Monday, August 14, 2017

From an organizing perspective, the tactics of getting local state and federal governments to condemn the bigoted BDS movement provide a common platform and points of unity for people in the United States to start working on. Such legislation – and debate over it - provides a concrete way for citizens and their leaders to directly connect with the issues… and it also provokes a discussion that is often difficult to provoke on the true racist nature of BDS.
And the movement has had an impact on how people think about and discuss the conflict. It’s been great in affecting the discourse and just mobilizing people. Suddenly the discussion around the country is: does BDS represent an act of bigotry that merits the anti-racist legislation condemning it? Which is a very different question than whether or not BDS warrants its self-description as a human rights campaign.
The above is actually not a quote but rather a paraphrase of statements made by BDS activists regarding how we should perceive their stunning lack of actual victories, given the decade and a half the boycotters have been trying to generate any actual wins for their “movement” (beyond getting stacked student governing bodies to pass meaningless boycott resolutions, or corrupting dying institutions to the point where they will do the BDSers bidding).
The sentiment in the original quote can be summed up by the actual sentence which precedes it which reads: “Advocates of BDS, meanwhile, say that the lack of concrete victories is incidental to the movement’s success.
As I’ve noted before: how nice for them! For such a formulation means that whenever they actually pull some nasty bit of boycott or divestment work over the finish line, it’s time to pop the champagne corks and insist everyone in the world fess up to BDS’s unstoppable momentum. But if they lose, they should still be given credit for opening up conversation and making previously suppressed topics (i.e., their condemnations of Israel that actually ring out across the physical and virtual universes 24/7) discussable.
My paraphrase of their original “we win by losing” argument at the top of this piece should highlight the absurdity of the boycotters’ contentions and pretensions. For can anyone reading this imagine a scenario in which any BDSer anywhere would embrace the notion that every one of the dozens of anti-BDS bills that have been debated in the country represents victory for their enemies – whether or not those bills get passed?
While I’ve generally been lukewarm about the use of legislatures and courts to settle BDS-related disputes (especially when ground-level political alternatives are available), I’ve come to appreciate the utility of creating actual hard costs on those wishing to boycott the Jewish state in the form of having to give up the large American market in exchange for boycotting the small Israeli one.
But whatever you think about this or that piece of legislation (including one making its way through Congress as you read this), we can rest assured that if the bill passes or fails (for any reason), the boycotters will come up with a explanation for why either decision should accrue to their victory column.
But if we play by their rules, then passage of the bill (or any of the dozens of similar bills already passed by state governments) represents a stunning humiliation for the BDS “movement,” and any failure of these bills still counts as a victory for us since it “opens up discussion” of why the boycotters are a bunch of bigoted, hypocritical jerks.

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