Somerville Divestment Revisited – Rachels

This next set of essays were written during the second year of campaigning against BDS in Somerville, MA (2005) when divestment proponents tried to get a divestment measure they failed to get past the legislature onto the city-wide ballot.

A description of how that issue played out can be found here.

“A combined fundrasing event for BostontoPalestine and the BootCAT campaign against Caterpillar will be held on Friday, May 27, at the Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church,” read the announcement.    “The event will feature the premiere showing in Boston of the new film: ‘Rachel Corrie – An American Conscience.'”

For those of you who missed this event, or the many other attempts to put Rachel Corrie on the cultural and political landscape (including a London play and a lawsuit by Rachel’s parents against the state of Israel), a bit of background:

Ms. Corrie was a young student from Washington State who joined one of the more virulent anti-Israel organizations, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which (among other activities) has attempted to block the Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes with their bodies.  Rachel was engaged in such a “human shield” operation in the Gaza Strip when she was allegedly crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer.  Her death sparked numerous political campaigns, including a political movement against Caterpillar Tractor that formed part of the So-Called Somerville Divestment Project’s (SC-SDP) divestment agenda in Somerville.

ISM supporters are fond of using this picture, the vision of a fresh-faced, smiling young Rachel, to present their case.   They have had less use for this picture or similar ones that show that once-smiling face twisted in rage as she torches the American flag, surrounded by like-minded supporters.  They also never quite explain why ISM “anti-demolition” activities are focused on protecting Palestinian homes that have been used as cover for tunnels for smuggling weapons from Egypt to groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Israel (as opposed to houses, say, on the West Bank).

As a parent, the death of Rachel Corrie is meant to illicit my sympathies for a girl who perished so young under the treads of a piece of industrial equipment in a faraway land.  But as a parent, I must also reflect on what adults must have filled this young girl’s head with to turn her from a happy child to a furious flag burner, and what kind of people would put such a girl in harm’s way, then capitalize on her death by turning her into a martyr.

Let’s focus on those weapons tunnels for a moment, for the explosives and munitions that came into Israel via the those tunnels may have intersected with the lives of six other Rachels who have never received the media attention given to Rachel Corrie.

These include:


Rachel Levy was 19 when a Palestinian rammed a bus into a crowded Israel bus stop, killing Rachel and five others on February 14, 2001.   She left behind her parents and two younger sisters.


Rachel Thaler, 16, the daughter of US-and UK-born Israelis, was enjoying dinner with her 14-year old brothers and friends at an Israeli pizzeria when a suicide bomber detonated himself at the restaurant.  While her brother survived, Rachel was less fortunate, leaving behind a family of four.


Rachel Gavish was 50 when a Palestinian terrorist infiltrated her home in Israel, shooting dead Rachel, her husband David, her son and Rachel’s father.  This triple-generational murder left Rachel’s six other children orphaned.


This second Rachel Levy, 16, was a high-school student who was killed when a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated herself at an Israeli supermarket.  Her death came on the heels of the death of Rachel’s cousin once month earlier in a terrorist shooting attack.


Rachel Charhi, 36, was critically wounded in a suicide bombing attack in Israel on April 4, 2002.  Her husband, survived the assault to care for Rachel’s three orphaned children Kinneret (14), Ariel (13) and Barak (7).


Rachel Shabo, 40, (top right) and three of her sons were murdered on June 20, 2002 when a Palestinian terrorist entered the family home and opened fire.

So many Rachels, all mourned in sad silence by surviving friends and relatives who have chosen respectful grieving, rather than turning their murdered love ones into cause celebes to further a political agenda.

What a sharp contrast to those who continue to brandish the “martyrdom” of Rachel Corrie to further their political agenda without ever stopping to consider their own responsibility for Corrie’s death.

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.

PennBDS: BDS and Community

This is part of a series of articles based on the program of the upcoming PennBDS conference. Check out this landing page to find out more.

The PennBDS talk entitled “BDS as a Community-Wide Political Campaign” originally had the word “Winning” or “Victory” in the title (I can’t remember which).  I can only guess why a word indicating progress was removed from the talk’s name, but as with this discussion that hung on the word “Beginners,” the key term in the newly crafted title mentioned above is “Community.”  And by “Community,” I’m talking about a very specific, very unique community: Olympia Washington.

To provide some background, as I’ve noted before support for Israel tends to hover at around 60-70% in the US and wherever it lands in that range on any particular day, it tends to outpoll support for Israel’s foes by a factor of 3:1.  But this does not mean that two-thirds of the US population (which would add up to 200,000,000 people) is active in pro-Israel organizations or that a third of this number supports BDS.  While these numbers indicate general support levels, the number of Americans actively involved with fighting (politically) for one side or the other in the Middle East conflict can probably be measured in the tens of thousands.

And these activists are not spread out evenly across the country.  In fact, they tend to bunch up in cities (notably places like Boston, New York and San Francisco), especially cities with large university populations (colleges and universities being places where supporters and defamers of Israel are fairly evenly matched).

In most of these places, Israel’s supporters still tend to outnumber their opposition and even if we are less aggressive in our political activism than are BDS proponents, when we decide to get off our duffs and do something, the result tends to be defeat and humiliation for anti-Israel forces.

But there are a few isolated places where anti-Israel activists are in the clear majority (or at least have the unquestioned upper hand).  These places tend to be college towns where Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) types easily outnumber their opponents AND such college activists can count on heavy support from the broader community.  In fact, I can think of only two places that fit this description: Western Massachusetts (home of Hampshire College, which may explain why Hampshire’s SJP group feels entitled to runamok) and Olympia, Washington.

In the case of Olympia, this formula of a strong anti-Israel presence on campus (in this case, the campus of Evergreen College) plus well-organized anti-Israel activists outside of campus is supplemented by the “Great Big Thing” that comes up whenever one discusses Olympia: Rachel Corrie.

Corrie was an Evergreen student recruited by a group called the International Solidarity Movement (or ISM) to enter Israel for the purpose of staging militant protests.  And while in Israel, she placed herself between a Caterpillar bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian house built on top of a tunnel used to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip.  And while standing in this position, she was hit by the bulldozer and killed.

Now whenever the issue of Rachel Corrie comes up, one must maneuver carefully to avoid the trap being laid by supporters of her cause.  For the ISM (and like-minded individuals and organizations) make endless political use of Corrie’s “martyrdom,” making all kinds of political statements and judgments based on her tragic death.  But if one responds by making political statements the BDSers disagree with, you quickly find yourself staring at photos of Corrie as an infant or young teen and accused of gross insensitivity to the death of a young girl and her family.

I’ve actually mixed it up with one of the people on this PennBDS panel over this very issue, and to avoid the whole thing becoming a focal point for debate again, suffice to say that there are various people and organizations to which you can apportion responsibility for Corrie’s death including: Israel, the Caterpillar bulldozer company, the International Solidarity Movement which brought her to Israel and convinced her to put herself in harm’s way, Corrie herself (who agreed to go this route) and the Palestinians (who decided to build weapons tunnels under civilian structures and ally themselves with folks like the ISM). Corrie’s supporters assign 100% of the blame to the first two members of this list, while the rest of us tend to spread the numbers out a bit more broadly.

But getting back to Olympia, this is one of the few places where a mix of numbers, aggressiveness and (in Olympia’s case) the Corrie factor (in the form of a foundation named after her and run by her parents) means that you can’t walk down the street without condemnation of Israel staring you in the face (literally).  Anti-Israel films and cultural events are almost weekly occurrences in the town and Evergreen College (even more than Hampshire) is a school so unwelcoming to people not willing to toe the anti-Israel line that students have actually transferred out to avoid harassment.

But the straw that broke the camel’s back happened in 2010 when the local food co-op decided to become the first (and, so far, only) co-op to pass a boycott motion stripping Israel-produced products from their shelves.  Now I’ve written about Olympia so many times that I won’t dwell in the details here (although feel free to punch “Olympia Co-op” into the search box to the right or just look at  “Tale of Two Co-ops” in the Divest This manual to read a synthesis of the discussion of how boycotts have played out in the co-op community).

But in the case of Olympia, the result was not a “Community-Wide Political Campaign” but an assault on the community (in this case members of the co-op) which woke up one morning to discover that a bunch of partisan activists had worked behind their backs in order to speak in their name.  This was followed by a revolt of that same community against the co-op featuring resignations, a vigil of protest and, now, a lawsuit.

We’ll be joined by a guest writer later in the week to talk about another co-op impacted by BDS partisans.  But for now, its worth remembering that in one of the few places where the BDSers have the muscle to get their way, they were more than ready to shaft their neighbors in order to create and maintain a trivial victory, regardless of the pain it has caused to everyone around them.

Olympia Snowed – Washington Co-op Boycott

BDS projects tend to come in waves or fads. In the early 90s, campus petitions were all the rage, then Mainline Protestant churches were targeted followed by student governments and – most recently – aging rockers and food co-ops.

Part of the reason behind this ever-changing list is the fact that BDS is a relatively nimble “movement,” forever ready to dance away from defeats and capitalize on even the most trivial wins. And since there are so many more of the former than the latter, divestment advocates must forever find new targets of opportunity once too many loses begin to give them a reputation as losers within a certain community.

Which is why yesterday’s announcement that a food co-op (in this case, the Olympia Food Co-op in Olympia Washington) has chosen to impose a boycott on Israeli goods was only somewhat surprising.

The location for one of the few examples of a boycott taking place in the US makes sense (Olympia is home to Evergreen College, home of ISM victim Rachel Corrie and one of the only colleges in America that’s gotten a student divestment vote through after a decade of BDS efforts on campuses). But the details of how the boycott was decided were surprising, given what happened in Davis California just a few months ago.

In March of this year, the Davis Food Co-op, like Olympia Co-op, was faced with a group of members who wanted the store to refuse to sell Israeli goods. Unlike Olympia, the decision being asked of the board was whether to put such a boycott to a member vote which led to public debates and hearings on the subject before the Co-op board made its final decision.

We’ll get to that decision in a minute, but before we do it’s interesting to note that Olympia avoided the public controversy during the decision-making process by simply making their decision without much (if any) public awareness that the matter was being discussed. And so, once again, we have another institution whose members woke up one day to discover that an organization they have been a member of for years is now being touted by anti-Israel activists across the globe as fully onboard the BDS, Israel=Apartheid, propaganda bandwagon (talk about surprises).

As described before, the reasons Davis decided to turn down requests to put boycott on the ballot were extremely interesting and are worth reading in full here. While disappointed boycott supporters claimed the Davis board’s decision was driven by Jewish community pressure and fears of legal reprisals, in fact their decision was based on principles relating to the co-op community itself, notably:

* That the boycotters were demanding that they (an unelected group of people with no fiduciary or other responsibility to the co-op as a whole) be allowed to make decisions for the entire co-op (including the board, managers and members) based on their own political agenda

* That supporting a boycott vote implied agreement with the boycotter’s characterization of the Middle East and acceptance of BDS tactics as representing the entire Co-op, not simply the opinions of a subset of members advocating for a boycott

* That the boycott would fly in the face of principles of the co-operative movement, including the Rochdale principles regarding political and religious neutrality and the Cooperative Principle regarding cooperation between co-ops (including Israeli co-ops)

Davis’ stance also highlighted that co-operatives that have failed to live by these principles and apply sound and careful judgment to where and when it will engage in political activity have created poisoned atmospheres leading to divisiveness, alienation of members, resignations and other harmful results.

Now it’s possible that the leaders of the Co-op in Olympia know all this, but are willing to ignore principles articulated not just by Davis but by the global cooperative movement in order to make a political stance that they (and they alone) know is in the best interest of their community. But it’s equally likely that this is just one more example of a group of single-issue partisans bullying an organization that lacks failsafe mechanisms (such as ways of determining if members agree with a political policy) to make a decision BDS activists tell them is their only choice.

Now that the BDSers have gotten their way, they will (as always) be on their merry way, firing off press releases and posting on newsites and blogs across the planet that Olympia Food Co-op (not simply its leaders, but every man, woman and child who shops there) is all aboard the BDS propaganda express. As usual, it will be left to those members to deal with the wreckage, and the co-operative’s leaders to explain that they have taken a principled stance when they, in fact, have just been played for suckers.

Seeing Red at Evergreen

As interested parties digest material related to the Presbyterian Church debate coming up in July, word came across the Divest This Communications Command Center (OK, my AOL account – the last in the nation I believe) that students at Evergreen State College in Washington State had voted to demand their institution divest from Israel.

“But you said divestment always loses!” I hear friends and critics cry out. Well actually, I said divestment is a loser, which does not necessarily mean that loses each and every time it’s introduced into an institution. As I’ve noted before, BDS is an ever-mutating virus, one that enters the body politic of institutions via various mechanisms including behind-the-scenes maneuvering with organizational leaders (as with the Mainline Protestant Churches) or defiantly going around such leaders when they refuse to play ball (as with colleges and universities whose leaders have made it clear they have no intention of following the divestnik’s demands). When a vote goes their way, they’re all aboard for democracy. When it’s reversed by the same body they declare “democracy is dead,” blah, blah, blah.

Now remember that student government (like aging rockers) represents a “soft target” in the BDS wars. For unlike the people who actually run a university or manage its money, student government can make decisions on matters over which it has absolutely no control. Much like delegates at the Model United Nations I attended in high school that voted overwhelmingly to call for a UN Space Fleet, student government bodies can take positions on all sorts of matters beyond their mandate, knowing full well they have no responsibilities beyond striking a pose.

And even in this soft-target category, when the BDSers peddle their poison at the large, well-known schools that are their real target (such as University of California campuses targeted this Spring) they still lose. Thus, their only “victories” after a decade of effort are at institutions where they have unique advantages such as Wayne State in Michigan, home of one of the largest populations of Muslim students in the US. And even at Wayne State, their efforts only led to condemnation by the school’s administration announcing that the institution will never divest from Israel.

Which brings us to Evergreen State which apparently put divestment measures to a student vote this week, a vote which they apparently won by large majorities. Now given that they are only reporting percentages, I could get cute and ask if that is a percentage of the 4800+ student body (which means they received over 3000 votes on each measure) or a percentage of those who actually voted (which means these “overwhelming victories” represent the votes of a much smaller percentage of the actual student body). But let’s take it for given that a democratic win is a democratic win which “counts” as long as people play by the rules (a generosity of interpretation I wish would be reciprocated by divestment backers who never seem to take a democratic “No” for an answer when it’s delivered repeatedly at other institutions).

I could also make a crack about Evergreen’s relative obscurity vs. the fame of the many schools where BDS has lost big. But in addition to being snobby, such commentary would miss the real significance of Evergreen as the former campus home of Rachel Corrie.

Corrie, as some of you may know, was an Evergreen undergraduate who fell in with a really bad crowd. But rather than simply taking up cigarettes or grain-alcohol Jello shots, the habit she picked up was radical politics under the “guidance” of the International Solidarity Movement (or ISM).

ISM’s specialty, in addition to infiltrating various pro-Palestinian and anti-war organizations, involves recruiting students who it then sneaks into Israel and puts into harm’s way. At least one other of its recruits has gotten killed taking part in violent protests against Israeli soldiers, after which his corpse was immediately sanctified as that of a peace activist (sound familiar?).

But Corrie was not killed taking part directly in violent activity. Depending on whom you believe, she was killed while trying to block Israeli bulldozers from either (1) destroying homes in the Gaza Strip for the fun of it; or (2) destroying Gaza houses that covered tunnels used for weapons smuggling.

The reason Caterpillar Tractor is on the top of every divestment list (in addition to it being such a widely held company that it allows the BDSers to bring their campaign to virtually any institution in the country) is that it was a Caterpillar tractor that ran over the aforementioned Ms. Corrie. So for the last eight years, Caterpillar shareholder meetings have become sacred sites where anti-Israel activists gather yearly to demand boycott votes against Israel (which they always lose). And this is why students at Evergreen State, former home of Ms. Corrie, are demanding the school divest from Caterpillar, even though it’s not clear if the school holds a single share in the company.

The interesting thing is that Caterpillar Tractor and the Israeli government, both on their own and in response to lawsuits directed against them over the Corrie affair, have performed investigations of what happened in Gaza the day Corrie perished. While ISM activists have not been happy with the outcome of these investigations, no one can say that they never took place.

In contrast, I’m not aware of any similar investigation that took place within the ISM about the role they played in leading Ms. Corrie to her death. After all, it was the ISM that “educated” Corrie and others about the evils of Israel and the immediate need to take direct action to confront this evil. It was the ISM that helped Corrie get into Israel on false pretences. And the ISM all but set out cardboard footprints for her to follow that placed her directly in the path of dangerous machinery in a war zone, a situation that led inevitably to her demise.

Now one would think that an organization committed to its members (not to mention justice) would take part in some measure of soul searching before lashing out to blame others for a situation in which ISM played such a key role. But as far as I know, ISM has never mentioned (much less released) results of such an internal investigation, which leads me to believe that no soul searching was necessary since Corrie’s death was an unexpected, but much desired outcome of their activity.

So before decision-makers at Evergreen or anywhere else are asked to take student opinion into account with regard to the school’s investment and divestment choices, especially since the issue of divestment is so bound up in Caterpillar and Corrie at this particular college, I recommend that all information needed to make such a decision be put on the table. This will include the results of investigations by Caterpillar and Israel on the role they may have played in Corrie’s death. And it will include any similar reports generated by the ISM over the last eight years that analyze that organization’s own role (not someone else’s) in the events leading up to Rachel Corrie losing her life.

Fair enough? And if it turns out ISM never created such a report and never engaged in a single minute of soul searching regarding its own activities before it decided to let Israel’s wash away ISM’s own sins, well that tells us a great deal as well.


On paper, yesterday’s utterly inevitable loss of life off the Gaza coast is not per se a BDS story. But remember that BDS is simply a tactic in service to a wider strategy of de-legitimization of the Jewish state.

And this de-legitimization applies not just to Israel itself (via attempts to subject all aspects of the country – including its products, academics and artists – to disruptive political protests). Rather, it also applies to de-legitimizing Israel’s ability to do what all other countries are allowed to do (and do routinely), namely defend its borders and its people. The corollary of this strategy is that any attempt to attack Israel is lent immediate legitimacy, up to and including describing a known Turkish Jihadi organization (which has coordinated its activities with the illegal, Islamist Hamas government in Gaza) with the innocent term “humanitarian aid group.”

Keep in mind that Israel called the flotilla organizers’ bluff weeks ago when they offered to allow all of the aid the ships were allegedly bringing to meet the needs of the people of Gaza through the same avenues already used by Israel to supply much larger amounts of similar aid. The leaders of the group refused this offer, naturally, because their goal had nothing to do with humanitarian aid and everything to do with breaking a blockade that has succeeded in keeping arms (not food) out of the hands of people living in Gaza.

Those gathering around the country (and around the world) to protest Israel’s actions against a “humanitarian aid convoy” will have their hands full shouting down these unquestionable and verifiable facts, as well as trying to get the public to ignore video of “peaceful protestors” assaulting Israelis with knives, rods and guns, violent activity that made bloodshed on the high seas all but inevitable.

This shouting will also need to be loud enough to drown out self-reflection by any part of the “Israel is always guilty” community which might point out the role they played in ensuring the loss of life off the Gaza coast. After all, not every ship carried known militants primed for battle once the inevitable happened and their provocation led to boarding by the Israeli navy. In fact, I’m sure that many aboard the boats where battles didn’t break out (as well as those that supported the flotilla around the world) have managed to convince themselves that their mission was simply one of humanitarian aid, courage and mercy.

The trouble is, these folks seem to spend so much time thinking well of themselves that they fail to see the true nature of those who are sailing alongside them. Just as the media was willing to characterize the flotilla exactly as they wished to be characterized, refusing to do the 15 minutes of research required to tell them just who was behind the project, so too the convoy’s members and supporters cannot imagine themselves being involved with anything that does not fit their self-image of selfless, heroic, humanitarians. And so more people are killed, and those who bear more responsibility for this tragedy than anyone else immediately put their energies into creating new martyrs and new myths of their own wonderfulness and bravery.

Keep in mind that these are not the first people the anti-Israel “peace movement” has managed to get killed. Just last winter, a similar group of irresponsible activists under incompetent leadership dragged a thousand people over to Egypt for a week, succeeding only in getting an Egyptian cop shot when the “activists” triggered a riot at the Egypt-Gaza border.

And let’s not forget the Joan of Arc of the anti-Israel “movement,” Rachel Corrie, whom the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) managed to sneak into Israel and place directly in harm’s way, after filling the girl’s head with their propaganda storyline consisting solely of Israeli witches and Palestinian virgins. And once they managed to get Corrie killed, their time was spent turning her into a martyr-saint with plays, films and pageantry, all the time demanding that everyone from Caterpillar Tractor to the Israeli government explain how she died, without once pausing to think about how their own choices led directly to her death.

I’ve always alluded to the dark side of fantasy politics. It would be a depressing exercise to list all of the people maimed, injured or killed, all so a group of self-righteous Israel-hating loudmouths can make themselves feel hip, virtuous and relevant. But clearly we can now add ten Turks that this list whose only regret is that they did not manage to take as many Israelis to the grave with them as possible.

Jilted Lovers…

The most hilarious divestment story yet just came across my desk yesterday. Apparently, the BDS crew is bragging about their latest fantastic, unbelievably, way-cool “victory” during Caterpillar Tractor’s most recent shareholder meeting.

Just as an FYI, before the divest-niks decided, rooster-like, to take credit for the sunrise with Motorola, their primary corporate target was Caterpillar Tractor. Ever since the Rachel Corrie affair, the divestment crew has been haunting Caterpillar shareholder meetings, trying to drum up support for a company-wide boycott of Israel. And each year, their shareholder nuisance activity has earned them exactly nothing (except for shareholder votes running against them by margins greater than 95%).

Well apparently this week’s annual corporate harassment passion play got the company’s CEO Jim Owens ticked off enough to tell protestors that “if they don’t like the way Caterpillar operates, then they don’t have to hold onto their stock.”

“Caterpillar CEO endorses divestment!” has been the headline under which this statement has been broadcast to the world by divestment supporters. Now it might just be me, but when I read Jim Owens’ quote, it’s pretty clear he was using relatively polite, publically-traded-company business-speak to deliver a clear message to the protestors which translates roughly to: “fuck off.” But like a lame pick up artist, the BDS crowd seems to see an FU message as an invitation to roll in the hay.

As I’ve stated before, inflating small victories is a legitimate way to drum up support for an otherwise struggling political movement. But manufacturing triumphs out of situations that actually involved your getting kicked down the stairs (Hampshire College, the Presbyterian Church, etc.) demonstrates either a complete detachment from reality or the assumption that everyone you’re trying to convince is a complete idiot.