Sunday, January 29, 2012

Peace Makers and Normalization

On Saturday, I had a post at Divest This! as part of the responses to the upcoming PennBDS Conference.  The Progressive Zionist left a very kind comment about my remark: "Genuine peace makers demonstrate the commitment to peace and justice by working to "normalize" the relationships between people previously in conflict."

At the Park Slope Food Coop we are very environmentally conscious.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - that's our motto.  In that spirit, I am re-posting my piece from last year about Peace Building.

Is BDS Pro-Peace?

We all want peace.  How do you get peace?
The Conflict Information Consortium, directed by Heidi and Guy Burgess at the University of Colorado, is a multi-disciplinary center for research and teaching about conflict and its transformation.   They maintain two very important websites: The Conflict Resolution Information Source ( and Beyond Intractability, the website of the Intractable Conflict Knowledge Base Project (  We can say they are experts.

Here is what they say about  peacebuilding.
Peacebuilding is the "normalization" of relationships between people previously in conflict. It establishes sustainable peace by addressing root causes of conflict through reconciliation, institution building, and political and economic transformation.
Peacebuilding also usually involves efforts to increase "normal," cooperative contacts between opponents.
In peacebuilding, efforts are made to open channels of communication, get people involved in joint projects, work with the media and the educational system to try to break down stereotypes, and reduce prejudice and discrimination. The goal of all of these efforts is reconciliation – getting the people to accept each other as part of their own group or be reconciled to mutual co-existence and tolerance.
Now BDS opposes cooperative contacts between Palestinians and Israelis.  The types of contacts that bring reconciliation and the end of the conflict.  Please watch the BDS leaders in their own words:

This is not what our coop is about or should support.

Buy Sabra salads at the Food Coop.  Made in America, but targeted for boycott.


Divest This! is responding to each of the sessions at the upcoming National BDS Conference to be held at the University of Pennsylvania next week.   PennBDS-Oy! is the launch pad for each of his responses.  I have even contributed to the effort with a post about our Park Slope Food Coop community.

Divest This! has even set up a space for any BDS advocate to respond to his critique.  No one has taken the offer yet.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Is BDS a Progressive Cause?

No. BDS is not a progressive cause. Even though many of the people who support it call themselves progressives, and they boast their leftist credentials, it is not a progressive cause.

Divest This! has been writing a series of responses to the sessions scheduled at the upcoming BDS conference to be held at the University of Pennsylvania in a few weeks. Today's post, PennBDS – Packaging BDS, deals specifically with how BDS is marketed as a progressive cause.
virtually the entire BDS vocabulary is designed to reach a very specific section of the political marketplace: progressive audiences. In fact, the reason why anyone choosing to defend Israel and counter these accusations (including this blog) is frequently condemned as “right wing” is because the BDSers want to claim full ownership of the left end of the political spectrum.

Beyond just trying to gain adherents to their cause among progressive individuals and organizations, the boycotters make it very clear that their agenda item is not just one among many but is the single defining issue for left-leaning audiences with anyone who disagrees cast out as a member of the “racist right.”
Naturally, Divest This! goes on to point out that all the progressive targets of BDS, such as universities, unions, food coops, etc. have repeatedly rejected BDS.

I always thought that supporting the notion of a "social safety-net" was the central tenet of progressivism. So I find it interesting that the faux-progressive, anti-Israel bloggers are having a love-affair with Ron Paul because of his non-interventionist positions - in particular his view on Israel. This gives a new meaning to "Israel firster." "We will throw away any progressive value we hold because we put our hatred of Israel first."

The BDS movement is about denying to the Jewish people the right of self-determination, the right to a sovereign nation. It is about trying to slander Israel as uniquely evil and worthy of elimination. It is about denying the history of the Jewish people and their connection to the Land of Israel. It is about supporting demands that if put into effect will result in the physical endangering of 5.5 million Jews. It is about ignoring the responsiblities and obligations of the Arab countries to the refugees that were created by their decisions to engage in war. It is about ignoring the human rights violations of those countries. This is not progressive. It is racist.  It is anti-Semitic.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Penn and the National BDS Conference

There is going to be a national conference on BDS to be held at the University of Pennsylvania, hosted by a student group PennBDS. The University has issued a statement distancing itself from the conference. I wrote a supportive note to the University and received a very nice response.

Divest This! had a very interesting exchange with one of the PennBDS organizers in the comments section of this post. The whole exchange has encouraged him to take on the gargantuan task of writing a response for every topic to be discussed at the conference. Quite an undertaking! You can follow his efforts at PennBDS-Oy!

I can't wait to see it.  Here we will be pro-active, topic-by-topic. 

Here is the statement from the University of Pennsylvania:

Penn Statement on Planned BDS Conference

A campus student group, Penn BDS, is planning a national conference in February that will encourage boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

This is not an event sponsored by the University. The event is being sponsored by a registered student group, as is permitted of any student group on campus.

The University of Pennsylvania has clearly stated on numerous occasions that it does not support sanctions or boycotts against Israel. Indeed, Penn has important and successful scholarly collaborations with Israeli institutions that touch on many areas of our academic enterprise.

Penn has always supported free expression and the free exchange of ideas. These are essential elements of a great university. These principles apply to this event, as they would any other student event, whether or not we agree with or condone the message BDS seeks to communicate.

University of Pennsylvania
1 College Hall, Room 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6380

President Amy Gutmann