“Divest from Displacement” movement.
I will give the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement credit for one thing: It is highly adaptive.
The run-of-the mill anti-Israel divestment pushes on college campuses have had only mild success. Most often the attempt to get student government to endorse a boycott of companies doing business in Israel has failed, but there have been some successes, particularly in the U. California system.
There have been some high profile losses for BDS on campus, most recently at U. Michigan, where even a watered-down resolution to create a committee to study divesting from Israel was voted down (after last year’s divestment resolution failed).
The divestment motions are mostly for theater, since student governments have zero power to divest university funds, and no university in the U.S. has gone along with any student anti-Israel resolution. The purpose of these divestment motions is to raise the profile of the anti-Israel movement, and to occupy everyone’s time arguing over how bad Israel is.
By contrast, divestment from fossil fuels is gaining some traction even at the administrative level, because there is more of a student and campus consensus.
It was only a matter of time that BDS tried to co-opt a larger issue to use against Israel. Some anti-Israel groups at the University of Pennsylvania seem to think they have found a broader theme: Divestment from companies causing “displacement” of people.
The Daily Pennsylvanian reports, Controversy sparks over Penn Divest from Displacement (h/t a reader):
In early March, Penn students voted to pass a referendum for Penn to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Last week, a coalition of student groups announced their plans for a different divestment proposal, but this time it’s a bit more controversial.
Eight student groups –— Penn Arab Student Society, Penn for Immigrant Rights, Penn Students for Justice in Palestine, Students Organizing for Unity and Liberation, Penn Amnesty International, Penn Non-Cis and the Student Labor Action Project — announced in a Daily Pennsylvanian guest column on March 30 a new divestment movement called Penn Divest from Displacement, which proposes the University divest from corporations that profit through practices that displace people.
Penn Divest from Displacement identified seven companies involved in “human rights abuses related to the displacement of peoples.” The companies listed are involved in such fields as the private prison industry, drone manufacturing and the weaponization of bulldozers used against Palestinian homes in the West Bank.
The final point is where much of the controversy begins. The Penn Divest for Displacement proposal has elements similar to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movements, or BDS, which has sparked controversy across campuses nationwide.
This is obviously an anti-Israel ploy, and very instructive as to BDS tactics. While the Divest from Displacement website mentions other causes, it uses numerous specific examples related to Israel.
BDS frequently tries to co-opt and hijack other unrelated movements by inventing connections. It’s what they call “intersectionality.”
Thus, Israel has a security barrier and the U.S. has fencing along the Mexican border, so BDS advocates argue that Mexican-Americans are being mistreated just like the Palestinians. Similarly, false accusations about Israel training Ferguson police were used to create the Ferguson-to-Palestine movement, which brought anti-Israel activists into the #BlackLivesMatters protests which then were redirected against Israel.
“Intersectionality” is how BDS gets to the nearly insane Pinkwashing and similar Washing attacks on Israel — somehow convincing some LGBT activists that the worst thing is not their near-complete repression in the Arab world, but that Israel touts itself as gay-friendly.
So too, BDS now wants to hijack current concern about displaced persons resulting from the current collapse of the Middle East order in places like Iraq and Syria and turn it into an anti-Israel movement.
While there are other groups involved, there is little doubt what is motivating this.
Per the Pennsylvanian article, it looks like pro-Israel groups on campus are wise to the tactic:
In response to the movement, members of the Think Peace Coalition — a group of pro-Israel student leaders — have begun to vocalize their concerns about the proposal.
“[The] divestment resolution about global displacement blames Israel wholly for the current conflict,” College junior and President of Israel@Penn Daniela Jinich said. “The fact that four … companies specifically target divesting from Israel shows that this is not an unbiased divestment proposal of global displacement struggles … [it] takes a simplified stance on complicated and polarizing issues, ignoring valid narratives and pragmatic solutions, and thus promotes more separation in the Middle East and on our campus.”
In an odd way, I take the morphing of the BDS movement as a positive sign that its core anti-Israel pitch has failed, except in a few isolated instances.
But that doesn’t mean the movement no longer is dangerous, it’s just adapting to its hosts’ defenses.DONATE
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