me at my blogs mailbox: stopbdsparkslope AT gmail DOT com? I need to crowd source a short project and I am hoping you can lend a hand. Thanks.


  8. More boycott news from California – they're trying to torpedo a potential sister city program between Sacramento and Ashekelon – even after the Jewish Community agreed to back Bethlehem as a sister city in exchange for the activist's backing Ashkelon. Bethlehem is now a sister city, but the BDS activists reneged on their word (no surprise). Article is here:

    -anonymous coward

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