On BDS

Aug. 11th, 2015 06:57 pm
[personal profile] the_fantastic_ms_fox
To [Commentor on a friend's feed regarding their disappointment the letter from the Vancouver Queer Film Festival on the subject of BDS, where this commentor was claiming that BDS was anti-Semitic and unethical]

I do not agree with your analysis. Here is my take on it.

Historically, embargoes, sanctions and boycotts have been not been effective at reversing abusive policies, but of stopping bad policies from getting worse thru explicit governmental acts. Hence the attempt to choke Russian international business - it wasn't to get Russia out of Crimea - that was a lost cause. The sanctions were to make sure that Russia didn't invade more turf. So far it's worked. By contrast the US boycott of Cuba to get them to... totally capitulate or whatever just made the economy worse (although how much is the USA and how much is the failure of Castro's policies is up for debate).

It's also easier to put a boycott or sanctions on someone who doesn't make all your stuff. This is part of why the South Africa boycott stuck and was ultimately effective.

Given this, the BDS is sound political strategy insofar as:
- The Israeli government is actively making Palestinians' lives worse by destroying buildings and constructing the means to separate the very infrastructure according to citizenship-class. If this merely holds in place in stasis, Palestinians will still be in a better position than if the current downward spiral continues
- Looking around my house, to participate in BDS, the range of products I would need to boycott include Sodastream, some baked goods, and the VQFF

A very solid middle ground is to only boycott goods and services that are made in in the areas that have recently been occupied. How one tells which is which, I don't know - barring voluntary labelling of products from places that aren't in the present or recent process of occupation. This was something I was behind myself until I saw the Israeli government try to get Canada to ban people from advocating even that, and then trying to classify the United Church of Canada as a hate group. This tells me (1) the Israeli government is willing to wrap itself in the flag (and more importantly and by extension to equivocate their policy with a marginalized religious/cultural/racial group, te tmost common symbol of whom they have chosen to use as the main design element on that that flag) to advance political argumetns that don't hold up without a fallacious emotional appeal and (2) that the boycott is working.

So with that, I'm now all for a comprehensive boycott - unless the product or service in question *somehow* distances itself from governmental policy. I'm not aware of any such product or service but if an Israeli film just had the line "This whole occupation is a fucked up situation, eh? Hope you watch anyways." in the credits, I'd pay money to go see it.

This said, if someone wanted to boycott (P.R.) Chinese goods to stop the range of human rights abuses, or boycott American (on top of the existing boycott on Indiana - speaking of the counter-intuitive but effective tactic of singling out one offender among many) to stop mass incarceration and global imperialism, or if someone refused to buy Canadian to get our government to put a stop to fouling the land and water of Indigenous people, I'd say "more power to them." However, for people living in Vancouver trying to stick to these boycotts would prove impractical.

Moreover, as an entrepreneur, if I was to repeatedly do something grossly morally wrong and refuse to stop, and then were people to choose to boycott my business, I hope I would have the decency not to claim that by singling me out (over say, Monsanto or Chick-fil-a, Shell or whatever) they were somehow enabling whatever form of sometimes-lethal discrimination my demographic cohort has disproportionately experienced. Those people are being smart in taking on someone small enough to feel the sting, and for me to equate that with historical injustice would be disingenuous.

Further, I'm not sure what the mutual desire for neighbourly peace between Israelis and Palestians has to do with downplaying BDS. Some of those people might be very much in favour of international support for their beliefs, even if it hurts.

Regarding the Vatican, I think I'm already *most* of the way to boycotting them, insofar as I will never give money to (non-radical) Roman Catholic churches, charities or non-profits. But I'd be interested in taking it further and should really go look up which companies funnel money into screwing with reproductive autonomy, marginalizing indiginous religion, and only hiring men for top leadership positions. While I don't know how effective this would be, but I don't think it would be anti-catholic. 

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