What Would Normal People Do?

A couple of news items and some recent exchanges in the comments section got me thinking again about the vast gulf between BDS and any normal political movement.

Starting out with the news of the day (actually, yesterday), an Israeli court finally exonerated the Israeli Defense Forces from charges that they deliberately ran over Rachel Corrie with a tractor.  And given that an American court refused to take on a similar case against the manufacturers of said tractor, at least two justice systems seem to be in agreement that the person who places herself in a war zone bears some responsibility if they get hurt or even (tragically) killed.

Now a normal political movement might stop for a moment and reflect on the possibility that their own behavior and choices did far more to contribute to the situation that ended Rachel Corrie’s life than either the IDF or a tractor company.  But as we all know, BDS (or, in this case, the part of the BDS “movement” represented by the International Solidarity Movement or ISM – Corrie’s handlers) is not a normal political project.

Given the time, money, energy and resources they have put into not just suing everyone around them but also launching campaign after campaign to demonize the Jewish state as deliberate child murderers, couldn’t the ISM (and other contributor’s to Corrie’s martyrdom) spare even a few moments to reflect on their own responsibility for her death?  After all, ISM still exists and is still doing the very same things that preceded Corrie getting killed in Gaza those many years ago.

So if it turns out that helping people slip into Israel under false pretenses, organizing protest trips to conflict areas and encouraging members to place themselves in harm’s way actually does contribute to injury or death, ISM leaders seem completely disinterested in thinking about what this might mean in terms of their own responsibility.  Which means it’s just a matter of time before they get someone else killed (and use that corpse to generate new momentum for their propaganda campaigns).

Turning to more local news, a Boston-based food coop has rejected appeals that they put a boycott of evil Israel-supporting hummus to a member vote, despite months of effort by BDS activists insisting they had no choice on the matter.

But the coop did have a choice, a choice to not allow a group of single-issue partisans to wreak havoc on a community organization that exists for purposes other than serving as a plaything for local Israel haters.

Now a normal political movement would never have considered trying to shove a boycott the leaders of the coop clearly didn’t want, a boycott vote that would have needlessly alienated and antagonized large numbers of coop members, down the throat of the organization.

But BDS is not a normal political movement, is it?  Rather, it is an abnormal movement of the self-centered and selfish who have lost another battle against an organization that made the normal decision to not hand decision-making power over to a bunch of obsessive jerks.

Finally, we get to the justifications we’ve seen in the comments section lately regarding why a movement that allies itself with the most reactionary, human-rights abusing political entities on the face of the earth simultaneously considers itself the gold standard of progressive politics.

The usual excuses are unfurled whenever one brings up the fact that the BDSers’ devotion to human rights never seems to extend to other victims of human rights abuses, even other Arab ones, even other Palestinian ones.  And pointing out the repression of women and homosexuals in lands such as Gaza (where organizations like ISM work tirelessly to smuggle supplies and break a fully-legal blockade) just brings up accusations of “pinkwashing,” a fake phenomena created by the boycotters to avoid having to talk about subjects they would rather not even think about.

Now a normal political movement could handle this by simply saying that they understand Israel is not the greatest human rights abuser on the planet or that their calls for immediate and unconditional Palestinian statehood might have the unintended consequences of triggering more conflict and extending gender and sexual Apartheid even further in the Arab world, but insist that this is a price worth paying for what they perceive as a greater good.

But such an admission would not allow them to also pose as the arbiters of who is and who is not progressive.  Rather, it would highlight that BDS is simply a participant in a political conflict: not a peace movement, not a human rights project, but the propaganda arm of a war effort.  And the refusal to face up to this obvious truth is the most abnormal thing of all about BDS and those who participate in it.

27 thoughts on “What Would Normal People Do?”

  1. I am happy to announce that in three days I am leaving for my first ever trip to Israel, and I'll be there for a full two weeks! More importantly, while I am there, I will be giving two university colloquia, spending money on food, accommodation and other activities, and meeting some long lost distant relatives. So BDS can suck on that!

    But this brings up a question I have, and I know it is slightly off topic: Why does Israel even let these ISM types into their country? Why did Rachel Coorie even get past the airport terminal? They already do tons of behavioral profiling. If I was running security there, I would deny entry to someone if they didn't seem to have a legitimate tourist, business, or family purpose to their visit.* Why do they let in any random “activist” who wants to insert themselves as a warrior into the Arab side of this ongoing armed conflict?? It seems ridiculous.

    * I will have all three!

    1. What does it matter whether it was a “tractor” or a “bulldozer”, or a bullet or a grenade that killed her??

      This woman chose to insert herself as a partisan on one side of an ongoing violent conflict. The fact that the she chose to become a partisan on behalf of the less well armed side is irrelevant.

      When you volunteer to become a partisan on one side of a war, you may be killed in that war. Americans who went to the Spanish Civil War knew that, and at least they had the honesty not to call themselves and each other “peace activists”. Rachel Corrie is different than them only in that she chose to become a partisan for the side that generally lives by values that are repellent to Americans, and that has been trying for 60 years, without success, to wipe the other side off the map.

      Now maybe she didn't realize that what she was doing was signing up to be a partisan for one side in a violent conflict in a war zone. If so, the fault is on her for her gullibility, and on the people, such as the ISM and apparently her college teachers, who misled her.

    2. Facts certainly matter, but some matter much more than others, and you have chosen one of very little consequence to obsess over and pick a fight here over.

      Example: If we are discussing the dangers of climate change, I may say that yesterday was an unseasonably cold day in my town. While that may be a fact, and one can be corrected for getting it wrong, it is not very relevant to the major issue under discussion. I hope you would agree that much more relevant facts would be trends in aggregate global weather patterns and so on.

      Likewise, on this Rachel Corrie question, the object that killed her is not very important when assessing the culpability and morality of the situation. Whether she was killed by a tractor or armored bulldozer or IDF bullet or even a Hamas rocket, the salient fact is, as I mentioned, that she chose to insert herself as a partisan on behalf of one side in an ongoing violent conflict in a war zone. And such an action is both dangerous and full of potential serious consequences for herself and others. She and those who sent her knew this, or should have known this.

      The blame for Rachel Corrie's death rests with her and those who sent her. Her death is a tragedy only in the same way that any death of any fighter on a side of an ongoing war is a tragedy.

  2. “by BDS activists insisting they had no choice on the matter.”
    And this gets to the crux of the matter. They do have a choice. BDSers can chose not to buy Israeli products. Very simple. It is that they are trying to take away the choice from others.

    It is unlikely that the driver saw Rachel Corrie. However, only he can know for sure. If he saw her and ran over her it was murder. If not, it was an accident. Clearly, there is no proof that it was murder. I don't understand why the “activists” that were there that day weren't arrested, put in jail and deported.


    1. How can a death in a war zone, where a person from one side of the war kills a person from another side of the war during a military operation, be “murder”?

    2. Because she was not armed, and not posing a threat.
      There was no element of self defense here, or real tactical advantage. If the ISMers posed a threat, I would agree with you.


    3. Anyone who thinks the driver purposely killed her should have their head examined. You don't realize that in Israel, whether on the road or on the job, when you kill a person with a vehicle you simply mortgage your life.

      But it is so fashionable these days to attribute evil intentions to Israelis just because they are Israelis.
      It's like that fool who believed that settlers stole 400 years old olive trees from Palestinians and planted them in the entrance of their settlement just because that other fool told him so – because in his sick mind, it's what Israelis do.

    4. Stan:

      Not well reported in Canadian media, and possibly nowhere else, but the Corries' own expert witness agreed that from the vantage point of the operators of the tank/tractor, their late daughter would not be visible, regardless of the orange vest just as it is constantly misreported that she was protecting houses from demolition whereas in fact she was standing on scrub lands above smuggling tunnels. The purpose of that afternoon's IDF operations were to destroy smuggling tunnels and remove brush cover that was used to shelter combatants who were firing weapons and or flinging grenades.

  3. Hi Jon –

    ” Turning to more local news, a Boston-based food coop has rejected appeals that they put a boycott of evil Israel-supporting hummus to a member vote, despite months of effort by BDS activists insisting they had no choice on the matter.”

    Can you give a little more info on Harvest Co-op and what the decision was and how it was made? I did a little googling and all I found were people were collecting signatures.


  4. Jon –

    “But BDS is not a normal political movement, is it? “

    I have recently been reading about the anti-Semitic political parties in Germany and Austria-Hungary in 2nd part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century.

    I would have to say that BDS behaves similar to these hate movements. On that metric, BDS is quite “normal.”


  5. Fizz,
    I don't think it was murder, but the previous post (who seems to be an intelligent Anonymous instead of the serial lying troll that shows up to befoul the comments section from time to time) is valid about the difference between that and an accidental death. If someone looks at someone else who isn't a threat to him and says “I hate that asshole” and then crushes them to death, that's definitely murder, just as it's definitely NOT what happened in this case. I felt that based on the facts, the verdict here was correct.

    1. I agree that the tractor / bulldozer driver did not kill her intentionally, so the court ruled correctly in that regard.

      But even if he did kill her intentionally, she was attempting to interfere with a military operation – in this case it was the destruction of smuggling tunnels. She was attempting to stymie her enemy's military during an ongoing war. That is why I don't see how she can reasonably be seen as a non-combatant or a non-threat. She was a combatant on behalf of one side, just a poorly armed one.

  6. a) Why are you calling it a tractor again? I thought you had already acknowledged that it was a bulldozer. Tractors and bulldozers are two very different machines that serve entirely different purposes. That's like saying, “I have to walk my cat/dog.”

    b) She was not trying to prevent the bulldozer from destroying tunnels. On the contrary, she was standing between the bulldozer and a civilian's home that was slated for demolition. If she had been killed while aiding Hamas fighters in firing rockets over the border, you might have a case. But she was trying to prevent a clearly immoral, illegal, and universally condemned policy of house demolitions/ethnic cleansing from claiming yet another home. So whose fault is it really? Is it the fault of the woman who stood up against a policy even you condemn, or is it the fault of the Israeli government for routinely demolishing civilian homes and subsequently destroying the lives of countless innocent people?

    1. Anonymous.
      The problem is when you're trying to make your case based on an argument we know to be false.
      “On the contrary, she was standing between the bulldozer and a civilian's home that was slated for demolition”.
      A lie. These were old remains of houses where nobody lived anymore, but which were used to hide rocket launchers. The IDF was LEVELING that ground. Rachel Corrie and companions were indeed “aiding Hamas fighters in firing rockets” not to mention kill and kidnap soldiers.
      If only you spoke the truth, Anonymous, you can be certain that I would have shed a tear or two. A life is a life is a life. And no one knows if she would have persisted in her evil activities, or went on to be useful to humanity. What a waste.

  7. I'm aware of your claim but I'm unable to find a reliable source, besides the IDF (which is not one), to support it. It seems that virtually every news outlet has reported that they were conducting home demolitions:

    “Rachel Corrie died in March during a protest against the demolition of a house in the southern Gaza Strip.”


    “An Israeli Army bulldozer today crushed to death an American woman who had kneeled in the dirt to prevent the armored vehicle from destroying a Palestinian home in the southern Gaza Strip”


    “At the time of her death, during a Palestinian uprising, Corrie was protesting against Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.”


    1. You could google–Summery of the verdict(english translation)T.A. 371/05
      Estate of the late Rachel Corrie ect.v The state of Israel-Ministry of Defense

      Here are a few main points:

      – During the relevant period of time, the “Philadelphi Corridor” was the site of daily warfare, i.e. daily gunfire by snipers, missile fire and IED explosions directed at the IDF forces. During this period, unceasing efforts were made to kidnap IDF soldiers.
      – During the period pertinent to this case, there was a military directive in force declaring the “Philadelphi Corridor” a “closed military area” and forbidding the entry of civilians.

      The United States government issued a travel warning on March 16, 2003 to warn American citizens against visiting the Gaza Strip area or the West Bank.

      ISM clearly knew it was a restricted area.The Corries should sue them.

    2. Talk about not having germane facts straight. Part of the argument raised by the ISM/Corrie side to support deliberate or reckless intent was that Rachel must have been visible to the driver because she was standing in an open area, not adjacent to any buildings, and wearing the orange vest.

      And by the way, tractor doesn't only mean “farm tractor”. The vehicle in question could be fairly described as an engineering tractor.

  8. If we examine the language of each of the diverse groups/individuals/institutions that form that nebulae, we find they all have ONE recurring common denominator: religion.

    In a nutshell:

    From the Sabeel Liberation Theology of Naim Ateek, to the christologic analogies of Monsignor Tutu, to the Anglican Judaism debaser Rev. Sizer, to the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches doctrines on God’s punishment on the Jews, to the Reconstructionist Rabbis of JVP and that Movement’s 70 years old grudge against Israel’s dominant form of Judaism, to the cult of Rachel Corrie, to the “My Judaism” of Judith Butler, to “Prophet” Marc Ellis and his “Liberation Theology”, to all the holders of “Jewish values”, to all those ndividuals angry with Israel’s laws of Jewish descent, all the way down to the Halperites and to the Herskovites’ mini-cult – what do you see?

    I’ll call it at this point “The Politics of the Sacred”.

    Your thoughts.

    1. Sylvia-

      Not quite understanding where you are going with this, although I admit to not being all that familiar with the people you mention.

      Are you talking about “Replacement Theology”?

      BTW, we are not near the hurricane, and actually have been having really fabulous weather in Brooklyn the last few days. Devastating to see New Orleans hit again.


    2. Nycerbarb

      All these groups/institutions/individuals are BDSers or have among them a large membership that supports BDS. I'll develop later but I bet Anonymous the BDSer can help out there. I'll provide links or relevant info.

      I'll continue a little my line of thought so brutally interrupted by rockets and mortars (one house hit one rocket split and hit a second house next to it).

      Once you start seeing the “metaphysics” of BDS that's all you'll be able to see. Imagine then the reaction of a typical atheist/secularist who realizes with horror that all his/her efforts serve to promote “superstitions”.
      He/she/ will distance his/herself from the whole business calling it a cult.

    3. “Prophet” Marc Ellis expressed the above thought (last paragraph) in his new piece on Mondoweiss specifically as regard Judith Butler (who is certainly not a major BDS figure):

      From the advance publicity on her book she [Judith Butler] seems to emphasize “Jewish.” No doubt this will bring out the universalist types who can’t handle Jewish particularity. But, who knows, Butler’s star quality might overwhelm them.

      And indeed, those who can't handle the insane sacralization of Rachel Corrie are already coming out switching from the “new Christ” strategy to the “Holocaust strategy”: comparing that pea-brain playing hide and seek on the blade of a bulldozer to… Anne Frank -on the same “War On Ideas in the Middle East” site.

      I want to stress that this is by no means all of it: the “Sacred” are only one of the factions/interests involved in the demonization of Israel.

      But dissecting them to the bone is what all reasonable people who realize what are the inevitable consequences of the relentless satanization of Israel, should be doing.

      The truth always wins at the end. I believe that.

  9. Jon wrote:

    “But BDS is not a normal political movement, is it? Rather, it is an abnormal movement of the self-centered and selfish who have lost another battle against an organization that made the normal decision to not hand decision-making power over to a bunch of obsessive jerks”
    .Now, in the hometown of Rachel Corrie “the obsessive jerks” didn't bother with a battle at the coop;They simply stole the vote! No forums ,no dialogue, No nadda. Simply rip off the community. That, my friends, is the true nature of the BSers

    Just don't want anyone to forget how the only coop in the country managed to get a “victory”

  10. I forgot to mention that Craig and Cindy Corrie were OK with the way The Olympia Food Coop board conducted itself in it's secret back room decision to support BDS.

    Members of the Rachel Corrie Foundation were instrumental in the ripoff of the coop membership.

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