What Would Normal People Do?

A couple of news items and some recent exchanges in the comments section got me thinking again about the vast gulf between BDS and any normal political movement.

Starting out with the news of the day (actually, yesterday), an Israeli court finally exonerated the Israeli Defense Forces from charges that they deliberately ran over Rachel Corrie with a tractor.  And given that an American court refused to take on a similar case against the manufacturers of said tractor, at least two justice systems seem to be in agreement that the person who places herself in a war zone bears some responsibility if they get hurt or even (tragically) killed.

Now a normal political movement might stop for a moment and reflect on the possibility that their own behavior and choices did far more to contribute to the situation that ended Rachel Corrie’s life than either the IDF or a tractor company.  But as we all know, BDS (or, in this case, the part of the BDS “movement” represented by the International Solidarity Movement or ISM – Corrie’s handlers) is not a normal political project.

Given the time, money, energy and resources they have put into not just suing everyone around them but also launching campaign after campaign to demonize the Jewish state as deliberate child murderers, couldn’t the ISM (and other contributor’s to Corrie’s martyrdom) spare even a few moments to reflect on their own responsibility for her death?  After all, ISM still exists and is still doing the very same things that preceded Corrie getting killed in Gaza those many years ago.

So if it turns out that helping people slip into Israel under false pretenses, organizing protest trips to conflict areas and encouraging members to place themselves in harm’s way actually does contribute to injury or death, ISM leaders seem completely disinterested in thinking about what this might mean in terms of their own responsibility.  Which means it’s just a matter of time before they get someone else killed (and use that corpse to generate new momentum for their propaganda campaigns).

Turning to more local news, a Boston-based food coop has rejected appeals that they put a boycott of evil Israel-supporting hummus to a member vote, despite months of effort by BDS activists insisting they had no choice on the matter.

But the coop did have a choice, a choice to not allow a group of single-issue partisans to wreak havoc on a community organization that exists for purposes other than serving as a plaything for local Israel haters.

Now a normal political movement would never have considered trying to shove a boycott the leaders of the coop clearly didn’t want, a boycott vote that would have needlessly alienated and antagonized large numbers of coop members, down the throat of the organization.

But BDS is not a normal political movement, is it?  Rather, it is an abnormal movement of the self-centered and selfish who have lost another battle against an organization that made the normal decision to not hand decision-making power over to a bunch of obsessive jerks.

Finally, we get to the justifications we’ve seen in the comments section lately regarding why a movement that allies itself with the most reactionary, human-rights abusing political entities on the face of the earth simultaneously considers itself the gold standard of progressive politics.

The usual excuses are unfurled whenever one brings up the fact that the BDSers’ devotion to human rights never seems to extend to other victims of human rights abuses, even other Arab ones, even other Palestinian ones.  And pointing out the repression of women and homosexuals in lands such as Gaza (where organizations like ISM work tirelessly to smuggle supplies and break a fully-legal blockade) just brings up accusations of “pinkwashing,” a fake phenomena created by the boycotters to avoid having to talk about subjects they would rather not even think about.

Now a normal political movement could handle this by simply saying that they understand Israel is not the greatest human rights abuser on the planet or that their calls for immediate and unconditional Palestinian statehood might have the unintended consequences of triggering more conflict and extending gender and sexual Apartheid even further in the Arab world, but insist that this is a price worth paying for what they perceive as a greater good.

But such an admission would not allow them to also pose as the arbiters of who is and who is not progressive.  Rather, it would highlight that BDS is simply a participant in a political conflict: not a peace movement, not a human rights project, but the propaganda arm of a war effort.  And the refusal to face up to this obvious truth is the most abnormal thing of all about BDS and those who participate in it.

Israel Left and Right

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Left vs. Right
There are a number of reasons why I tend to avoid trying to force-fit the whole Arab-Israeli conflict into a Left-Right continuum.

First off, the terms “Left” and “Right” have become so all-encompassing, which (if you include all those who insist they represent each end of the political spectrum) means everyone from the Stalin and the BDS brigade through Senator Robert Byrd must be considered “The Left” and everyone from Bill Weld through Hitler the “Right.”

Needless to say, this makes self-serving category errors along the lines of “since the Nazis were rightists, only the Left can defend the Jews” or “no liberal can be trusted with regard to support for Israel, just look at the BDSers!” inevitable.

Secondly, our political dialog actually becomes diminished when we boil every issue down to figuring out where our tribe should fall on any political matter.  And in the manner of the “where to put your finger” argument, this usually translates to figuring out how the other tribe feels about an issue, and then choosing the opposite position out of contrariness or the need to define ourselves against our political enemies.

The Middle East is a perfect example of how our debate becomes diminished by this attitude.  For example, the most salient feature of the US-Israel relationship is that support for the Jewish state transcends partisanship like no other foreign policy issue (or domestic issue for that matter).  Not that genuine partisan issues regarding this relationship do not exist (we’ve certainly seen them with Presidents Obama, Bush I and Carter).  But by not recognizing these excesses as exceptions to the general rule of bi-partisan support, we risk creating the very partisan divide over Israel that we should be trying to avoid.

Finally, on too many occasions aspects of the Arab-Israel dispute have become surrogates for general domestic Left-Right politics (especially in the US and in Israel) which have caused leaders to make decisions based on factors other than wisdom and facts on the ground.  One could look at the entire Oslo experiment as an attempt for political parties in Israel to do end-runs around each other (and the electorate), meaning political decisions that have defined the last two decades were made based on short-term partisan intrigue.

With all that said, I think there are some interesting points worth reflecting on, especially if you are convinced that BDS and the general language of anti-Israel politics (which is mostly drawn from a progressive vocabulary) warrants a response.

Firstly, one of the great ironies of anti-Israel politics is that the two groups most interested in branding all liberals (including mainstream Democrats) as anti-Israel (or, most generously, as creating a hostile environment in which efforts like BDS can thrive) are the BDSers themselves and political conservatives.

For the boycotters, claiming to represent not a rejected fringe movement but the heart and soul of all progressive politics, helps them to punch well above their limited political weight.  You can see this in accusations that progressives who do not toe the BDS line are “PEPs” (i.e., Progressives in Everything but Palestine”), implying that every “true” progressive must adhere to the BDS message (whatever that happens to be this week) or risk being accused of betraying all of their principles.  Interestingly, the BDSers avoid the obvious counter argument that it is they who have betrayed liberal principle by supporting a reactionary Palestinian political movement (one which includes clan politics, corrupt economic monopolies, repression of women and gays and religious fanaticism) by ignoring such counter-accusations completely (regardless of their accuracy).

Naturally, this allies them with conservatives who would also like to brand liberals of any stripe as falling into the BDS camp, helping to cement their sought-after position of being the only true friends of the Jewish state.

Since both BDSers and conservatives might object loudly to this analysis, I might as well go for broke and point out something likely to make progressives uncomfortable (meaning genuine progressives, not the Israel haters trying to exploit them).  For the fact that BDS travels under a wholly liberal banner and expresses itself almost entirely with a progressive vocabulary cannot be dismissed by just accusing the boycotters of cynically exploiting language.

For, as Ruth Wisse has pointed out (yes, I know she is both conservative and controversial, but she is also quite brilliant), the liberal world view of an unstoppable march towards progress slams into a mile-thick brick wall when confronted by an Arab-Israeli conflict where the former seems more than willing to work against its own economic interests and personal interests in order to achieve victory over the latter.  In other words, the Middle East is not just a trouble spot but exists in open defiance of the progressive world view.

When confronted by such a situation, liberals have two choices: to modify their world view (while not jettisoning their principles) or blaming the Jews for a situation that would otherwise require them to re-think their ideological assumptions.

A heroic group of liberals faced a similar conundrum when another reactionary movement (Marxism) insisted that their political cause represented the culmination of every progressive hope and dream.  And, to their credit, political conservatives (at least in the US) have put a fair amount of intellectual energy (and took some risks) by pushing religious bigots masquerading as anti-Zionists (such as Pat Buchannan) out of their “mainstream.”

Today’s progressives still have work to do creating a vocabulary that will allow them to similarly kick BDS and other practitioners of anti-Israel “disease politics” out of the tent without feeling guilty over a lack of “inclusiveness.”

We have been fortunate that genuine progressive institutions have almost universally rejected the blandishments of the boycotters.  But there is some intellectual heavy lifting to be done to explain in ideological terms that are commonly accepted across the left-end of the political spectrum as to why BDS and liberalism have nothing in common and should have nothing to do with one another.

Sorry about that… Sacramento

Figures that, just as I chose to get off the grid to commune with nature (and the family) for a few days, some Divest This postings start generating the kind of comments you’d expect from a “real” blog.

It looks like most of the exchanges to the last two pieces have to do with the subject of where pro- vs. anti-Israel politics falls within the whole Left-Right continuum (both in the US and generally).

As I’ve discussed before, there are good reasons to avoid thinking of the Middle East as little more than another talking point in the general Left-Right politics that permeates so much of our political discourse.  But given the passions this subject has generated, I am going to spend the next couple of days catching up on everything that’s been said this week in order to post something that I hope will be relevant over the weekend.  All I ask is that readers avoid adding unnecessarily to my comment-reading task, and wait until this weekend’s posting to give me your further thoughts (or tell me I’m all wet).

In the meantime, time to play catch-up on the Sacramento Sister City controversy that played out last week.

As readers have already told us (and linked to), the city of Sacramento ended up the site of another “sort-of” BDS battle.

I saw “sort of” because this debate was over Sacramento creating a sister-city relationship with the Israeli city of Ashkelon (which I guess fall into the category of “Sanctions,” but just barely).

West Coast BDSers objected to this decision, even though they and representatives of the Jewish community had apparently agreed earlier to not raise a stink over Sacramento’s plans to create sister city relationships with both a city within the Palestinian Authority (Bethlehem) and Israel (Ashkelon).

Par for the course, the local Israel haters gladly pocketed their gain (Bethlehem was made a sister city in 2009), then immediately broke their word to declare a similar relationship with Ashkelon traif, declaring, ironically, that the city – which has been the target of unceasing missile bombardment from Gaza for years – was guilty of being the launching pad for attacks into Gaza.

This story confirms a number of things those of us who have been dealing with BDS for some time have known for years, that:

* Any attempt to reach a compromise with the forces of BDS is doomed to failure since they serve a “higher good” (at least in their own minds) that allows them to (among other things) break their word when necessary

* Any attempt by Israel to defend itself (by, for example, firing back at endless missiles targeting Israeli civilians) is by definition illegitimate to the BDSers

* Any attempt to create or improve ties between people (like Sacramento’s attempt to “repair the world” by extending a hand to the people of both Bethlehem and Ashkelon) is cool for every nation in the world – except the Jewish one.

In my mind, the most important part of this story was the vote itself where the Sacramento city council decided unanimously to confirm their decision to include Ashkelon on their list of sister cities.

Both BDS and Israel supporters showed up in strong numbers, and no doubt the statements made (and countless e-mails sent) by/from each side was heard by the councilors.

But this really did not disrupt them from deciding to move ahead with business as usual, not letting the noise of a manufactured controversy sway them from doing the appropriate thing quickly and efficiently.

Given that the boycotters were similarly brushed off a few weeks ago when they tried to import their pet peeves into another part of the California government, I suspect we might be seeing the beginning of the Hersovite effect I mentioned last posting: a sense those pushing BDS are so extreme, so fanatical and so rude that they can be easily dismissed, no matter how much they jump up and down demanding that they unconditionally be awarded the moral high ground and that everyone must immediately do what they say.

While the recent zero-for-two record with the California government does not an unquestionable trend make, here’s fingers crossed that we may have reached that point where those outside the readership of this blog understand exactly what they’re dealing with when they are forced to deal with the forces of BDS.

The Herscovite BDS Moment

Just an FYI that I’ve got a couple of big projects (including an update to this site) cooking over the next several weeks, so postings may be lighter with more “newbrief” type material making an appearance for a while.

But before that, I wanted to plug a hole in the narrative about BDS and community by looking at a city I’ve not gotten to until now: the little BDS-wannabe town of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Usually, when I’ve talked about communities dealing with BDS issues I’ve focused on places like Boston or San Francisco where Israel’s active supporters and detractors are pretty evenly matched numbers wise (which makes those places good test cases for support for Israel vs. BDS within the wider communities in which these two sub-groups operate).

At the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got places like the Happy Valley in Massachusetts or Olympia Washington which demonstrate just how miserable a place can become when the forces of BDS are in the ascendant.

But Ann Arbor, Michigan is a case all its own.

In a state where there exists a high percentage of Arab and Muslim Americans, you tend to find a fair amount of anti-Israel activism in Michigan (especially on college campuses).  Many BDS campaigns and even some boycott proposals have circulated in the state (one student union divestment bill even passing many years ago in Wayne State).

I’m not sure why these stories rarely make it onto the radar of even the Jewish press beyond Michigan’s borders.  Perhaps the media’s (and general Jewish communy’s) focus on the coasts makes activity in “flyover country” less noticeable than similar activity in places like Berkeley or Brooklyn.  Or perhaps because much of this activity (at least on college campuses) happened so long ago and led to nothing makes this a nothing story.

But I suspect that one reason BDS activity in places like Ann Arbor is so marginal is that the BDS activists themselves put so much energy into marginalizing themselves.

I hate to use the word “cult,” lest I start sounding like you-know-who, but in the case of Ann Arbor, I don’t think there is another word that could better describe the organization that has taken center stage with regard to Israel protests and BDS activities in the area.

Much of this activity centers on an organization that (at least for a while) went under the name of Jewish Witnesses for Peace.  And while this group has been involved with the usual failed BDS attempts here and there with regard to hummus boycotts and support for campus divestment activities, their primary “campaign” involved haunting the biggest synagogue in town with hostile protests (complete with angry and bigoted signs waved by people with coats over their own heads) during worship services for years and years and years.

And who came up with a stratagem that seems almost custom-made to appall everyone in the Jewish and non-Jewish community and cause every aspect of the anti-Israel agenda to be rejected in disgust?

Well credit seems to go to one Henry Hersovitz, a longtime anti-Israel agitator who apparently went by the name “Henry Henry” previous to finding his calling by picketing a synagogue he claims to have once attended (although no confirmation of that claim can be found).  You can begin to grasp the scope of dementia that fuels the Dear Leader of the local BDS movement from this site designed to counter the work of the “Herscovites” (the name these anti-Hersocovite forces have given the local protestors).

The reason I think “cult” is a good descriptor for this group is the way they seem to deal with any internal protest from people questioning a strategy that that has led to nothing outside the galvanization of the entire community against the BDSers and their cause.  In fact, who is “in” and who is “out” of the group seems to be solely dictated by someone’s willingness to participate in activity unquestionably detrimental to the cause the protestors claim to champion.  Which makes doubting the leadership a crime worthy of ostracism.

 I bring this up since the BDS groups in general could soon start looking more like Ann Arbor than vice versa.

Like the Ann Arbor protestors, the nationwide (really worldwide) BDS “movement” has faced nothing but failure, their achievements primarily consisting of inspiring the creation of successful pro-Israel organizations to fight them.  But outside of Ann Arbor, most BDSers cling to their fantasies of immanent victory at least to the point of still being able to feign enough humanity to occasionally fool those unaware of their real intentions.

This allows them to act in a semi-civilized fashion (until they lose, of course, at which point they show their true colors by throwing a public tantrum).  But what will happen if (as I suspect) the continued failure rate of BDS projects causes more and more people to “go Finkelstein” and question the competence (if not the sanity) of those who continue to push a program that has been proven to be such a loser for more than a decade?

We’ve seen some answers in those loud protests designed to shut down opposing views on college campuses, or other forms of bullying and harassment that might generate a few minutes of digital footage for BDS web sites but continue to alienate more and more people (as well as provide ammunition for sites like this one).

So how much farther does “BDS Global” need to devolve before we can accurately claim that “They are all Herscovites Now?”

Jay Michaelson’s Journey – Continued

Looking over some responses to my last posting, I realize that I may have been a bit too harsh with regard to Jay Michaelson’s recent article on what he finds wrong with BDS.

It’s easy to criticize someone who you think took too long to recognize what the rest of us have known for years, especially with regard to the BDSers lack of honesty (particularly when it comes to talking about their ultimate goals).

But we should not ignore that this type of critique packs far more persuasive power when coming from someone like Michaelson who inhabits the same world as do many of the people the boycotters would like to reach.  So while I’ve got some thoughts regarding where the author’s realizations must lead, this is not meant to minimize the contribution he has made to help others better understand what is truly being asked of them when they are invited to join the BDS “movement.”

The first thing that came to mind after re-reading his piece is that notions such as “peace” and “justice,” are not abstract principles when they are applied to a specific political situations.  Rather, they become concrete claims made by real human beings who are engaged in an actual political project.

What this translates to is that if the BDS “movement” is fighting for an ultimately unjust cause (the destruction of the state of Israel) and are doing so dishonestly (by not stating their true goals, or obfuscating regarding the unquestionably negative consequences – for Jews, anyway – of their “one-state solution”), then we are dealing with a political project that uses virtuous words such as “peace” and “justice” to sell something that will ultimately lead to injustice and war.

Remember this is not the first time that people with nefarious goals not only shielded themselves behind such “virtue words,” but also built a campaign around aggressively insisting that anyone claiming to represent those virtues must bow down before them.

In fact, the 20th century’s most successful totalitarian movements spent much of their time demanding that anyone who felt that poverty, inequality and war were unjust must subscribe to the Marxist or fascist faith or be branded a half-hearted, all-talk-no-action “squish” or a closet traitor. (This is something I suspect Michaelson will shortly find familiar as soon-to-be “former friends” start to wonder when he became a right-wing, hasbarah-spouting, Likudnik.)

But keep in mind that despite all of the blandishments and threats propagandists for totalitarianism made over the last century, that there always remained a core of genuine liberals who understood that their concerns for the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized did not mean they had to join the party or consider themselves “part of the problem.”

In fact, these brave progressive souls recognized that totalitarianism (left or right) was the problem, or at least one of the major problems preventing the causes of justice that they cared about from being genuinely addressed.  For the totalitarians (as history has proven) only really cared about their own power (with “peace” and “justice” only serving as weapons used against anyone who pointed out how warlike and unjust totalitarian societies were in real life).

The endless attempts made by such totalitarians to subvert and claim the Left of the political spectrum made it that much harder for genuine liberals to fend off challenges to their moral authority from their traditional rivals on the right.  Although, to be fair, the responsible left was able to find common cause with the responsible right (that part of the right that didn’t march to the siren song of Father Coughlin or Joe McCarthy) to forge a consensus that understood totalitarianism – both Left and Right – as the enemy (even if every other political subject was up for debate).

It’s actually much easier for today’s wannabe totalitarians to convince others to do what they want since they are no longer insisting that people living in comfortable societies abandon everything they’ve grown used to in order to engage in a dangerous political experiment.  Rather, they are just asking them to abandon a bunch of Jews in a far off land.

But just as some people showed the courage to stand up for what was right during an era when the aforementioned purveyors of propaganda were armed with nuclear weapons, today we find even more true progressives who understand that the loudmouths and thugs are just singing an old song that they are not required to dance to.

Let’s hope that Jay Michaelson is able to join this band of happy (and, so far, successful) warriors.

Jay Michaelson’s Journey

I am usually of mixed mind with regard to sympathizing with those who were once part of (or even continue to support) this or that BDS activity who feel they must speak their mind about what they perceive to be the “movement’s” shortcomings.

On the one hand, you’ve got kooks like Norman Finkelstein who is too unpredictable to ever be seen as an ally, even if he has provided prime quotes regarding the cult-like nature of his former BDS buddies.  But then you’ve got those naïve individuals who were lured by the BDS sirens telling them they could partake in a political struggle of unquestionable evil (the Israeli brute) vs. undistilled virtue (the Palestinian victim).

We’ve been visited in the comments section by a few people who fall into this latter category, but the most vivid example of this type of BDS “turncoat” I remember was a young woman who joined the Somerville Divestment Project when it was doing its thing to my home city in 2004.  By 2005, however, she had abandoned the group, disgusted by the brutal and ruthless politics she saw taking place amongst the leadership (including the organization’s founder importing radicals from across the state into the group to ensure he would win all the votes), and shocked that she could be part of an organization that couldn’t decide if terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians should be considered immoral or not.

Between these two stands Jay Michaelson whose recent Forward article, entitled When the Right is Right About the Left, caused a stir this week.  More sophisticated than the “loose change” making up the rank-and-file of most college Students for Justice in Palestine campaigns, but less of a nut than Finkelstein, Michaelson first made a splash a couple of years back when he published a piece lamenting that Israel’s behavior was making him question the decades of devotion he had supposedly shown the Jewish state his whole life.

Truth be told, these types of “scales were lifted from my eyes/I haven’t left Zionism, Zionism left me” arguments have tended to leave me cold.

No doubt some people are sincerely and accurately describing their personal political journey.  But, more often than not, the people who embrace this storyline simply grew up in a run-of-the-mill Jewish household where support for and pride in Israel was taken for granted (similar to the way Irishmen and Italians identify with the old country without a second thought).

But by turning this unremarkable environment into an “Israel-Right-Or-Wrong” enclave that they escaped from only through their own courage and open mindedness, they get to make their arguments against the Jewish state not just “AsaJew” but “AsaFormerZionist.”

But even if we take Michaelson at his word regarding whatever conflict is going on between his past and current selves, he seems to be missing the actual conflict going on between his progressive and Zionist souls.

Because the boycotters tend to present their arguments entirely in the language of progressive values (to the point of insisting that the defining virtue for progressives is a full embrace of their political project), the notion that liberalism and Zionism are in conflict is often taken as a given.

But far from Israel’s behavior posing difficult choices for someone with progressive values, it is actually certain people’s weak grasp of what those values require that make them vulnerable to the pressures generated not by the Israelis/Jews, but by the war waged against them.

In any normal world, Israel would be held up as an example of how these progressive values can be built into a nation’s makeup.  Whether you’re talking about women’s rights, gay rights, religious freedom, freedom of the press and speech, national healthcare or any of the subjects progressives claim as their moral lodestones, Israel has demonstrated that these freedoms and benefits can be embraced and implemented at a national level, even by a country that has been under siege since birth.

This obviously does not mean that Israel is perfect in each and every one of these regards.  But one does not measure these values by complaining about how far short a country has fallen in trying to create heaven on earth.  Rather, these are relative values which can only have meaning when compared to other real-world societies.

And in this case, the real-world societies that Israel’s detractors insist be given more of a fair shake than they current receive are built around values in direct opposition to everything progressives are supposed to believe.  Look over Palestinian society (in either the West Bank or Gaza) and take your pick: repression of women and gays, religious intolerance and state-sponsored fanaticism, jailed dissidents and journalists, politics based around strong men and clan loyalty, and an economy primarily designed to support corrupt oligarchies.

In his latest piece, Michaelson talks a great deal about BDS as it relates to the gay community he strongly supports.

Gay rights is one of those touchstone points since no other issue better demonstrates the yawning chasm between Israel and its rivals with regard to one of the top-priority items on the agenda of every progressive organization (including religious institutions like the Presbyterian Church).

This is why BDS defenders created the fake phenomena of “pinkwashing,” in order to make the conversation about something else (Israel allegedly exploiting its sexual freedom to cover up its wicked crimes) rather than the contrast between Israel and its neighbors on an issue so vital to progressives.

To his credit, Michelson lashes out against those who throw out the pinkwashing accusation, and makes other damning statements that will no doubt be considered blasphemous by soon-to-be former friends from “the movement.”

But the question arises as to why someone as thoughtful as Michaelson has taken so long to realize what anyone with eyes can see with regard to the true nature of BDS, and even then can’t bring himself to embrace Israel as a flawed country that still represents his values far more than the nation the BDSers would like to take its place.

Next time, I’ll try to answer that question.

BDS Flops in Sonoma

Well those crazy BDSers failed again, this time in an attempt to drag the government of Sonoma County in California into their propaganda web by trying to make Veolia, the European transportation giant that does business in both the Zionist and West Coast entities, the focal point for one of their “You must do what we say because we say so!” campaigns.

You can read the whole story here, as well read more about other BDS efforts related to Veolia here and here.

As much as I like writing sentences that include BDSFail stories and sentiments, it’s usually difficult to actually characterize their losses as our wins, if only because we were not seeking victory at someone else’s expense (be it Israel, Veolia or the government or people of Sonoma County), but instead just wanted to prevent these civic institutions from falling into a trap being set for them by the BDSers.

But I would chalk up last this weeks’ story as a win for our side, specifically because of the way the boycotters’ message was so effectively countered by not one, not two, but three distinct parties.

Given how much they talk, it’s sometimes hard to remember that those pushing boycott and divestment really only have one rhetorical trick up their sleeve: to fill a room with heart-wrenching words and images of human suffering (only Palestinian human suffering, mind you) and insist that anyone who is emotionally impacted by these images has only one choice which is to do whatever the BDSers say.

In order for their “narrative” to succeed, its proponents must leave all history, politics and any information that does not fit their simple-minded storyline of pristine Palestinian innocence coupled with black-hatted, moustache-twirling Israeli villainy on the cutting room floor.  But their one-trick, pathos-laden tactic benefits from the fact that those who use it also have a near sociopathic ability to ignore any and all information they don’t want to hear themselves (or, more importantly, to have others hear).

But at last week’s meeting of the Sonoma Human Rights Commission¸ where the BDSers did their usual thing of demanding that any organization that has “human rights” in its title belongs to them, they faced three distinct challengers who had all independently come to the same counter-argument from different directions.

First, you had the extremely able West Coast community of Israel’s friends who have had years of experience dealing with the likes the North Coast Coalition for Palestine (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days), alerting the Commission that the last thing on the boycotters’ minds was human rights, peace and justice (quoting liberally from the BDS “movement’s” most prominent leaders who claim that their ultimate goal is the elimination of Israel – quotes which reduced the outraged BDSers in the room to childish hissing).

Our side’s arguments that BDS is a failed effort designed to manipulate institutions like Sonoma County into their propaganda campaign was echoed by none other than Veolia itself – the target for the boycott’s slanders– whose local representative both exposed the numerous lies the boycotters had just told the Commission, and also pointed out how other attempts to portray the company as a human rights violator had been rejected by other groups that, unlike the North Coast Coalition for Palestine, actually do fight for human rights, peace and justice (rather than just hiding their militant campaign behind these virtue words).

Finally, you had the Commission itself which gave the boycotters a hearing and then politely told them that their jurisdiction did not encompass the whole world (just Sonoma Country), and that even if they ever decided they would look into the matter, they would do so themselves rather than rely on the context-free “facts” presented by the “Israel is Always Wrong” community.

Taken together, the messages that BDS is working actively against peace and human rights, that its proponents have no problem using lies and manipulation to get what they want, and that every person or organization in the world that actually cares about human rights does not have to bow down before Omar Barghouti and Company just because they insist on it is a lethal combination to the single, emotionally charged, dishonest argument that is the Alpha and Omega of the BDS “movement.”

So let that story go forth for anyone who wants to make sure that the most common word associated with the whole BDS project continues to be “failure.”

Jew vs. Jew II

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Jew vs. Jew
The role played by Jews (and even Israelis) in the defamation of Israel through propaganda programs such as BDS has been in the news lately.

Some stories talk about the visible role played by group such as Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) in various church-related divestment votes, although the big story last week featured someone entering the stiff competition of who can say the most atrocious thing about the Jewish people under the guise of enlightenment.

In this case, an article in Tablet took off on the idea that the Holocaust killed off many of the best minds and souls of European Jewry to propagate the notion that those left behind were a bunch of immoral gangsters.

Others have written to express the level of disgust such a piece deserves.  And, having been in this game for a while, I can provide a bit of historic perspective regarding past contenders to the crown of world’s most Jew-hating Jew.

Back when I first got into this game, the top of this particular dung-heap was held by Israel Shahak, an Israel professor of chemistry who came up with the novel theory that it was not Zionism that made Jews such dangerous beings, but the Talmud.  (I say “novel” only in that Shahak was the first person I know of since post Medieval Europe/WWII to make a career out of Talmud defamation.)

While Norman Finkelstein was ranking high for a while (especially after he too decided that dissing the Holocaust would earn him a shock-jock ranking among the Israel-hating crowd), in recent years, it’s been the Israel-born, but now UK-dwelling Gilad Atzmon who has probed the historic and theological origins of Jewish depravity based on the vast historic and religious knowledge he has developed as a professional saxophone player.

Interestingly, both Finkelstein and Atzmon were recently crossed off the list of courageous-and-truly-enlightened-Jews  by the powers that be at the BDS “movement,” Finkelstein because he  broke with the “movement” (condemning it as a cult on his way out), and Atzmon because his Jew hatred was so apparent that even the BDSers had to finally distance themselves from him (if only to demonstrate that there actually existed some line demarcating Israel-hatred from Jew-hatred that didn’t involve wearing a black shirt and arm band).

Actually, I thought this piece brought up the most interesting ideas with regard to the latest example of anti-Jewish lunacy published at Tablet.  While not choosing the specific words I would use to describe the issue, the author essentially sets forth how these Jew-hating-Jews (a category which increasingly overlaps the simple, garden-variety Israel-hating ones) are essentially inhabiting a fantasy world, one in which they are not just bravely standing up to a wall-to-wall Jewish consensus (which also exists just in their fantasy world), but are the very first Jews to have ever done so.

I am not the first person to observe that the term “self-hating Jew” is a misnomer, given that the people who inhabit this space are absolutely in love with themselves.  But it is a jealous love, and a twisted one as well, depending as it does on the existence of other Jews who conform to all of the ugly stereotypes that the self-loving Jew defines him or herself against.  And if those stereotypes are ugly, bigoted and informed by ignorance (as all stereotypes are), no matter.  For the people being slurred by the fantasists self-positioning are not real people at all, but yet another set of props for the drama going on in the self-loving Jews own head.

The degree of pathological self-centeredness needed to turn bigotry into a virtue also helps explain the behavior of less extreme Jewish defamers of Israel.

Take for example our old friends at Jewish Voice for Peace who were omnipresent at virtually all of the big BDS votes that took place earlier this year.

If you read their writing, you’ll see that these guys are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.  And given that they have spearheaded many of the most embarrassing disasters for the BDS “movement,” their ability as political operators is, at best, questionable.

But the strengths they bring to their cause derive from the very fantasy-based selfishness, bordering on sociopathy, we’ve been talking which understands that they – and only they – possess the virtues needed to be an enlightened Jew (if not a human being).

How else could they continue to bring their squalid little divestment resolutions before institutions like the Presbyterian Church when anyone with eyes can see that this issue is causing needless division within an organization facing extraordinarily difficult challenges?  But what does the JVP/BDSer care about such details since, to them, the Presbyterians don’t exist (or, more accurately, they exist only to pass divestment resolutions that the boycotters can brag about to their friends).

This pathological self-involvement explains the shrill, indignant, outrage that accompanies any challenge to JVP’s claims to represent anything other than virtue, courage and all things good.  And while this detachment from reality makes them vulnerable when making political decisions that require some sort of connection to the world outside their own heads, it also provides them the power to persevere, to endlessly push and push and push regardless of the number of times they lose, never mind the weakness of their arguments and the immorality of their cause.

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.

The BDS Twitocracy

Before giving the Presbyterians a rest for the next couple of years (wouldn’t it be great if the BDSers could ever bring themselves to say/do the same thing?), some momentary reflections on not the content of the decisions made during last week’s General Assembly, but the medium in which those decisions were communicated.

As background, I first started using Twitter in 2010 in order to follow what was going on at UC Berkeley when the student council was making decisions on a high-profile divestment resolution.  Because those debates were not public, Twitter seemed like the only way to obtain real-time information on what was happening at ground level 3000+ miles away.

At the time, I believe I would have been referred to by other Twitter users as (what’s the technical term I’m looking for?), oh yes – an imbecile.  With no followers and no understanding of the importance of hashtags and at-symbols, I spent my first 20 minutes as a tweeter shouting out messages into the void, oblivious to the fact that no one else on the service knew I existed, much less was seeing what I was typing.

Fortunately, I quickly switched to listen mode, and was able to read about debates and votes as they were happening, an experience I repeated just a few months ago when the Park Slope Food Coop shot down an Israel boycott “live” on Twitter.

By the time both Park Slope and the two big church votes came upon us earlier this year, I moved from being a complete Twitter dolt to someone who knows how to use the service adequately, still mostly listening but occasionally contributing commentary (with appropriate hash tags this time around).

Those who are experienced Twitterers can skip this paragraph, but for those unfamiliar with the service, Twitter allows you to post short, 140-character (or less) messages (called tweets) which can be seen by anyone who chooses to follow you.  In addition, you can mark your messages with hashtags (words in front of the # number/hash sign), and ask Twitter to show you an ongoing stream of all tweets that contain that hashtag.  In addition to typing your own Tweets, you can also “re-tweet” a message you like, which means it will get rebroadcast to everyone who follows you.

In the case of both the Methodist and Presbyterian divestment votes, hashtags were selected by those interested in covering the debate (#churchdivest for the pro-BDS folks and #investinpeace by Israel’s supporters).  You could also follow the debate on general Presbyterian hashtags such as #presbyterian and #ga220.

I’ve noted in the past how Israel’s foes seem to be more adept at using this new technology than her friends, something that manifests itself when following streams such as #churchdivest and #ga220 where pro-BDS tweets and re-tweets seemed to outnumber anti-divestment messages by as much as ten to one.

But as I looked at a dizzying dashboard of messages, I began to see the same generic BDS messages appearing again and again (Repression! Apartheid!!  Justice demands!!!, yadda,  yadda, yadda), reflecting the dozens or even hundreds of times these messages were passed on via re-tweet or hashtag-laden repost.  It was only then that I realized why this communication technology has been so effective for the BDS types.

For if you’ve got a small group, no more than a few dozen people, dedicated to repeating the same talking points ad infinitum, Twitter rewards you by not just filling up all relevant timelines with your posts, but by giving higher weighting to frequently re-tweeted tweets.

But this ability to dominate the airwaves comes with some unexpected downsides.  With both the Methodist and Presbyterian votes (as well as the Twitter coverage of the Berkeley vote from two years ago), the BDS bombast was coming fast and furious, implying that a vote in their favor was just moments away.  But once the vote went against them, suddenly there appeared the new voices of “lurkers” (people who had been following the Twitter discussion, but not contributing to it) bewildered as to why they had just lost a vote that seemed to be going their way until mere moments before.

The instantaneous content creation and dissemination nature of Twitter also provides an electronic paper trail of what people are actually thinking when events unfold, vs. the spin they try to put on things later.  The ALL-CAP curses with lots of exclamation points that hit the airwaves the minute after the Methodists and Presbyterians voted no are an example of this.  But so too were the tweets before the big divestment votes insisting that divestment was the only issue that mattered.

Now with regard to the recent Methodist and Presbyterian Assemblies, this sentiment happens to be completely accurate.  The Jewish community was far more concerned about a repeat of the PCUSA’s 2004 divestment vote vs. symbolic votes regarding, for example, boycotts companies like Ahava.  And given that anyone who knew church politics understood that BDS forces were assured of winning these symbolic votes, the fact that BDSers spent thousands and flew people in from around the country to lobby at both church events demonstrates that they too understood that divestment was the only game worth winning.

Which is what makes all the post-GA spinning that says “the settlement boycotts are an even bigger victory than divestment” or making hay of some last minute “relief-of-guilt” option the Presbyterians voted on that means less than nothing is not only contradicted by the facts.  It is also contradicted by the BDSers own statements made during the heat of battle (one of the few times you can fish a little bit of truth out of what they say).