As long-time trackers of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions phenomenon know, BDS is an opportunistic virus ready to use whatever it learned the last time it infected (or was rejected) by a host organism when moving to a new target of opportunity.
Most recently, success in getting academic associations like the ASA on board their squalid little program involved:
- Moving into leadership positions activists ready to put the BDS agenda ahead of the people and field they are supposed to be representing
- Either passing a boycott resolution within executive committee (before members know what’s going on) or setting up a vote with no quorum that will allow a tiny percentage of members to vote in a policy that impacts the entire organization
- Control debate by setting up stacked committees and “discussion” sessions that freeze our or harass critics, and coming up with endless excuses why those critics are not allowed to use the same communications channels the BDSers use to flood the membership with propaganda generated by people with no affiliation with the association
Most recently, these new tactics are being followed to the letter by the BDSers who purport to represent the membership of United Automobile Workers (UAW) 2865 which, despite its name, is actually a union of 12,000 graduate student employees within the California education system.
Like many unions, UAW 2865 has been getting the short end of the stick in negotiations with the state and college administrations over the last couple of years. Partly, this reflects the weakening of unions generally (especially those that include very few active members – like a union of grad students). But another reason why they’ve been force to accept crappy contracts recently is that the union’s leadership seems to have priorities that have nothing to do with bettering the lot of the membership.
Most notably, they have been pushing, participating in and spending union money on BDS activities, even before they receive the answer they’re hoping for from the rigged vote they’ve scheduled for December 4th. And, not satisfied with the damage they have caused to date, they have done everything in their power to ensure a “Yes” vote will permanently wreck the organization by:
- Weakening the group’s leverage with administrators by putting the union at odds with university governance (by calling for discrimination against a class of fellow academics and legitimizing the politicization of the classroom)
- Putting the group at legal risk by potentially placing UAW 2865 in violation of state discrimination law
- Alienating fellow union members, including the local Teamsters who have noted that “Whatever your motives, we cannot conceive of an action more hostile to the interests of our members and more antithetical to the most basic principles of the union movement than for a union to call for actions which are intended to do harm to the economic security of other union members.”
The good news is that an able group of graduate students has organized to overcome the enormous barriers the BDSers in the union’s leadership have erected and are valiantly attempting get word out to those graduates students/union members who might have no other way of knowing what is about to be enacted in their name.
And even as my hopes are with this group, it should be noted (yet again) the kind of price BDS asks of those it is trying to recruit to the cause.
I thought of this when William Jacobson, the Cornell professor who has been covering the ASA beat at Legal Insurrection, subtitled his piece on the union vote “BDS destroys everything it touches.” For what better way to describe a program that is ready to destroy the credibility, bargaining power and solidarity with fellow members of the labor movement, all so a tiny minority can spread their Israel=Apartheid hate propaganda at the expense of thousands of working students?
As noted in my review of Nelson and Braham’s recent book on academic boycotts, the BDSers at ASA are working hard to redefine academic freedom out of existence (while all the time insisting that their own freedom to boycott fellow academics be protected at all costs), just so the hacks that lead the organization can punch above their trivial weight as either scholars or activists.
Meanwhile, those that forced the Presbyterian Church to vote divestment over and over again for more than a decade until PCUSA members did what they were told have demanded the organization place its most sacred possession – the claim to speak on behalf of “Christian Witness” – on the sacrificial alter for the benefit of an insatiable BDS Moloch.
But why stop there? For given that BDS is just a tactic of a wider anti-Israel movement ready to corrupt any organization (the UN anyone?) and turn any virtue (including the quest to build a world based on human rights and international understanding vs. national power and tribal alliance) into weapons directed at their hated target (regardless of the damage this weaponization does to anyone else on the planet), couldn’t Jacobson’s “BDS destroys everything it touches” apply to all the hopes and dreams of those who profess to fight for a better future?
I know I’ve quoted him before, but Robin Sheperd in his book State Beyond the Pale sums up this whole sordid phenomenon so depressingly well that I shall again give him the last word on the subject:
Whatever it touches, the anti-Israel agenda always brings out the worst. It brings out the worst in journalists who cast aside their principles of balance and objectivity. It brings out the worst in seasoned commentators who substitute hysteria and foot stomping for calm analysis and enlightened discussion.
It brings out the worst in trade unions which put a hateful agenda above the interest of their members. It brings out the worst in diplomats who debase themselves by pandering to tyrannies against a democracy. It brings out the worst in artists and writers who submerge their commitment to beauty and truth in ugliness and lies. It brings out the worst of the great traditions of Left and Right which default back to their shabbiest instincts and their darkest prejudices.