29 April 2007

Israel boycott con?

I have borrowed this headline from a remarkable (aren't they all?) article by Ami Isseroff. In the article Ami states and proves the main point: that in many, if not all, cases the boycott initiative has a hidden goal - cheap advertisement, and in most situations this goal is reached.

Vote to spend more money on hospital missions in Africa and you might merit a back page notice in the religion section of a newspaper. Vote to ask for better pension plans for your members and your union might get a notice in a trade newspaper. Vote to boycott Israel and you are instantly an international celebrity. You and your union are front page news.
There is more proof there in the article, and it is an excellent reading anyway, so do yourself a favor. Without going into psychology (or psychiatry) of the various initiators of all these boycotts, which is a separate issue and clearly a subject for the experts, I would say that my personal attitude to these cases was more or less the same. I have even tried, in my own humble way, to coin a term "doing a Gibson" for cases and people like these boycotters.

However lately I have started to feel that we dismiss the boycott flare-ups too easily. Indeed, in most cases a boycott is a result of a micro-putsch organized in the best tradition of the genre. In most cases the result does not reflect the opinion of majority of the members in whose name the voting was undertaken, and in majority of the cases the practical side of the matter is close to nil.

The final push that changed my opinion was a remark made by Jon Ihle, quoted below:
Don't be fooled, Snoopy. These guys are playing a long game and they are making incremental progress on the boycott front, which serves to normalise and institutionalise a characterisation of Israel as uniquely disgraceful.
I think that Jon hit the bull's eye here. It is not an individual boycott as such that matters, it is the whole picture of slow, gradual erosion of public opinion, having its ultimate goal to delegitimize everything Israel stands for. And we should be wary of the whole business, even if it is being carried out by small groups of Israel-haters, even if they are more shrill and hysterical than significant.

And now I can easily agree with the closing paragraph of Ami's post:
Pro-active vigilance can stop the boycotters however. It has nipped a few of them in the bud, before they got started. It is only necessary in most cases to be attentive, to note the published agenda of board meetings and to marshal the forces needed to quash the initiatives before it is too late.
That too...

Cross-posted on Yourish.com.