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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.

WIX

26 Feb

One of the stories I probably would have covered had I been blogging last year would have been the tempest in a t-cup that erupted briefly over a Student for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group at Cornell’s use of WIX (a free website building tool, created by an Israeli company that went public last year) to create one of their B(d)S sites.

I tend to avoid the whole “if you want to boycott Israel, give up your computer/cell phone/Wasserman Test” theme, given that it’s used so much (by those better at presenting it than me), and because the boycotters tend to turn to their preferred tactic (ignoring you) when presented with this argument.

But, for some reason, the BDSers at Cornell took great offense at accusations of hypocrisy that flooded the Twit-o-sphere once they were outed as WIX users (i.e., Israel non-boycotters).  And their OUTRAGED response demonstrates the rhetorical atrophying that takes place when you spend time shouting at your opponents, rather than actually debating them.

If you sweep away all the usual accusations of distortion and insincerity directed at critics, and wild (unsubstantiated) claims of growing success of the BDS “movement,” the nut of Cornell SJP’s argument can be summed up in their statement that “BDS is a tactic, not a principle, let alone a call for abstention.”

You might be surprised that I’m actually in sympathy with part of this argument, in that I’ve pointed out for years that BDS is simply a tactic (albeit the Cornell SJP does not explain the “Apartheid Strategy” propaganda campaign this tactic supports, nor the ultimate goal of the “movement”).  And their reference to not being required to be “beautiful souls” was a welcome philosophical reference (even if they used rock lyrics rather than Hegel to explain the concept).

Now I could point out that throwing away every piece of technology that makes use of Israeli components or code requires genuine effort and sacrifice, while selecting one free (non-Israeli) web hosting service vs. WIX does not (implying that the boycotters are too lazy to live by even the simplest application of their alleged principles).  But I think this lighter argument (which they actually address) missed a more important point (which they ignore).

As I have pointed out again and again on this site, the BDS goal/strategy/tactic is built around getting their accusations to come out of the mouth of a third party, be it a university, church, municipality, academic organization, food coop or other civic organization.  And in order to do this, they must first claim that this university/church/municipality, etc. is already “taking sides” in the Arab-Israeli conflict by investing in companies or selling products somehow tied to the Jewish state (or, as they prefer to put it, “The Occupation”™).

Why kick off a divestment campaign for the umpteenth time at UC schools?  Because those school’s investment portfolio includes stocks on the BDS blacklist (maybe).  Why target this or that food coop?  Because they sell Sabra Hummus or Israeli ice cream cones.  Why protest in front of Cliff’s Variety?  Because they sell SodaStream drink dispensers.

Now in each and every case, the BDSers have detailed explanations as to why these particular stocks or those particular products are the target of their ire.  And, even when they don’t, they are ready to make up new excuses when the situation requires it.

But this brings up the question of why are they the only ones who get to choose which use of Israeli anything is evil vs. non-evil?  After all, if a store selling hummus made in New  Jersey is fair game in their battle against “Apartheid Israel,” why should use of a web hosting service that brings hundreds of millions of dollars in investment into the Israeli economy (and thus the tax base of the state they so loath) be similarly sinful?

Indeed, the BDSers have given themselves license to create mayhem in community after community based on links to Israel far more tenuous than their own use of WIX.  So if they are ready to declare themselves immediately and unquestionably innocent, how can they then turn around and declare everyone else guilty unless they do what the boycotters say is their only moral choice?

This gets back to the claim of BDS as a tactic.  For this tactic is designed to allow the BDSers to speak in someone else’s name, no matter what the cost to that someone else.  And the basis for their demand that every civic organization they target give into their bullying is the choices those organizations make regarding where to invest or what to buy and sell.  But as the Cornell SJP has informed us, involving yourself with the Israeli economy is perfectly OK/innocent/unavoidable – as long as you’re them, and not the people they have chosen to torment for their own political gain.

ASA and Oxfam – Another Thought Experiment

7 Feb

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Thought Experiments

Time for yet another thought experiment, this one designed to answer the question I ended my last piece with, namely, what makes the nature of BDS so unfathomable to those who (like ASA and Oxfam) become its willing victims?

To kick things off, think about a political issue you care passionately about.  Maybe it’s pollution or global warming, or perhaps you are outraged by the genocide the government of Sudan has practiced in Darfur or the behavior of China in Tibet.  This political passion might even have to do with the Middle East conflict.  For instance, I happen to hold beliefs no less passionately regarding who is right and who is wrong in that conflict as do the BDSers (although hopefully more informed by facts and reason).

OK, now think about the various institutions you belong to and possibly even lead: perhaps a church or synagogue, maybe a professional or civic organization.  And from this list, pick one that, if they endorsed your political beliefs, would help amplify your positions far beyond what you can do on your own.

But let’s say that after some consideration and talking with other members of the civic group you have chosen, you learn that others do not share your beliefs (or, going even further, hold beliefs opposite to yours with the same vehemence as do you).   And in addition to offending these members (who may, in fact, hold a minority view within the chosen group), you know with certainty that getting this organization to officially endorse your views will cause significant damage to its central mission.

So what do you do next?  Well, if you are a normal person, you might find other outlets for your political activity (such as joining or starting a different organization that has advocating for your beliefs as its primary purpose).  Or, if getting this or that civic group to participate in your chosen political activity is absolutely vital, you might spend time educating members in order to achieve consensus around both your beliefs and the need for the organization to act on them.  But even if you went down this controversial route, I would guess most of you would try to find some form such an endorsement could take that would minimize wider fallout.  And I suspect you would be willing to ultimately take “No” for an answer.

Now that you have thought through how a normal person (or political movement) might behave, think about how much this diverges from the behavior of those pushing boycott, divestment and sanctions directed against Israel.

To pick a couple of examples, when BDSers determined that their boycott program would offend many, many members of food coops around the country, they simply leveraged the loose rules those coops had in place regarding product boycotts (rules that never had to be air-tight since they were based on the assumption that coop members would take one-another’s needs into consideration) to force boycott votes (or simply implement a boycott behind the backs of the membership).

Or how about the Presbyterian Church which has official voted down anti-Israel divestment motions in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012. Again, a normal political movement would get the message and move on.  But, as we’ll see when the church meets this summer for their 2014 General Assembly, the BDSers are willing to force a vote again and again and again (possibly forever) until the organization “gets it right” by doing what they say.

This type of militant politics must seem strange to the typical groups targeted by BDS: progressive organizations with a concern for human rights (even if acting on that concern is not central to their mission) who presume that anyone bringing a political matter before them is sincere about their goals and acting in the normal fashion outlined in the thought experiment that started this piece.

The notion that a food coop, or the Presbyterian Church, or the American Studies Association or Oxfam are just a means to an end for the BDSers is what is unfathomable to these organizations.  For most people participating in a civic institution understand that members of that institution have different (often opposing) beliefs and needs – which makes harmony within such groups a marvelous thing since it means those individuals have put aside differences to work together for a common good.

In contrast, the BDSers perceive these groups as existing for one purpose and one purpose only: to pass their BDS resolutions.  And not just pass them, but do so in ways that will cause maximum damage to the institutions primary purpose.

I happen to sympathize with critics of ASA’s boycott policy that are equally hostile to some of the anti-boycott legislation being proposed at the state and national level.  But then why are statehouses and Congress even talking about ASA, except for the fact that the association decided to take a stance that has brought the wrath of the academy and others down on everyone’s heads? And rather than contemplate the role their own behavior played in creating these controversies, the very same ASA leaders who triggered a crisis are now demanding everyone in the field take sides in a debate that should never have gotten started (one over who gets to decide where and how much academic freedom can be limited based on political need).

Moving onto Oxfam, this is an organization dedicated to doing good in the world (they are one of the most important groups helping victims of Syria’s civil war, for example).  And, no doubt, having Scarlett Johansson as one of their ambassadors has also done some good in terms of raising their profile and funds.

But rather than allowing the organization to express disappointment and agree to disagree over the film star’s decision to endorse a soda manufacturer, members of an alleged “international human rights community” who are BDSers first, Oxfamers second, required – once again – that everyone choose a side.

One of the dilema’s Oxfam finds itself in has to do with ambiguity.  For, from my perspective anyway, the role of the SodaStream (a company that is consciously trying to build bridges to peace through economic activity) and its location (on a piece of disputed territory likely to end up as part of Israel in any peace agreement) is complicated.  And while Oxfam is free to claim that this situation is, in fact, crystal clear, that leaves them limited room to claim ambiguity as a defense when it comes time to explain why a branch of the organization giving money to organizations central to BDS are doing so for purposes other than promoting BDS.

One of those organizations happens to be called “Who Profits?,” and to end this piece (finally), I’d like to ask the question of who profits when an organization is attacked, lets down friends and allies or is torn apart in order to ensure Omar Barghouti has something to boast about on the pages of The New York Times? Not ASA (or its members).  Not Oxfam (or the people it is trying to help).  No, the only people profiting from the manufactured BDS controversies over the last few months are the boycotters themselves, which makes the real question why other people are willing to pay such a high price for someone else’s political bragging rights.