Friday, 9 March 2012

BDS Still Desperate

While not as bad as highlighting a "victory" from 2003, the London BDS group is still desperate to find events to crow about. Their latest is the story that Veolia was fined £130,000 for breaches of security law that led to the death of a worker near Aylesbury.

I'm not going to comment on the logic or morality of using the death of a company employee in Britain as a political weapon against Israel, I'll just point out that the death was in 2004 and the fine handed down in 2010.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

BDS Antisemitism in Birmingham

Mark Gardner at The CST highlights a youtube video of BDS activity in Birmingham. The campaigners in it visit a number of Tesco shops placing stickers on Israeli products before piling them into trolleys and leaving them in the aisles or bagging areas with anti-Israel posters. Amongst the Israeli goods targeted were, in the words of one activist, "loads of kosher stuff."

I don't think BDS is inherently antisemitic. I think it is wrong and counter-productive and some of its proponents may be motivated by an antipathy towards the Jewish people. However, trying to get people not to buy Israeli oranges and encouraging Tesco not to stock Israeli peppers is not an inherently antisemitic campaign.

Nevertheless, targeting the Kosher section is antisemitic in effect. Because its effect is to encourage Tesco not to have a Kosher section which harms British Jews as Jews. Below are some pictures from the video showing the campaigners focussing on Kosher products.
Happy Passover? Not if these BDS Campaigners can help it.
Scouring the Kosher section for Israeli products

BDS campaigners don't want Tesco selling Kiddush wine to Jews
Or Sabbath Candles

Or Kosher soup

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

BDS Getting Desperate

You know things are bad for a campaign when it has to go back to past events. But how bad must it be when their latest victory is 9 years old?

London BDS posted the following tweet last night:

Follow the link and you'll see that the event referred to happened in 2003!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Yet Another Council Declares BDS Illegal

First there was Leeds City Council, then the North London Waste Authority now its the turn of Canterbury City Council. All three have explicitly and publicly told BDS campaigners that their attempt to have Veolia excluded from public contracts is illegal. In the most recent example, Larissa Laing, head of Canterbury's neighbourhood services said:
Canterbury must choose its waste collection contractor under procedures laid down by Europe and adopted by this country under the Public Contract Regulations 2006. We do not think that activities in the Middle East relate to what we are considering in this contract.
Will the BDS campaigners listen? No. As I've explained before, the BDS campaign chooses to focus on Veolia because it guarantees them things they can call victories. Whenever Veolia doesn't win a tender the campaign leaders can declare it a victory and everyone agrees and congratulates themselves. This is one of the reasons why Normal Finkelstein calls the campaign a cult.

So you can be sure that this latest inconvenience of a council pointing out that BDS is illegal - and thereby also showing that not a single "victory" is actually real - will be ignored.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Where to Draw the Line?

Obviously Israel must be able to decide who is allowed into the country of Israel and that means that there must be a hard border somewhere around it, with fences and crossing points etc. As I see it, there are four possible options for approximately where that line might be drawn:

1) Along the River Jordan
2) Along the Green Line but east of Jerusalem
3) Along the Green Line and through Jerusalem
4) Along the Green Line and west of Jerusalem

Which is the best? How do we judge?

I think that the following criteria must form the basis for any evaluation:

1) How successful would it be at ending the fighting?
2) Would it ensure that both sides have their legal rights?
3) How easy is it to practically implement?
4) How easy is it to politically implement?
5) Is it economically and socially beneficial to the individuals most affected?

With those criteria I think that option 2 fares best and here's why.

Placing the border along the Jordan River (1) is simple to implement practically and most beneficial to the individuals since it proves everyone in Israel and Palestine free movement. It may be possible to ensure that both sides have legal rights with some kind of federalised system. However, politically it is extremely difficult and most importantly it will not end the fighting.

A border running through Jerusalem (3) is bound to be difficult to implement and will be extremely bad for the economy of the city. It will end the fighting and should ensure national rights to both sides. Politically, though, there is no appetite for physically splitting the city in two. That goes for international opinion as well. Europeans who celebrate the collapse of the Berlin Wall aren't going to support the construction of a Jerusalem version.

Placing the border west of Jerusalem (4) would not end the fighting, it would only localise it to the city. Everyone inside the city would suffer from economic difficulties and there is no chance of political implementation. Sharing the city would lead to tensions that would probably eventually boil over into outright war between the sides.

If the border runs east of Jerusalem (2) this would end the fighting, be simple to implement practically and be beneficial economically to all residents of the city. Both sides would have their national rights. Politically, it is difficult to implement.

In my view, of the four options only the second one is feasible. All the others present real physical problems whereas the second presents only the challenge of convincing people to accept it.

I'm sure many (maybe most?) readers will disagree and I urge you please to lay out your counter-arguments in the comments or by email.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

BDS Fails to Impress in Liverpool

A planning meeting in Liverpool was left distinctly unimpressed by BDS campaigners. Here's the report from local paper the Liverpool Daily Post:
At this week’s meeting, proposals for a new waste gas burning centre in Garston stirred up objections from the local branch of Friends of the Earth and Friends of Palestine, owing to company Veolia’s record running a controversial landfill in the Israeli-occupied territories of Palestine.
While the not-in- my-backyard brigade are often out in force at council planning meetings, the concerns emanating from within the kaftans of the objecting 50-somethings of Garston were seemingly a backyard too far for planning chair John Mackintosh, who in his own inimitable way tried to steer business back to more local issues.
At the point at which the lady objector warned that “what is happening in Israel could happen in Garston” (not, sadly for some, the building of a large wall around the district, but questionable waste disposal policies and their health risks), Big John felt compelled to remind her and the committee that “We’re talking about Garston here, not Gaza” – although his Everton drawl did make the two places sound indistinct, if only in name.
Development control manager Mark Loughran perhaps summed it up most succinctly when reminding the committee that “morality, ethics and human rights” were not really considerations for planners – without doubt a view that many of those present at the meeting to unsuccessfully oppose developments in their own backyards would ruefully concur with.
The planning application was approved and the official report [pdf] on the meeting makes absolutely no mention of anything remotely to do with BDS.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Another Council Declares BDS Illegal

The most important target of the BDS 'cult' is the French multi-national Veolia. Unfortunately for them, their demands that councils exclude the company from public contracts is completely illegal. Leeds City Council told local campaigners as much last year.

Now the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) has reiterated reality.
NLWA said it had received “letters and representations” on the issue, while it faced protests at its meeting last week. But the authority said: “The legal position is very clear and these are not issues that the NLWA can or will in any way take into account"
Will the BDS 'cult' listen this time?