Thursday, 2 February 2012

Mainstreaming and Slimlining

The PSC's report on its AGM claims that, in 2012, the organisation will focus on mainstreaming itself. As I've written before it currently has virtually no impact on public opinion and when it does it is often negative. Ten years of BDS campaigning has not convinced more than a handful of people and aroused significant opposition.

Any attempt by the PSC to make itself mainstream will most likely result in it shedding active members. Last year Hugh Lanning was forced on at least two occasions to declare that the PSC supports the two state solution, despite Betty Hunter reassuring members that it doesn't. The more it tries to attract support from less extreme groups the more often it will have to make similar public declarations.

The problems of Holocaust denial and antisemitism among members hasn't gone away and is unlikely to do so. The PSC will find itself forced to move against more members in the future, expelling some and angering others. It will find it increasingly difficult to defend Hamas and other extreme Palestinian groups for whom antisemitism is an important part of their worldview. People will rightly ask how they can expel Holocaust deniers in Britain while supporting them abroad.

Virtually anything the PSC does to try and make itself mainstream will alienate its members. Eventually it might well become important but not before it becomes a reasonable voice in the debate at which point it will be listened to but have nothing to say.

If any example were needed of the PSC's inability to be both mainstream and a delegitimiser of Israel then we need look no further than the Olympics. The AGM report says that it will try to use the Olympics to "raise the issue of Palestine" (as if people are currently unaware of it). Apart from the fact that the Mayor's office has already made it clear that political activity will not be tolerated during the Olympics, there is something remarkable about the PSC's approach to the Olympics to date.

One of the main claims used by the PSC to attack Israel and justify its BDS campaign is that Israel is an apartheid state. Just as South Africa was the target of boycotts so Israel should be. Given that South Africa was banned from the Olympics for nearly 20 years, why has the PSC not called for Israel to be banned? The answer is that such a call would make it politically very difficult for the likes of Ken Livingstone and the Green Party to retain ties with the PSC.

So not only is the PSC irrelevant and the BDS campaign a failure, any attempt by the PSC to make itself more important will require them to end their delegitimisation and significantly water down their BDS campaign.

No comments:

Post a Comment