Sorry for the hiatus. It was mostly work related, although as I mentioned as Divest This! was winding down last year, it’s not clear that a blog (with its reverse chronological nature) is the best format for the kind of arguments I have been building over the years regarding the true nature of BDS and how to fight it.
But blogging is a great way to get news and analysis into the conversation quickly without having to ask anyone’s permission. And given some of recent goings on in BDS-land (especially with misbehaving academics), it seemed appropriate to revive the site (for a while anyway) to see if a bit of historical perspective can supplement some of the important work that has already made great strides in ensuring any recent BDS successes are Pyrrhic ones.
Every year usually contains one or two major BDS fights, along with a few skirmishes, and 2013 was unusual only in that there were three stories that drew media attention. In order of increasing significance these included: (1) some student governments within the University of California system finally passing (rather than rejecting) divestment resolutions; (2) Stephen Hawking’s decision to say “Yes” to those who urged him to blow off Shimon Peres’ Fifth Annual President’s Conference, and (3) the American Studies Association (ASA) voting in an academic boycott of Israeli universities.
It was actually that last story that pulled me out of retirement, not because there is an imminent threat of widespread academic boycotts breaking out around the planet, but because the ASA boycott demonstrates – yet again – the willingness of Israel haters to demolish important cornerstones of civic society (in this case academia) in order to have their way.
As pre-hiatus readers know, the BDS strategy is to find an organization whose name and reputation they can exploit in order to get their propaganda message (that Israel is an “Apartheid State,” alone in the world in deserving economic punishment) to come out of the mouth of anyone more significant than the boycotters (which pretty much includes everyone – including a previously obscure academic organization).
And in order to achieve these ends, any means are justified. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at the type of manipulation that has made academic associations this year’s battlefield for the anti-BDS fight (just as food coops were the “hill to fight on” few years back). But before going there, I’d like to take a look at the other two setbacks I mentioned (UC student governments and Hawking) a bit more closely.
But before going there, we first need to step back and put the current BDS-related challenges into perspective, something I plan to do in two days time here at the revivified Divest This.