Sydney and Omar’s BDS Journey – Part 3

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Sydney and Omar's BDS Journey

OK, here goes nothing…

If you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about below, check out Part 1 and Part 2 before reading on.

Sydney and Omar’s BDS Journey – Part 3

Scene 6: The room outside of the office of Roger Ferguson, President and CEO of TIAA-CREF. Abigail Nelson, Ferguson’s secretary, is sitting at her desk filing her nails and talking on the phone.

Miss Nelson: So he says, “Do we have to leave the game now, it’s only the 5th inning?” …and she says “But my dad just had a heart attack! He’s being rushed to the hospital!” … and he says “So is it going to make any difference if we beat him there?” … And she says…

A flash of green light appears below the crack of the door to Miss Nelson’s office. She looks up from her desk to see the door fly open. Sydney and Omar run across her office, giving her a quick wave before bursting through the door of Ferguson’s office. Behind our two heroes trail King Edward I (who tips his crown towards her), Adoph Hitler and two white mice (all of whom ignore her). The door to Ferguson’s office slams shut behind them.

Miss Nelson: Sorry Gladys. Where was I?

Scene 7: Inside Roger Ferguson’s office where the head of TIAA-CREF is putting golf balls into a 4th century Byzantine silver cup.

Sydney and Omar burst in, each grabbing one of Ferguson’s arms and pushing him into an overstuffed armchair near a set of bookshelves.

Sydney: OK Mr. F – you asked for it, you got it!

Omar: Indeed you have, for Syndny and I – that is, Wild Boycott – have travelled through time to bring you some of the greatest champions of BDS throughout history.

Sydney: So without further ado, may I present our first act: Edward the First of England!

King Edward strides up to Ferguson’s chair.

Edward I: Greetings money lender. My young friends have told me about your plight and that you too have a problem with those pesky Jews in your kingdom. To which all I can say is that you have my sympathy. For these deniers of Christ have a filthy past, and a foul present. They control the coin of the realm and had the printing press been invented in my day, would no doubt control the media as well! For those reasons, they have no future in the lands that I rule. And so I urge you… I’m sorry, what is your name again?

Ferguson (shaking briefly out of his bewilderment): Ferguson

Edward I: Ferguson?! A filthy Scot! (He turns in wrath at Sydney and Omar.) You never told me this trip would require me to smell the stench of this blue-faced highlands baboon!

Realizing that they may be losing their audience, Sydney grabs Edward I and drags him back to the rest of the group, leaving Omar to introduce their next speaker to a Roger Ferguson looking more red-faced than blue.

Omar: Guess he got a little carried away there! But you know how royalty can be. But for our next historic boycotter, we bring you a true man of the people. In fact, you could even say one Reich, one Volke, one Fuhrer (he air guitars towards Hitler who reciprocates). But enough of my yacking. For our next great historic personage, I introduce to you Mr. Adolph Hitler!

Hitler strides purposefully up to Ferguson, stares at him in silence for a moment before breaking into a wild storm of German, dousing the TIAA-CREF chairman in saliva. Hitler then careens around the room waving his hands and shrieking about der Juden before finally settling in front of one of Ferguson’s bookshelves. Staring for a moment, he breaks into another rage and begins pulling any book off the shelf by an identifiable Jewish author which he places in a pile before reaching for a box of matches on Ferguson’s desk. Sydney and Omar quickly restrain him and drag him back to the group.

Sydney (turning towards Pinky and the Brain): I don’t think this is going so well (looking at Ferguson, whose face has turned from crimson to purple). It’s all up to you now.

Brain: Fear not, young pup. For I have handled bigger bigshots than this fellow.

The Brain strides over to the chair Ferguson is sitting on and climbs onto one of the arm rests.

Brain: Now I had considered appealing to your sense of duty to humanity, or to use my boundless gifts of rhetoric to win you to our cause. But why go through the trouble when I can just do this!

At this point, The Brain leaps off the arm rest and grabs onto Ferguson’s forehead where he proceeds to pull at locks of hair and kick and bite at the brow of the TIAA-CREF CEO.

Brain: Watch closely Pinky. For I am now applying a form of Tantric Yoga taught to me by Lamas in Tibet. By carefully stimulating nerves in the cranial region of this capitalist goon (he continues to pull Ferguson’s hair and kick his forehead) his mind shall come under my complete control!

Ferguson finally snaps out of the disorientation that commonly afflicts businesspeople when confronted by historical and fictional characters. Grabbing The Brain by the tail he plucks him off his forehead and flicks him across the room where he crashes into Pinky, leaving both mice bruised.

Pinky: I don’ think our Tantric what-cha-ma-call-it worked all that well Brain.

Brain: Perhaps I should have practiced that technique first before trying it out in the field.

Ferguson rises from his chair and glares and Sydney and Omar.

Ferguson: Let me get this straight. After promising me you’d demonstrate historic precedent for BDS, all you’ve been able to bring me is the beast my Scottish ancestors once used to frighten their children, the greatest mass murdered in history and a couple of insane talking rats?!

Brain: Actually, we are genetically engineered experimental lab mice. (Ferguson hurls an ashtray at him which sends him flying across the room.)

Omar: Well, if you put it that way then, yeah. I guess that pretty much sums it up. Pretty cool, huh?

Sydney: So, can we make an announcement that TIAA-CREF will be divesting from Israel this afternoon? We already sent out press releases this morning.

Ferguson looks like he’s about to fly into a rage, but then calms himself.

Ferguson: Boys, until this morning I just thought you and your fellow BDS crew were a bunch of public nuisances. But after this performance I’m going to make it my life’s work to get every dollar managed by TIAA-CREF companies invested in Israel and to convince my fellow investment managers to do the same, fiduciary duties be damned!

He stabs at a button on his desk intercom.

Ferguson: Miss Nelson, send in “The Twins!”

It is now Sydney and Omar’s turn to be bewildered as two giant, identical burly men enter the room, each wearing graduation caps and gowns.

First Burly Man: Duh, yeah boss? What is it you want us to do?

Ferguson: If you would be so kind as to introduce these good people to the pavement in front of our building.

Second Burly Man: You got it boss!

Scene 8: The sidewalk outside of TIAA-CREF HQ. There is a sudden crash as Sydney and Omar are thrown through the glass doors where they land in a heap. A vortex opens up beside them and Edward I, Hitler, Pinky and the Brain, who are thrown out after Syd and Om, are sucked into the vortex and disappear.

The phone-booth time machine drops from the sky above the now-vanished vortex and Alder steps out.

Alder: Greetings dudes!

Omar and Sydney get up and dust themselves off

Sydney: Hi Alder! So where did the guys go?

Alder: Fear not, for they have all been returned to their own time and places, none the worse for wear.

Omar: That’s good, but I’m afraid we failed in our mission most spectacularly.

Alder: Au contraire, my dim-witted friends, for your mission has succeeded beyond your wildest imagination.

Sydney: What do you mean Alder? After what Ferguson just told us…

Alder: Yes, yes I know. He told you that TIAA-CREF was about to go on an Israeli investment binge. And so they do, followed by most of the other nation’s major institutional investors.

Syndey and Omar: But, but…

Alder: You see Syndey and Omar, your dogged persistence in battling for boycott has had a powerful impact on the historic timeline. First, your endless harping on the issue only spurred Israelis to greater feats of innovation and accomplishment in areas such as biotechnology, agriculture, and high-tech replacements for fossil fuels. And thanks to your utter incompetence, your efforts at divestment triggered a flood of investments that fueled these Israeli advances, creating a new Golden Age for man.

Syndey and Omar stare at each other dumbfounded.

Alder: It’s true. In fact, one could say that without your unique blend of self-righteousness and stupidity, we would never have obtained the many Israeli innovations that undergird our world in the future including universal peace, food for all and even endless life.

Omar: Endless life? I thought you looked familiar. You’re… you’re… Sydney, do you know who that is?

Alder (removing his elaborate futuristic headpiece to reveal a mop of curly hair): You guessed it. I’m Alan Dershowitz 26-A, or Alder for short. Thanks to Israeli brain-preservation and cloning technology, I am now about to celebrate my 400th birthday! And in appreciation for our time together, I’d like to give you each a signed copy of my 108th book: The Case for Israeli Square Dancing.

Alder walks into the time machine.

Alder: Anyway, my mission here is completed and I must be off. Gentlemen, you’re history!

The time machine vanishes, leaving Sydney and Omar surrounded by purple smoke.

Omar: Serious bummer dude.

Sydney: You said it. Could what he said really be true? Are we instrumental in creating a Golden Age, yet a world where people don’t put “Israel” in quotation marks?

Omar: Perhaps we should consider throttling back on the divestment lever for a little while. After all, it’s looking like our efforts at a cultural boycott are much more likely to bear fruit in the near term.

The time machine appears one more time and out of the doors flies a youthful looking Elvis Costello wearing Hassidic garb and a jetpack. He hovers over Syndey and Omar for a few seconds holding a pair of knapsacks.

Elvis Costello: Hi dudes! I’m Elco, Alder’s roommate. Did you guys leave these in the time machine?


Sydney and Omar’s BDS Journey – Part 2

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Sydney and Omar's BDS Journey

Part 1 can be found here.

When we last left Sydney S Levy and Omar Barghouti, Esquire, they had just met Alder, a traveler from the future who offered them his time machine to take them on a most epic BDS journey to gather famous boycotters from the past.

But they must act quickly! For if they cannot demonstrate to the head of TIAA-CREF that Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel has historic precedent, their entire divestment campaign will be foiled, an event that will have a major impact on the future of us all.

Scene 3: The armory of a castle in late 13th century England. About suppertime.

A flash of green light fills the room and the phone-booth shaped time machine appears. The door opens and Sydney and Omar emerge, followed by their new friend Alder.

Omar: Now that was a most epic experience!

Sydney: You said it Om. That even beats the big slide at Waterloo water park!

Omar: Hey Sidney, look! Armor! And swords! And those big spikey balls on chains.

Sydney (grabbing a sword, and pointing it at Omar): I am Sir Sydney, Earl of Peacey Jewish Voices! And I challenge you to a duel, foul Saracen!

Omar (grabbing a flail and swinging it over his head): I accept your challenge! For I am Lord Omar, Noble Knight of the Boycott Academic and Cultural! En Guard!

They begin mock fighting.

Omar (swinging the flail over his head): So Alder, why have you brought us to this Ye Olde Englandy place? I didn’t even think they had Jews back then to boycott.

Alder: They won’t soon, my rambunctious friends. For we are in the year 1290, and Jews have actually been in living in England for more than 200 years. Over the decades, they were boycotted by guilds and prevented from practicing skilled crafts. They filled a hole in the economy by money lending (a practice forbidden to Christians), but were recently told they could not do that either. Nor were they allowed to farm or trade without being harassed and shunned.

Sydney and Omar: Cool!

Alder: Indeed, and now they are about to face the ultimate boycott: expulsion from the realm which will last for three-and-a-half centuries.

Sydney (putting down his sword): No way! That’ll teach those Zionists to ignore the Goldstone Report!

Omar lets go of his flail which crashes into a suit of armor, which falls over crashing into another suit of armor and another and another like dominos. Alder rolls his eyes.

Omar: Oops! Sorry about that guys. But Alder, what great champion of human rights do we have to thank for this effective boycott against NaZionist aggression?

Alder: I’ll show you.

He leads them out of the armory onto a low bridge facing the inside of the castle gate. A man with long robes and a crown enters the gate, handing a falcon to one of his servants.

King: Feed her whatever’s left of that Scotsman we had flailed to death this morning.

Servant: Very good sir.

Alder (pointing towards the king): That, my friend, is Edward I, king of England, otherwise known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scotts. But for purposes of our project, he is the monarch who signed the Edict of Expulsion which removed all Jews from the realm in 1290.

Sydney: Excellent. But how do we convince him to come to the year 2010. Offer him a bottle of Scotch? (He sniggers.)

Omar: Or maybe some Scotch eggs? (He joins Sydney in silent giggles.)

Alder: No need for bribery, for I believe he and his horse will be passing under the bridge we are standing on approximately… NOW!

Omar and Sydney reach over the bridge and each grab one shoulder of Edward’s robes, hoisting him off his horse. Alder grabs the dangling monarch by the pants and the three of them pull him onto the bridge and rush him towards the armory where the time machine is stored.

Sydney: Don’t worry Mr. The First! We just need to borrow you for 720 years! We’ll have you back at your castle in no time.

The four of them run into the time machine which disappears with a bolt of lightning.

Scene 4: A room with dark wood paneling and various stuffed animal heads on the walls. A bearded man sits in a soft chair wearing black robes and a pillbox hat. His hands are neatly folded in his lap as he looks around the room, clearly waiting for someone to arrive.

There’s a bright green flash and the time machine descends into the room. The door opens and smoke billows out. The bearded man looks stunned as Omar, Sydney and Alder emerge.

Sydney (signaling inside to King Edward I): Now you wait here your royal majestic graciousness. We’ve got to pick up another historic dude.

He closes the door and the three of them stare at the thoroughly bewildered bearded man.

Omar: So Alder, who is this guy and why are we bringing him back to the future? I mean the present? I mean the Circle Mart? Hey, when am I talking about?

Alder: That’s OK Omar, time travel can be a challenge grammar-wise. Actually, this fellow is not who we’ve come for, although he is of great historic significance. Sydney and Omar, meet Haj Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the George Washington of Palestinian nationalism.

Syndey and Omar: Woh!

Alder: Woh is right! For everything that defines the Palestinian national movement: the rejection of all offers of peace, the lethal mix of propaganda and terror, the harassment and killing of Palestinians who are ready for compromise and co-existence can be traced back to this legendary figure.

Sydney: But if we’re not after him, then who are we picking up?

The sound of a toilet flushing fills the room after which a door begins to open.

Alder: I think you’re about to find out.

A man walks into the room.

Syndey and Omar: No way!

Alder: Yes, way! Gentlemen, meet the most successful Zionist boycotter in history. The one, the only Adolf Hitler!

The man, now fully in the room, is instantly recognizable as the Nazi Furher. His mouth falls open as he stares at the three time travelers.

Omar: Jackpot! I mean Jackboot! (He sniggers at Sydney.)

Sydney: Hey guys, I just remembered I have a corndog in my backpack that I bought at the Circle Mart last night (he pulls the bread-cased sausage out of his pack and holds it up). Hey Hitler, want a 21st century delicacy of Weiner schnitzel on a stick?

He uses the sausage to lure the Furher into the time machine which then vanishes into a vortex, leaving a bewildered Haj Amin behind with a singed beard.

Scene 5: Outside the administration building of Hampshire College. Two white mice are standing next to the flaming wreckage of what looks like a large, robotic suit. (Click here to find out how they got there.)

Pinky: Why Brain, what are we going to do tomorrow night?

Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to get Hampshire College to divest from Israel!

The time machine appears and two hands reach out of it, each grabbing one of the mice by the tail and pulling them into the booth.

Omar: Not tonight guys, for we’ve got a more important BDS mission for you.

Sydney: Indeed we do Omar. Back to TIAA-CREF Headquarters. We’ve got an historic meeting to attend!

They break into air guitar as the time machine vanishes once again.

Will the historic figures gathered by Sydney and Omar be enough to sway Mr. Ferguson to divest TIAA-CREF from Israel forever? Find out in our exciting conclusion!

Sydney and Omar’s BDS Journey – Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Sydney and Omar's BDS Journey

A month or two back, I was reading about the latest TIAA-CREF divestment campaign by my old friends at Jewish Voice for Peace right around the same time I was introducing my kids to Bill and Ted (both their Excellent Adventure and equally awesome Bogus Journey). Somehow those two events became conflated and, after a long percolation period involving much espresso and tequila, they can be shared with you my devoted reader.

So, in the spirit of Hampshire and the Brain, let’s follow along with part one of Sydney and Omar’s BDS Journey:

Sydney and Omar’s BDS Journey – Part 1

Scene 1: Roger Ferguson, President and CEO of TIAA-CREF, the giant academic retirement fund, sits behind his desk wearing a tweed jacket and silk top hat, simultaneously smoking a pipe and cigar and reading Virgil’s Aeneid (in the original Latin) as well as The Wall Street Journal.

Ferguson: “Go into business,” Mom said. “Get an MBA. That way, you’ll be able to indulge in the scholarship you’re so much in love with without ending up in the poorhouse.” And now look at me, spending my days and nights dealing with complaints by angry tenured Socialists that they’re no longer getting a 10% return on their investments. How can life get any worse?

He presses a button on his desk intercom.

Ferguson: Miss Nelson, what’s on my agenda today? It better not include anything that’s going to raise my blood pressure.

Voice on Intercom: Well you look pretty clear in the morning, but in the afternoon [sound of a door opening and slamming]… Wait! Who are you! You can’t go in there! Stop! You need an appointment!

Suddenly the door to Ferguson’s office flies open and in walk two wild looking men, one with dark curly hair and a beard wearing a colorful tie over a turtleneck shirt which doesn’t cover his belly, the other with shorter hair wearing what looks like a Planet of the Apes vest.

Both visitors: Greetings Mr. TIAA-CREF head-honcho retirement-fund dude!

Ferguson (looking dazed at the two visitors): Excuse me, but who exactly the hell are you?

Man wearing tie: I’m glad you asked that academic money guy. For I am Sydney S Levy, Director of Campaigns for Jewish Voice for Peace.

Man wearing vest: And I am Omar Barghouti, Esquire, Founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

Sydney and Omar: And together we are… Wild BOYCOTT!

Sydney and Omar break into a crazed air guitar session, knocking statues and vases off of tables as they careen around the room.

Ferguson (shouting): AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY OFFICE!!!

Sydney: Huh? (The two stop in their tracks.)

Ferguson: Why are you here?

Sydney: Oh yes. An excellent question, oh learned manager of risk! (Gives Omar one last finger-guitar handshake.) For you see, we are here to ask you to stop investing in the so-called state of “Israel.”

Omar: My most-excellent friend Sydney is right! On behalf of millions of your members, we are requesting that you pull all your money out of the Jewish state in the name of all that is virtuous, good and most bodacious.

Ferguson stares at the two of them in disbelief for a moment.

Ferguson: Wait a minute, aren’t you the guys who claimed we had divested in Israel last year when we, in fact, had done nothing of the kind? I had to deal with the fallout from that little stunt for three weeks!

Sydney: What’s past is history, Mr. CREF. For today we are talking in the name of countless academics across this great country who demand that you actually do what we just pretended you did last year.

Omar: Indeed, and here are the signatures to show we mean business.

Sydney and Omar unsling backpacks from their shoulders and each dump hundreds of pages onto Ferguson’s desk, knocking several glass paperweights to the ground where they land on the floor and shatter. Ferguson, suppressing his rage, picks up one of the pages and stares at the names.

Ferguson: Let’s see who you have here. Naomi Klein is a Canadian, Norman Finklestein who I’ve never heard of, Albert Einstein who has been dead since 1955. (Looking up) Guys, couldn’t you have at least not written all these names with the same brown crayon?

Omar: Oh no, Mr. T-C, I assure you each and every signature on that list is genuine.

Sydney: Yeah, it took us nearly all night to write them all down!

Omar: Shut up Sydney!

Sydney: Oops! Sorry Om.

Ferguson emerges from his desk and puts an arm around each of his visitors.

Ferguson: Now boys, I appreciate your zeal. And I’m even willing to overlook last year’s fraud, and your invasion of my office and trashing of my desk. But look, as we’ve told you and your friends over and over again, TIAA-CREF has no interest and no intention of divesting from Israel just because you and your comrades tell us we have no choice.

Omar: But sir! BDS has a long and storied history that we are inviting you to be a part of!

Sydney: Yes, many legendary historic individuals have gone down the divestment pathway, and proudly so!

Ferguson (losing patience, but trying to keep his cool): I’ll tell you what guys. I’ve got a free half hour tomorrow morning, after which I am booked for the next eight years. If you can provide me solid information on the historic individuals who have boycotted or divested from Israel by that time, I’ll consider bringing you proposal up to the board when they meet next week.

Omar and Sydney together: Excellent (they begin to air guitar again, but are interrupted when Ferguson grabs them each by the shoulder).

Ferguson: Boys, boys… You’ve got less than 24 hours to provide me the historic information of which you speak. I suggest you get started right away. So shoo, shoo (he shoos them towards the door).

Sydney: Oh right dude, I mean sir, I mean Mr. CREF-sir. Me and my most excellent companion will get cracking and will be here tomorrow, historic figures in hand.

Omar: Come on Sydney, let’s go.

They depart, leaving Ferguson to survey the wreckage of his office. He yells out the door.

Ferguson: Miss Nelson! I need a broom!

Scene 2: Outside the Circle Mart where Sydney and Omar are drinking Slurpees.

Sydney: Dude, we are in big, BIG trouble. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a single historic president for BDS.

Omar: That’s “precedent” dude, and I’m with you on that one. If we can’t figure out what to do in the next 24 hours, we won’t be able to talk to CREF again for at least eight years, by which time you and I will be at least eight years older.

The two look despondent when sudden flashes of lightning appear in the sky. A cylinder of light crashes down from the clouds right in front of Sydney and Omar, after which an old-fashioned phone booth springs up from the ground.

Sydney and Omar: Woh!

The door to the phone booth opens and a strangely familiar man wearing a futuristic tuxedo steps out, trailing smoke.

Futuristic Dude: Greetings compadres. I am Alder, a visitor from what you would call the future.

Sydney: No way.

Alder: Yes way! And I am here to help you. For you see, all of human history now rests of what happens next with the two of you. Unless you make it to that meeting tomorrow with denizens of the past who can back up your claims for BDS having historic precedent, the entire timeline could be permanently disrupted.

Omar: Wait a minute, are you telling me that that box there…

Alder: That’s right my eager young friend. It’s a time machine. And with it you and I will visit BDS’s long and fabled past and bring back for tomorrow’s critical meeting the legendary boycotters you hastily promised to Mr. Ferguson.

Sydney: Do you mean?

Alder: Yes Sydney and Omar, we are about to go on a most excellent BDS journey!

Onto Part 2…

Playing Catchup

Having inflicted a month of Presbyterian politics on my reader recently, I’m committed to not overdoing the whole Olympia Co-op thing (even though I suspect this will be one of those seemingly trivial cases that turn into a nationwide lesson on the perils of allowing the BDS virus into an organization).

So what have we missed while the Olympians have been turning from a friendly community into armed camps? Well:

1. Thanks to the tireless effort of Code Pink and friends, Ahava sales have gone through the roof. (Nice to know the whole Buycott thing is making its way so strongly from Canada to the rest of the world.)

2. Can you believe it! Another BDS hoax. In this case, the Ma’an news agency announced that Israel’s Tara dairy company had moved its factories off the Golan Heights in order to avoid having their products boycotted in the West Bank. Quite a coup, except for the fact that Tara has no factories on the Golan Heights and never did. Oops! (Hey, why let reality get in the way of a good story.)

3. Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), those tireless BDS activists, have presented their divestment case to TIAA-CREF. And TIAA-CREF has responded by saying “didn’t we tell you guys to fuck off last year?” (I’m paraphrasing.) Like a bad pickup artist, JVP lists receiving a response from CREF as a great step forward, without highlighting the fact that this response took the form of a Dear John letter.

4. My kids and I have watched both Bill and Ted movies (Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey).

You know, those last two items give me an idea. (Are you pondering what I’m pondering?)

Stay tuned…