BDSFail at 12 – Continued

It looks like the whole #BDSFail meme is starting to affect the Dear Leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions “movement” who just published a piece of extended bombast even more longwinded than my usual postings entitled “BDS at 7 – Celebrating, reflecting and further misleading mainstreaming” (damn keyboard’s sticking).

Before subjecting their manifesto of alleged success to some humble critiquing, it’s worth noting that their first lie appears before the article even starts, with a title that continues the BDSers tradition of not even being able to be honest about their own birthday.

As a reminder to new readers, the BDS “movement” actually began in 2001 at the now-notorious Durban I conference where national governments (dozens of which are hostile to the Jewish state) and a similar number of equally hostile anti-Israel NGOs met at parallel conferences and decided to launch “The Apartheid Strategy” – a propaganda program to brand Israel as the inheritor of Apartheid South Africa, with boycott and divestment (which were once used against South Africa) selected as the tactic of choice to turn the Jewish state into an international pariah.

This early BDS era actually achieved its peak of success in 2004 when the Presbyterian Church passed their original resolution to begin a process of “phased, selective divestment” in companies doing business with the Jewish state.  With this win providing them momentum, the boycotters spent the next two years bringing divestment campaigns to colleges and universities, retailers, unions and other Mainline Protestant churches in hope that more victories would help them spread their message farther and wider.

Unfortunately for them, there were no takers and when the Presbyterians themselves rescinded their divestment resolution in 2006, divestment pretty much went into remission until it re-emerged in the rebranded form of “BDS” in after the 2008 Gaza war and 2009 Hampshire divestment hoax.

So long and short of it, a start date of 2005 (which is the birthday used to give the impression BDS is now 7 years old) was chosen to (1) tie the current BDS movement to an alleged 2005 “Call for BDS by Palestinian Civil Society,” giving the impression that BDS emerged from the grassroots of “Palestine” vs. the sordid sewers of Durban; and (2) to erase years that contained the biggest BDS failures (and, by necessity, their biggest successes) from history.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the text.

I have to note that I did this same kind of analysis last year on two similar “But We Are Actually Winning!” documents published by other boycott and divestment advocates, so many of the details below will refer back to that previous set of postings.

That series began by picking out examples from the BDSer’s “victory” documents that were outright frauds, such as Hampshire and Blackrock, two examples that the BDS at 7 piece interestingly omit (indicating that these hoaxes may have finally become a liability).  There are some new hoaxes, of course, with the failure of Agrexco – an Israeli flower exporter – attributed to the activities of European boycotters, rather than to problems with the domestic market and financial mismanagement which were the true causes behind the company entering liquidation.

And while we’re on the subject of mis-representation, one of their most glaring entries has to do with the Ahava retail shop in London that the BDSers claim was closed down due a “sustained campaign” by BDS activists.  While this is technically true, they failed to mention that this “sustained campaign” consisted of months of violent demonstrations and disruptions at or near the store, which finally caused neighboring businesses to complain, leading to Ahava not renewing its lease.  So in this case, a “sustained campaign of thuggery” would be a more accurate description of this vaunted BDS “victory.”

My earlier series also talked about claimed victories that were long outdated, such as the British Union of Journalists (NUJ), University and College Union (UCU), and University of Johannesburg (UJ) (all of whom passed and then unpassed various boycott-related resolutions).  Of these three stories, only the U Johannesberg story remains (uncorrected, of course) in the new BDS at 7 story.

BDS at 7 also includes a number of references to Veolia, a French multinational currently getting out of a number of business worldwide, while also going through the normal process of winning a few and losing a few.  Needless to say, the boycotters attribute each and every negative thing that happened to the company to their political campaign efforts.   But given that they were caught passing off simple business decisions as politically motivated time and time again, it’s not clear why we are required to take them at their word now regarding continued claims of causality.

Other claims of “victory” (such as the European Parliament’s decision to not renew a contract with the security company G4S) fall into the same post-hoc fallacy we’ve seen time and time again where the BDSers claim that since they were agitating against a company before something bad happened (like G4S losing a contract), then their activity must have been the cause of that decision.

Which brings up the question of why BDS, alone of all boycott and divestment-related political projects, requires outside activists to “translate” the decisions these various companies are making in order to “prove” that they are BDS related?  After all, when companies stopped doing business with Apartheid South Africa or Iran or Sudan for political reasons, there was no ambiguity about those decisions since the companies themselves made it entirely clear what they were doing and why.  Only BDS, it seems, requires an anointed class of political clerics to read the minds of actual business decision makers, including those who vehemently deny the boycotter’s interpretation of events.

Anyway, it looks like I was too fast on the draw to tease the other side for writing long articles, since it seems that this analysis of their BDS at 7 “victory march” will have to continue next time.

To be continued…

BDSFail at 12 – Continued

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series BDSFail
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.

BDSFail at 12

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series BDSFail
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.