Man the Walls

Well I was kind of hoping that this would be the year when BDS either went away or again went into remission, as did between 2006 and 2009 when a series of embarrassing defeats no longer made it the tactic of choice among the Israel hating community.

After all, 2012 was the year when the Mainline Protestant churches gave BDS the heave ho yet again (for the fourth time in the case of the Presbyterians).  And during an era of Startup Nation, when universities and businesses are stampeding over one another to build ties to their Israeli counterparts, the ability to get this unknown food coop or that has-been rock star to do the BDSers’ bidding was making the “movement” look truly pathetic (especially since they were never able to capitalize on those meager “wins” to achieve anything remotely resembling momentum).

But as I’ve talked about again and again, it is not wins and losses that sustain the BDS tactic but fanaticism tied to fantasy, both of which kick into high gear once there is actual shooting going on in the Middle East.

Actually, the recent Gaza war is just one geopolitical factor leading to a re-energized set of Israeli dislikers gravitating towards a BDS tactic, despite what a waste of time it’s been for them over the last decade.  For as the Arab Spring turns to an Islamist winter, and formerly stable bordering states turn hostile (Egypt), chaotic (Syria) or fragile (Jordan), the propaganda arm of the anti-Israel crusade (which is all the BDSers are, despite their endless claims to represent some sort of “peace camp”) demonstrate their only bit of sensitivity: an ability to smell blood.

For whenever shooting starts (or, more specifically, whenever their chosen side no longer remains the only ones firing shots), street protests demanding “peace” (i.e., an immediate cease fire which will leave the propagandist’s allied armies unbroken) break out, protests which tend to draw new activists to the cause (many of whom simply represent uninformed people eager to “do something” to end what they see as a senseless war).

Because these recently minted activists (which the harder men and women leading the “movement” consider so much “loose change“) tend to wander off after a conflict dies down, it becomes imperative that they be given something to do to preserve their interest as battles leave the front pages.  And, for all its faults, BDS is a simple propaganda technique which provides such activists an outlet for their continued energies.

After all, a boycott or divestment program can import the Middle East conflict into virtually any civic organization in the land, since (according to the BDSers anyway), owning a single share of Hewlett Packard or stocking a single bottle of Soda Stream means an institution is “taking sides” in the Arab-Israeli conflict and thus becomes a target for protest.

With virtually the whole world a potential target, why not use this simple tactic to gin up enthusiasm and headlines (even if no one has actually chosen to boycott or divest, despite twelve years of BDS effort)?  For in many ways the goal is not to get anyone to actually divest, but to do whatever is needed to try to get the BDS “Israel = Apartheid” propaganda message to come out of the mouth of an institution more well known than the Israel hating organizations (which pretty much includes everyone).

Which is why we will see more impotent student council resolutions floated at various colleges over the rest of this school year, led by groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) which never tire of shoving pictures of dead Palestinian babies into people’s faces and insisting these images require students to do what they say (even if those pictures turn out to be of Syrians or Israelis).

It’s also why every artist or other celebrity planning to visit the Jewish state can expect a torrent of pleading and moral blackmail on their Facebook pages, and why new pickets can be expected at retail outlets selling products like Sabra Hummus (which, given that Sabra is in 80% of supermarkets, means the BDSers have a limitless number of opportunities).

Alas, there is no argument or editorial that will prevent such activity (no matter how deft or well written), for as we have seen the boycotters are both impervious  to reason themselves and dedicated to ensuring that reason does not enter the conversation when they present their case to the public.

And so we’ll have to slog it out, one school, one store protest, one bus ad at a time, ensuring the BDSers meet the same universal defeat at ground level during their second decade that we enjoyed delivering to them during their first ten years.

And for those who might lose patience with the struggle, keep in mind the stakes.  And keep in mind that the battle tactics we choose will resemble those used historically (and successfully) to deal with any siege.

And both the stakes and this siege metaphor are related, for just as Israel has maintained its safety while under military and economic siege for seven decades (a siege in which Israeli society flourished while its besiegers descended into barbarism as kings made way for military dictators who are now in the process of being replaced by religious fanatics), we defenders of Israel must demonstrate similar patience and courage.

So man the walls and keep in mind that – despite what others might tell you – time is actually on our side.

5 Responses to Man the Walls

  1. Mike Lumish December 3, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    I’m glad that you recognize that the so-called “Arab Spring” is, in fact, an Islamist winter.

    But does Barack Obama recognize it?

    Even as recently as his latest UN speech he discussed the Arab Spring as something that his administration supported due to its allegedly democratic nature.

    Yet there is nothing democratic about the Muslim Brotherhood or about the rise of political Islam, which is what we are actually seeing with these various uprisings and revolutions.

  2. Stop BDS Park Slope December 4, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    Mike –

    The President of the United States is not the puppet master of the world. Not Obama and not any of his predecessors. The influence of the United States even in times of peace is very limited, how much more so during times of conflict. The Iraq War destroyed any good will and trust that might have existed between the US the Arab world.

    I asked Elliot Abrams why during the 30 or so years since the Camp David accords, while the US was dumping all this money into Egypt, it wasn’t doing more to promote the establishment of democratic institutions. Abrams admitted part of the blame goes to lack of foresight from the State Dept. and part goes towards buying off Mubarak’s silence during Israel later campaigns against Hezballah and Hamas.


    • Mike Lumish December 6, 2012 at 5:23 am #


      thank you for the response. I certainly agree that the president of the United States is not the “puppet master of the world.” It’s not entirely clear to me why you say so, but I definitely agree with the you. While the POTUS is among the most influential people on the entire planet, I certainly do not think that he can merely snap his fingers and produce international results.

      I guess, you would need to count me among those liberals who object to Obama’s deeply conservative foreign policy. This is a president who supported the installation into power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and who hailed the rise of political Islam throughout the Middle East as something akin to the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s and who suggested, upon the fall of Tunisia, that the “Arab Spring” should be looked upon in the way we look upon the American Revolutionary Spirit of ’76.

      I think that he was seriously mistaken.

      It seems clear to me that Obama’s advocacy for the so-called “Arab Spring” has been exceedingly detrimental because I do not think that he recognized, or even recognizes now, that what we call the “Arab Spring” is actually the rise of political Islam.

      Whatever Obama’s best intentions he essentially supported the rise of a deeply reactionary conservative political movement throughout the Middle East that oppresses women, murders Gay people, is genocidal toward Jews, and that is driving non-Muslims out of the Middle East.

      As a liberal I tend to oppose such things and, therefore, very much encourage our government to do so, as well.

  3. Stop BDS Park Slope December 4, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    Not related but, Jon, I hope you will promote these 3 things:

    1) Stand With Us has a petition against boycotting Israel:
    Here is the link:

    I don’t put a lot of stock in internet petitions, but I would like to see this one accumulate a lot names. I posted reasons to sign at my blog:

    2) Or Barkan who blogs at BDS Gone Bad has written this really excellent piece.

    3) Finally, a rather damning statement on the BDS/anti-Israel movement from the Protestant Consultation on Israel and the Middle East.


    • JayinPhiladelphia December 5, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

      Already signed, thanks for writing about the Stand With Us petition.

      As someone who buys not only my food, but also everything from furniture to candles to bike parts as local as possible, I’ve sure spent a good amount on things from Israel over the past couple of years. And it would have been much more, but I don’t drink wine. So BDS has at least accomplished that lately!

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