Thursday, May 05, 2011

Is the BDS Threat Overblown?

The Forward conducted an investigation of North American campus-based BDS programs and highly implies the answer is "yes". The magazine found a grand total of seventeen BDS incidents on fourteen North American campuses since 2005 (when the BDS campaign began). Of these, none resulted in any actual divestment -- some were defeated outright, some were nonbinding resolutions, and some were modified so as to not specifically target Israel (instead generically targeting corporations which profit off of international law violations). Fourteen campuses is of course a drop in the American higher educational bucket, and the Forward indicates that BDS has had marked trouble getting off the ground in this country.

Of course, both supporters and opponents of BDS have an incentive to overstate its relevance. Supporters because it's hard to maintain a movement that has been primarily characterized by failure after failure (as Divest This loves to point out), and opponents because it gives them a foil against which to mobilize. I think BDS is threatening enough that we need to be vigilant against it, but I think casting it -- at least in the US -- as the crest of a wave of anti-Israel sentiment is descriptively inaccurate.


sonicfrog said...

What... our underwear is attacking????

Oh... BDS... NOT BVD's...

Never Mind.

PG said...

I think there's insufficient anti-Israel sentiment in the U.S. for the BDS folks to accomplish anything, but I don't base that on their not having won the battle already. I had to research the South African divestment movement for something I wrote in college, and at most institutions it took several years to succeed even partially.