Unsurprisingly, my Inbox has been filled with news of the recent divestment motion passed by the University of California at Irvine’s Student Senate.  And just as unsurprisingly, events taking place in the Middle East have been of more interest and importance not just in human and geopolitically terms, but also with regard to the role they are likely to play in the next round of BDS-related activity.

Before weapons started firing in two directions (vs. just one) on the Israel-Hamastan border, my first thought upon hearing about the UC Irvine vote was that old aphorism first popularized by Montgomery Scott of the USS Enterprise, namely: “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”

After all, could we really be talking about another (this time successful) attempt by Israel haters to do one of their trademark backroom deals in order to get a divestment resolution passed before anyone knew what was going on – at a UC campus no less!?  The same University of California system where these underhanded tactics turned Berkeley upside down for weeks back in 2010?

Apparently so.  But while my first questions had to do with how pro-Israel students at Irvine could have failed to keep tabs on local student government activities, upon reflection I understand how such things can happen.

After all, the Jewish community has decided (appropriately in my opinion) to make itself available to pro-Israel students working on campuses, but to let those students take the lead and only pull in outside help when needed.  And while this usually means people who best understand local requirements get to call the shots, it also means we have to live with the fact that – given that both pro- and anti-Israel student groups have to restart and rebuild on dozens of campuses every year– it’s inevitable that we’ll end up with some situations where the SJP types get their act together faster than their opponents.

Also, there is a dynamic in politics whereby today’s victory leads to tomorrow’s defeat leading to another victory the day after that.  For example, the BDSers temporary win at Berkeley in ’10 galvanized Israel’s student supporters to increase their activity on campus, which in turn threw a gauntlet down to Israel’s opponents, challenging them to do even more.  And while much of that “more” consisted of behaving even more like A**HOLES (with the Orem shout down being the best example), some of that energy clearly went into getting SJP types elected Student Senators where they could vote on their only issue of concern (divestment) without having to deal with the pesky problem of convincing Senators who actually represent a constituency to pass something so obviously outside student government’s mandate.

Which highlights one of the reasons why this week’s Irvine vote is NOT anywhere near as significant as what took place at Berkeley two years ago.   For back then, it was possible to construe (or at least convince the mainstream press) that the Berkeley Senate vote actually represented the will of the student body (thus creating the image of the Israel = Apartheid propaganda message being embraced by more than just a radical, unrepresentative fringe).

But given how that sneak vote went down amongst the Berkeley student body (with thousands of hostile students decrying what was being said in their name and without their consent), it became very clear that student divestment votes were much more about who could successfully bully their way into a dead-of-night backroom deal than a demonstration of success convincing anyone of anything.

The angry fights over divestment that have riled the UC system (and other campuses) ever since only underscored the fact that these votes were little more than (usually unsuccessful) demands that student government strike a pose at the expense of the students such governments are supposed to represent.

The impotence of these votes has also been on display as university administrators (i.e., the grownups who actually get to make investment and divestment decisions) made it clear they wanted nothing to do with the propagandists who had (successfully or unsuccessfully) infiltrated student government.  In fact, those that got this measure passed at Irvine essentially admitted they represent no one but themselves by holding their meetings in secret and breaking the spirit (if not the letter) of student government rules by hiding what they were doing, not publishing announcements of the vote, or do anything that might alert the public they knew would never tolerate their behavior of what was going on until it was too late.

After all, if BDS represented the genuine position of students at Irvine, SJP would have publicized their project night and day in order to rally to their cause a population that supposedly shared their outrage.  But their choice to instead work under the cover of darkness (as usual) represents an admission that they understand Irvine students are no more behind this bill than were students at campuses like U Mass Boston and Wayne State that passed similar resolutions that are all but forgotten today.

And so, despite the hyperventilating going on over at places like Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss, Irvine is not the thin end of the wedge, but rather just one more demonstration of how much mayhem the SJPers are willing to unleash on a campus in order to gain some bragging rights with their buddies in BDSland.

The only factor that could increase this event’s significance is, as mentioned earlier, the latest shooting war that just broke out between Israel and Hamas.  After all, it was the 2008 Gaza conflict followed immediately by the 2009 Hampshire Hoax that sent lightning through the neck bolts of BDS, creating the Frankenstein’s monster that’s been lumbering around knocking dishes off of shelves (but accomplishing little else) ever since.

In that case, the Hampshire fake victory provided Israel haters something practical they could offer newly galvanized supporters to do (support BDS programs), rather than watch that support melt away as memory of the war faded.   So if we see other student council votes being taken over the next few weeks, you can chalk that up more to what’s happening on the ground in the Middle East yesterday vs. what’s happened in student council chambers the night before.

It remains to be seen if the message being delivered during those anti-Israel protests you can set your watch to (from groups that only rouse themselves to “fight for peace” once their enemy starts shooting back) will resonate with the wider public any better than it did in 2009 or before.

Until then, the BDSers will finally get the chance to do what they love best: work themselves into public fits of hysteria and moral indignation, an activity they have always found more precious than life itself (especially someone else’s).

, , , , , ,

One Response to Irvine

  1. Stop BDS Park Slope November 18, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    Wowie, wow! Get a load of this new look!

    Keep up the good work and wishing for you more traffic.


Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes