When we left our review
of the BDS “movement’s” self-declaration of success, I had just gotten to the subject of ambiguity.
Specifically, I was curious why a political project that can list so many large financial and investment firms as firmly in the BDS camp can’t seem to produce statements (at least ones not written in Norwegian) by the people actually doing all this alleged divesting from Israel, statements which unambiguously explain that these decisions are anything other than ordinary apolitical business decisions.
The closest they might come, I suppose, would be related to that MSCI story we were following a couple of weeks back. But even here, the best the BDSers could reasonably claim would be that maybe as an indirect result of their attempts to manufacture controversy, they might have played a small part in MSCI’s decision-making regarding Caterpillar (although we’ll never know for sure).
But that’s not what they’re claiming, is it? Rather, they are saying that MSCI made its decision “Following [the BDSers] concerted campaign in the US…” despite the fact that in my 8+ years of covering boycott and divestment activity in the US, I can’t recall seeing a single reference to this organization, much less a “concerted campaign” targeting them.
The inclusion of references to TIAA-CREF in the same paragraph in the BDS@7 “victory” document that discusses MSCI is particularly egregious since, unlike MSCI, TIAA-CREF was unquestionably the target of the boycotter’s biggest campaign of the last two years. And despite this (and despite – or maybe because – of the fact that these same campaigners were caught passing off a BDS hoax regarding TIAA-CREF two years ago), TIAA-CREF has made it absolutely clear (as recently as this week) that they want no part in the BDSers squalid little project.
Yet there is TIAA-CREF lumped together in the same “we win” claim as MSCI, implying CREF has also joined the divestment bandwagon by selling off Caterpillar shares in order to make a political statement.
If you read that paragraph closely, you can see how they have left themselves just enough wiggle room to worm out of accusations that they are trying to mislead readers by implying TIAA-CREF’s automated sale of Caterpillar stock was a result of their successful campaign efforts. It is just this type of slipperiness that has left the BDS struggling to get their credibility to rise up to the zero mark.
As for the rest of their document, most if it is just a rehash of the categories I described last year when I ran a series analyzing similar “victory” reports by other BDSers in the field.
First, you’ve got wins that are simply anecdotal, mostly relating to “scores” of celebrities (well twelve, anyway) who have decided to avoid performing in the Jewish state for political reasons. But given that Israel has hosted hundreds, if not thousands, of other visiting celebs during the BDS era (whether you measure it as seven years or twelve), this begins to look like that petition signed by fifteen rabbis calling for the Presbyterians and Methodists to join the BDS “movement” which the boycotters insist balances out the 1500 rabbis who asked these same churches to blow off divestment this year (which they did).
And unlike the financial companies mentioned above, recent celebrity visits to Israel cannot be dismissed as apolitical decisions since the boycotters themselves (not Israel’s supporters) did everything in their power to harass artists contemplating a gig at the Zionist Entity, explaining that any decision to perform there would imply political support for the Jewish state. Which imbues those hundreds/thousands of visits (especially by artists like Elton John and Johnny Lydon who went out of their way to give BDS the finger from stage) with unmistakable political meaning.
Finally, we get to that category which cannot be described as either wins or losses since it only involves the BDSers themselves acting like jerks, be it running their increasingly tired Israel-Apartheid Week events, making calls for boycotts that go unanswered, or disrupting performance involving “Zionist” ballet dancers and musicians.
The BDS Central Command tries to get a “twofer” with this category, claiming victory for both their own political activity AND the activity Israel and its supporters choose to engage in which they always portray as a panicked reaction to the BDSers own stunning success. (Hey, can we all play the same game? If so, I guess the BDSers own ratcheting up of activity is simply their panicked scrambling to counter the mounting success of the Jewish state itself!)
And speaking of that success, what are we to make of a “movement” that can spend so much time on listing their trivial achievements (some real, some imaginary) that took place during a period when the world behaved in the completely opposite way the boycotters wanted?
During a decade when BDS was tirelessly working to get investors to pull out of the Jewish state, that investment actually skyrocketed as Israel became one of the best (and safest) investment destinations on the planet.
Rather than shun their Israeli colleagues as the boycotters demand, US and European colleges and universities are falling all over themselves to build relationships with their Israeli counterparts in a competitive frenzy of link-building and cooperation while the number of schools that have shed Israeli investments from their endowment or retirement portfolios continues to be stuck at zero.
And not only have Israeli exports boomed, but they now include upfront Israeli power brands such as Ahava and SodaStream (meaning the years when Israel had to make do with just selling behind-the-scenes technology are behind them). In fact, the only reason the boycotters can perform their strip shows and off-key song-and-dance performances is because Israel is now inside some of the most prominent retailers in the country.
And what is the response to this phenomenon inside the BDS@7 document? Just the usual ignoring that any of it is taking place, yet more demonstration of a BDS “movement” based primarily on its own fantasies of potency and relevance.