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Friday, August 31, 2012

BDS: Cultural graffiti

Starting last night, the Batsheva Dance Company is performing in Edinburgh, Scotland. Naturally, the Israel-haters are out in force, both noisily protesting outside and - last night - interrupting the performance three times from inside the theatre.

A number of Israelis refer to the BDS actions against Israeli artists as "cultural terror." I think that is an overstatement, and it also gives them too much credit. In reality, what they do is cultural graffiti.

On the surface, one might think that both graffiti artists and BDSers are motivated to get an important message out to the world. The scrawler on walls is, after all, spending time creating something for people to look at, and the boycotters are noisily chanting for their cause.

But only a little digging finds that both of them are driven not by altruism but by egocentrism. Just as graffiti artists usually emphasize painting their own code names, BDSers are obsessed with their own sense of self-worth. A look at their triumphant tweets shows that they are proud not so much at getting their message out as in bragging about successfully doing something very simple - shouting. Even then, as is often the case, they wildly exaggerate their supposed victories in order to feel important. (They showed great happiness and pride at forcing an Israeli official to use the side door to avoid injury.)

Both the graffiti artists and the BDSers will carefully plan their crimes, coming up with ways to avoid the police and security guards. The fundamental skills needed for both are quite limited - anyone can spray paint and anyone can shout robotic slogans. The fact that some are more talented than others in their space doesn't detract from the basic fact that they are both immensely proud of thinking that they can bypass authority, something that take very little skill.

Another commonality they have is the misguided notion that what they are doing makes a difference. They think that their illicit activities somehow serve a higher purpose, and they ascribe false morality to immoral activities.They regard themselves as having a more refined notion of what is right and wrong than ordinary people. This is again an offshoot of their fundamental egoism.

Related to that is that both groups are so self-centered that they have an utter indifference to the effects their acts have on others. Their actions cost them little but they cost the public a great deal, in extra security as well as in the psychic costs of living in an environment made deliberately uncomfortable by selfish blowhards.

Finally, in both cases, when they do get caught by authorities, they believe that this gives them more credibility in their own communities.

In the end, the self-righteous BDSers are no more than a bunch of kids with paint cans.