Send in the clowns

February 12, 2015

Bassem Eid, in a blog posted at the Times of Israel (“We Palestinians hold the key to a better future”) says:

“Despite what we tell ourselves, Israel is here to stay. What’s more, it has a right to exist. It is the nation of the Jews but also a nation for Israeli Arabs who have better lives than Arabs anywhere in Arab countries. We must accept these facts and move on. The antisemitism promoted by Hamas, Fatah, and the BDS movement is not the answer for us Palestinians.”

 

February 13, 2015

In a letter posted at the Guardian, Peter Kosminsky and 99 other members of the British arts establishment, declare:

“Along with more than 600 other fellow artists, we are announcing today that we will not engage in business-as-usual cultural relations with Israel. We will accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government.”

 

Declaration of BDS

In short, it’s a BDS declaration. Yes, the self same BDS that Bassam Eid, and others, have rightly pointed out, serves to promote antisemitism. (And many critics of BDS, rightfully in my view, go further than that. A discussion for another time and place.)

Meantime, we have a challenge. It’s a tough one. You have to think long and hard about it: who has a better – and, frankly, more honest – appraisal of the situation?

On the one hand, Bassem Eid. Per the TOI, he is described as the founder and former director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG). He is, openly, both an advocate for peace with Israel, and a critic of terrorism. His post includes this important context:

“I am a proud Palestinian who grew up in a refugee camp and raised a large family. I want peace and prosperity for my people. I want an end to the misery and the destruction.

After 66 years of mistakes and missed opportunities, it is time for us Palestinians to create the conditions for peace and to work for a better future. It is time that we stopped pretending that we can destroy Israel or drive the Jews into the sea. It is time that we stopped listening to Muslim radicals or Arab regimes that use us to continue a pointless, destructive, and immoral war with Israel.”

On the other hand we have several hundred British artists

I think the artists have proven, were it ever in doubt, that fame, fortune, and fashion (in varying qualities) often qualify you to be important, significant, knowledgeable, and righteous. But only in your own eyes.

BDS have sent in the clowns.

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The busy little b’s of BDS

Robin Shepherd (State Beyond the Pale) wrote:

Whatever it touches, the anti-Israel agenda always brings out the worst. It brings out the worst in journalists who cast aside their principles of balance and objectivity. It brings out the worst in seasoned commentators who substitute hysteria and foot stomping for calm analysis and enlightened discussion.

It brings out the worst in trade unions which put a hateful agenda above the interest of their members. It brings out the worst in diplomats who debase themselves by pandering to tyrannies against a democracy. It brings out the worst in artists and writers who submerge their commitment to beauty and truth in ugliness and lies. It brings out the worst of the great traditions of Left and Right which default back to their shabbiest instincts and their darkest prejudices.

Difficult to disagree with.

Over at Divest This! the good Shepherd (ahem) is quoted as an appropriate summary of the position about the latest BDS activity: a resolution by United Automobile Workers (UAW) 2865 (a union of graduate student employees in the California education system) to support and enact BDS. It’s up for voting on 4th December. They have been busy little b’s, those BDS people. But not for the good of the union members. As Divest This puts it:

Most notably, they have been pushing, participating in and spending union money on BDS activities, even before they receive the answer they’re hoping for from the rigged vote they’ve scheduled for December 4th. And, not satisfied with the damage they have caused to date, they have done everything in their power to ensure a “Yes” vote will permanently wreck the organization…

Read it all, here. And see the coverage here from Legal Insurrection for more details that tend to confirm how self destructive the BDS infection can be.

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ASA BDS LOL!

In January, the American Studies Association (ASA) took a vote to boycott Israel. That’s the high water mark of the BDS achievement there. (Only 16% of the ASA membership voted.) And since then, the ASA has had a bit of a hard time:

  • No American Studies department in the USA has implemented the boycott.
  • The ASA’s branches in California and Northeast joined 250 college Presidents and the largest USA academic organizations in condemnation of the boycott.
  • They had to backpedal furiously when it transpired that implementing the boycott at their conference gathering might contravene civil rights laws.

And then, to quote John Haber at divestthis.com:

“With that spotlight upon them (not to mention scrutiny of whatever press they could not freeze out of their event), we saw the final unraveling of the policy as ASA’s leadership (which clung to the notion that the boycott was in effect if Israelis who attended their conference did not do so as representatives of their institutions) had to swallow hard as the remaining shred of their boycott was mocked as it went unenforced.”

Jon has now followed up the ASA tale with an open challenge. This is the background:

“With the ASA’s squalid little policy reduced to a mass of contradictions the organization was too incompetent to untangle, it was just a matter of time before the leaders of that organization took to the airwaves to try to regain the initiative. And what better way to do so than to roll out the old “death threat” trope which claims that critics of the boycotters are so hysterical (and potentially dangerous) that they have been showering the organization with calls for blood.”

I don’t know any right minded person who would accept that it was legitimate to issue a death threat against someone, no matter the extreme nature of their political action, hate, or bigotry. But it wouldn’t have surprised me if such things happened, based primarily on the activities of online commenters. People lose the rag. They hide behind pseudonyms, remain anonymous, and hate.

So, this part from divestthis.com was especially interesting, recounting earlier accusations of death threats at the time of the Olympia co-operative BDS attempt:

“It was only when they were pressed to explain how opponents of the boycott even knew where to send these supposed hundreds (if not thousands) of threats or asked what steps the boycotters took with local law enforcement to deal with what was supposedly a life-threatening emergency that the those hurling “death threat” accusations actually went underground (avoiding any request for evidence of their claims).”

So, ASA’s president Lisa Duggan, has now got this to chew over:

“Given that no security measures were taken during the ASA conference itself (as opposed to cops I had to hire when the new Israeli Consul visited my temple earlier this year to support his own security staff), I’m going to go with option (2) and say that Lisa Duggan’s claims to face threat to life and limb for her courageous stance is just one more clumsy attempt to throw her political opponents off balance and disguise the abject cowardice of everything and everyone involved with the ASA’s boycott.”

Let’s see what happens.

You can read the relevant divestthis.com post, here.

[Separately, it appears BDS has had some impact on ZIM’s operations in California. Expect further developments there, too.]

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Peace, love, and hate

From the Times of Israel:

2014-08-18_08-29-36

First, do you think any of the ‘peace activists’ out there think there might be something slightly off about this guy’s approach?

Second, what are the prospects for peace when there is this apparent policy of non engagement on the so called pro Palestinian side? How does this help the case?

Third, why is it that there’s only pressure after pressure piled on Israel and its leadership to engage in talks when (a) it’s the Palestinian leadership that walked away; and (b) the Palestinian leadership promotes non engagement? Where is the pressure on them to get down to the business of sorting this mess out, instead of childish gestures, and non engagement?

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Mob rule in Scotland

Sad news from Scotland (via the Scotsman):

AN ISRAELI arts company has been forced to axe its entire run of performances at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe after facing an angry protest before its first show in the city.

Underbelly, the London promoter which had booked Incubator Theatre into one of its main venues, said it had been reluctantly forced to pull the plug based on police advice.

However, it has vowed to find the company – which is part-funded by the Israeli state – another venue, despite threats from campaigners to continue to disrupt its “hip hop opera” wherever it is staged.

More than 50 leading cultural figures in Scotland have called for the company’s shows to be boycotted, although the stance has been criticised by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop.

More than 150 protesters turned up outside Edinburgh University’s Reid Hall before the first preview of Incubator’s production got under way.

Talks were held later with the theatre company, the police and university officials.

A statement from Underbelly said although the first preview performance had gone ahead, the logistics of policing and stewarding the protest and the impact on both Underbelly shows and those in other venues made it impossible for the show to continue.

The statement added: “All tickets for forthcoming performances in the Reid Hall will be refunded. When an alternative venue is found, customers will be able to book tickets for that show separately.”

Announcing the cancellation of the shows at the venue’s gala launch, Underbelly director Charlie Wood said the attempts to stop the company performing were “plain wrong” and went against the entire ethos of the Fringe.

He added: “The protest caused huge disruption to shows we had here and at the Gilded Balloon. If they continued to protest in this area every day for four hours, the festival simply will not happen.”

Fringe chief executive Kath Mainland said: “It was a practical decision based on the whole picture and the disruption to all the other shows that are here.”

John Stalker of Incubator added: “Everybody who supports the right of artists to have their work presented believes the show should carry on. I had friends there who felt very threatened by the protest. Today was a sad day for Edinburgh.”

Albie O’Neill, spokesman for the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which was behind the protest, said: “The level of support from the public has been overwhelming and reflects the strength of feeling against this Israeli state-funded theatre company and revulsion over what is happening in Gaza.”

Peaceful protest? Doesn’t sound like it, does it?

Perusing the comments below the line gives you a flavor of the hatred and bigotry being directed towards Israel. There are one or two swimming against the tide of the baying crowd, but largely it is poison on parade.

Random thoughts:

  • Are the “50 leading cultural figures in Scotland” proud of what they helped achieve? See freedom of speech? Nah, we don’t want any of that.
  • The numbers involved – 150 protesters – are not big. So, despite the big bash Israel campaign, it’s not exactly indicative of mass consent. But 150 was enough. I wonder if the locals have worked out some of the implications of this?
  • The state sponsorship label is a handy peg upon which to hang some hatred. The group does get some money from the state, but they are scarcely apologists for the government. And I wonder how many of the other international groups get state support of some sort or another. I’m sure all their governments are squeaky clean and there are no double standards being exercised.
  • I won’t be buying any Edinburgh rock ever again.
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The clarity and vision of Keith Richards

In a balanced and insightful article at Divest This! about the recent Rolling Stones visit here, this extract is worthy of repetition:

“…In other words, the Stones (and all the rest) have become political events for one reason and one reason only: the boycotters demanded that this be so. And if even Keith Richards can notice that Israel bears no resemblance to the dystopia described by the BDSers in their endless Facebook comment spam, think about how clear this message comes through to those who haven’t put their brain and body through a half century of sex, drugs and rock & roll.”

Cracker! Do tell your friends. You can read the whole piece, here.

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Chance to be a real martyr

A lovely bit of commentary from Harry’s Place:

BDSers: here’s your chance for martyrdom

Speaking today to the Knesset in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Cameron denounced the anti-Israel BDS movement and noted:

“[Israeli technology] is providing Britain’s National Health Service with one in six of its prescription medicines through Teva and it has produced the world’s first commercially available upright walking technology which enabled a British paraplegic woman to walk the 2012 London Marathon. And together British and Israeli technical expertise can achieve so much more.”

One in six prescriptions? BDSers: those are dangerously high odds that an Israeli-made drug may cure you. I expect you to demand to know which of your medications are of Zionist origin, and to refuse treatment with such drugs for yourselves and your family members. If you or they suffer and die as a result, just consider yourselves martyrs for the anti-Zionist cause.

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Satire realized

I posted this cartoon from the Elder of Ziyon:

asa

Now the satire has been realized:

Curtis Marez, president of the association and a professor of ethnic studies at the University of California at San Diego, was quoted as saying: “The boycott is the best way to protect and expand academic freedom and access to education.”

Apparently, you can make it up. Details from the Elder, here.

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Just exactly what are they studying?

The mental gymnastics that the BDS crew go through to justify their actions is sometimes worthy of promotion as a circus act; they really do tie themselves up in knots so as to justify their actions. For example:

asa

The Elder of Ziyon‘s coverage here details what the otherwise insignificant ASA has done as part of the BDS crew. As the Elder says:

In other words, the ASA doesn’t just endorse BDS. They are against academic freedom for any Israelis who oppose BDS! Their position is the only valid position in academia – and this is in the name of academic freedom!

Calling George Orwell…

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