Having written close to half a million words on the subject of BDS over the last four years, it was nice to discover a graphic (actually the Google mashup Barbara pointed us towards) that so nicely sums up one of the key messages of Divest This: the utter failure of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions “movement” to achieve anything even closely resembling its goals.
It was a treat to learn over a year ago that BDSFail had morphed into an Internet meme (first in the form of a Twitter hashtag, then as a common term of reference). But this wonderful #BDSFail map really highlights the triviality of the BDSers achievements over the last decade and a half.
To site just one example, the state of Ohio’s purchase of $42,000,000 in Israeli bonds immediately swamps whatever negative impact the boycotters have managed to afflict on the Israeli economy by several orders of magnitude.
And even in an era when the Israel haters have been reduced to trying to ram their laundry list of condemnations through student councils they have spent the last five years packing in their favor, it’s good to know that (1) everyone recognizes that such votes do not represent the opinion of the student body and can thus be ignored; and (2) they still lose these votes whenever they’re not able to get them passed behind the backs of the students these elected bodies are supposed to represent.
A couple of years back, I published this piece designed to put the whole BDS project into perspective. In it, I mapped the trajectory of the Israeli economy and exports during the decade when the Israel haters were working feverishly to get the former reduced and the latter banned. Yet it was during this same decade that both metrics doubled. And given that the boycotters equate economic activity with political approval (or disapproval), I asked the obvious question (never answered, of course) of whether or not this proved Israeli to be one of the most popular countries in the world.
And speaking of popularity, the common wisdom is that BDS and similar de-legitimziation campaigns really don’t care about what they achieve practically, as long as they are introducing a steady drip of propaganda into the bloodstream of the body politic (especially among the young). Yet as this recent story shows, Israel’s popularity continues to hang in that 60-70% approval rating amongst Americans, a figure that doesn’t seem to have moved despite decades of propaganda aimed at smearing the Jewish state.
Just as significantly, as Israel competes for the 6th vs. the 7th slot of popular American allies, the Palestinians have dropped to the bottom 5 (ending up only slightly more beloved than Syria, Pakistan and North Korea) with an approval rating of just 15% (vs. a stunning disapproval rating of 77%).
And remember that they have achieved this position without anyone running decades-long campaigns against them trying to get colleges, churches, cities, unions, et al to condemn the Palestinians for crimes against humanity. Which makes one wonder if the thoughtless, boorish and bullying behavior of the BDSers has actually contributed to this low opinion of the people they claim to represent (vs. the high opinion Americans have of the state the BDSers would like to see become a figure of loathing).
Keep these figures in mind as the battle against the Israel haters continues, even as it does so without regular postings here at Divest This since, as I mentioned last month, this will be my final piece at this site.
For that battle must continue as long as the BDS cru continues their squalid little campaigns, just as the war against Israel will continue as long as those who wage it make it their top priority (regardless of how much it drags their societies into savage politics fueled by ruthlessness and one-upmanship regarding who can demonstrate more fervent Jew hatred – whoops I mean “Zionist hatred”).
Since we are not responsible for the beginning and continuation of this war, we have no ability to make it stop. But we can do our part to ensure such aggression continues to fail in hope that the aggressors finally come to their senses and begin to work for the betterment of their people, rather than enforce their continued suffering.
To a certain degree, it’s easy to feel powerless as individuals facing the challenges presented by the Arab war against the Jews. After all, we are in no position to prevent Hamas or Hezbollah from pulling the trigger, any more than we can prevent competitors for power in Egypt or Syria from reaching for the Israel card to prop up their own corrupt and/or flailing regimes. Nor can we prevent the coalition of 50+ Arab and Muslim states that dominate global institutions from using their numbers, wealth and power to rain non-stop condemnations against the Jewish state (while simultaneously blocking discussion of their own endless crimes).
But this is where the fight against BDS becomes so crucial. For while we as individuals have little ability to affect the decisions of state actors or global organizations, we do have influence over the civil society in which we live (i.e., the schools, churches, cities, unions, et al that the BDSers work tirelessly to corrupt).
In fact, it’s been the activity of many of you reading this blog that has turned the tide against BDS, ensuring that terms like “failure,” “fraud,” “bullying” and “hypocrisy” become synonymous with the BDS “movement” as a whole.
For BDS is not just a link in the chain of the wider de-legitimization propaganda war directed against Israel. It is the weakest link in that chain. And its weakness derives from the fact that (1) it requires independent people and organizations to do their bidding to have any impact; and (2) those independent people and organizations are open to other opinions – including ours.
So while we cannot prevent Syria from leveling more charges of human rights abuses against Israel at the UN (presuming it can find the time to do so between murdering more of its own people), we can ensure that BDS the loser, BDS the liar, BDS the hypocrite characterizes the entire de-legitimization effort from top to bottom. And in so doing, we can de-legitimize the de-legitimizers and thus ensure the propaganda war against the Jewish state fails just as miserably as all of the other forms of warfare these same people use, excuse or cheer on.
And so the fight continues. And even if I won’t be making weekly postings on the subject, I will be continuing my work just as all of you continue yours. And together, we cannot just ensure a second decade of defeat for Israel’s would-be tormenters, but ensure the numbers that began this piece continue to go in the right direction.
I’d like to give a hearty thank you to everyone who has read this blog over the years, especially those who have contributed to the discussion via comments and personal communication.
Someone once described political blogging (especially that which involves specialized subjects like this one) as the equivalent of dropping pebbles in the water where you never know where the ripples might ultimately reach. And while I’m thrilled to know the ideas presented here have reached some of the most thoughtful, courageous, creative activists in the country, I’ll be most excited when the themes I’ve written about become common wisdom among people who have never heard of Divest This.
And with that, it’s time to sign off. And as you carry on the fight, keep an eye out for me standing right beside you.