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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cornell BDS group justifies hypocritically using Israeli web technology

Last week, the ZF and I discovered that a number of groups that push boycotts for Israel are using WiX, an Israeli web technology, on their websites.

One of those was Cornell University's "Students for Justice in Palestine." People on Twitter made fun of them for their obvious hypocrisy.

Finally, Cornell SJP came out with a long, nonsensical, convoluted justification for their BDS inconsistency; 1500 words of hilarious attempts to make themselves look a little less idiotic:

BDS is a tactic, not a principle, let alone a call for abstention. The charge that any contact with Israeli products negates the logic of BDS can only be made by people who do not understand what BDS actually is, how it’s worked in the past, or why Palestinian civil society is calling for it now.

The idea that supporters of BDS must avoid contact with anything Israeli not only misconstrues the nature of BDS, but also contorts the idea of politics in general. Politics is about making change in the world, not shying from contamination to keep oneself pure. GWF Hegel explored—and put to rest—the idea of the political subject whose only options were abstention and total withdrawal from action. He called it the “beautiful soul” syndrome. We do not strive to be beautiful souls, and we resist a view of politics that demands total abstention. In the words of Built to Spill, “I don’t like this air / But that doesn’t mean that I’ll stop breathing it.”

Those who call us hypocritical for not adhering to a rigid logic of separation simplistically insinuate that if one believes in boycotting Israel one must do it absolutely and deprive oneself of all the innovative benefits of the “Start-up Nation”; since one is opposed to Israel, one must not be in contact with anything Israeli. This separation in turn supports the misguided idea of two clear “sides” to the conflict. It is a troubling binary: on the one side, Israel, a plucky, can-do Zionist spirit, innovation, technology, modernity; on the other, Palestine, poverty, backwardness, violence.
The entire piece is filled with similar straw men.

So, who's right? Is BDS a call to boycott all Israeli products or not?

Well, let's look at the original 2005 source of the BDS call, from BDSMovement.net:
Boycotts target products and companies (Israeli and international) that profit from the violation of Palestinian rights, as well as Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions. Anyone can boycott Israeli goods, simply by making sure that they don’t buy produce made in Israel or by Israeli companies. Campaigners and groups call on consumers not to buy Israeli goods and on businesses not to buy or sell them.
Pretty explicit, isn't it? No nuance, no exceptions for nice web technologies. Nope - a blanket call to boycott Israeli produce and goods and businesses. It is the BDS movement that advocates the "beautiful soul" syndrome, in Hegelian terms (!!!)

Cornell  SJP doesn't support BDS as it is officially defined, because - well, because it would be an inconvenience. They like WiX. They want to boycott Israel, but they only want to ban products that they would never use anyway! They are so moral!

Actually, they admit:
Let us be clear: BDS is not abstention, nor an absolute moral principle.

There's an understatement for you!

Sorry, Cornell SJP. All that hand waving and attempts to change the subject in your very funny screed didn't prove that you aren't hypocrites.

Quite the opposite.