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Is Orange Really the New Blackshirt?

7 Jun

Wow!  A lot going on in both the BDS and anti-BDS universes this last week.

I’m going to focus on the BDS-related story that’s created the most news and havoc all year, statements (albeit conflicting ones) regarding the European telecom provider Orange and their Israeli customers/partners.  And, in a subsequent piece, I’ll take a look at a pair of high-profile anti-BDS efforts also announced recently.

At the heart of the Orange story, there seems to rest a relatively mundane (i.e., non-political) decision by the global TelCo giant to try to get out of a business relationship with an Israeli company which has been acting as licensee for the Orange product line and brand.

The fact that Orange does not operate under similar licensing arrangement in other countries signals that the Israeli partnership might have been an anomaly (although not atypical for companies interested in pushing the overhead of working in small complex markets onto local partners).  And if (as Orange announced) their general business direction is to bring all international operations “in-house,” then a decision to work directly in Israel vs. through a partner can hardly be seen as a boycott move (political or otherwise).

The situation was made more complex, however, when the company’s CEO – Stephane Richard – made statements on Egyptian TV which implied he could not wait to get out of the Israeli market, and that this strong desire was based on political wishes near and dear to the hearts of Egyptians (not to mention Orange’s other clients in the Arab world) to see the Jewish state punished economically for political reasons.

Now it’s kind of a toss-up whether one should suspect a European CEO vs. the Egyptian media as being more duplicitous.  But once the latter broadcast the former’s words in a way that made them seem like support for a boycott (leading, unsurprisingly, to global outrage), Richards and his company released a torrent of official statements implying that no one had ever heard of BDS, and that Orange would never boycott a Jewish market they loved with all their individual and collective corporate hearts.

With benefit of a few days of perspective, there are a few things to be learned from this still-unfolding story.

First, as much as I loathe the media boost the BDSers get when one of their manufactured controversies goes viral, politically and economically the Orange controversy seems to indicate that safeguards against corporations participating in anti-Israel boycott and divestment activity that began with US anti-boycott legislation in the 1970s seem to be working.

After all, unlike genuine boycott and divestment programs (such as the one against Apartheid South Africa which the BDSers like to pretend they are heir to), a company saying something that can be interpreted as giving the thumbs up to an anti-Israel boycott move is not showered with praise but buried in opprobrium, leading not to momentum-building support but embarrassing apologies.

While fast condemnation by Israel and its friends certainly hastened the aforementioned clarifications and apologies, so did the fact that major corporations (unlike food coops and obscure academic associations) have lawyers (who understand the ins and outs of anti-boycott law) and mechanisms for accountability, including a CEO who must report to a board of directors who are in turn accountable to shareholders.  And I would guess that a lot of people up and down that chain were asking why an executive hired to increase the value of their global brand was instead generating a week of controversial (and mostly condemnatory) headlines.

And if a global brand can be damaged by even the perception of support for BDS, that’s a strong indication that other corporations will learn from Richard’s experience that taking Omar Barghoutti’s phone calls comes at a price.

Another reason this might be considered good news is that recent events (notably the bandwagon of anti-BDS legislation passing in US state houses) could have paved the way for more corporate CEO-types to profess their support for boycott and divestment (in order to appease local constituents and non-Israeli Middle East customers), using American legislation as an excuse to refuse to act on those supportive words.  But if the Orange story teaches anything to executives running companies operating in global markets, it says that publically sucking up Egyptian political sensibilities (or the equivalent) at the expense of Israel is not cost free.

And “publicly” is all that really matters when it comes to BDS success or failure.  For many companies over the years have chosen to not participate in the small Israeli market for fear of pissing off the much larger Arab one.  But those choices are treated (internally and externally) as what they are: business decisions that carry no political or moral weight (except, perhaps, as demonstrating kinship between greed and cowardice).

This doesn’t mean that the boycotters won’t read into those decisions anything they want to include in their latest press releases and Tweets.  But unless we should also be treating the massive investment other companies are making in the Jewish state (and not in neighboring states or territories) as political statements condemning Arab nations, the PA or Hamas, we return to a formula that should be applied to any situation where the BDSers are demanding we hail their latest triumph: Prove It!

Justice Prevails in Olympia

4 Jun

The most welcome bit of good news all year comes from Olympia Washington where the Washington Supreme Court not only threw out a punitive (and absurd) six-figure fine imposed on Olympia Food Coop members who brought suit against the Coop, but chucked out the state statute that allowed such a travesty of justice to be imposed in the first place.

For those who were not around when the Olympia Food Coop BDS tale unfolded five years ago, the sequence of events leading up to last week’s decision goes something like this:

In 2010, leaders of the Olympia Food Coop voted to boycott Israeli products at a meeting where no one but those leaders and local BDS activists knew a boycott vote would be taking place.  And when the membership became aware of what had happened (through public announcements that the Coop was now onboard the Israel = Apartheid bandwagon) they protested and highlighted that the decision was made in violation of Coop bylaws.

After several years of failed attempts to work within the organization to get the decision reviewed and possibly rescinded, several members chose to sue the Coop for violating its own rules.  Boycott advocates counter-sued, claiming that the original suit fell under so-called “SLAPP” rules meant to exact a high price on anyone bringing frivolous lawsuits in order to stifle genuine political speech or advocacy.  And, as described in this piece, the original judge in the case decided in favor of boycott proponents, “slapping” anti-boycott advocates with a huge six-figure fine.

An appeal was launched, and just last week a judge determined that not only was the original case not a SLAPP suit, but that the whole SLAPP statute in Washington had become the means to stifle legitimate free speech and advocacy, leading to the law’s revocation.

So now the original case will continue.  And regardless of how you feel about the use of the courts to settle BDS-related disputes (a topic I’ve spent too much time dwelling on over the last few months), it’s fair to say that the only unambiguous (and colossal) injustice in this whole sordid affair has now been buried, and that an unjust law has been buried with it.

I hesitate to hail this as a victory for our side (or the latest #BDSFail) since the now-resumed original case could still go either way, and even ultimate win in the case might come with a cost (albeit not a six-figure one).  But I do think there are important things to learn from this whole sequence of events, above and beyond the fact that our legal system still contains enough safeguards to ensure that good people don’t have to suffer for turning to the law to correct a perceived wrong.

To begin with, if you needed any further illustration of the monstrous selfishness of the BDS “movement,” think for a moment how the Olympian boycotters reacted to the fact that their behind-the-scenes coup at the Coop led to member outrage, resignations, protest and – finally – a lawsuit.  Any normal political organization might have stepped back for just a moment to reflect on the suffering their single-issue partisanship had visited on a community.  But if you read the original gloating responses to the original SLAPP verdict, it’s clear that the BDSers were overjoyed that their neighbors might not have to only eat the boycotter’s shit but pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege.

The Olympia story might also demonstrate what happens when those fighting against a perceived injustice feel as though they do not have enough options at their disposal.

Having been involved with the Olympia story since it began (an involvement which included a visit to the city – and the Coop, as well as contribution of expert testimony in the original court case), I’ve met members of the Olympia community and come to understand their unique predicament.  For while the anti-Israel community is organized and united around a common cause (holding onto their precious boycott at all cost), those fighting BDS never found their footing when it came time to devise a common political strategy.

Understandably, they tried to work within the system – a system many of them had built as members, leaders and even founders of the Olympia Food Coop.  But when those attempts at rectification and reconciliation were thwarted at every turn, they decided there was no alternative but to turn to the courts.

But, if history is any guide, some of the most successful political action takes place outside “the system” (just ask Martin Luther King – or Saul Alinsky).  Even at Olympia, one of the most successful moments for anti-boycott members came when one of them spent a week camped out at the store in protest, arguing  the injustice of the boycott decision while simultaneously performing hundreds of hours of community service for an organization he loved (despite being hurt by its current leaders).

Such a move represents the kind of direct political action that threw the boycotters off balance without harming anyone in the process (quite the opposite).  And while it’s hard to tell what might have happened if the campaign against the boycott focused on further “controlled conflict” (or even mischief making), I think it’s safe to say that the Jewish community in Olympia (like most Jewish communities, I’m afraid) has never developed a taste for creating conflict that work towards political ends.

Such an attitude is perfectly understandable, given that (like Israel) most Jews (and non-Jews) fighting against propaganda campaigns like BDS would like nothing more than to live in peace and tranquility.  And most of us are understandably appalled at the type of antics routinely practiced by pro-BDS advocates (who are perfectly comfortable sewing conflict to further their ends), which gives us pause when it comes time to decide what our political strategies should be.

I wish I could point to dozens of examples where Israel’s supporters have discovered clever (and unanticipated) tactics that got under the skin of their opponents without causing hurt to those uninvolved with any given BDS conflict, but in many ways the Olympia community resembles the rest of us in that we all try to work within the system when we can, and turn to higher authority (the wider “official” Jewish community, college administrations, or – in the case of Olympia – the courts) when that fails.

But looking back at the great impresarios of political theatre (think Abbie Hoffman), you’ll find that Red Sea Pedestrians make up a large percentage of their ranks.  So I suspect our side has more than enough creativity needed to fight battles using these kinds of tactics.  So what can be done to develop a taste for it in our ongoing fight against a ruthless enemy (one who think he knows everything we’re going to do next)?

BDS Fail at Greenstar Food Coop

14 May

In retrospect, many a BDS failure seems inevitable.  For instance, last night’s decision by the leaders of the Greenstar Food Coop in Ithaca, New York simply continues the 100% failure rate of BDS among food cooperatives (or at least those cooperatives where all members are aware of and allowed to participate in debate on the matter).

But such victories are never really spontaneous.  Rather, they are the result of smart and strong people within a community (like Greenstar) doing the right things at the right time on the ground.  And even if my “BDS is a loser” meme can be legitimately criticized as being overly optimistic with regard to the frailty of the BDS strategy, I’m really more of a pragmatist when it comes to taking on the boycotters.  And the pragmatic maxim that best describes the situation at Greenstar (and elsewhere) is that victory goes to those with the best ground game.

So what’s been going on in Ithaca?

To begin with, the BDSers got their claws into Greenstar using the same techniques we’ve seen across the country since food coops became a target for anti-Israel propagandists.  Like similar organizations, Greenstar is a non-profit with relatively loose rules of governance – especially rules surrounding member ballot initiatives.

Those less-than-airtight rules usually demonstrate trust within an organization that one set of members won’t take advantage of the situation in ways that can hurt others or damage the institution.  Which is why the BDSers proposed their boycott motion and demanded it be put to a vote – the needs of Greenstar and its members be damned.

Giving members options to strip different Israeli or Israel-related products from store shelves was no doubt a gamble that at least one of their choices would get the majority of a minority needed to prevail, just as aggressive arguments that coop leaders had no choice but to do what the boycotters said (lest they be accused of betraying democracy and stifling debate) was a gamble that they could find someone to fall for arguments that have failed elsewhere.

But as other coops (and similar non-profits) have articulated and demonstrated, democracy does not necessarily mean that a simple majority (or, more specifically, a majority of a minority) of voters gets to take a political stance that will be associated with every man, woman and child in the institution (especially once the BDSers start broadcasting such an association around the planet).

In this particular instance, an elected leadership Council for Greenstar has a responsibility to ensure a particular member initiative would not be financially or legally irresponsible or conflict with the organization’s bylaws before it be given a stamp of approval and sent on for a member-wide vote.  And local members opposed to any boycott were both organized and able to focus on explaining/demonstrating to the Council why Israel boycott measure fell afoul of all of these conditions.

No doubt in-store tabling and presentations at public meetings also played a part in the Council’s ultimate decision, given that they allowed an articulate set of boycott opponents to state their case (while also demonstrating the acrimony that would inevitably visit the organization if they did what the BDSers claimed was their only allowable option).  But, in the case of last night’s vote, it was the arguments specifically targeting conditions for rejection (legal irresponsibility, economic irresponsibility and conflict with the bylaws) that proved decisive.

While the Council based their decision on legal arguments provided by outside attorneys unaffiliated with any partisan group, the work that local activists performed to demonstrate the risk the coop faced on both the legal and economic fronts should not be minimized.  For example, an economic analysis of what the cost of a boycott would be to Greenstar’s brand (written by a local business professor) is one of those new and intriguing documents one runs into when doing anti-BDS work that makes you wonder why our side spends so much time repeating old mantras asking why the boycotters don’t give up their cell phones.

And even the legal argument, focused as it was around whether or not a boycott would violate New York anti-discrimination law, entered public discussion thanks to anti-boycott forces and supporters.

It should also be noted that rejecting the boycott for legal reasons highlights the role recent anti-BDS legislation working its way through state legislators (and the US Congress) can play in subsequent boycott and divestment debates.  For, in this case, the very existence of relevant anti-discrimination law in the state of New York gave coop leaders the legitimate justification they needed to show BDS the door.  And the fact that the legal advice upon which they based their decision came from experts without an axe to grind in the Middle East conflict allowed the Greenstar Council to say “No” to BDS without having to take sides between competing groups.

This last point is instructive since it is highly likely that all of the arguments, debates, presentations and materials (not to mention hostility) generated by the boycott fight meant the Council was looking for a way to get out of having to go to a vote, with all the pain that would have caused the organization, its leaders and its members.   In which case, New York law provided them the means to get BDS out of Greenstar’s system without requiring the coop’s leaders to seem to agree with one side vs. the other.

Given the squishiness one often finds within volunteer organizations built around consensus confronting ruthless BDS partisans insisting their demands be met, I think it’s an open question whether this same legal argument would have been so decisive absent a well-organized and firm opposition showing up at every meeting, talking to coop leaders face-to-face, and generally leveraging the trust they had built up over years of involvement with Greenstar to get people to listen to something other than BDS blandishments and moral blackmail.

That aforementioned branding study highlighted a point that comes up whenever boycotts are proposed: that the boycotters are absolutely free to not buy all the Israeli products they like (or hate) and to convince others to do the same (just as Israel’s supporters are free to buy out those same products to show their opposition to BDS).  But, as everyone knows, Israel haters not buying Israeli goods is not news.  Which is why those pushing for this motion at Greenstar were so desperate to generate an event they could spin as their propaganda message representing more than the belief of a marginal fringe.

But as with every other coop in the country (save one), that attempt was stopped cold thanks to wise leaders and state legislators, but mostly due to the hard work of a dedicated group of on-the-ground activists which history continues to demonstrate to be one of the most unstoppable forces in the universe.

SodaStream Re-Lo?

11 Sep

During the dog-days of August, when stories of the latest Hamas war in Gaza understandably dominated the news, a BDS story began to effervesce involving another piece of disputed territory: one claiming that SodaStream was planning to close their Mishor Adumin plant – a facility that has been used to anchor worldwide boycott activity targeting the Israeli soda-machine manufacturer.

Now we can guess what the press release from the Omar Barghouti’s brigade might look like if a decision to close the Mishor Adumin plant gets made: a claim of total victory that makes it clear any move made by SodaStream was entirely due to BDS efforts.

At least one Israeli supporter (my favorite Italian brand of Chicken Little) has beaten Barghouti to the punch, using the potential move to anchor another call that people wake up to the BDS threat and stop it at all cost.  But even less hyperventilating friends of the Jewish state used the possible SodaStream re-lo to demonstrate the utter indifference on the part of BDS activists to the fate of hundreds of Palestinians who would find themselves unemployed if a campaign against their employer “succeeded.” But while pointing out the BDSers total lack of concern for actual living, breathing Palestinians is worth doing, such an argument takes as given that BDS plays much of a role in SodaStream’s thinking.

The best candidate for an alternative explanation is, as usual for a publically traded business, economics.  And if you look over this story covering Soda Stream from an investment angle, it’s clear that there are many reasonable factors that can explain the company’s choices that have nothing to do with politics. These factors include the need to consolidate manufacturing, availability of government subsidies for employing people in the Negev, consumer challenges the company faces in the critical US market, and the possibility of having Coke as a competitor – requiring the need to redirect spending towards product development and marketing. With such multi-million-dollar considerations on the table, it’s easy to see why small bands of dopes invading hardware stores a few times a year might not factor into corporate risk analysis.

But all this analysis does not take into account the human factor, notably the personality of SodaStream’s CEO Daniel Birnbaum.  For in addition to creating a company that has taken on the world’s largest beverage manufacturers, Birnbaum has also been trying to almost single handedly keep Shimon Peres’ notion of a New Middle East – where economic cooperation would supplant political enmity – alive.

A heartless plutocrat might keep the Mishor Adumin factory open just to take advantage of government grants or low wage workers (as SodaStream’s critics accuse).  But would such a plutocrat subject himself to a strip search in solidarity with the Palestinian workers he brought to an Israeli event celebrating the company’s achievements?  This type of behavior, coupled with his insistence that Jewish and Arab workers be treated equally in any factory his company runs, indicates that there was a political element to his decision-making, one which tried desperately to keep the original Oslo spirit alive by demonstrating that Jews and Arabs can work together to replace hostility with prosperity.

Now if you’re nothing more than a money-grubbing businessperson, accusations of being a greedy, exploitive scumbag are easy to take since that’s what you, in fact, are.  And part of that profile includes indifference to the criticism of others (or the ability to rationalize your misbehavior as part of some nebulous higher good).

But if you, like Birnbaum are actually altruistic as well as capitalistic, if you’ve made sacrifices – financial and personal – over the years to create a successful, growing company and use that success to improve the lives of Israelis and Arabs that other Israelis and Arabs say can never be reconciled, how are you supposed to respond to accusations by unproductive cretins like Omar Barghouti that you are actually running a slave labor camp and that all the good you’ve tried to do amounts to little more than Apartheid?

I obviously can’t read the mind of Birnbaum (or anyone else), but I do suspect there exists a combination of risk-reward calculus and plain old hostility to being lied about (not to mention being used as part of someone else’s political game) that would make any person – no matter how generous – say “f**k it” at some point and move on.  So while I don’t believe decisions to close the plant were made in reaction to BDSer exploits, I could imagine such insults playing a role with regard to whether or not management would fight to keep that factory open if it didn’t make economic sense to do so.

While such speculations about SodaStream’s CEO amount to little more than armchair psychologizing, no such guesswork is needed to understand the belief system behind a political movement ready to lie and see Palestinians suffer in order generate headlines and propaganda.  For if the Oslo Accords were meant to foster an environment where cooperation was an alternative to conflict, the BDS movement is fighting to close off any and all options other than war.

SodaStream Boycott – Losing on Two Sides of the Atlantic

29 Apr

Over the years, I’ve highlighted one of the advantages the BDSers have over their opponent in terms of selecting the field of battle.

This advantage grows out of the fact that, as the propaganda arm of a war movement masquerading as a peace movement, the boycott brigade faces an opponent (us) that does not have equivalent militant goals.  So while they are free to try to push their squalid little boycott and divestment programs anywhere they like and try to stuff their propaganda message (that Israel is an “apartheid state” alone in the world requiring economic punishment) into the mouth of any civic organization they wish, Israel’s friends are neither interested in demonizing Israel’s enemies, nor using innocent third parties as tools to achieve our ends.

One of the fronts they chose this year was a SodaStream boycott (or, more specifically, a boycott of stores selling products made by that Israeli company), and while those of us fighting against boycott and divestment efforts had to wait until the BDSers selected their target, this year’s SodaStream boycott battles demonstrate the variety of tactics available to us as we work to ensure the boycotter’s now decade-plus-long record of failure.

By now, I suspect most Divest This readers have heard of Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI), a UK group that has used a variety of imaginative and creative tactics to rock the boat of Israel haters who had targeted an eccostream store in Brighton (eccostream being a subsiderary of SodaStream) for ongoing protests.

As this article points out, Brighton (a Southern English Coastal town where active BDS groups have routinely staged protests) might seem a strange place for Israel’s defenders to so successfully take a stand.  The area has a reasonably sized Jewish community, but one mostly made up of retirees.  And, as in much of Europe, British Jews have tended to avoid confrontational politics which gives the more militant BDS groups the ability to act as they please.

But as in so many cases (including my own), over-reach by the Israel haters created an enemy willing to put the time and effort into transforming the field of battle.

In this case, local Jews and non-Jews appalled by what they saw in Brighton created founded SFI which managed to turn the situation around in Brighton by meeting the BDSers vulgarity and ugliness with warmth, humor and baked goods.  At weekly demonstrations where the Israel dis-likers used to gather to spout lies and vent their rage, they have been met with crowds of Israel supporters playing music, serving food, and spouting the truth wrapped in a blanket of good cheer.

While I routinely hear complaints that Israel’s supporters rely too heavily on “feel good” programming that does not sufficiently attack the nation’s foes, SFI’s tactics represent a new type of tactic that I would call “militant cheerfulness.”  For whether it’s serving up pastry under the banner of “They Tell Lies, We Serve Pies” (a slogan that, while not Chaucer, does the rhetorical job of characterizing the two sides), or meeting the tired BDS chants with blues music and duck calls, there is no question which side is winning the battle, a victory that is demonstrating not just to Brightonians but to people around the world the emptiness behind BDS slogans and posing.

Did I say duck calls?  Actually, that’s one of my favorite aspects of their campaign.  For, under the rubric of “If it quacks like a duck” (i.e., behaves like an anti-Semite), the SFI group has armed its members with little quackers that they break out whenever the boycotters try to spout their nonsense.  And to get a sense of how much this barrage of caustic mischief rankles their opponents, one need only look at this video where duck calling reduced one member of the BDS group to impotent rage (followed by his arrest).

While I’d love to see SFI’s duck strategy adopted more on this side of the Atlantic, there are also times when a quieter approach is the right choice.  Earlier this year, for example, some of us learned that a local store was being targeted by BDS activists for a SodaStream boycott protest.  But, rather than organize our own counter-protest (which many local activists have done successfully in the past), some of us instead reached out to the store to see what their concerns were.  And one of the things they made clear was that they did not want to see an ugly confrontation break out in front of their shop.

Out of respect for their wishes (which extends to respecting that desire enough to not mention who I’m talking about in this piece), the Jewish community instead organized a Buy Israeli Goods (BIG)/Buycott-style counter-offensive which continues well after the boycotters folded their bloody banners and went home.  And given that the only people who can decide what to shelve or de-shelve are those running the store, it’s likely that people who respect their wishes vs. harassing their customers will leave a better impression of whom to trust.

Now if you define victory as accomplishing your goals, these quiet tactics were selected as the ones most likely to achieve the goal of handing the BDSers another defeat.  But, as this SodaStream boycott -related piece points out, these definition of victory and defeat only apply to people living in the actual world, not the fantasy world in which the boycotters dwell.

For such fantasists, the very fact that they all got together in front of someone else’s store to stage a noisy protest for a couple of hours represents all they were ever after.  Like the SJPers who force all-nighters onto student councils so they can spew their propaganda for hours on end, participation in such hate rallies is the goal and the only thing the BDS cru truly care about – damn the lies they have to tell to get what they want, damn the people that might get hurt as they subvert this or that civic group, and damn the people they claim to be fighting for including (or should I say “especially”) the Palestinians they are ready to see continue to suffer and die just so they can feel good about themselves.

Holiday Celebrations

11 Apr

Well the holidays are upon us, so time to take a look at some inspiring events from the various war zones the BDSers chose to open up over the last few weeks.

Starting off with an event that put all the boycotter’s loathsome tactics and abhorrent behavior on display, a divestment resolution suddenly appeared on the agenda of the Student Assembly at Cornell last Tuesday, which meant a vote on the matter would take place over the coming week.  Actually, the original agenda made no mention of the measure – consisting of standard SJP boilerplate – but a re-send later in the day added it to the bottom of a long list of items.

Coincidentally (NOT!), discussion and voting on this measure would have taken place over a period when (quelle coincidence!) many Jews would be heading home (or would already at home) for Passover.

Thankfully, students at Cornell were able to organize a response rapidly enough to get the whole sordid thing tabled indefinitely yesterday afternoon (effectively killing the measure).

I’ll let this video from the vote (which ended with the usual BDSer tantrum) tell the tale:

Yes, once again, screaming at everyone who doesn’t do what you say is standard operating procedure for the current generation of Israel haters.

Actually, it’s also the tactic of choice for the last generation, as displayed by this articulate British fellow peeved over the fact that his group’s ongoing picketing of an Ecostream store in the UK (which sells evil Sodastream dispensers) has been met by effective, good-humored and hugely successful counter-protests by Sussex Friends of Israel:

And moving back one generation further, 85-year-old Saul Zabar dealt with the you-know-what-holes asking him why he wasn’t taking their phone calls by telling them point-blank “I didn’t think you were worth it.”  (Truer words were never spoken.)

But for better or worse, it is still worth it for some of us to continue working towards the continued defeat of BDS, the weakest link in the entire chain of anti-Israel propaganda that goes under the label of “de-legitimization.”

And in that spirit (as well as the spirit of adding bitter herbs to an otherwise sweet upcoming holiday), it’s also worth noting some not-so-good news coming from a place I haven’t revisited yet this year: Olympia Washington where local activists who lost a lawsuit against the local food coop for their anti-Israel boycott recently had their appeal of that original court decision rejected.

Now if I were a BDSer, I would simply ignore that story (as they have ignored the fact that every other food coop in the country have used Olympia as an example of what NOT to do) or come up with some cockamamie way to translate that defeat into a disguised victory.  But one of the reasons the boycotters lose so often is the fact that they spend far too much time in their own virtual reality vs. the real one.

Personally, I prefer learning from experiences (good or ill).  And, in the case of Olympia (vs. stories coming out of Dartmouth, Sussex and Zabars) the lesson seems to reinforce what I’ve said in the past regarding the preferability of political vs. legal responses to BDS.  For, more often than not, whenever we engage with Israel’s opponents at the political level we tend to win.  But whenever a BDS-related case has gone to court, the people bringing the suit (usually the BDSers, BTW) have always lost.

This may sound like odd commentary, given that I provided expert testimony in the Olympia case.  But that contribution was motivated by the fact that I never say no to anyone asking for help in their BDS fights.  And for those who aren’t asking for such help right this moment, I’m going to give you some advice anyway:  put your energy into coming up with imaginative tactics based on a sound strategy articulated in skillful language and you too will probably have the pleasure of seeing the boycotters bellowing and blubbering in impotent rage, rather than celebrating and gloating at your expense.