Nothing like a summer-long, 19-part series to chase away an audience.
Kidding aside, thanks to everyone who hung in there as I worked through some ideas on strategy and tactics both here and at Algemeiner, and special thanks to my editor and ally Andrew Pessin for getting me off my butt to write more regularly for an audience beyond this site.
That series is ultimately targeted towards a focused audience: those activists who make decisions and set the pro-Israel strategy for much of the community. After years of watching this thoughtful and dedicated community work day in and day out on issues of concern to Israel’s friends (Jewish and non-Jewish alike), I wanted to contribute something that I hope can make all our work more efficient, harmonious and effective.
Since this is also one of the busiest groups of people I know, I suspect that clicking through nineteen essay-length blog postings is not the most efficient way of absorbing this kind of information. So once the holidays are over, I’m planning to make this same material available in more easily digestible formats. More news on that once the Book of Life is closed.
Meanwhile, it’s time to start catching up around here.
First off, it’s good to know that some of the themes you’ve read about in that war series represent not original thinking but what might represent an emerging consensus. For example, author and former Ambassador Michael Oren was recently appointed head of public diplomacy for the Israeli government. And in an early interview in Algemeiner, he talked about how we need to “strengthen the emotional aspect” of our communication – not just rely on facts to win over audiences (especially young audiences).
In this case, when Oren talks about emotion he is referring to the pathos component of persuasive communication which (as this War series post outlines) is crucial when trying to convince. But emotion is also a powerful and frequently underestimated component of everyone’s decision-making process, including ours and our enemy’s. As this piece that focuses just on emotion points out, both sides of the BDS wars frequently make errors that help their foes when we let emotion get the better of us. So as Oren and others try to navigate difficult strategic choices, better to be in control of our emotion so we can think about tactics that will make our opponents fall victim to theirs.
I also wanted to give a shout out to a brilliant formulation created by William Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection. LI has become the go-to site for what’s going on day-to-day in the world of BDS, especially on college campuses and among faculty and academic associations. But Jacobson also frequently takes time to delve into deeper issues, especially around legal and political matters related to the BDS “movement.”
For years, I’ve been using obscure metaphors to describe the phenomenon of anti-Israel groups infiltrating other political organizations and bending them towards their will. You saw this during the period Occupy was squatting in various cities, including Boston where the only political “consensus” the loose-knit movement was able to reach was to march on the Israeli consulate.
Of course, this was no “consensus” but yet another example of the BDSers ruthlessly demanding that others do what they say, lest they be cast out of the Left end of the political spectrum. You’ve seen the same phenomenon on steroids over the last twelve months as “intersectionality” has grown to mean everyone embracing the anti-Israel consensus while never questioning its dogmas. This is why you’re far more likely to see women and gay-rights groups on campuses come out in support of divestment resolutions, while never making demands on groups with ties to the Middle East (like BDS) to take a position on the horrific situation faced by women and sexual minorities of the region.
Jacobson gets right to the point on what this behavior represents: BDS as a “settler, colonial ideology,” a kind of cultural and intellectual imperialism that demands everyone submit before being considered a genuine radical or human-rights activist.
I don’t know how much this formulation will catch on as a catch phrase. But like most important changes in perception, an idea needs to be put into words. And I can’t think of a better phrase than “settler, colonial ideology” to describe this important dynamic.
Anyway, time to prepare for some non-eating and reflecting for the next few days. But stay tuned for more on BDS and War and other matters of interest here at Divest This.